One Step Greener
Three quarters of British adults report feeling concerned about the impact of climate change yet many people feel powerless to improve things, or overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem.
To help, we have collated 22 key actions you can take to reduce your environmental impact and help nature and our planet, as part of our One Step Greener challenge.
See how many actions you can take to become One Step Greener!
You can find out more about what we are doing, and what you can do in our Greener Living Sustainability Guide.
“"We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that.”
- Grow your own food - produce healthy, fresh, seasonal food with zero food miles!
- Start composting – turn scraps to soil by composting kitchen and garden waste.
Composting creates nutrient-rich fertiliser for free and reduces transporting food waste!
Find more information and a discount code for compost bins here.
- Plant for our Pollinators
Support local wildlife with a range of native plants, shrubs, or trees in your garden to provide food and habitats for insects and animals. If you don’t have a garden, you can still grow plants in pots, or troughs, in hanging baskets, or on walls and roofs. More information here.
- Plant for the planet – plant a tree or hedge in 2022.
Choose native species and enjoy their shade, fruit and flowers while reducing noise pollution, improving air quality, reducing flooding, and absorbing carbon. Get advice here.
You can also get involved in volunteer tree planting events in Three Rivers to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.
- Be water smart – watch every drop with water-saving devices.
In Three Rivers, our water comes from globally rare chalk rivers – of which there are just 260 in the world – the more water we use, the more they dry out!
Help our streams by pledging to use water-saving devices such as water butts, low-flow shower heads, shower timers, and cistern hippos. Three Rivers residents can get discounted water butts from Get Composting and free water-saving devices from Affinity Water.
- Take 4 minute showers to save up to 15 litres of water per shower.
- Only run your washing machine and dishwasher with a full load.
Make the most of the water, energy and detergent you use by ensuring your washing machine and dishwasher is only used when full. Save water, save money, help the planet!
- Hang up your hose.
Garden hoses and sprinklers use as much water per hour as an average family of four uses in almost 2 days! Use a watering can for your garden plants and collect rainwater with a water butt if you can!
Three Rivers residents can get discounted water butts so why not give them a go?
- Show you care about our air – turn off your car engine when stationary.
Approximately 40,000 deaths a year in the UK are linked to air pollution, with engine idling contributing to this. If you are waiting for children outside school, sitting in bad traffic, or pulled into a parking spot, switch your engine off!
- Swap planes for trains whenever possible.
In Europe, planes emit around 10x more CO2 into the atmosphere as trains, over the same distance. Sign the pledge to go flight-free here!
- Walk or cycle instead of driving for local journeys under 3 miles.
With over half of all trips taken in Hertfordshire under 5 miles, according to Hertfordshire's Active Travel Strategy, there is a significant amount of journeys locally that currently use cars, which could instead be completed by bike or foot.
- Wash your laundry at 30-40°C and hang to dry if possible.
If everyone in the UK washed colder, we could save the carbon emissions equivalent to taking up to half a million cars off the road! Go a step further, and air-dry your laundry instead of tumble-drying if you can.
- Dial it down: Turn down the thermostat by 1 degree (or more).
Turning the thermostat down by just 1 degree can save you around 10% on your energy bill.
If everyone in Great Britain turned their thermostat down by 1 degree, we would save 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year!
(Babies, infants, people aged 65+, and people with certain health conditions are at higher risk of health complications from cold weather, so these groups should maintain a home temperature no lower than 18 degrees.)
- Take it slow – break up with fast fashion.
Globally, the fashion industry emits almost as much carbon as Europe and the production of fast fashion causes 15.1 million tons of textile waste each year. In 2022, pledge to only buy pre-loved clothes, and where this isn’t possible, buy better quality clothes or clothes from sustainable brands. Find out more about Fast Fashion.
- Make a difference with every meal; eat more plant-based food.
Animal agriculture is responsible for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the leading causes of deforestation and biodiversity loss worldwide.
Having a more plant-based diet is therefore one of the most impactful actions that you can take to combat the climate crisis. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, start small to make it easy and enjoyable: try meat- and dairy-free Mondays, or take part in Veganuary.
- Banish food waste
Nearly 1/3 of all food produced goes uneaten each year and food loss and waste account for 8-10% of all greenhouse gas emissions according to Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. Find out more about reducing food waste here.
- Choose sustainably sourced RSPO certified palm oil
Unsustainable palm oil production is responsible for large-scale deforestation around the world, destroying habitats that endangered species like orangutans and tigers depend on. When you’re shopping look for products containing RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.
- Swap a disposable for a re-usable or re-fillable
We produce 5 million tonnes of plastic annually in the UK alone and it’s estimated plastic pollution kills 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds every year.
By making some simple swaps you can avoid single use plastics and reduce your contribution to the plastic pollution crisis.
You can also visit local markets or zero-waste refill stores to buy products without plastic packaging. Find out more.
- Give a home to nature: install a bird box, bat box, insect hotel, or hedgehog home, or create a log pile or pond.
More than 41% of UK species studied have declined over the past 50 years, and 1 in 10 species are now threatened with extinction in Great Britain according to the UK State of Nature report 2019. Visit the Wildlife Trusts website for information on loads of simple ways you can give a home to nature!
- Mind the gap to save hedgehogs – make a hole in your garden fence.
Britain's native hedgehog population has plummeted over recent years; declining by half in the last two decades, with less than 500,000 now remaining in the UK.
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Make a small hole in your garden fence to let hedgehogs pass through your garden, and see if you can get your neighbours to do the same to create a hedgehog highway!
- Cut It Out – let your lawn grow.
Wildflower meadows are increasingly rare – the UK has lost more than 97% of them since the 1930s. What do you need to do? Absolutely nothing. Just relax and watch the grass grow. If you stop or reduce mowing to whole or part of your lawn, you can create a thriving wildlife habitat. Find more information here.
- Lights Out to help nocturnal wildlife.
Just 22% of England has night skies completely free of light pollution according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Artificial light at night has negative and sometimes deadly impacts on many nocturnal animals by disrupting their natural behaviours. By switching off unnecessary outdoor lighting and ensuring the lighting you use is sensitively designed, you can help protect our wildlife from light pollution. More information here.