1. Contact Us
Open site navigation menu

How can I help?

How can I help?

By working with residents, communities and business, Sunderland aims to become a carbon neutral city by 2040. 

So how can you help? 

  • Go local
  • Travel More Sustainably
  • Become more energy efficient
  • Reduce Waste
  • Reuse where possible
  • Recycle Waste

Go Local

  • Use your nearest amenities - support your local businesses and services
  • It's convenient! Convenience plays a huge part in our lives. After all, how easy is it to just 'pop to the shop' when it's within walking distance?
  • It's better for the environment by helping reduce your carbon footprint. Shopping locally and more sustainably is perfectly suited for those who are trying to minimise their environmental impact.
  • You help support local businesses. Buying from a local business or charity shop, whether from a market stall, an actual shop or an online shop, is a great way to support them financially show them you love what they do.

Travel More Sustainably

  • Walk to school or work: If everyone left their car at home twice a month it would benefit not only local air quality but also our planet.
  • Check if your child's schools operate a walking bus scheme: walking increases blood flow and gets you ready for the school day.
  • Cycle: Cycling is better for you than driving or getting public transport. It can help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve fitness. CycleStreets: UK-wide Cycle Journey Planner and Photomap: Cycle journey planner

Details of cycle paths in Sunderland can be found here: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/14790/Cycling-in-Sunderland

Step Up Sunderland is an app to make it easy for people who live and work in Sunderland to count steps and increase their daily activity. Find out more here: Step Up Sunderland

Air Quality: Travelling sustainably has a significant impact on local air quality. Whether you want to learn more about what air pollution is, how it affects your health, or what you can do to protect yourself from it and the action you can take to tackle it. You can get everything you need here.  

You can also use this Air Pollution Calculator to work out your individual contribution to air pollution in the UK and find out what you can do to reduce emissions and protect your health.

Here are some quick and easy ways you can both reduce your carbon footprint and help to improve our air today: 

  • Avoid burning waste at home 
  • Cut down on your meat and dairy intake 
  • Plant more trees and greenery
  • Increase the number of houseplants in your living space.

Become more Energy Efficient

  • Switch off appliances instead of standby
  • Boil only what you need in the kettle
  • Consider home energy generation where possible, e.g. solar panels, heat pumps
  • Change your light bulbs to LEDs.
  • Set your thermostat to 25°C in the summer and 20°C in the winter - every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage 6% to 8%. The Energy Saving Trust recommends heating your home to between 18 to 21 degrees Celsius during winter.
  • Wash your clothes at the coldest temperature possible, ideally 30°C.
  • Air seal your home. Sealing cracks, gaps and leaks and adding insulation can save up to 10% on home heating and cooling costs.
  • Use your microwave instead of your oven when cooking.
  • Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before ice build-up becomes 1/4-inch thick to ensure your appliances are running efficiently.
  • During warmer months, close blinds, shades, and drapes on the sunny side of your home to help keep your home's temperature cooler and open blinds during cooler months to let the sun warm your home.
  • Don't peek in the oven while baking! Every time you peek, the temperature drops, making your oven use more energy to bring the temperature back up.
  • Don't leave your electronics on all day long. Only turn on your computer, monitor, printer, or fax machine when you need them.
  • Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer's recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy.
  • Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary. They replace inside air with outside.
  • Replace your windows. If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
  • Turn off the lights when they're not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.
  • Don't leave your mobile phone plugged in overnight. It only takes a couple of hours to charge.
  • Charge your phone on flight mode. It charges quicker and uses less energy.
  • Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.
  • Watch your appliance placement. Avoid placing appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, near a thermostat.
  • Dress for the weather. When you're at home, dress in warm clothing in the winter and cooler clothing in the summer to stay comfortable.

Reduce Waste

  • Single-use Plastics

Plastic pollution is one of the most important environmental problems that we face today. It impacts the environment and our health and wellbeing. 

Use this calculator to learn about how many plastic items you consume and discard every year.

Plastic is everywhere and is a massive pollution problem, especially in our oceans. We need to solve this problem at the source and produce less plastic. Find out more about plastic pollution and get tips on reducing plastic in your own life here

Reduce Single-Use Plastics by using your own bag, your own reusable bottle, and avoiding single-use items (e.g. plastic toothbrushes). Avoid buying food (or anything else), wrapped in plastic, this is much more effective than recycling plastic as a waste product.

  • Buy less new clothing

The global fashion industry is generating a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation of the million garments purchased each year. You can help reduce emissions by buying second hand, buying vintage or spending a little more on quality items which will last much longer than cheaper and mass-produced products - re-use, recycle or up-cycle by creating something new from an old or discarded item. 

Find out your fashion footprint by using the fashion footprint calculator

  • Tackle Food Waste - Plan your meals and grocery list

More than 900 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year, according to a global report. The UN Environment Programme's Food Waste Index revealed that 17% of the food available to consumers - in shops, households and restaurants - goes directly into the bin. Some 60% of that waste is in the home.

One of the ways people reduce food waste is to create a menu plan. The idea is that you know what you will be eating for every meal, so therefore you know exactly which food to buy each week, which results in less waste.

  • Composting

Get a food caddy for your kitchen and learn to compost. Resources and guidance are widely available on how to do this: Home composting | WRAP

  • Litter

More than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day. Litter makes our local areas look untidy and uncared for. Litter is anything from a crisp packet or cigarette butt to a bag of rubbish. All litter is unsightly and can take years to degrade, causing harm to wildlife and habitats.  

See what you can do to tackle litter and keep Sunderland tidy at: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/faqs/advice/litter-and-law

You can take part in volunteer beach cleans and litter picks in your area too.

For information on volunteering opportunities and links in Sunderland, see:Volunteering - Sunderland City Council

Reuse where possible

  • Repurpose Glass, Plastic and Cardboard Containers e.g. as pots for the garden
  • Supply Artists with Creative Materials.
  • Convert Old Sheets, Towels and Clothing into Wash Rags or donate to local animal shelters.
  • Donate unwanted or old clothes/shoes to charity or clothes banks
  • Donate unwanted toys to local play groups or swap online
  • Make use of local swap/reuse groups e.g. Freecycle
  • Upcycle furniture (and perhaps learn a new skill!)


Do you need help knowing where you can recycle an item? What can you put in your recycling at home? Or where your nearest recycling location is? Visit the recycling locator.

The new household waste and recycling centre (HWRC) at Pallion opened Tuesday 1 February. The new site is located on the former Rolls-Royce site in Pallion Industrial Estate, SR4 6SS. Beach Street HWRC has now closed. The new facility is bigger and more efficient than the existing site at Beach Street, with better facilities and opportunities to recycle and re-use more waste materials.

A new purpose-built recycling/re-use shop will be located on the site and will open in the summer. The online booking system, which has proved to be very successful, will continue to be used for the new site.

Find out more and book an appointment: www.sunderland.gov.uk/hwrc 

Some plastics are not recyclable, and no plastic can be well recycled infinitely. Click here to find out more about what waste is recyclable: Household waste and recycling centres - Sunderland City Council

Share this page

Facebook icon Twitter icon email icon


print icon