Oxfam's Top Tips for Sustainable Living

Want to redesign the way you live to put sustainability at the heart?

Here are some tips to help you out...

Ed Nix/Oxfam

Second hand furniture at the Oxfam Superstore

Second hand furniture in the Oxfam Superstore.

What is sustainable living?

Sustainable living means making choices today that will positively impact the planet tomorrow. Day-to-day, living sustainably means being conscious of how we shop, use our home appliances, travel and more.

It can also be about how we can act collectively to call for systemic change.

Why is sustainable living important?

You will often hear the phrase, “we don't need a handful of people doing it perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”.

We can all play our part in reducing our own carbon emissions - by living more sustainably - as individuals and as communities. Let’s keep that up.

But we must also hold our governments to account. Stand in solidarity with people worldwide. And push for bold systemic action on climate change.

That means urgently reducing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. And significantly increasing finance to help communities around the world to survive and thrive despite the changing climate.

You can write to your MP on climate with Oxfam, and help make sure the UK government lives up to its commitments on climate change.

The UK government must continue efforts to bring countries back to the table and ensure the commitment of limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C is upheld. Any further delay risks missing the rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

Oxfam’s Head of Government Relations, Sam Nadel, UK


People cycling over a green painted road with 1.5 degrees C written on it.

Tips for sustainable shopping

Shop second hand

Shopping second hand is a great way to make items last longer and keep products in circulation. There’s also the bonus of finding something unique and interesting to give your home a more individual look. The fastest way to add some personality to your home while also shopping consciously is to source pre-loved homewares. On the Oxfam online shop, you can find everything from retro glassware to antique candelabras, vintage trinket boxes and contemporary coffee table books. Alternatively, search Shop Finder to find your nearest Oxfam store.

How to make your home more sustainable

Donate your pre-loved goods

Sometimes holding on to items you no longer need or have space for can be inevitable. There comes a time when a clear out can do a world of good, for you and others, when you donate your items to charity. There of lots of items that can be donated directly to your local Oxfam shop or through Oxfam’s postal donation service because what might be of no use to you now could be just what someone else is looking for. Plus, the more items that are given a second lease of life means less items ending up in landfill.

Use sustainable washing products

Sustainable washing products are cruelty-free and use ingredients from sustainable sources. They don’t use harsh chemicals that contribute to polluting our rivers and seas and are often free from plastic packaging. When it comes to washing your clothes, you can reduce the number of plastic fibres shed from your clothes by using a guppy friend bag as well as using eco-friendly laundry products.

Plastic free food shopping

In countries like New Zealand, it's common for people to take old cardboard boxes and shopping bags to the supermarket to transport their shopping home in. This practice has grown in popularity in the UK and is a great way to reduce the use of single use plastic. Outside of supermarket shopping, ordering vegetable boxes and food from Fairtrade, ethical brands reduces waste and supports local businesses. You’re also likely to find a selection of glass Tupperware containers in your local Oxfam shop for an attractive way to display herbs and spices in your kitchen.

Make your bathroom more eco friendly

You don't have to use bleach and other detergents that can be dangerous for the ecosystem to clean effectively. Companies like Bio D make sustainable bathroom cleaning products that come in recycled packaging and can be refilled. As well as being made from natural derived alternatives which are kinder to the planet, they’re also cruelty-free, vegan and Allergy UK-approved for greater peace of mind.


How to make your homeware and decor more sustainable

Use responsibly sourced decor

Nothing beats a sustainable home with a one-of-a-kind look. Using off-cuts and end of line items is one way to shop responsibly while creating unique textiles and furniture for your living space. Upcycling second hand items yourself also reduces costs and can give you a sense of satisfaction that you’ve made it your own. A quick YouTube tutorial can teach you how to upholster your own chairs or take them to a local business that can do it for you. Why not turn second hand fabrics such as vintage blankets into statement cushion covers?

Decorate with greenery

From planting your own vegetable patch, to scattering bee-friendly seeds in your garden, there’s a host of ways to decorate with greenery and it’s not just your outdoor area that can benefit from sustainable living. Nothing quite transforms a tired, forgotten corner of your home than when you add botanicals into the mix. Not only do plants boost your mood and improve air quality in your living space, they’re often a cheaper, planet friendly alternative to buying accessories brand new.

A selection of ethical homewares from the Sourced By Oxfam collection