People are often discussing living sustainably, being environmentally friendly and reducing their carbon footprint.
The more inventive and environmentally conscious amongst us have already began establishing eco-homes that include hobbit-like houses that are built into the ground and builds that generate more energy than they use. However, even the most environmentally aware of us cannot live completely eco-friendly.
The good news is that you do not have to move your family or construct your own house from organic materials in order to make your home into a more environmentally friendly space. There are small steps you can take and habits you can break within your home that will help you live greener, without the major sacrifices. Combating an environmental crisis appears big, but making small changes within your own home is a good place to start.
The easiest switch to make when it comes to making your home eco-friendlier is to swap your usual cleaning products to natural products that keep both your home and the environment clean. The chemicals found in the majority of household cleaning products are harmful to the environment, but they can easily be replaced. For tougher cleaning tasks, there are many companies that now create eco-friendly and ethical products that won’t damage the environment but still get the job done in your home.
For more day-to-day cleaning, you can use everyday kitchen products such as citric acid and bicarbonate of soda that won’t contaminate water supplies. Personal cleaning can also have a detriment on the environment. Things such as non-biodegradable plastic microbeads that are in many common personal care products end up infiltrating and inevitably damaging our water systems when they are flushed down the shower or sink.
You can also begin to shop more environmentally friendly, from buying recycled toilet tissue to taking your own containers to fill up fruit, veg and even meat products. Stores such as Morrisons now offer customers to option to bring their own containers to their meat and fish counters, in order to save on plastic packaging.
Recycling shops are also popping up all over the country, including Monmouthshire’s own ‘The Shop’, which opened in early October. As well as buying recycled items, you can also donate your own unwanted products rather than discarding them to landfill.
As well as creating a greener shopping experience, all profits that are made from sales will go towards supporting climate change initiatives such as tree planting and community garden projects. Buying from recycled and zero-waste stores is an easy and convenient way to do your bit for the environment, without having to make any dramatic lifestyle changes.
Day to day habits in our home can also be affecting our footprint far more than we may realise. Things such as opening the oven door less when we’re cooking, taking shorter showers every day and not discarding fresh produce when it reaches a best before date seem like small and insignificant factors, but they can help make your home eco-friendlier. Food waste, in particular, is a massive problem in the UK, and in 2015 alone, food that was thrown away was valued at a staggering £15 billion. Around 70% of this food waste is edible.
Major supermarket Tesco has recently taken initiative to discard best before dates on their fresh produce in a bid to combat the food waste crisis. 116 fruits and vegetables will no longer have a best before date, and staff can use their own judgement to decide when food should begin to be marked down due to quality. Creating a zero-food waste house would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. However, food waste can go to use. For the times when your fresh produce is too far gone, compost the waste rather than throwing it into your bin bag. Composting your food waste will prevent the release of greenhouse gases, as well as creating a rich soil for your garden – there is really no reason to not start practicing this within your home.
Growing your own fruit and veg, having meatless meals once or twice a week, and eating at home more are all ways in which you can use food to lower your carbon footprint in the home.