Almost everything we do on a daily basis affects the environment in some way. From dropping the kids off at school to simply flicking on a light switch in the evening. Unfortunately finding the time to be eco-friendly can seem hard when you’re already leading a busy life.
Happily it’s easy to make a positive difference by making just a few everyday changes in your home and routine – it needn’t cost a fortune and you don’t even need a red cape!
Simply follow these ten quick fix solutions for a more planet friendly life.
1. Let there be (energy efficient) light
Compact Fluorescent (or energy efficient) light bulbs (CFLs) not only use three quarters less electricity than a normal bulb, but they last up to ten times longer. They’re now only a little more expensive than normal bulbs thanks to competitive pricing. There’s a great variety of shapes and sizes available and you can buy them from most major supermarkets and homes stores.
2. Give your clothes some air
Tumble driers use more energy than any other appliance in your home. So much in fact that cutting your dryer use by just one load a week can reduce your homes carbon emissions by up to 90kg a year! Spend a few quid on a shiny new clothes airer or put up a washing line in the back garden for breezy fresh clothes.
3. Don’t just stand-by
Most electrical appliances use almost as much power when they’re in standby as they do when they’re switched on! That includes, TV’s DVD players and computers (ever noticed that you can still charge your phone/iPod from your computer even when it’s ‘switched off’?). Switching off completely – at the socket if necessary, can cut your electricity bill by 10% a year.
Got a garden or an allotment? Buy a composting bin from your local garden centre and use it to recycle all your uncooked vegetable and fruit peelings. Add the odd egg or cereal box to balance the nitrogen with carbon and, voila! A top notch treat for your garden soil.
5. Clean green
Modern cleaning products are full of detergents and other chemical nasties that damage the environment and are often dangerous to humans. Luckily there is now a huge range of gentler products available that do just as good a job. Ecover have a great selection and most supermarkets now have environmentally friendly own-brands (check out the 100% natural range at M&S) to choose from.
6. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
Newspapers, magazines, glass jars, tin cans, wine bottles and even some plastics can all be recycled. Give bottles cans and containers a quick rinse before chucking to avoid nasty smells. In addition, take unwanted clothes and video tapes to charity shops and check with your local supermarket to see if they recycle plastic bags (Sainsbury’s do, for example).
Be aware! Local authority rules differ in what can and can’t be recycled. If you’re not sure don’t just chuck it in and hope for the best. Non-recyclable items can actually contaminate batches of re-cyclable waste so check with your local council first.
7. Support your local
Where possible, buy locally produced food. You’ll be saving on imported air miles, supporting your local businesses and eating fresh, delicious, in-season produce. Check out the National Association of Farmers Markets (FARMA) at www.farmersmarkets.net for a list of FARMA approved markets in your area.
8. Go for green energy
The UK currently releases around 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with energy industries contributing over a third (that’s a whopping 54 million tonnes) of that amount. Switching to a renewable electricity provider means you’ll be buying your energy from a source that emits low or even no greenhouse gases and is often naturally occurring – such as wind, solar or wave power. Check out Energylinx for information on renewable energy providers and prices.
9. Feel the heat
Make sure heat isn’t slipping out of your home by checking the seals around your doors and windows and resealing them if necessary. If your system uses radiators, keep heat in the room by fitting reflective material (aluminum foil will do) behind them, or fixing a shelf a couple of inches above them to guide heat back into the room. Invest in a couple of colourful draught excluders for doorways and bleed your radiators on a regular basis to ensure they’re working at full efficiency.
10. Remember small changes make a big difference
- Walk to your local shops
- turn your thermostat down one degree
- always carry a plastic bag shopping with you
- put a brick in your toilet cistern (to save water on each flush)
- take the bus to work
- grow organic veggies in your back garden
- take showers more than baths
- turn off lights after you
- and remember everyone makes a mess of the planet sometimes, responsible people make sure they try and clean up after themselves!