Guest Post by Lily Harris – Freelance Writer
It’s no secret that most of us could do better when it comes to making green choices, but it can be difficult to know where to start. We’re looking at 6 practical ways that you can run your home so that it’s not only more environmentally conscious, but more economical, too.
Switch to green energy
There’s no doubt that energy use is the biggest contributor to a home’s carbon footprint. With winter now well underway, it’s worth asking if you can choose a greener option when it comes to your energy provider. Fortunately, this is easier to do than ever before, and UK consumers now have plenty of affordable options.
Alternatively, you could make the investment to install solar panels. Though the initial outlay is significant, your panels will soon pay for themselves and leave you making enormous savings in years to come. If switching energy providers or doing massive upgrades to your home is not a viable option, you can go a long way by simply replacing inefficient lightbulbs or energy-hungry appliances with more efficient ones.
Go for an eco-friendly shed or garden office
Building a spare room, storage shed, or garden office in your backyard is an excellent way to use space and increase the resale value of your home. But such extensions can not only cost a fortune, they’re also very hard on the environment. If you’re considering this kind of upgrade, why not do your bank balance and the environment a favour and opt for an upcycled and repurposed shipping container?
These days, there are so many exciting options for modular buildings that are both cost-effective and kind to the environment. Because they’re customizable, you decide how much you’d like to invest.
Use eco-friendly cleaning products
The little things count, too. Many of us don’t spare a thought for the cleaning products we use everyday at home, but they can be extremely hazardous to the environment. Laundry softeners, micro-beads, room deodorizers and strong cleaning solutions can be incredibly destructive once they find their way into the water table.
Luckily, it’s easy to get a great clean without them – by using non-bio laundry detergent, biodegradable soaps, and natural cleaners like white vinegar, baking soda and essential oils, you can keep your home and your conscience clean.
Set up a comprehensive recycling plan
So many recyclable items sadly never find their way back into the system to be reused. Though it can be time consuming, commit to properly sorting your recycling at home and making sure that you’re purchasing plastic-free or recyclable packaging at the supermarket where possible. Compact cardboard boxes and rinse out cans and bottles – or better yet, find a way to reuse these items around the home. Take the time to find out how to properly dispose of bigger items like furniture, mattresses, computer hardware, batteries, bulky garden waste, cooking oil or old appliances.
On the other side of things, you can save money and make better use of available resources by buying second hand, learning to repair broken items, or reusing things to expand their lifespan. Charity/vintage shops and hand-me-downs mean you curb your consumption and keep one more item out of the country’s already overloaded landfill.
Though it’s not for everyone, a compost heap is a wonderful, hands-on way to run a more eco-friendly household. Food waste can be easily recycled into nutrient-dense compost for your garden – and it would be extremely satisfying to then grow more fruits and veggies in that very soil.
If you’re adventurous, a vermiculture (worm composting) bin is also an interesting way to make use of kitchen scraps and food waste. It’s also an excellent tool to teach young children about the cycle of life.
Be more minimalist in the kitchen
Being savvier with your diet is something that’s excellent for your health, for your budget, and definitely for the environment. Take a look at your daily habits and see what can be improved – for example, disposable aluminum coffee pods wreak havoc on the environment, and can easily be replaced by another coffee-making method.
You could save considerable energy by batch cooking and freezing portions for later meals. Buy local, in-season produce and opt for “wonky veg” when you can, or consider going vegetarian, vegan or simply doing more plant-based days in the week to cut your carbon emissions. Finally, boil only the amount of water you need at a time in your kettle. Granted, it’s a small thing, but if you drink tea multiple times a day, those energy savings quickly add up.
energysavingsecrets.co.uk, Is it more energy efficient to be vegetarian?
Rrg.uk, Worm composting
Countryliving.com, 7 common household products that are terrible for the environment