Making some small and affordable changes around your home can have a huge effect on the environment. These changes can help to reduce your carbon footprint whilst also saving you money.
In this post, we’ve put together our top-tips of eco-friendly changes that you can make in your home. We’ve left out recycling as you’ll likely be doing this if you’re interested in living an eco-friendly life.
Upcycle & Buy Second Hand
Instead of buying new products, try upcycling what you have. A coat of paint can completely revitalise an old dining chair or cabinet and a sofa can be reupholstered. You could also repurpose furniture. An old shelving unit can be transformed into a kitchen island or an old cooking jar can be repurposed as a plant pot or glass.
When you can’t upcycle what you have, try to buy second hand. Flea markets and vintage shops sell all sorts of furniture, clothing and books that will save you money and avoid adding extra stress to the environment.
Choose Eco-Friendly Alternatives
When it comes to the products you buy, try to choose products with a minimal effect on the planet.
Electronics - Choose electronics with a high energy efficiency rating and power saving modes.
Light Bulbs - Switch regular bulbs for LED lighting to significantly reduce power consumption and their lifespan.
Plumbing - Install low-flow toilets, showerheads, taps etc. This will save 100,000s of litres of water every year.
Cleaning Products - Check products are eco-friendly. If struggling to find these versions, you can make your own. Avoid using single-use products like kitchen roll in favour of cloths. These can be made from old clothes rather than bought.
General - You can opt for recycled versions of most day to day products including bedding and towels.
Buying eco-friendly products will save you money and have a positive impact on the world. Try to buy these alternatives when possible or make your own.
Harvesting rainwater couldn’t be easier. All you need is a water butt to collect would-be wasted water from your gutters. This will give you a water supply, especially during the wet winter months.
Rainwater can be used both around the home in your garden. In the home, water can be used for basic tasks like flushing a toilet by filling the cistern. In the garden, water can be used to water the plants using a watering can or irrigation system. This is ideal for the summer months, especially during a hosepipe ban etc.
When using rainwater in your home, you’ll need to connect the water butt to the toilet cistern. A backup from the main water system is also required for coverage when collected water runs short.
Stop Wasting Food
It’s thought that a third of all food produced in the world ends up going in the bin. Not only is it a waste of time and resources growing the food but Wrap.org also believes this is annually costing the average British family a huge £800.00. This is a staggering figure, especially as one in eight UK residents are thought to go hungry.
There are several different ways you can help cut down on the food you waste:
- Be mindful of what food you buy and the expiration dates - Look for long dates and freeze what you won’t be able to eat in time
- Keep your fridge, freezer and cupboards organised by date to stop products going off
- If items like canned goods are getting close to their expiration date and you’re not likely to eat them, donate them to the local food bank
- Store food where the packaging recommends - This will prolong life
- Cook the right portion sizes to avoid waste
- Save and eat your leftovers
These tips can help you cut down, but if you’re really struggling, keep a journal of the food you waste for a month. Include the cost of the food and the reason why it was wasted. Seeing the waste in terms of money may shock you and help you realise the true cost.
Compost your Waste
Composting your food and garden waste is a great way to cut down on what goes into landfills whilst also speeding up the decomposition and creating an all natural fertiliser for your garden. Pretty much every organic material can be composted, however, animal products aren’t recommended as vermin and insects may be attracted.
There are many ways you can compost your waste. The includes:
- Adding a small kitchen compost bin for fruit and vegetable offcuts
- Creating an outdoor compost pile
- Adding an outdoor compost bin
- Using a worm bin
- Dig a hole and simply bury small amounts of waste
The product of your composting can be scattered around plants to provide minerals and nutrients to the soil.
Not able to compost at how? Research your local composting station and drop off your waste.
Insulate your Home
Ensuring your house is properly insulated can massively reduce your heating bills and save energy. The two main sources where heated is lost from your home is your roof and windows.
Adding loft insulation can keep heat in your home, vital during the winter months. You can either hire a contractor to insulate your roof or do it yourself with wool, paper, hemp and fibreglass.
For your windows, double glazing can help keep heat in and cold out. This is done by creating an air or gas layer between two panes of glass. Windows are energy rated between E and A++ so select the highest rating you can afford for the best performance.
Don’t want to shell out for price insulations? Even adding draught excluders and a thick set of curtains can help to prevent heat from being lost through doors and windows.
Buying local products will help to boost your local economy and reduce your carbon footprint. It cuts down on shipping both globally and around the country cutting carbon emissions. Try to find an ethical butcher and greengrocer in your neighbourhood at the least.
You don’t need to stop in your own house. Businesses who use locally sourced goods should be visited over those who don’t.
Update the Water and Energy
Ineffective electricity, gas and water systems can waste huge amounts of resources every year. Not only is this bad for the environment but it’s burning through your hard-earned money. A leaking tap is thought to cost you hundreds of pounds a year, even more, if it’s a hot tap that’s wasting heating costs. The initial outlay may be costly but it’s worth it in the long run to prevent wastage.
Whilst you’re at it, you could update your power system to include solar energy. Solar panels on your roof can create renewable energy that can be used in your own home or sold back to the national grid if it’s not needed. This will again cut down on your energy bill.
Grow Your Own Food
Add a vegetable patch to your garden for fresh food that’s pretty much free. In the UK, you can grow a huge range of foods like strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cress, onions, salad leaves etc. Food ranges on a growing time of a couple of months to around six months, depending on what you plant.
If you want to fully commit to producing your own food, you could even have a chicken coop in your back garden. This will provide you with fresh eggs every morning for breakfast. You’ll be able to ensure you know where your eggs are coming from and the chickens live happy lives. You can also use their waste as natural compost and they’ll act as pest control, eating those unwanted bugs.
If you’re more limited with your space, a simple kitchen herb garden is still a small change that’s beneficial. Houseplants will also improve the air quality, removing pollutants and toxins, another huge plus.
Choose Paperless Billing
With the prevalence of technology, the need for paper billing has drifted into the past. Bills, terms and condition updates and general marketing information can be sent by email rather than in the physical post from most companies.
Take the time to update your account for anyone you receive post from. Not only will it cut down on wasted paper, but you can also easily organise digital bills by creating files and folders for all your important information.
As well as solicited post, you’ll likely receive a lot of junk mail, especially if you live in a city. Add a sign to your letterbox advising you don’t want junk mail to help reduce this.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
When making any purchases, avoid buying anything in single-use packaging. Products in packaging that can’t be recycled should be avoided in favour of recyclable alternatives.
Single-use plastics are rife in supermarkets, especially with fruit and vegetables. Instead of picking up needless plastic bags, choose loose fruit and veg and bag them yourself. Grocery shops will often offer paper rather than plastic, a significant improvement.
Instead of buying plastic water bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle. Not only will a reusable bottle cut down on your plastic consumption, but it will also save you a fortune on buying water. Same goes for coffee cups.
Having friends over for a BBQ or children’s party? Use washable plates rather than paper and plastic options. If you do have children who can’t be trusted with porcelain plates yet, invest in plastic plates that can be reused or biodegradable plates made from wood.
As you’ll likely be aware if you live in the UK, plastic straws are also a huge detriment to the environment and will soon be banned. Thankfully, the majority of restaurants, pubs and fast food shops have already taken this on board, however, if you are in an establishment that uses plastic straws, just say no.
This article was written by David Atkinson, a content creator at Azutura, a UK-based manufacturer of made-to-order wall murals.