Challenge yourself to be more sustainable

Fancy being a bit greener and healthier in 2021? Here are a few small, money-saving steps you can make that you could take to reduce your carbon footprint

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 21 Jan 2021
  • Glasgow Science Centre

It’s a new year! It’s a new you! But it’s the same ol’ planet Earth. So if you’re looking to make a positive change in 2021, we recommend joining Glasgow Science Centre’s Climate Action Challenge to take a few small steps to make a significantly smaller carbon footprint. From saving emissions through perambulation to paying more attention to what’s in your fridge, here are five easy ways to challenge yourself to be more eco-friendly, which will not only help save the planet but a considerable amount of your disposable income too.

Shorter showers

We get it. There’s nothing nicer than a long soak under a hot shower after a hard day, especially when the temperature outside is barely above freezing. But while your fingers turn to prunes, you’re wasting litres upon litres of fresh, drinkable water. The average shower in the UK is reported to be a whopping seven minutes, using over 65 litres of water. Unless you’ve just escaped from Shawshank Prison via a sewage pipe, that seems like overkill. Four minutes should be more than ample to scrub all your nooks and crannies, and those three minutes you shaved off your shower time will save 27 litres of water and quite a bit on your energy bills.

To help you keep your showers brief, here are five great tracks to listen to in the shower that are four minutes or less and should get you set for your morning. Just be careful not to slip on the soap while you’re dancing around.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk [3m 45s] 
Rain on Me – Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande [3m 08s]
Sweat It Out – Bossy Love [3m 02s]
Wild Wild Life – Talking Heads [3m 41s]
Cool – Dua Lipa [3m 35s]

Walk the walk

I love to walk. Towns and cities don’t have much flavour if you limit yourself to a couple of bus routes or thoroughfares by car. On foot, you get to explore those twisted alleyways and cobbled lanes down which no motorist dares venture. And the reduced speed of perambulation means your eyes can pick out more than just the landmarks.

Shops and cafes that you might never have noticed in your vehicle start to spring out at you. You’ll spot more of the nature that’s all around you city – squirrels, sparrows, foxes – and start to appreciate the finer details of its architecture. You’ll probably feel healthier in body (walking a mile burns a similar number of calories as running a mile) and mind (walking boosts stress-busting endorphins), but you’ll also be slashing your carbon footprint.

Wear those jeans a few more days

Let’s face it, you’re sitting around the house all day, does that cosy jumper you’re wearing as you work from home really need to go in the wash? And instead of throwing those jeans in the laundry because you tried to eat a fried egg sandwich for lunch, take an old toothbrush to those yolk spots. Not only will you save energy and water by reducing your washing load, you’ll also increase the lifespan of your clothes. You can make your wash even more eco-friendly by turning the setting to the cold wash, a slower spin cycle, airdrying instead of tumble drying and using a guppy bag to catch plastic fibres.

Audit your fridge

We all want to eat sustainably, and that might mean buying local food in season, which will require a bit more research on your part before you throw that tasty looking stalk of broccoli into your trolly, or seeking out some of the brilliant zero waste shops that are popping up across Scotland and don’t use any unnecessary packaging (just remember to bring your old Tupperware and cleaned out jam jars when you shop).

But the easiest way to eat sustainably is simply use all the food you buy. Take some time today to sort through your fridge and create a ‘must eat now’ shelf. Are a whole load of veggies about to turn? Easy, stick them all in a big pot with some water and a stock cube and you’ve got soup for days.

Borrow, swap, or thrift a book

There’s nothing better than browsing secondhand book shops and finding a gem by one of your favourite authors in the stacks or taking a chance on a dog-eared volume with an enticing cover. And once you’ve read a great book, you probably want to talk about it with someone, so press it into the hands of one of your bookworm friends and chances are they’ll have something on their shelves for you in return. Or simply sign up to your local library, where that copy of that book you love won’t just be appreciated by two or three people, but by dozens if not hundreds of readers. 

Glasgow Science Centres's Our World, Our Impact programme is delivered with support from the Scottish Government. To find out more about the Our World, Our Impact programme or its Climate Action Challenge campaign, head to