Sustainability at home

At home you have more control over what you do, such as the food you eat and the energy you use. However, it also means that, without even noticing, you might be doing things that are not environmentally friendly - even costing you money!

On this page, you will find lots of small and simple actions that you can take to significantly reduce your environmental impact. This information was put together by ENSA, The Edinburgh Napier Sustainable Society and Edinburgh Napier University.


Energy and water consumption

Energy and water consumption

  • Don’t keep your heating on all the time and keep it below 20°C - you can always put on a jumper if you get cold!
  • Turn off all unnecessary lights
  • Use LED or energy-efficient lightbulbs - they last longer and save lots of energy.
  • While you’re at it, turn off all unnecessary appliances as well. Unplugging and switching off your laptop instead of leaving it on standby could save you around £7 in electricity costs every year
  • Plugged in chargers still use electricity when they’re on but not being used!
  • Wash your clothes at 30°C and hang up your clothes to air dry instead of using the tumble dryer.
  • Only boil the amount of water that you want to use in the kettle - you don’t need to fill it to the top for one cup of tea!
  • If you are using a pan, remember to use the lid.
  • Fill a bowl and wash all your dishes together rather than under a running tap - it can save you £25 a year.
  • Spend less time in the shower. A 5-minute shower uses around 60 litres of water.
  • Unsubscribe from emails you aren’t reading (yes, receiving emails emits CO2!)
  • Switch to a renewable energy provider if you can, by using a service such as USwitch.
  • Visit the Energy Saving Trust for some energy saving quick wins and tips!


  • Try to buy seasonal and local fruit and vegetables. For example, don;t buy strawberries in December!
  • Don’t waste food. Make sure you buy only what you need and reuse your leftovers. It’s better for the planet and your wallet as well! You can make use of SHRUB’s Rescue Food Supermarket and apps like TooGoodToGo to help find new ways to reduce your food waste.
  • Freeze your food to make it last longer!
  • For food scraps, make sure that you use a food bin to compost it! If you don’t have a compost bin you can request one from the council for free. Just visit
  • Eat less meat! If you eat meat, try and have one or two meatless days a week. It takes about 322 litres of water to produce a kilo of vegetables but 15,415 litres to produce 1kg of beef! Find out more at
  • Check best-by and use-by dates so you’re not throwing out food.
  • Try and choose food which comes in less to no packaging. For example, loose fruit and veg, one big bag of oats instead of individual packets.
  • Drink water from the tap instead of buying bottled water! The water is great in Scotland.
  • Did you know 70% of the food we waste in the UK comes from our homes? Find out more about reducing food waste at

Household products and toiletries

  • Try to choose natural products to clean your flat or make your own, for example using white vinegar to clean surfaces.
  • Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen and bathroom - you can even use old t-shirts to clean!
  • Switch to reusable period products such as reusable pads, period pants and menstrual cups. You can order them for free through the University’s Free Period scheme.
  • Don’t rush to flush! Did you know around 4.6 million period products are flushed down UK toilets every day? These products make their way to our oceans, litter our beaches, and can cause real harm to our water systems. Wrap it, bin it, and NEVER flush it!
  • Choose eco-friendly toiletries. Make the effort to avoid toothpaste and face washes with plastic microbeads, and instead switch to more natural alternatives. For example, use natural bar soap instead of body-wash in a plastic bottle. You can also get shampoo and conditioner bars.
  • You can also experiment and make your own toiletries! Some of them are easy to make - YouTube has many good tutorials out there.

Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle

  • Avoiding or reusing items should always be prioritised before recycling. But if this is not an option then you must make sure that you recycle properly!
  • If something breaks, find out if you can repair it rather than getting rid of it. For example, you could sew your clothes or fix your bike.
  • Give your unwanted items to others who might make use out of them instead of throwing them away - one person’s trash is another’s treasure! There are lots of options, including charities, friends, buy and sell Facebook groups and Gumtree.
  • Visit Changeworks for a map of charity shops across Edinburgh
  • Reuse plastic and glass containers to store food and other items.
  • When you’re recycling, make sure you’re informed about what goes in each bin by visiting It covers all of Scotland and links to each of the 32 local authority areas.
  • Another recycling reminder is that you need to rinse your glass and plastic pots so that there is no food residue on them before you put them in the recycling.
  • Making products from recycled materials uses less energy than if raw materials are used. The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle alone could run a washing machine for 10 minutes!
  • Not sure if you can recycle an Item or not? Look it up on Zero Waste Scotland. The website also has plenty of other guides and tips for how to reduce waste.

Find out more

The hints and tips we've pulled together are just a few ways to help reduce your environmental impact at home.There are plenty of other ways you can reduce waste, save energy and make a difference - check out the links below for more information and further resources!

For more information, visit, email to get in touch with the University or visit the ENSA website.