Sustainability has been making global headlines since the “Blue Planet effect” and the protests of Greta Thunberg brought climate change and plastic pollution more prominently into the public psyche.
The topic was high on the agenda of world leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall earlier this month, too.
With summer on the horizon, there are small changes we can all make. Here are 10 tips for remaining eco-friendly at home, in your home office, and the garden.
In your home
1. Turn off lights
Being more eco-friendly around the home can be as simple as taking shorter showers and turning off lights in rooms you are not using. But it can be difficult to equate the small changes you make, to their larger global impact.
The AWorld app could help. In partnership with the United Nations’ ActNow Campaign, the app is specifically designed to highlight how your individual actions can make an enormous difference.
Supporting the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the app functions as a log of all your sustainable actions. It then calculates your positive impact in areas such as saving water or energy, or in reducing carbon emissions.
2. Recycle and reuse clothes
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the three tenets of sustainability and it is easy to build them into every aspect of your home life, especially when thinking about the clothes you buy.
The fast fashion industry has come under the spotlight recently, and the figures speak for themselves:
- 5 trillion litres of water are used by the industry each year
- 20% of industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles
- 190 tonnes of textile microfibres end up in the ocean each year
- 23% of all chemicals produced worldwide are used in the textile industry
- 70 million oil barrels are used each year to produce polyester
- Wearing an item only five times creates 400% more carbon emissions than wearing an item 50 times.
Wearing items more often, donating them to charity when you are done with them, and upcycling or buying second-hand can all make a dramatic difference to the environment.
3. Use apps to buy food that would otherwise go to waste
Launched in 2016, Too Good to Go is an app that looks to tackle the impact of food waste on the environment.
The UK currently wastes almost seven million tonnes of food each year, but with Too Good to Go you help to lower that amount.
The app collects perfectly good food that supermarkets, cafés and restaurants would otherwise be forced to throw away, and uses that to compile “magic bags” that you can purchase through the app. Each bag you buy saves an estimated 2.5 kg of CO2 emissions.
In your home office
4. Make use of natural light
While you might already have had over a year in which to set up your home office, there might still be things you can do to make your space more eco-friendly.
One simple tip to save energy, money, and help the environment is to make effective use of natural light.
This might be easy during the summer where natural light is plentiful, although you might need to splash out on an anti-glare sunlight filter. But during darker months, moving your desk closer to a window could make a huge difference to your energy bill.
5. Replace your screensaver with hibernation mode
Another simple tip is to ditch your computer’s screensaver, replacing it with hibernation mode. While your screensaver continues to use excessive amounts of power while the screen isn’t in use, hibernation is an energy-saving mode and therefore friendlier to the environment.
Be sure to lower the amount of time before the mode kicks in too.
6. Cut down on paper
Working from home, whether permanently or flexibly, is only possible thanks to the technology we use. The shift to home working should have already seen a huge reduction in the amount of paper you use to perform your daily tasks.
But you might be able to go further. Replace post-it notes with apps like Todoist and move all your diaries and calendars online.
In your garden
7. Don’t use plastic tubs
Instead of plastic plant pots and tubs, considering using recyclable or biodegradable ones instead.
But don’t throw away any plastic ones you do have. Get as much use out of them as possible and only move onto eco-friendlier alternatives when absolutely necessary.
Once you have finished weeding, mowing, or replanting, don’t put your waste in the garden waste bin. Instead, compost it.
You can add leftover food waste, including coffee grounds and eggshells, as well as shredded newspaper to create your own compost. This will reduce your household waste and provide you with a free source of soil-enriching material.
9. Water butts
Use a water butt to collect rainwater and you’ll have easy access when the time comes to water the garden. You’ll be in the clear when summer hosepipe bans arrive too!
10. Leave part of your garden unmown
Leave a patch of your garden to grow wild and you’ll create a natural habitat for wildlife. You can also add a water source such as a birdbath and use log piles to create “insect hotels”.