Tips to make your home more sustainable
For many of us, keeping our impact on the environment as low as possible has become increasingly important. And what better place to start than at home.
There are so many ways to reduce the environmental impact of your home. Here are a handful - some big, some small - to get you started.
Plastics threaten wildlife, spread toxins and contribute to global warming.
There are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of plastic you use at home, without making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.
For example, you could avoid products made from plastic, like single-use plastic cups or straws, as well as items that have too much plastic packaging. One small way to do this is to choose to have your milk delivered, in glass bottles, rather than buying plastic containers.
You could also use refillable cleaning products. Find out if there is somewhere near you that will refill your washing up liquids, laundry liquids and other cleaning products into reusable containers.
Everyone can grow their own food at home. You don’t even need a garden… a windowsill or small terrace is enough to grow some herbs or chillies.
By growing your own, you’ll save money on your food bills, cut down your carbon footprint, and feel chuffed with your new self-sufficient lifestyle.
If you do have a garden, then the sky’s the limit - get growing. Beetroot, salad leaves, potatoes and tomatoes are all suitable for novice veg growers.
Using less water is another way to make your home more sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment.
Here are some simple ways to do so:
- Take fewer baths and more showers, and make them shorter too: each minute less in the shower could mean a saving of around 12 litres of water
- Only run the dishwasher when it's full: the average dishwasher uses 10 litres of water each time
- Replace your shower head with an efficient one: these can reduce your water usage by around 40 litres a day
- Try to collect the water you use to wash vegetables and salad to water your houseplants
- Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth or shaving
- Wait for a full load of washing before running your washing machine: washing machines use roughly 60 litres per cycle
Using energy-efficient lighting is a simple way to lower your carbon dioxide emissions.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you replaced all the bulbs in your home with LED lights, you could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40kg a year.
In fact, the government has banned the sale of halogen light bulbs from September 2021, as part of the UK’s wider efforts to tackle climate change. So this is one change you’re almost certain to make.
Remember the three ‘r’s: reduce, reuse and recycle
- Reduce… reduce your food waste - Love Food Hate Waste has tonnes of inspiration.
- Reuse… sign up to sites like Freecycle or Reuse Network, where you can offer your unwanted items for free. Find out what else is happening in your local area; who knows, maybe there’s a Facebook group where parents give away and swap gear their kids have grown out of, for example.
- Recycle….this has never been easier, but it’s important to get it right, so visit your local council’s website to find out how and what you can recycle.
Insulating pipes can be an easy way to reduce heat loss, and you can do it yourself. You’re likely to only need to spend around £20.
Your home will be warmer and cosier as a result. It really is a quick, cheap and easy green win.
Conventional paints may contain harmful chemicals. But an alternative has sprung up, eco-paints, which contain non-toxic ingredients and are manufactured in ways that are better for the environment.
There is an increasingly large range to choose from, although you’ll need to do your homework as some paint brands are accused of greenwashing - making claims about their products’ environmental credentials that may not stand up to scrutiny.
This is definitely one of the bigger changes, but it could make a real difference: investing in a new heating system to save on carbon emissions.
If you’ve got an old-style inefficient boiler then now could be the time to change it.
You could also invest in modern, easy to use heating controls. For example, fitting thermostatic radiator valves ensures that you only heat rooms you’re using.
You could go a step further and switch from gas or oil heating in exchange for a renewable energy heating system. Solar panels have reduced in price steadily over the last few years, or, if you have enough outside space, you could consider a heat pump, which are an effective and energy-efficient way to heat your home and create hot water.
These are major changes, that require a lot of time and investment, but would put you well on the path to creating a more sustainable home.
Don’t be afraid to share your green tricks and tips and the ways you’ve reduced your home’s environmental impact. People are much more aware of the importance of protecting the environment nowadays, and are often on the lookout for simple, effective ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved too: children often make willing eco warriors and would happily contribute to making your home more sustainable, if you explain the reasons why.