You do your bit for the environment with a reusable coffee cup and recycling where you can but if you still feel like there’s more you can do, we have some lifestyle hacks to green up your life that you might not have come across before.
Leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be a drag and it doesn’t have to take up masses of your time or involve a big commitment. A few simple adjustments, a change in routine and you’ll soon be making a massive difference in the impact you make.
Here are some of our top tips for nailing an ethical and sustainable lifestyle, without giving up too much more of your precious time. Create great habits today and they’ll stick.
Switch It Right Off
Once you’ve powered off your laptop or television or finished charging up your phone or tablet, it’s time to switch off the power completely. Simply unplugging your device won’t do. All this does is just to prevent your phone from charging, and it doesn’t stop the power flowing from the socket and through the lead.
This wasted electricity can make up more than 10% of a home’s electricity so switching off completely is better for the environment and might even save you money. If you have a number of items plugged in, consider plugging them all into a multi-plug panel and switching it all off at the wall when you’re shutting down and heading off to bed or out for the day.
You wouldn’t leave your doors and windows open when you have the heating on but if your home isn’t properly insulated then it’s like you’re doing just that. With a small investment to get your home’s insulation levels right up there, you’ll be able to lower your thermostat, retain heat for longer and save money in the long run.
Call in the experts and have your home checked over and see if you can make some real savings.
Part with plastic
There are so many schemes out there now that are helping to wean us off our reliance on plastic. Check if your local supermarket will allow you take your own reusable cartons for buying fresh meat.
It’s been well documented how many thousands of tonnes of plastic are making their way to our oceans every year and what we need to do to turn the tide around. Some of the easier options include saying no to plastic shopping bags by using your own from home and re-using and refusing to use plastic drinking bottles.
Other creative ways of reducing plastic use include saying no to plastics straws, which can’t be recycled and instead using bamboo or paper options.
Keep up the recycling
Each country, each town all seem to have very different rules when it come to what can and can’t be recycled. Some contractors will take glass while in some areas you’re expected to make your own arrangements and hit up the bottle bank.
Make sure you’re clear on the rules and regulations of your own neighbourhood and get in touch with the local public authority if you’re not sure about any aspect of your waste disposal.
Once you get into the habit of recycling it really will become like second nature and you’ll find you have so much more room in the bin where your non-recyclables go.
In a world where our supermarkets are heaving with products from all over the world, it’s hard to see why we shouldn’t just eat what we want.
But for every non-indigenous food type there is out there on the shelf, there’s a process that includes either a lot of air miles or greenhouses and other non-natural environments used to create non-native foodstuffs.
Eating seasonally helps encourage producers to create organic, natural products and goes some way to help preventing genetically modified alternatives.
You could splash out on that brand new sofa or dining table or you could shop around and find yourself a bargain while also actively being a part of the recycling movement.
The beauty of second hand pieces is two-fold, not only do you get more bang for your buck, you might also pick up something truly unique, a vintage piece that might otherwise get overlooked online because of price or style but which, in person, was exactly what you were looking for.
Similarly take some time out to visit salvage and reclamation yards, which can feature an impressive array of older and new furniture and fittings.
Your interiors aren’t the only aspects of your life that might benefit from shopping around a little. If you love buying clothes but struggle with the cost, check out the second hand stores and vintage shops in your area. It might take a little looking but there is always a one-off piece to be found for next to nothing. Make some space in your wardrobe by taking clothes down to the nearest charity collection point or textiles and clothes bank.
Take some time to check out the history of some of the stores you get your clothes from. If they are ethically minded, they’ll likely shout it from the rooftops all over their website and you’ll feel better knowing they’re sourcing material from sustainable resources and treating workers with respect in terms of pay and conditions. Make an ethical decision about whether or not you want to be a patron of stores that adopt a less ethical approach to their trade.
As well as cutting down on plastics it’s much easier nowadays to source products that are free from harmful toxins and chemicals, even at your local supermarket.
While generally just as effective as their biological counterparts, products with less of the bad stuff in are unlikely to irritate skin and produce a less harmful waste product, for example clothes washing liquid that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that are then pumped into the sea.
You don’t have to say no to your favourite tipple, whether that’s tea or wine, with most products carrying a trademark highlighting sustainable practices.
Shopping online of course gives you an even greater choice and potentially the option of buying in bulk, helping you make even greater savings.
Find out more
Read around how your sustainable and greener practices are having real impacts on real communities around the globe. If you know that your choice of coffee has allowed a farmer in a developing country to gain a fair price for his crop, then you will generally always make that choice again when you next come to buy coffee.
Finding a personal connection to the environment or a community that your actions affect is a sure fire way of joining the dots between what you buy and the impact that has.
Another one of those straightforward but easy to miss options. Quite simply, a dripping tap, long shower and flushing a toilet every time, is a waste of one our most precious commodities.
Make sure to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and consider something like Water Hippo that will save water with every flush, again preventing waste and bringing your water bill down.
You could even try limiting the length of showers to five minutes and cutting right down on baths.
If you have an outside space, then an easy way of collecting water to use in the garden is through a water barrel. Just place them under your drainage run off and see the water levels getting high fairly quickly after a downpour ready for use during a dry spell.
Be energy smart
If you’re curious at how much your gas or electricity is costing you every month then buying a so-called Smart Meter could be the answer. These clever little devices sit largely out of view monitoring how much energy you’re using. You take control on how much you’re paying by checking the real time display.
There is a range of products on the market so shop around and choose one that comes with all the functions you need.
And a word on transport
There’s a lot to say about this and for some of us, not using a car is impossible, whether we have to face the daily commute, the school run or just live away from amenities, sometimes we just need a car.
There are of course choices we can make to reduce our carbon footprint, including walking and cycling where possible and buying hybrid versions that uses far less in the way of fuel.
However you plan on raising your green game, there are so many little things that all add up to make a significant difference from stepping up your recycling to buying ethically and making a commitment to walk more. With so much information online from bloggers and experts, making a list of how to make less impact on the environment and be an ethical shopper has never been easier.
Start today and work towards a greener tomorrow.