Eco-friendly tips to live by this summer!
- Dry your clothes on a washing line instead of a tumble-dryer to save electricity
- Try creating your own vegetable patch to contribute towards sustainable living
- Shop for herbs in pots rather than herbs bagged in plastic. This saves on packaging and you can plant them once you have used them!
- Consider letting your garden (or part of it) grow wild to bring in more wildlife
Eat less meat
The United Nations has stated that the livestock sector accounts for around 9% of CO2 and 65% of nitrous oxide which compounds 296 times the Global Warming Potential of CO2. Cutting back on our meat consumption will help contribute to fewer harmful gases being released into the atmosphere while also freeing up land for re-forestation and restoring the Earth’s biodiversity. So, on your next shop you could consider replacing some of those meat focused meals for a veggie dinner!
Use paper less and recycle more
Luckily for us, we live in a world reliant on technology. This means that we naturally are far more reliant on computers and tablets than paper products. Despite this, in the UK we still throw away 6.3 million tonnes of paper every year. If paper usage is still essential in your household then recycling is key! For every ton of paper recycled it saves 17 trees. It also requires far less energy to reproduce paper from recycled materials compared to producing ‘virgin’ paper. Cutting down on paper usage and recycling the paper you do use is therefore one of the easiest and best ways to live a greener life.
Use canvas bags instead of plastic
We have all heard of bags for life and most of us try not to buy new plastic bags while shopping. However, by investing in a canvas bag you have a bag that truly is for life without generating anymore plastic production. These types of bags are extremely versatile and sturdy which makes them the perfect companion to any shopping trip. While they will cost more than the traditional plastic bag upon purchasing, the fact that they will last far longer than most plastic bags in the market will make the investment worthwhile.
Start a compost heap or bin
Starting a compost heap is a fantastic way to build on your sustainability within your household. By utilizing your food waste in a compost pile or bin you will be reducing the amount of waste that would otherwise be set into landfill. As bacteria and fungi breakdown food waste in a natural biological process it produces organic matter that is rich in nutrients and soil bacteria. By spreading this throughout your garden it will help foster a better environment for plants to grow and improve the long-term health of the soil.
Purchase the right light bulb
Don’t panic! It is not essential you replace all your lightbulbs immediately, especially if they are still working. However, when the time does come to replace a lightbulb in your house, consider investing in an energy efficient lightbulb such as an LED which uses up to 80% less energy than their traditional counterpart. These kinds of energy efficient lightbulbs, while slightly more expensive, also last up to 15 times longer than an incandescent lightbulb. Therefore, the investment into more eco-friendly lighting in your home will save you money in the long run.
Cut down on energy in your home
There are a lot of ways to cut back on energy you use in your home. These will lead to smaller energy bills and more money in your pocket! That is a win for you and a win for the Earth. Start by lowering your thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer. Unplug appliances when they aren’t being used, wash all possible clothes on cold (according to The World Watch Institute, 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water) and use a drying rack or clothesline to dry your outfits when they are finished being washed. Reducing your energy around the home is literally as easy as a click of the button. Uncomfortable taking these steps at the same time? Try one at a time until your home is completely energy efficient!
Borrow or buy second hand
Buying vintage is one simple way to love the earth. Fast fashion contributes to around 10% of all global emissions, uses up a large portion of the world’s water supply and pollutes oceans with micro-plastics. Thus, buying second hand or borrowing from friends and family is a fantastic way to reduce fashion’s impact on global eco-systems. This is made even more prevalent by the fact that 85% of clothes produced each year go straight to landfill as companies can’t sell all their produce or from people throwing away clothes after one or two wears. Therefore, looking back to how our grandparents lived is a vital source of inspiration for younger generations today. Borrow it, mend it and buy second hand. This can also be said for produce outside of the fashion world, such as borrowing books from libraries or buying pre-loved toys from charity shops. Buying this way is often cheaper and the environment will thank you for it!
Reduce water waste
This is one piece of advice most of us will have already heard of; reducing your water usage. There are many simple ways the whole family can do this. By installing a low flow water saving tap and showerheads you will automatically reduce you water usage and save money at the same time. There are also the personal steps you can take by reducing your time in the shower and turning off the tap while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. It is also important that we all cut back on purchasing bottled water, either by buying an eco-friendly water bottle to take out with you or by purchasing a water filter to improve the quality and taste of your tap water at home. This will also help to significantly reduce the output of single use plastics both into the environment and into landfill.
Switch it off!
Conserving energy around the home is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do every day to reduce your carbon footprint and live an eco-friendlier life. Leaving traditional incandescent lightbulbs on wastes 95% of the energy they use producing heat, with only 5% undertaking its main function of giving out light. Turning off your electronics when not in use will also help save valuable energy and prolong the life-span of your appliance as you won’t be running it down needlessly throughout the day. It is also a good idea to unplug devices such as chargers when not in use as many will still run continuously and waste valuable energy, costing both the Earth and your budget.
Switching to renewables
Switching suppliers to one which deals in “Green energy” means getting energy from sources that won’t run out (unlike non-renewables such as coal or oil). These energy sources produce far less of a carbon footprint than fossil fuels, therefore reducing your impact on the planet. Renewables are far cheaper than they used to be due to investment and greater concern over climate change and in 2019 the UK had its first ever fortnight of electricity produced solely through sources other than coal. There are a large number of green energy suppliers in the market and there are many places you can go to compare and find the right deal for you such as MoneySuperMarket.co.uk.
Eco-friendly clothes washing
On average, each year a household will use around 51,000 liters of water when washing their clothes in a washing machine. One way to counteract this is to wait until you have a full load of washing rather than lots of smaller loads a week, this will save time and water. Another issue washing your clothes presents is the energy usage required, around 75% of the energy required to wash your clothes comes from heating up the water in each cycle. Selecting a cold water cycle will greatly reduce this energy wastage and always opt for drying clothes on a line where possible rather than wasting a lot of energy tumble drying each load.
Insulate your home
The first and one of the most important steps you can take in making your home greener is investing in insulation. By missing out on this step you will end up spending a lot more on producing heat in the home or cooling it in the summer and wasting a lot more energy in the process. The energy saving trust have estimated that a three-bedroom semi-detached house can save up to £310 on energy bills via proper insulation. The good news is that most houses don’t require any planning permission for fitting insulation so along with the money you will save from this investment it is something to consider!
Perhaps the most obvious way in which buying local produce helps the environment is in cutting down the miles it must travel to reach your plate. When buying from a supermarket much of the food will have travelled from overseas creating large carbon footprints through air travel and long journeys in food lorries. Buying local also supports local and small scale farms which often go to great lengths to protect the local environment and wildlife. Without this support farms often get sold off for development which disrupts this balance. By supporting local producers and markets it also keeps people working in the community rather than seeking jobs further away from where they live contributing to greater greenhouse gas output caused by transport.
Cutting down on plastic
There’s no denying that plastic is a problem and what’s more, it’s everywhere we look. While going completely plastic free in a world that is still wholly reliant on the stuff is unrealistic for most of us, actively cutting back on plastic and opting for unpackaged foods are steps we can all strive for. There are many useful tips that can be found online about how to reduce our plastic usage, these include suggestions such as buying an eco-friendly water bottle or reusable coffee cup as well as saying no to single use plastics. It is important we look to alternatives to plastic such as beeswax wraps to replace cling-film or eco-friendly children’s toys made from materials such as wood. These small steps will go a long way in changing habits and challenging the unsustainable way we have all come to live.
The UK alone throws away 26.8 million tonnes of waste each year so finding out where and how to recycle a large amount of what were would otherwise throw away is an important consideration. By visiting sites such as recycle-more.co.uk.
You will be far more clued up on what can be recycled and where it can be done – you might be surprised with what you find! Personal recycling by repurposing old items such as glass jars for food containers is another great way to prevent undue waste in landfill.
Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Strong chemical detergents and disinfectants can do harm to both the environment and to your health. The British Lung foundation has suggested there could be a link between the cleaning products we use in our houses and increased air pollution indoors. Search for products that use naturally derived formulas and that are biodegradable. It is also important to consider buying long life cleaning materials such as microfiber cloths that can simply be washed and used again and again rather than plastic sponges that only have a limited life-span.
Drive less, fly less
For most of us, driving an all-electric vehicle is not feasible at this moment in time due to their hefty price tag and lack of charging solutions nationwide. Where possible always walk, or cycle shorter journeys as this will greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Lift-sharing is also a fantastic way to reduce your miles and to save on petrol. If driving is an essential make sure you check that your tyres are well pumped up, avoid switching on the air-conditioning and always plan a long journey ahead of time to try and avoid peak congestion. As far as flying is concerned – you guessed it – less is more. The less we can fly the better it is for the planet. Just one return flight from any London Airport to Faro, Portugal will release over half a metric tonne of CO2 into the atmosphere. While it is unrealistic to expect everyone to quit flying abroad for good it is a good idea to consider holidaying more locally where air travel is not required and that when flying is required we limit this as much as possible each year.
Grow your own and shop seasonally
Growing your own food is not only good for the environment but it will also save you money and promote mental health. Growing some of your own food either in your garden, allotment or even inside your house will cut carbon emissions by removing the transport element of some of the foods you eat. Growing your own will also promote soil health by removing the use of pesticides and fertilizers as well as combatting some of the vast monocultures present in the UK. When growing your own food you will also be getting valuable exercise and a meaningful hobby that the whole family can enjoy. Children that get involved with growing food sustainability will also have a greater appreciation for the natural world around them and the importance of shopping seasonally.
Plant some trees
While planting trees is not the one solution that will resolve climate change, ecological health and sustainability plays a key role in protecting the environment. Many of us will not enjoy the benefit of a garden or indeed one large enough to accommodate the planting of several trees. As a worthy compromise, there are many UK and worldwide charities that are focused on reforestation and offsetting CO2 by planting trees. There are many useful websites you can go to when choosing how you want to contribute to tree planting, whether you do it yourself in your local area or donating to a charity that does it for you.
For more information on planting trees visit:
Choose your personal care wisely
Other than avoiding microbeads in body washes it may not be immediately obvious why choosing personal care carefully when considering its environmental impact. From excess plastic packaging on products such as shampoos and body washes to harmful menstrual products that head to landfill after temporary usage. When deciding on personal care products it is important to look out for opportunities to make a sustainable choice. Good examples include biodegrable bamboo toothbrushes and natural products with minimal or no packaging like those sold at Lush.