What can I do?
Are you looking for ways of doing things more sustainably? Why not take a look at the challenges below and try something new to help make a difference?
Economic Action Plan
Sustainability is not all about being ‘green’ - its about improving all aspects of our lives. This can be socially, economically or environmentally. Here are 9 areas that can improve some of the economic aspects of your lifestyle.
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Whether your finances are looking a little unhealthy or fighting fit, it's always a good idea to keep track of your money. The best way of doing this is to set yourself a budget - list everything that's coming in and be honest with yourself where it's going out. This is the first step to either getting yourself out of debt and saving for the future!
Use the FSA online budget calculator to help you put together your budget
Try and keep a spending diary by writing down every penny you spend
Seek help if you are in debt and don't know how to get out of it - don't ignore the problem!
Get impartial advice from the Money Made Clear website from the Financial Services Authority -
For help with debt problems see the Citizens Advice Bureau
2. Extra Money
If you haven’t got enough money to cover your expenses or if you want some extra money for something special such as a holiday, are there any opportunities to find that extra bit of cash?
Check your income and see if there is anything else you’re entitled to, such as benefits or tax credits..
See where you can make savings, for example how much money could you save by bringing a packed lunch (this could also help you eat healthier too)
Declutter your home and see if you can sell anything at a car boot sale or even on small ads!
For a list of welfare benefits try looking at the Citizens Advice Bureau's Advice Guide
3. Ethical Banking
Put your money where your mouth is and invest your savings in an ethical bank account – there’s a few to chose from and they all have ethical policies based on social and environmental criteria which ensures your money is working for a good cause.
4. Work/Life Balance
Are you enjoying life and work? The pace of life seems to be getting faster and demands upon your time are increasing. Your performance at work can depend on your quality of life outside work so it is in the interest of both aspects of your life to get the balance right!
Are you making the most of flexible working options available to you?
Are you aware of any workplace benefits that are available to you such as workplace activities and childcare provision?
5. New Skills
It is never too late to learn something new and it could help you improve your job prospects and make you work more effectively.
Try and gain new skills in your current job - explore your options for skill-sharing or work shadowing in your group.
Discuss any training opportunities with your manager and sign up for a course.
Keep your skills up to date.
6. Job Prospects
There are a number of easy ways to improve your job prospects and you can start by being prepared.
Keep your CV up to date
Practise your interview techniques
Consider taking qualifications outside work time to improve your skills (see New Skills)
Sign up to receive the HCC jobs update
7. Support Local/Independent shops
Put money back into your local community by supporting local businesses.
Try and shop at your local corner shop, butcher and baker instead of large supermarket chains. It is a myth that supermarkets are cheaper for everything!
Shop at the farmers markets - not only are you supporting local producers but what you buy will be fresher and will have less food miles (see Local foods).
8. Fair-trade and Organic
Your spending power is one of the most powerful ways to make your voice heard – the secret to change is to vote with your wallet!
Buy goods with the Fairtrade logo, ensuring workers are not exploited and are paid decent wages. Why not buy Fairtrade for your work coffee club!
Join an organic vegetable box scheme and really taste the difference.
9. Environmentally-friendly products
Avoid filling your house with a cocktail of chemicals and chose the environmentally-friendly option.
Buy cleaning and washing products from brands such as Ecover and avoid flushing chemicals back to our rivers and seas.
Think about your health and buy organic paints in preference to oil-based chemical paints.
Buy recycled paper or wood from sustainable forests – look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on timber products.
Buy recycled goods and goods with recycled packaging - milk bottles can be recycled up to 100 times!
Green Shop - buy sustainable, eco friendly and fair-trade products
Social Action Plan
Sustainability is not all about being ‘green’ - its about improving all aspects of our lives. This can be socially, economically or environmentally. Here are 9 areas that can improve the social aspects of your lifestyle.
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Why not give up your time to become a volunteer. You could be contributing to community life or helping to protect and improve your local environment. It will enable you to develop new skills and meet new people and could also be a good way to get some exercise. Here are some ideas of where you could volunteer:
At a local country park
for a local charity
at a care home
Hampshire County Council’s Recreation and Heritage Volunteering
2. Time Management
To minimise stress and enable you to get as much as you can out of each day, consider ways of managing your time more effectively both at work and at home. Consider the following:
Keep a diary.
Take 15 minutes a day to reflect on what needs to be done and get organised.
De-clutter at home and in your office.
Sign up to a time management course.
Take time out at lunch whenever possible to relax and get away from your desk.
Take an IT course to manage your email more effectively.
Why not try and use any spare time you have to learn something new or to develop your skills further in something you already love doing. Not only are you spending time doing something which you enjoy but you might meet new people and even reduce stress. Here are some ideas:
Gardening - you could grow your own vegetables or create a wildlife haven. Even if you don’t have a garden you can still plant things in window boxes, old bins or whatever you have to hand! Or why not try an allotment.
Sign up to a Workplace Activities course (see Exercise).
Why not try an adult learning courses (see New Skills).
4. Balanced diet
Food is part of our everyday life. With our busy lifestyles and with such a wide variety of foods on sale it is easy not to make healthy choices. Some basic tips for eating well include:
Base your meals on starchy foods
Try to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day
Eat more fish (Sustainable Fish visit the Marine Conservation Society for more information)
Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
Try to eat less salt
Drink plenty of water
Don’t skip breakfast
5. Local Foods
Buying local food means you are supporting local businesses and also cutting down on your food miles which will benefit the producers, the environment and the local community.
Buy locally produced food that’s in season – best bet is a Hampshire Farmers’ market.
Food Miles - try to buy produce from Hampshire where possible, or at least from the UK.
Order the Hampshire Fare option for your lunch time meetings.
Join an organic vegetable box scheme and really taste the difference.
Buy locally produced food in Hampshire - Hampshire Fare
Buy food that's in season
Why not try out some new recipes with your local seasonal produce! It’s a good way to make sure you’re eating healthily too.
Invest in a good cookbook and try and cook something new, healthy and not processed.
Enrol in a cookery course at your local adult education centre (see New Skills)
Find out if your children’s school has run ‘The Cook and Eat Programme’ which involves both parents and children looking at their nutritional intake.
Exercise can help reduce stress and keep you healthy. This doesn’t necessary mean being confined to a sweaty gym – if you choose an activity that you actually enjoy, you are much more likely to stick with it! There are a wide range of activities that you can take part in, for example have you tried ultimate Frisbee or ballroom dancing! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Join your local gym.
Get out in the garden (see gardening).
Walk or Cycle to work, this is not only good for your health but also for the environment and its cheaper too!
Walk some of Hampshire's 3,000 miles of rights of way both long and short walks in Hampshire's Country side.
Cycling in Hampshire
Walking in Hampshire
We all have a different idea of what stress is and how it effects us but most of us relate it with excessive pressures or other types of demands placed on us. The effects of stress can lead to physical symptoms of ill health as well as longer term psychological damage. Try these ways to reduce stress:
Employee Support Line - this is a confidential counselling and support service provided by trained, experienced counsellors. It provides face-to-face counselling and is available throughout Hampshire (HCC Staff Only)
Do you manage your time effectively? (see Time Management)
Learn to relax naturally – why not get out in the garden or do some mild exercise (see Exercise)
Dealing with Stress (BBC)
9. Your Health
Being healthy is not just about eating a balanced diet or doing the right amount of exercise it can include a number of other things, such as:
If you smoke, why not try and give up – we all know the risks and there is help if you want to give up smoking.
Are you doing enough exercise? (see Exercise)
Are you eating a balanced diet? (see Food)
Manage your stress successfully (see Stress)
Environment Action Plan
Although sustainability is not only about being ‘green’, the environmental issues tend to be the ones that most people know about. You may think you are doing all you can but follow our 9 actions below and see if there is anything else you can do.
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1. Work out your carbon footprint
Your Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact your activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Why not work out yours and see where you could try and reduce your footprint.
2. Saving Energy
We all contribute to climate change by the carbon emissions generated from our homes. The good news is that we can all be part of the solution by reducing the amount of energy we use. Look at our checklist and see what you can do.
Energy Checklist from the 9 Lives Campaign
3. Saving Water
The amount of water each of us uses at home has doubled since 1980. We can’t go on being that thirsty, so look at this water saving checklist and see what you can do. If you do one thing, have a water meter installed. Contact your water company who will install it for you for free! If you’re sensible with how much water you use, your water bill will go down
Water Checklist from the 9 Lives campaign
Look at the Water Guide website for water saving tips and to find out who your local water company is.
Out of the 3 R’s this is the most important one! Why not try the following:
Buy goods with little or no packaging – let’s encourage manufacturers to see there is a market for ‘less wrapped’ products.
Sign up with a service that removes you from junk mail databases – it will take you less than 5 minutes.
Use cotton nappies instead of disposable ones – in two years one child will have used paper padding in disposable nappies equivalent to 20 trees - that’s a small forest!
Drink tap water rather than bottled water – it’s up to 1,000 times cheaper with no nasty plastic waste!
Think before you print – do you really need it? Try and reduce the amount of paper you use in the office.
With the waste you do produce is there anything you can do to re-use it:
Use your imagination to reuse as much as possible - envelopes, carrier bags, plastic tubs, etc.
Reuse shopping bags or buy a strong re-usable bag for life.
Can it be repaired? Think before you bin!
Donate unwanted items to charity shops – if you’re feeling really keen why not volunteer a few hours at the shop too!
Buy refillable products and refills where possible – get your computer printer cartridges re-filled, it’s cheaper than buying a new one!
Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, cuts down on energy use and pollution. The cost of dealing with rubbish is rising steeply! Do you recycle everything you can?
Recycle as much as possible of what you can’t reuse (glass, cans, paper, plastics, clothes/textiles, etc) - in the UK we recycle about 25% of our waste compared to about 60% in the rest of Europe, a truly rubbish performance!
Recycle your old mobile phone at your nearest Oxfam shop – a scandalous 2 million phones a year are currently thrown away in the UK.
Recycle large items such as 'white goods', electrical appliances and furniture at your local household waste recycling centre.
Further information on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Give and get stuff for free in your town with Freecycle -
Reduce junk mail with The Mailing Preference Service
7. Green Fingers
Gardening is not only a good way to get outside and get some exercise it is also good for the environment! Here’s a few things to get you started:
Why not get a subsidised composter and recycle your green waste - up to 20% of household rubbish can be turned into first-class organic compost and make your garden grow.
Collect rainwater in a water butt for watering plants – it saves water and is far better for the plants.
Create a wildlife haven - plant native wild flowers, build a pond and put up nest boxes as a way of promoting biodiversity.
Create a wildlife-friendly garden - BBC Gardening website
8. Travel to work
More of us are choosing to travel by car which is contributing to an increase in greenhouse gases that causes climate change. Increased levels of traffic also cause congestion in our town centres which can lead to poor air quality and associated health problems. So think before you jump in the car – here are a few ways you can help to reduce these problems:
Cut down on car journeys, especially if you live close to work – walk or cycle instead.
If you do drive, slow down. Driving at 50mph uses 25% less fuel than 70mph.
Next time you buy a car, why not go for a fuel-efficient / environmentally-friendly car.
Take advantage of reduced rail fare with South West Trains Offer (HCC staff only).
Share commuter car journeys with work colleagues or friends - up to a third of all car mileage is accounted for by the drive to work.
Walk your children to school or share a run with their friends - up to 20% of rush hour traffic is due to children being driven to school.
Looking for someone to share a car journey with - Hampshire Car Share
Choose a car that's better for the environment - Environmental Transport Association
With the growing concerns about carbon emissions from air travel why not try to avoid flying where possible:
Find alternative ways to travel – if you travel by train for example you will not only be reducing your carbon emissions but you will see more of the country you are visiting.
Why not holiday in the UK, this will not only lessen your impact but will also help keep money in the UK.
If you have no alternative, consider offsetting your carbon emissions.
Reduce the impact of your travel with Climate Care Trust -
Find alternative ways to travel with the man in seat sixty-one