If we each make small changes to our lives we can collectively make a huge impact to protect our planet for future generations. Here are some positive ideas…
A new year, and a new decade. Recent months have delivered some very bleak news about the fate of our planet. We all know, thanks to Greta Thunberg and others, that urgent action is needed to mitigate the damage our species has done. However, we believe that positivity is the only way to bring about change so please consider these suggestions inspiration rather than guilt trips. Some of it might seem like common sense Together we can make a huge difference.
Scientists have stated that billions more trees could remove two-thirds of all the carbon dioxide created by human activity. The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity working hard to protect the 1,064 ancient woods threatened by development right now. Buy saplings or donate at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk. Also plant bee-friendly plants and wildflowers. And aim to use only naturally derived products and fertilisers and keep your lawn real rather than paving over.
In the garden, get a compost bin to reduce your household waste. Ensure you utilise food waste, green waste and recycling schemes in your area: local authorities are working very hard to boost these so do check online what can & can’t be recycled to reduce landfill. Reusing, and buying less in the first place is still the best way to lessen your carbon footprint. Monitor and aim to reduce your levels over time.
Just 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater (the rest being saltwater) and most of it is frozen or deep underground so we can’t afford to waste it. According to the Environment Agency, we could run short of water within the next 25 years. Shorten your shower and save 10 litres every minute, and get a water-saving shower head. An average five-minute shower will use 40% less water than a bath.
Using the small button on your loo will save half the water. Or fit a low-cost water saving device in your cistern. Perhaps surprisingly, dishwashers use far less water and energy than washing up. Run taps slowly & turn off in between brushing your teeth, for example. In the garden, get a water butt if you can and use a watering can.
When heating your home, turn radiators off or down in less used or unused rooms, consider if and when you really need the heating on and pop a jumper on or get a warmer duvet. Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save up to £80 a year. Home boiler heating is responsible for nearly 20% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
You can save electricity and around £30 a year just by remembering not leave your appliances on standby and more by unplugging. Don’t leave lights on or appliances and devices on, in standby mode or charging unnecessarily. Switch to more energy-efficient LED lightbulbs and save about £40 per year.
Switch to renewable electricity and green gas at home and reduce both your carbon foorprint and bills. Leading providers include Bulb, Octopus Energy and Ecotricity. The average home can save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Do install a Smart Meter too – visit www.uswitch.com
Holiday at home
Consider a UK staycation for your next holiday. A long-haul return flight, say to New York can generate 1,000KG of CO2 per passenger. It takes an average person in more than 50 of the world’s countries to reach that figure an an entire year. A flight to America’s west coast would produce 50% more emissions, and a flight to say China or Australia double that.
Switch to using the Ecosia search engine, which commits 80% of its profits to supporting reforestation projects. To date, it’s helped to plant more than 70 million trees.
Shop more responsibly and you can significantly reduce your waste and recycling output. And “punish” major supermarkets for their inaction! Look for local suppliers of milk, bread, fruit and veg, meat and dairy and other products. Find products that are made or grown in the UK and use less packaging, such as loose fruit & veg. Sign up to Freegle updates and for clothing, join the kids & buy vintage on apps such as Depop.
Think about switching to a disposable safety razor, a bamboo toothbrush, planet-friendly deodorant, bamboo loo roll, soap bars or refillable shampoos and shower gels and use a Mooncup if menstruating. More zero-waste shops & pop-ups are appearing: we will keep bringing you news of these locally!
In the kitchen, consider green dishwasher and washing machine aids (from Ecoleaf to soap nuts), a household cleaner such as Koh, refillable washing up liquid and other products (from Splosh to Smol) and plastic-free cloths and scourers (from Ecococonut to Loofah).
Avoid palm oil
Research by Rainforest Rescue showed that the equivalent of 300 football fields are being destroyed every hour to produce palm oil production that can be found in close to 50% of the packaged products. The following ingredients on labels show that the product might well contain unsustainable palm oil: Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate and Palmityl Alcohol. (Source: WWF)
It goes without saying that if you’re a keen coffee drinker or like to carry a drink on your travels, you should invest in a reusable coffee cup (from R Cup to Stojo) and drinks bottle (from Klean Kanteen and Jedz to One Green Bottle).
Food for thought
Avoid food waste and cut your household emissions by controlling portions, planning meals and monitoring dates. Every year in the UK we throw away £13 billion worth of food that could’ve been eaten, with the average wasting £500 a year. See our Ramblings for a wealth of gardening clubs to help you grow your own or share the fruits of other labours in various swap sales in your community.