04 May 10 Easy Ways to Help the Environment Whilst at Home
Guest blog written by Ruby Clarkson.
They do say that every cloud has its silver lining, no matter how difficult the circumstances might be. This has never been truer than now, as we struggle against the coronavirus pandemic. While us humans are doing our best to get used to social distancing, working from home and homeschooling the kids, the environment is seeing huge benefits.
According to data from the European Environment Agency (EEA), there have been “large decreases in air pollutant concentrations — of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in particular — largely due to reduced traffic and other activities, especially in major cities under lockdown measures.”
This is fantastic news for the future of our planet as we try to reduce our carbon footprints in order to reduce the effects of climate change. But that doesn’t mean that we no longer need to be concerned about the future.
There are many changes that we need to make right now if we want to ensure that the planet remains green and gorgeous for our children and grandchildren. Coronavirus isn’t an excuse! Here are ten tips which can help that happen.
1. Check the energy efficiency of your home
Our home energy usage places a huge burden on the natural world, using the planet’s natural resources and harming wildlife. That’s why you should always put your home energy efficiency at the top of the list when trying to become more eco-friendly.
An excellent way to do this is to have an energy performance assessment carried out by an expert.
“Energy Performance Certificates show how energy efficient your property is – ranging from ‘A’ to ‘G’,” say Nexus Energy Solutions, “On your certificate, ‘A’ is the most energy efficient and ‘G’ is the least. It goes without saying that a high efficiency rating means lower energy bills and fuel bills.”
These assessments are also easy and affordable to have done and help take the guesswork out of becoming more eco-friendly. The EPC assessor will visit your home and carry out the assessment. Then he or she will give you advice on how you can improve your energy efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Be mindful of your electricity usage
Thanks to the coronavirus, we’re spending most of our time at home. We’re doing our best to keep ourselves entertained with music, movies, TV series, computer games and workout videos.
Thank goodness for technology, right?
But there is a downside. All this tech use means our power bills are likely to be much higher than they were when we were out at work all day or the kids were at school.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to reduce our electricity bills wherever possible. Who wants to get through the crisis and find a huge electricity bill landing on the doorstep?
Easy ways to do this include:
● Turning off the lights when you leave a room
● Making sure the TV isn’t on standby when you’re not using it
● Removing plugs from the wall when you’re not using them
● Only running the washing machine when you have a full load
● Hanging your washing outside to dry when the weather is good
3. Make reusing fun
Arts and crafts are an excellent way to get creative, keep the kids busy and have fun whilst the family is stuck at home during lockdown.
But instead of buying brand new craft materials online, see what you already have at home and use those. Do you have any old scraps of wool, bits of ribbon or paper craft materials hidden in the back of a cupboard? Pull them out and get creative.
Kids also love repurposing materials from the recycling bin for their creations. Keep hold of those cardboard toilet roll tubes, old cereal boxes and food packaging and see what they can come up with. There are lots of excellent ideas on Pinterest if you’re stuck for ideas.
If you can’t persuade your children to get creative with the recycling (or you don’t have kids), make sure you’re separating your rubbish and using your recycling bins as they should.
This should slash your rubbish by at least half and help reduce the strain on landfill sites, protect wildlife from harm and prevent environmental damage.
All local councils in the UK offer doorstep recycling schemes. If you’re unsure what can be recycled, contact them to find out. Even if they don’t accept certain items such as crisp packets, you find many independent recycling schemes operating through the country that might help. A quick Google search should usually help.
5. Cook from scratch more often
Getting a takeaway or buying a premade meal from time to time can give you a well-deserved treat or break from kitchen duties. But it also comes in a huge amount of packaging that usually can’t be recycled so ends up in landfill once you’re done.
Instead, try to buy the raw ingredients and make the food yourself wherever possible. This lifestyle tweak won’t just help you protect the environment either! It’s also very budget friendly and could allow you to (re)discover your hidden culinary skills.
Pull out those recipe books, do a search online and get cooking. The coronavirus lockdown is a great excuse to learn new skills, even if you can barely boil an egg. Go ahead, challenge yourself!
6. Start a compost heap
All those kitchen scraps and leftovers can be put to good use and turned into compost with relative ease.
All you need is a compost bin or suitable corner of your garden, then add your kitchen waste and the magic will happen. You’ll get brand new, nutrient-rich soil you can use in your garden or to fertilise your plants. It won’t cost a penny, and it will keep more waste from landfill! Perfect.
If you don’t have space in your garden, investigate whether your local council offers a food waste scheme and use that instead.
7. Switch to natural cleaning products
Although you might be tempted to reach for the harsh, chemical cleaning products to disinfect your surfaces and kill potential traces of the coronavirus, this might not be necessary.
In fact, choose these products and the toxic chemicals they contain are also likely to also harm or even kill marine life.
According to expert advice published in The National Geographic, traditional cleaning materials like soap and water are usually best for cleaning at this difficult time. “Soap works so effectively because it’s chemical pries open the coronavirus’ exterior envelope and causes it to degrade.”
So, if you want to safely clean your home whilst also protecting the environment, choose soap, vinegar, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda.
8. Install a smart meter
A smarter meter allows you to keep a close eye on the amount of electricity you’re using and better control it. This makes it an excellent eco-friendly addition to your home!
Not only does it allow you to see what is going on, but you can also use it to calculate how much money you’ve spent or programme it to turn certain household appliances on and off at certain times.
9. Save water
Think that saving water isn’t anything to worry about here in the UK? Think again!
According to The Eden Project;
“Even though water doesn't appear in short supply in the UK, using less water actually means you are reducing energy use and saving money. Cleaning waste water (or 'grey water', as it's called) is an energy-intensive process; so is heating the hot water that comes out of your taps.”
However, there are tons of easy ways you can reduce your water usage. Here are some ideas.
● Turn off the tap when you’re brushing teeth or shaving
● Install a low flow shower head
● Add a brick or a plastic bag to your toilet cistern
● Consider flushing your toilet after ‘number twos’ only
10. Make zero-waste switches
It might surprise you to know that most households in the UK use far more single use products than they need to. This places a huge burden on the planet, using vast amounts of raw materials, energy and damaging the natural world when they really don’t have to.
However, switching these items for something more eco-friendly is pretty easy these days. Here are some ideas:
● Ditch the paper towels and use traditional cloth tea towels instead
● Avoid plastic food wrap and use reusable containers or beeswax food wraps instead
● Consider cloth nappies instead of disposables
● Forget plastic straws and choose reusable instead
There’s never been a better time to make your home more eco-friendly and do your bit for the planet. By the time all of this is over, your home will be more energy-efficient, your carbon footprint lighter and your energy bills lower too.
Ruby Clarkson is a freelance writer who is passionate about our planet and the animals that we share it with. When she is not writing, she is either out in the garden or wrapped up in a blanket with a good book. Accompanied by a bar of chocolate of course.