In this article we are looking at two very important aspects that count towards a greener lifestyle in the home - Our approach to food consumption, packaging and recycling and also the electricity consumption of our property.
While each local council manages their own recycling efforts they are working under strict legislation set by government to control the amount of waste going to landfills. Most of us by now are in-line with this effort and are separating our waste accordingly.
It's important to remember though that recycling is not a proactive way to resolve the issue of our collective waste. Recycling makes use of some of our waste products but from collection to treatment it still takes resources to transform them. Now recycling is firmly in place in most of our daily lives what is the next step we can take to becoming greener in our home?
Travel - Your groceries
We don't always think about it but our food has often travelled a long way to get to our shelves. Tropical fruits, New Zealand lamb, Brazil Nuts (mostly from Bolivia!). This poses two initial concerns. Firstly it guarantees a hefty carbon footprint and secondly we have less of an insight into the conditions in which it has been grown. Buying local produce can help reduce the carbon emissions from transporting our food across the globe but can also help source our food from responsible growers and avoid the removal of important rainforest and the use of unnatural farming methods.
Travel - You
So we have avoided the air fare attached to our sausages but how far have you travelled to get to the shop. 6.2 miles is the average distance travelled for a food shopping trip in the UK. Petrol consumption can be greatly reduced by considering home delivery, veg boxes and using local shops.
Not creating the waste in the first place is the best way to reduce our household output. Most food producers are taking action as we speak to tackle this but we can also take a few steps too. Supermarkets wrap lots of their fresh food in plastic, many other items have wasteful amounts of cardboard or individually wrapped items in multi-pack buys. Choosing items that are packaged responsibly can greatly reduce your waste come rubbish collection day.
Don't forget the waste we incur getting our shopping home either. In the UK we use around 13 billion plastic shopping bags each year. Re-using shopping bags can have an instant impact on what we are wasting.
We can also save money and waste packing by producing our own goods. A simple herb garden on the window sill or in the garden can gain us some quality time cultivating, save a few pence, stop the waste of plastic packaging and avoid the cost of resources growing them on an industrial scale.
There literally hundreds of energy saving ideas we can implement around the home. Most of our electricity is created by burning non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. Not only does this create pollution but drains resources we can't replace. Another great reason for reducing our consumption is that electricity isn't free! Small savings each day quickly add up to a considerable difference which will show each time the bill drops through the letter box.
Washing clothes in cold water isn't going to remove tough stains but for everyday washing actually serves quite well. A lot of energy is saved when the water doesn't need to be heated. Air drying also avoids the use of a tumble dryer which is another big 'energy eater'.
Standard light bulbs are being phased out in the UK but we can still get ahead of the trend by installing energy efficient ones now. One of these bulbs can save on average £3 per year which is a small but very real saving when you add up the amount of bulbs we have in our home. Couple this with the added saving of switching off un-used and unnecessary lights and we can quickly see the potential saving to our utility bills.
Computers are so ingrained in our lives that we often forget their efficiency can play a huge part of our energy usage. Switching off computers overnight and revising their own energy saving modes will use a lot less electricity.
Mobile phones and other rechargeable devices can also cost us wasted electricity if the chargers are left plugged in when not in use. It has been suggested that only %5 of the energy spent actually reaches our phones and the other 95% is wasted by chargers being left plugged in.