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Materials and Products

The UK’s material footprint (total raw materials extracted for consumption as goods or services) was estimated as 971 million tonnes in 2018, equivalent to 14.6 tonnes per person. A lot of what we consume is now imported from elsewhere in the world, having catastrophic impacts on both the land there, and the associated demands of transportation. To live sustainably, it is important to both buy LESS and buy BETTER; only replace what we need to, with high-quality, sustainable alternatives.

How to make a change in your community

  • Encourage Refill points for reusable water bottles. Install new points, and encourage organisations and businesses which already have the facilities to advertise it to the public and allow people to use them.
  • Support local shops to move away from plastic bags to reusable alternatives. One example of a similar scheme in place is ‘Brummie cup’ reusable coffee cup, where customers pay a deposit to borrow a reusable cup.
  • Campaign against over-consumption, promote sustainable living to your community.
  • Introduce sharing schemes for equipment and facilities, such as gardening tools or office space, to reduce the need for everyone have their own.
  • Encourage developers to use sustainable construction materials, introduce a set of standards for new developments and for updating older buildings etc.

Example Actions

  • Introduce standards for new buildings to adhere to – try and be stricter than current national standards.
  • Create a network of water refill points for public use
  • Hold a sustainable business forum with local businesses to discuss sustainable procurement

Useful Links

brummie cup reusable coffee cup scheme.

The Sustainable Business Partnership CIC provides advice and runs events on reducing costs and limiting environmental impact.

Bioregional offer Sustainable Built Environment consultancy, for development, local authorities and retrofitting.

Suggested Tools

Bioregional offer Sustainability Consulting for Local Authorities.

Net Zero Navigator tool for identifying and building plans to reach net-zero in UK local authority areas. 

Join the Climate Emergency Network on Knowledge Hub, for sharing information between local authorities 

Local Government Association – Climate change hub, includes tools such as Greenhouse Gas Accounting tool for identifying baselines.

Support local businesses to pledge to reducing their environmental impact with the West Midlands Net Zero Business Pledge 

Ashden Sustainability plan Toolkit for Councils: 


The National Audit Office Report into Local Government and Net Zero identified £1.2 billion in specific grant funding available in 2020-2021 for local authorities to act on climate change, and notes this is a sixteen-fold increase on the previous year.

Download an Action Plan so you can set your own goals!

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