When it comes to looking after our planet, all of us have a part to play. Here, freelance writer Charlotte Lorimer outlines five simple changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint, use less plastic and support businesses using recycled or sustainable materials.

Fancy a cuppa?

In Britain, we drink around 100 million cups of tea every day. But many of the tea bags we use are sealed with plastic polypropylene, which is not recyclable or biodegradable.

The good news is that several of the nation’s favourite brands now use a bio-plastic or an alternative material for their tea bags, including PG Tips, Clipper and Teapigs. Yorkshire Tea is in the process of switching to bioplastic and Twinings has some plastic-free options, such as their loose leaf pyramid tea bags, made from maize starch.

Herbal tea business Pukka has been plastic-free from the beginning, meaning that all their tea bags are fully compostable. Tea bags containing the plastic polypropylene need to be put in landfill, not compost, otherwise they’ll contaminate other food waste. To find out if the teabags you use contain plastic, have a look at the packaging or the company website.

Razor sharp

Disposable razors are made from mixed materials, meaning that they’re very difficult to recycle. If you use handheld razors, rather than an electric razor blade or epilator, why not invest in a more sustainable alternative?

For example, I use a razor with a bamboo handle rather than a plastic one, sold by Bulldog. The razor and replacement blades also come in recyclable cardboard packaging.

Another option is subscription service Friction Free Shaving (FFS), which runs a pioneering blade recycling scheme for its customers. Simply save up 12 razor heads, package them in the razor box and post them back to the team, who will then dismantle and recycle the parts.

If you’re switching to a new razor, you may also want to try swapping shaving foam for shaving soap, which tends to have more eco-friendly packaging than disposable aerosols do.

Lightbulb moment

One switch that could save you money, as well as helping save the planet, is moving to a new energy provider. Octopus Energy, Ecotricity, Tonik Energy and Bulb are all renewable energy providers, and often cheaper than traditional energy providers.

Something I like about Bulb, the provider I use, is that every time someone switches to them, they donate £2 to the Bulb Foundation, which strives to slow the progress of climate change and help communities already dealing with its effects.

Businesses can also look into becoming greener by running their offices on renewable energy. All four of Starling’s offices run on renewable energy and we always encourage our staff to reuse and recycle where possible.

Squeaky clean

Did you know that you should replace your toothbrush every three-four months? It’s an important habit for healthy teeth but it also results in millions of plastic toothbrushes ending up in landfill or our oceans. In the UK alone, an estimated 264 million toothbrushes are thrown away every year.

Like razors, there are many eco-friendly alternatives with bamboo rather than plastic handles. After speaking to Rachael Beasley of The Good Brush Company, I immediately bought one of her 95% biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes. I also signed up to her subscription service so that every three months, a new toothbrush pops through the post.

In addition, each time I pay for a replacement, The Good Brush Company donates another toothbrush to the charity Dentaid, who then distributes them to the vulnerable and homeless people in the UK.

Bank on it

Being mindful of your environmental impact isn’t just about how you spend your money, it’s also about where you keep your money. As a branchless, largely paperless bank hosted in the cloud, Starling Bank has a lower carbon footprint than high street banks. Starling does not invest in fossil-fuel based energy companies, arms companies or tobacco companies, among others.

We’ve also recently launched our refer a friend scheme with Trillion Trees, a joint venture between three of the world’s largest conservation organisations – BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF, that aims to save, re-grow and protect one trillion trees by 2050. Every time a Starling customer recommends us to someone and they become a new Starling customer, we plant a tree as a thank you. It’s vital to protect and sustain forests in order to maintain healthy soil, air and levels of biodiversity. It’s something that we can all be a part of.

If you’re already a Starling customer, why not spread the word and refer us to friends and family through your app? You can also switch to us, a process that’s guaranteed within seven working days. When you switch, your old bank account will be closed and your balance, plus direct debits and standing orders, will be transferred across to Starling.

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