10 easy ways to help your local area go green

Susannah Hickling / 26 August 2015

From renewable energy schemes to eating local to guerrilla gardening, there are lots of simple things you can do to improve your local environment - making your contribution towards a greener, healthier world.

Grow wildflowers

Instead of a lawn, consider sowing colourful native wildflowers to help protect dwindling varieties and wildlife habitats. Bees, nature’s great pollinators, will benefit, in particular. Only have a balcony? Grow wildflowers in pots. 

If you’re ambitious, try a bit of guerrilla gardening, planting flowers on road sides or under trees on streets. Or join up with your neighbours to create a river of flowers running from garden to garden, linking up cultivated and pesticide-free urban spaces to help pollinating insects and connect communities.

Read Val Bourne's guide to creating a wildflower meadow

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Ditch the car

Take the bus, walk or get on your bike. This will help keep traffic and pollution down. If you do drive, try to lift share (also known as car pooling or ride-sharing). Or go without a car altogether and join a car club, hiring a car for the time you need it.

Pick up litter

Your council can help you organise a clean-up by providing litter grabbers and other equipment, and clearing up the bin bags you fill. Join an existing group or create one on litteraction.org.uk, run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. To join the annual Beachwatch beach clean and survey, contact the Marine Conservation Society, mcsuk.org.

Keep an eye on wildlife

Count water voles, bees, birds, trees and more on your own or with others. The data you collect will help with conservation. Find a survey to suit you on the People’s Trust for Endangered Species website, ptes.org.uk.

Cultivate an edible garden

Are there underused or neglected spaces near you? They could be suitable for community food growing, where local people cultivate grass verges, private front gardens, even hanging baskets. Check out this government guide to setting up a community food project.

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Set up a renewable energy scheme

How about solar energy for your village, or a new wood-pellet boiler for the community centre? More and more communities are setting up their own renewable energy schemes, reducing carbon emissions and saving – even making – money. Advice is available from the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Eat local

Support your local economy, help reduce food miles and eat fresher food by sourcing as much food as possible from your local area. The Campaign to Protect Rural England asks people to aim to buy 30% from within 30 miles of their home. A good place to start is with a local food box scheme, where a grower delivers seasonal produce. The Soil Association has a handy directory. And why not become a collection point for food boxes in your neighbourhood? There are also Food Assemblies across the country selling produce directly from farmers to consumers in the local area, if there isn't one locally you could look at setting one up in your town. Find out more about The Food Assembly at thefoodassembly.com.

Swap your unwanted stuff

Consider running a community swap shop event to prevent more items going to landfill. No money changes hands – you simply swap books, CDs, toys, kitchenware or other unwanted articles for something brought in by someone else. Download a useful guide at lowcarbonhub.org. A ‘swishing’ party is a great eco-friendly and sociable way to offload and acquire clothes. More information from swishing.com.

Get into community composting

Composting food and garden waste may be more practical if done on a community level. It also brings people together. People take their waste to a central hub – perhaps at local allotments - and then use the resulting compost. Your council’s recycling officer should be able to offer guidance, or go to wrap.org.uk.

Rip up your garden paving

By getting rid of the hard surfaces in your garden and opting instead for gravel or good old flower beds, you will enable rain to soak into the soil rather than run off into drains. Depaving helps to replenish groundwater supplies and prevent flooding.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.