01 Nov What Can a Home Do To Improve Its Eco Friendly Status?
By Ruby Clarkson.
In order for us to maintain an eco-friendly status throughout society we need to be doing our bit at home as well as in the workplace. Whilst one home is unlikely to produce as much waste as a business does, collectively, domestic waste adds up to a huge amount. Alongside proper waste disposal, there are several other ways we can improve our eco-friendly status domestically, here are just a few.
Segregate recyclables and general waste
Councils have provided UK homes with various recycling boxes or bins for years now. Every council has different methods and provides different containers, so it’s always advisable to check your local council’s website for up to date information. As an example, Gloucestershire County Council provides its residents with two green recycling boxes and a blue sack. Box one is for all paper, thin card, batteries and glass. Box two is for recyclable plastic, tins, cans and aluminium foil. The blue sack is for all flat-packed cardboard. The council website has a clear image to show this and provides details on collection days and specifically what can and cannot be recycled at home. As long as this information is adhered to, packaging labels are read correctly and you are not placing recyclables in the general waste bin, you are recycling the best you can.
Reduce food waste
We have all been guilty of wasting food at some point. Whether that is overloading our plates or letting food go off in the fridge. Common sense is really all that is required when it comes to buying food that can easily perish.
- Store food properly – do not expose food to air inside or outside the fridge. Place a lid on any opened tins and wrap any perishable goods such as: cheese, meats and vegetables in a bag, cling film or foil.
- Freeze any food which you know you will not use before the expiry date or any food you have not got round to eating, which may soon go mouldy.
- Do not over buy perishable foods. Overloading the fridge can lead to food being pushed to the back where it is often forgotten about and goes off.
- Always put any food waste in the food waste caddy provided by your local council and not in the general waste bin.
Avoid single-use plastics
Our retailers have now scrapped handing out free of charge single-use plastic bags and have replaced them with durable reusable plastic bags, which can cost between 5p and 10p per bag. These are designed to be brought back to the supermarket time and time again. Some supermarkets are now offering strong paper bags and compostable bags as alternatives as well. The UK has seen an impressive 90% drop in plastic bag purchases since 2014 - now on average each person uses 10 new bags a year compared to a staggering 140 in 2014. A combination of bag charges and more awareness not to use single-use plastics can be thanked for this drop.
Another way to avoid single-use plastics is to buy food contained in recyclable packaging or food with no packaging. In the current climate this can be difficult as many big supermarkets are still using single-use plastics to contain items like fruit, vegetables and raw meats. Most supermarkets have announced plans to change their packaging methods over the next few years but for now, if you wanted to buy a pack of raw chicken for example, the film covering the tray cannot be recycled, leaving us, the consumer with little choice but to dispose of this plastic in the general waste. Unless you want to make lifestyle changes in order to improve your eco-friendly status, such as going plastic free, not many people are going to be hard on you for buying foods protected by single-use plastic at this current time.
Other ways to improve eco-friendly status
Solar PV - powering your home from your own roof with a solar PV installation is a far more eco-friendly method of energy consumption than relying solely on an energy supplier. It also saves a terrific amount of money in the long term.
Installing new home features – if you own your property, there are many features you can add to your home in order to make it more eco-friendly. There are many examples of this – one of the most common include providing your property with a septic tank, as this uses ‘natural processes’ which including water being pumped into the land, promoting the growth of plants and flowers, according to Tanks For Everything.
LED lightbulbs – these are up to 80% more efficient than standard lightbulbs and are widely available to purchase. Only 5% of energy is wasted on heat whereas traditional bulbs waste 95% on heat!
Walking – you can easily lower emissions by walking to destinations (within reason) instead of driving. This is better for the environment, better for your health and better for your wallet!
Society is now far more switched on to being eco-friendly than 10 years ago, we just need a bit more help from our biggest retailers with packaging and we will have then taken another big step towards improved eco-friendliness.
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.