Whilst the biggest impact changes to reduce environmental damage to our world will need to come from countries, governments and industry. There is still many quick and easy things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
Take a quick look at our #10 top tips for going more Eco-Friendly and the action tips you can easily do today perhaps even right now to be a little more greener!
Check Your Energy Supplier
According to a recent PNAS study residential energy use accounts for 20% of greenhouse gases in the US. Living in and enjoying our homes does tend to be one of our highest contributions to energy usage. We need electricity and/or gas to pretty much do anything.
However, where is that energy coming from? Checking and considering switching to a green energy supplier means you will be using energy provided by renewable sources like wind, sun and water for electricity and either carbon offsetting or bio gas for gas.
If you are not using a green supplier by default all your energy is likely to be coming from fossil fuels or a mix. Either way worth checking the detail!
A green energy supplier doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive either. So going greener could even end up saving you money as well as a big reduction in your carbon footprint!
Action 1 You Can Do Today
- Hop on the internet and checkout your suppliers web page and where they say their energy is coming from. Click into the specifics for a breakdown.
Turn Off Lights & Electrical Equipment When Not In Use
Whilst turning off lights that are needed is kind of a no brainer…but we’ve all done it! Turning off standby electrical goods is one of those grey areas where there is a trade off between feeling that it is a hassle to turn everything off for the possible negligible amount saved, or that it’s not using energy.
The reality is however, something that’s powered off is not powered down.
Older electrical goods are more likely to use more standby power than newer more energy efficient ones. However don’t be fooled about that negligible amount for say one TV. Most homes have multiple devices. Often more than one TV home entertainment systems, DVD’s, games consoles, tablets, computers and laptops music centres, speakers and mobile phones.
Even once charged (a mobile phone is likely to take no more than 2 hours) yet will keep drawing energy whenever left on charge. Add in hand held or rechargeable household tools and power tools with all the other devices and suddenly, there is a lot of extra power being used needlessly increasing your carbon footprint and adding to your fuel bill year on year.
According to The Energy Saving Trust the average UK household spends £35 a year powering ‘on standby’ devices.
There are standby saver products on the market, enabling multiple devices to be switched off at the same time. For product ideas via amazon click here.
Action 2 You Can Do Today
- Have a whizz around your home, turn off any lights that don’t need to be on and check what electrical equipment has been left on. When did you last use it? Try and estimate for how long it’s been left like it. Hours/days/weeks/months?
Don’t beat yourself up about it. If something hasn’t been used in nearly a week, should it be on standby at all?
- Think about a strategy that can work for you. For example, things used rarely are powered down, frequent use items that power up easily and quickly can also be powered down. Items that are frequent use and take a while to load, perhaps consider standby saver products.
Reduce Your Heating & Hot Water Levels
Reducing your heating thermostat by just 1 degree can save around 310kg of carbon dioxide a year according to EST and currently around £60 a year in fuel. (example given on a standard 3 bed semi detached house in the UK)
Source:Energy Saving Trust
Action 3 You Can Do Today
- Pop over to the thermostat and reduce it by a degree.
- Research your heating and hot water systems and how to run them at their most efficient.
Wash Your Clothes Less
We often pop things in the laundry basket from habit – wear once then wash. The reality is however, Is it really dirty? or smelly? Can you give it an air outside for a couple of hours or overnight? Spot wash a stain instead of the whole thing. Some things will literally brush off when dried.
Not only will a garment last longer if it’s washed less. You’ll end up with less items to put through the wash, subsequently using less water, detergent and energy as well as saving you time and money!
When washing, you can afford to reduce the temperature, again saving energy. The higher the temperature, the harder it is on your clothes and the environment.
Action 4 You Can Do Today
- Go through your laundry, check what is actually dirty or seriously smelly and definitely needs washing.
- Spot wash any stains
- Hang up and air clothes inside or outside
Waste Less Food
Food waste is a global issue. According to the FAO (United Nations Food And Agriculture Organisation) 1/3 of all food produced is lost or thrown away, in either the production phase or retail and consumption. Doing our part in reducing our own food waste means we are not part of that problem.
Action 5 You can do today
- Go and check your fridge and food cupboards for items that are likely to be going past their best or out of date soon and use them up first.
- Meal plan before you shop.
- Head over to my post about stretching meals here (the opposite of food waste) but with great tips on using up food.
Eat Less Meat
For the carnivore’s out there, I appreciate this is not what you want to hear. My late father, loved his food and particularly his meat. He would definitely feel short changed if his meat portion didn’t outweigh the rest of the food groups on the plate. I hear you.
However there is compelling evidence of the effects of meat production – all meat in fact on the environment and the resources and land needed per kilo, compared to the resources and space required for fruit and veg.
If you think about it , you can grow your own fruit and veg in your garden, patio, balcony and even a window sill, but where could you keep a cow?
Evidence also suggests that a more plant based diet has much greater health benefits. Whilst I’m not suggesting you turn vegetarian or vegan unless this is something you want to do and is right for you. However reducing your meat consumption and increasing your plant based foods, holds health, environmental and frequently financial benefits.
Action 6 You can do today
- Check your fridge and food cupboards, could you make a meat free meal today?
- Consider starting a habit of 1 meat free main meal a week.
- Checkout a vegetarian / vegan recipe you might like to try.
- Consider ways you can reduce the amount of meat you buy or stretch it to last longer.
- Checkout my post How To Stretch Meals From One Chicken here.
Go Green On Bills
Still being issued paper bills, bank or credit card statements? Going online and changing to online management, is greener and generally easier access, not restricted to telephone line opening hours or office.
Action 7 You Can do Today
Hop online and set up E billing and notification for anything that you are still receiving frequent letters for that are unnecessary.
Digital Clean Up
Data centres are heavy energy users, according to the UK Energy Research Centre, some estimates are 1% of the total global energy usage. Yes I have just written set up E billing in the previous paragraph above, but it doesn’t mean that you need to hold onto years of emails either.
Old emails and files, apps no longer used blurry photos or photo’s and videos you no longer look at, spam/junk mail and overflowing trash bins let alone social and promotion tab notifications.
There is so much digital information that we hold on to but rarely use or return to. Unless time is made regularly to clean up and clear, they can quickly spiral out of control. With work and home information, add in social media, personal photo’s and videos and messaging as well as all of those shares from other people’s lives.
Going through our devices and clearing out all those wanted files and items, and transferring things we do need to external hard drives, is not only good to become more organised, our devices will run better and we are reducing our carbon footprint.
For examples of portable external hard disk drives through Amazon click here .
Action 8 You Can do Today
Get yourself a cuppa and start with all of those photo’s and videos and GIF’s whether your own or ones sent to you that you really no longer look at or want.
Consider Car Free days
Vehicles have a major impact on the environment. Of the CO2 emissions from a cars production use and eventual disposal it is estimated that 85% come from fuel use and servicing operations.
Still travelling to work or other regular journeys by car? Could you have one day a week that you could walk, cycle or use public transport? Could you consider a car share or at least put multiple errands into 1 journey?
source: Environmental Protection UK
Action 9 You Can Do Today
- Plan a car free day in the next 7 days
- Consider what activities you have begun that involve using the car, that might be unnecessary or could be reduced.
Reduce Your Single Use Plastic Consumption
A single use plastic bag takes around 20 years to breakdown in the ocean leaving a wake of toxic chemicals and particles known as microplastics. A single use bottle, having been used once will take an expected 450 years to breakdown into microplastic.
The mass of rubbish in the worlds oceans is predominantly plastic that has largely come from the land via the wind or by river into the sea. Millions of tonnes of plastic float as huge trash islands. As they begin to degrade they attract pollutants making themselves more toxic. This pollutes the seas and the animals in them.
Marine life either get caught up in them or mistakenly eat them and ultimately die from that terrible mistake.
Source: Marine Safe
The resources needed to recycle, and not all plastic is recyclable, are still high in energy levels, then there is the resources to produce the plastic subsequently used.
Plastic is practical and such a part of our lives that trying to live without it is near impossible. Reducing the amount of plastic you use however and finding other alternatives is possible and can significantly reduce the amount you are forced to recycle or worse, throw in the trash.
Using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup for on the go drinks. Saying no to plastic straws and other consumables. Avoiding packaged and buying fresh in a paper bag and going for glass or tin for other items can really reduce the single use plastic you are consuming.
Action 10 You Can Do Today
- Check the contents of your trash and recycle bins and notice what is your biggest plastic usage and if there is are alternatives.
- Checkout my post on how to reduce plastic in your food shopping here
Start & Reset
Changing habits starts with one step…starting. One change often leads to other changes, it doesn’t have to be a race, and you don’t have to be perfect. Setting up systems and habits and getting others on board, helps with momentum and sustained change.
Sometimes however, life and situations get in the way. It’s OK, you don’t need to dwell on it, you haven’t failed, you just press reset and start again as soon as you can. The more you get into your greener journey the more robust you will become. Good luck!