Recently, we seem to be hearing more and more in the media about how our everyday actions are affecting the environment. It is now a fact that human activity is responsible for the pollution of the planet (just look at smartphones and other tech) and the depletion of natural resources. Unfortunately we all play a part in this.
Luckily we are now aware of the damage of our actions, so that means we can choose to do things differently and start making a change. Here are a few small changes you can make around your home to help the environment. They can even save you money too!
1. Conserve energy at home
We waste an astonishing amount of energy in our homes every single day. Have you ever boiled a full kettle for only one cup of tea? Or put the dishwasher on when it’s only half full? All of these things use excess energy which in turn increases your electricity bill. Make it a habit to be more conscious about the energy you are using and how you can stop being so wasteful.
A few easy habit changes to save energy include:
- Turning lights off when you leave a room
- Not leaving appliances on standby
- Putting a jumper on and closing the windows before you decide to put the heating on
- Waiting for a full load before using the washing machine
Once you get into the mind-set then you’ll easily begin to think of more and more ways to be less wasteful with energy resources around the home.
2. Cut down on single-use plastic
Not only is the production of plastic harmful to the environment but contrary to popular belief, many plastics cannot be recycled. This means that vast amounts of single-use plastic products are ending up in landfill sites or polluting our oceans, destroying marine life.
Even those we do put in our recycling bins are often shipped off to other countries so our country can meet its recycling quota, but the reality is that many of these plastics are just dumped in poorer countries and never recycled at all. This shocking reality was highlighted in Sky News documentary ‘Dirty Business: what really happens to your recycling’ which you can watch for free on YouTube.
Some plastics take up to 1000 years to degrade meaning we are quickly running out of landfill space. You can cut-down on single-use plastic by:
- Investing in reusable containers. Ditch the sandwich/freezer bags and opt for a box instead. Not only will you help the environment, but you’ll also prevent yourself ending up with a squashed lunch!
- Buy a reusable water bottle
- Invest in reusable shopping bags
- Use foil rather than cling film where possible
- Buy from retailers who are committed to reducing packaging to reduce landfill
There are lots of ways to reduce single-plastic use in the home. You can even buy reusable straws, wooden toothbrushes and also keep an eye out for plastic-free shops that are popping up all over the country to buy your cupboard staples.
3. Save water
By saving water we, in turn, save the energy used to treat it, therefore cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day, but there are some really easy ways to reduce this:
- Turn the tap off whilst your brushing your teeth. This can save you a whopping five litres a minute.
- Take a shower rather than a bath
- Again, only run the washing machine/dishwasher with a full load
- Collect rainwater in a water butt for watering the garden
You can even go a step further to be really eco-friendly and choose to harvest rainwater. There are tanks which can go underground in the garden, on a roof or in an attic. These can be linked to your home’s water system to use fresh rainwater for washing clothes, flushing the toilet and even bathing.
4. Recycle and reuse
Recycling is beneficial to the environment in multiple ways. First of all, it cuts down on waste which would otherwise release harmful greenhouse gases and cause pollution. By recycling, we also reduce the need for raw materials which would contribute to deforestation. It also stops the production of so many new products which will cause pollution when being manufactured and transported.
As mentioned previously, not all plastics are recyclable, so avoid buying these non-recyclable single use plastics whenever possible, but there are plenty of household items that you can recycle such as:
- Plastic bottles (water bottles, toiletry bottles, cleaning product bottles, punnets, etc.)
- Milk cartons
- Food tins and drink cans
- Empty aerosols
Recycling isn’t just about what you put in your recycling bin, but also about reusing perfectly good items too. You can upcycle furniture you no longer like to give it a new lease of life or choose to shop in charity shops and on second hand marketplaces to source items from your home. You can even help to save the planet by choosing recycled carpet tiles for your floors. There are so many ways you can begin to live more sustainably at home.
By being a little more conscious of the environment and the products you are buying and recycling, you can begin to make a difference to our planet.
What to read next
How to make your bathroom setup more eco-friendly
The importance of sustainably sourced wood
The beginner’s guide to eco-friendly gardens
Cost-effective investments for energy efficiency
How we reduce our bills using renewable energy