Make 2013 the year you make a difference. It needn’t be difficult; at Changeworks we know that small changes are often all it takes to make a big impact.

And it’s not just the pledge that’s important – it’s getting there that’s rewarding. Instead of visualising the end result as your prize (e.g. you’ll be a non-smoker if you can just make it through the next few months) the whole process can be worthwhile (you’ll be exercising your self-control and enjoying feeling healthier and happier as you go along).

So the changes you decide to make for 2013 don’t have to be huge – they just have to be good for you and your world. Here are some ‘small stuff’ suggestions for a greener year this year.

  1. Think before you throw out. There’s often another use for your things and someone somewhere might be glad of them too! We’re not just talking about your old Christmas jumpers – from recycling paint to recycling your energy saving bulbs, Changeworks can help you avoid sending your things to landfill where possible. Take a look at our waste advice page or contact us for more tips. 

  2. Embrace your inner veggie. Cutting out meat for two or three days a week can make a significant difference to your carbon footprint, your weekly shopping budget and even your waistline. You can either enjoy better quality meat less often with those savings or put them to good use elsewhere. Get in touch with us for more ways to reduce household waste.

  3. Try growing your own fruit and veg. If you have space why not get green-fingered? You’ll enjoy a free supply of food, and you’ll be doing the green thing too. If you haven’t got a garden you could investigate getting on the allotment waiting list (contact your local council for more info) or even look into a land or garden share scheme like Edinburgh’s Garden Partners. If digging for victory doesn’t appeal, take the fuss out of your weekly shop by joining a veg box scheme and have a selection of fresh seasonal and local produce delivered to your home or to your work as many of our colleagues here do. Check the Soil Association website for a scheme near you, or search online.

  4. Get on your bike – for short trips at least. Why not vow to use your bike every time you’re popping out for milk or bread, or every time you visit a friend that lives a pleasant cycle away? You’ll be fitter and healthier and you’ll reduce your impact on the environment too. For more green travel ideas and tips visit our website.

  5. Stop buying bottled water and soft drinks. Imagine a plastic bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. That’s roughly how much oil it took to make that bottle. Not only will you save carbon with a reusable drinks bottle, you’ll end up being healthier AND saving money too. Read this from the National Geographic’s blog to get the full picture or contact us for more information.

  6. Ditch the disposables. If we all cut back on paper towels, disposable razors, cotton pads, plastic forks and takeaway coffee cups and containers imagine how much we’d prevent from going to landfill! Investing in reusable items not only reduces waste and saves carbon, it could also save you money in the long run if you’re used to buying repeat items. If you’re passionate about reducing waste and want to do even more, why not volunteer with us?

  7. Remember your bags.  It takes very little planning to remember your bags when going shopping. Many reusable shopping bags fold up nice and small and will fit in your pocket or handbag.  Don’t forget, it’s not just supermarket bags we need to cut down on – high street shops are culprits too!

  8. Go Fair trade. We don’t have a great track record when it comes to growing coffee, making wine or harvesting bumper banana crops in Scotland, yet we consume a lot of these things. While it’s always going to be more eco-friendly to eat and drink local produce, choosing fair trade products will at least mean that the thing we do consume from abroad are produced and traded ethically. For more info visit the Scottish Fair Trade Forum.

  9. Make a green choice when you switch. In adopting green behaviours (e.g. like the ones above) you’ll be saving some money. Why not invest those savings in renewable energy? No you don’t need to install solar panels on your roof – just ask your energy provider to switch you to a renewable supply (or find one who will). It’s usually a bit more expensive but it’s a very positive choice to make. Visit the Energy Saving Trust for more information.

  10. Stand up to standby. According to our friends at the Energy Saving Trust we still waste £35 a year in the UK by leaving things on standby when not in use. We won’t need to worry so much in the future but older appliances are the worst culprits. It’s just money down the drain and can be easily avoided.