1. Switch off the lights. Remember when your parents used to moan at you about leaving the lights on? They were doing more than just saving on the family’s electric bill. Turning off what you’re not using can save up to 10% of your home’s total energy expenditure. If you’re going away on holiday, consider investing in an energy saving electronic light switch timer.
2. Unplug your appliances. From your television to your mobile phone charger, vampire appliances, appliances that use power even when they are not turned on, suck up power and raise electric bills every month. The solution: Unplug the appliances that you aren’t using. Even those appliances left on standby mode account for a huge amount of energy consumption. If you don’t have the time (or patience) to go round unplugging all your electrical goods, invest in a smart power strip. These monitor electricity usage and turn off appliances after a set period of time when they aren’t in use.
3. Say bye-bye to kitchen towels. Yes, they are (relatively) cheap and do make cleaning up spills that little bit easier. But with the average person using 3,000 of them in one year, they are a huge and unnecessary waste, ending up in our landfills on a daily basis. Instead, keep rags, old dishcloths or even old t-shirts under the kitchen sink for quick clean-ups. When it comes to drying your hands, try investing in some reusable, organic cotton towels such as the ones from Peopletowels – clean hands, clean conscience.
4. Create a low-flush toilet. You might have heard of people putting bricks in their toilet tank to create a low-flow model. The added weight decreases the amount of water your tank holds, so yo’ll use less water with each flush. Whilst using bricks is no longer recommended (over time they can beak down and the residue can lead to plumbing damage), the concept can still be recreated through other means. Try this simple method from Happy Simple Living, which recycles that empty soda bottle, to save 3000 gallons of water a year.
5. Green your cleaning products. Think those natural household products don’t cut the mustard (or grease) as well as your chemical-laden favourites? Think again! With a host of environmentally-friendly cleaning products available there is no excuse to not help clean up the planet whilst cleaning up your home. Try products from Methodproducts for efficient and environmentally sound cleaning.
6. Shop at your local farmers market. Not only will this encourage you to buy food with reduced packaging, it will also save on food miles that are usually created by purchasing food from afar. Already buy organic? Fab, but you can go one better by growing your own without using chemical pesticides or fertilisers. If you don’t have a garden, try growing your own herbs instead.
7. Forgo the thermostat. Instead of cranking up the heat in your home when you’re feeling cold, try reaching for a big jumper instead. You could also try doubling up on layers, such as wearing two pairs of socks or ensuring you have some comfy slippers to wear around the house.
8. Eat less meat. Yes, this old chestnut again. The United Nation’s Food And Agriculture Organisation estimates that livestock production generates nearly one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases – more than transportation! Reducing meat consumption can have a major impact. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” So, try making meatless meals one or two days a week or even try going meatless one week a month.
9. Take tech breaks. Addicted to Facebook? Relentlessly checking your e-mails? See if you can stay of the grid for one weekend month. Not only will this benefit the planet, but it will do wonders for your stress levels too.
10. Go on a backpacking trip. How is this an eco-friendly effort I hear you cry? Well, the theory is if you take a cheap holiday, packing everything you really need for a weekend in one bag that you have to carry around on your back, it will help you to see what’s essential and what’s not. When you get back home you can then start de-cluttering and forgoing some of your energy-draining creature comforts.
Angie is our resident features writer on location in London, specialising in festivals, food and nutrition, and with a keen interest in ethical fashion.