Be a Smart Shopper

Tips on how to be savvy when you shop

  • Use a reusable bag/ a bag for life instead of plastic carrier bags.
  • Try reusable alternatives to throwaway items such as razors.
  • Buy refills – reduce packaging and save money.
  • Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed.
  • Avoid convenience foods with layers of packaging.
  • Choose Gift Vouchers for goods or experiences. Buy a “Gift for Life” from the charity of your choice.
  • Remember to take old clothes and toys to a charity shop.
  • Turn old Christmas cards into new things! For example bookmarks or gift tags.
  • Buy rechargeable batteries.
  • Buy reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper.

Recycling 101

You don’t have to buy another bin for your recycling. There are loads of ways you can create some extra storage for collecting your recycling.

Hack a Bin

Hack #1

Keep a basket under the stairs, or by the front door, to store your papers/magazines in before taking them to your outdoor recycling bin.

Hack #3

Use bags for life to store bottles for recycling. Hang them on the inside of a kitchen cupboard door or in utility cupboards out of sight.

Hack #5

Re-use cardboard wine carriers to store glass bottles neatly for recycling.

Hack #2

If you have kids, get them to decorate a plastic or cardboard box to store your recycling – not only will it look brighten up your bin area, it’ll encourage them to use it too!

Hack #4

Store an old bucket under the sink to put your cans, glass and plastic in after you’ve rinsed them out.

Check out some hacks we love:

Shop savvy

Read on to find out how you can make a difference each time you shop.

Keep a tote bag handy

There are loads of little things you can do, that over time will massively reduce the amount of waste you produce. An easy one is to always keep a tote or reusable shopping bag on you so that when you pop into the shops for bits and bobs, you won’t be caught empty-handed (and save yourself 10p) If you have a car, keep some in the boot, then you’ll be covered for your big shops too.

Person borrowing a spanner don’t buy - borrow

Hire tools or borrow from friends or family for odd jobs, rather than buying your own. If you live in South London, check out Library of Things who have all sorts of tools and bits of kit you can borrow.

You can also check websites like GumtreeGivelyI Love Freegle or Freecycle to see if anyone is giving away the very tools you are looking for!



Choose re-usable rather than disposable

Always try to choose re-usable products rather than disposable or single-use ones. Re-chargeable batteries are cheaper than disposable ones for example and can be used over and over. Think about investing in a re-usable water bottle – most pay for themselves after only a few refills. Even if you’re only buying one single-use bottle of water a day, over a year that’s 365 plastic bottles, a few hundred quid and an increase to your carbon footprint. Likewise, a reusable coffee cup is a great investment to make, especially as a few chains give you money off drinks when you bring your own cup.

Avoid disposable cutlery – it’s nicer to eat with real knives and forks anyway! There’s nothing worse than a flimsy plastic fork which snaps in two halfway through your meal. If you’re at work, keep some cutlery in your desk or locker, and if you’re on the go, keep a set in your bag. There’s loads of nice bamboo or metal sets out there which come in portable cases, or if you’re on a budget, wrap some cutlery in a napkin and you’re good to go.

Buy loose fruit and veg

Try and buy your veggies loose. It can be hard to do as most fruit and veg in supermarkets comes wrapped in plastic, but if you get your greens from a market (and some small corner shops) you can get huge amounts of loose fruit and veg without any packaging. Often, it’s much cheaper too and you’ll be supporting small, local businesses!

Some ideas at a glance

  • Use totes or reusable bags for your shopping
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle
  • Get a keep cup for your coffee
  • Use real cutlery when on-the-go
  • Ask your local deli if you can take away food in your own container
  • Buy online magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Try out shampoo and soap bars
  • Had a baby? Try reusable nappies

Gift memories, not things

Give the gift of an experience and lasting memories for your friends and family. Some of our favourite ideas:

  • Dinner at a favourite local restaurant
  • A pamper package
  • Language lessons
  • A dance taster class
  • National Trust Membership
  • Passes to a museum or special exhibition
  • Tickets to a play

10 Easy ways to reduce your waste

No. 1

Read the news on your phone instead of picking up a paper.

No. 4

Use scrap envelopes and junk mail to write your to-do list in the morning.

No. 7

When you head out to lunch, take a reusable container with you, and ask your local deli or lunch haunt if you can take away your lunch in that, rather than a disposable plastic container.

No. 2

Get a KeepCup for your coffee.

Build these into your daily routine to make a big difference.

No. 5

If you have to print any documents, print black & white and double-sided.

No. 8

Invest in a reusable water bottle and fill it up at water fountains.

No. 10

Ask for a doggy bag when you go out for dinner to save food and money.

No. 3

Bring your own breakfast and lunch to work or school.

No. 6

Try not to print documents for meetings. Use technology to present instead and email agendas and slides to attendees beforehand.

No. 9

Use a natural loofah and compost at its end of life.

10 Easy ways to reduce your waste

Recycling symbols explained

Recycling symbols appear on all sorts of packaging. They tell you if the packaging can be recycled or not (the swoosh with the heart arrow) or what the packaging is made from (the symbols further down the page).

Not all packaging comes with a recycling label, so if you’re not sure what to do with something, check our recycling locator tool to find out if you can recycle it from home.

Widely Recycled

This label is applied to packaging that is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK, for example plastic bottles.

Not currently recycled

This symbol shows that less than 20% of local councils currently collect this packaging for recycling

Mobius Loop

This means an item can technically be recycled but not that it has been recycled or that it will be accepted for recycling. Sometimes this symbol is used with a percentage figure in the middle to explain that the packaging contains x% of recycled material.

Glass recycling

This symbol simply asks you to recycle the glass container. Find out more

Recyclable steel

This symbol means that the product is made of steel. All councils collect steel for recycling! Find out more

Waste electricals

This symbol explains that you should not place the electrical item in the general waste. Electrical items can be recycled through a number of channels. Find out more

Home composting

This symbol means that you can compost that item at home.

Widely recycled - rinse

Rinsing packaging, for example food trays, ensures that any food residue doesn’t contaminate other materials, particularly if they are collected together with paper. It also helps to stop attracting vermin into the recycling sorting centres where people work.

The Green Dot

The Green Dot doesn’t mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled. It’s a symbol used on packaging in some European countries and means the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.

Plastic resin codes

This tells you what kind of plastic an item is made of. Find out more

Recyclable aluminium

This symbol indicates that an item is made from recyclable aluminium. Find out more


This symbol from Keep Britain Tidy asks you not to litter.


Products certified to be industrially compostable might have this ‘seedling’ logo. Never put compostable plastics into your recycling or food waste recycling bin. Find out more

Paper, card and wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo means that in item has been made using wood from well managed forests.