Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not exactly an eco-warrior but all this stuff about global warming really is begining to bother me.
I worry about how we continue to pollute this beautiful country of ours, how we still put way too much into landfill and how we continue to create more and more CO2 and all for what?
Ok, confession time, I enjoy most of the things you associate with modern day living; my plasma TV, my iPhone (just the best phone in the world) ; but hey, I’m also not about to go and live in a hut in the woods. Thing is though, it’s all too easy to think global warming is just too big for me to solve alone – so why should I even bother?
Ahh, but there IS a compromise and it doesn’t have to hurt.
For the last 15 years I’ve tried to be green and take responsibility for myself and my family and the energy that we use. As a result I’ve been surprised at how it all adds up and how much money we’ve been able to save with a few basic changes to our lifestyle.
If everybody thinks about it a little bit more, is a bit more aware and a bit more pro-active, I think we can make a difference.
Below I’ve listed a few ways that I have adopted over the last few years to save energy and reduce my CO2 output and a few suggestions for how you can recycle. Some things you can start doing today (you may even be doing them already) and some things will need a bit more of your time, but they are all worthwhile, most will save you money and together will make you feel a but better about it all.
So let’s get started!
First – Reduce
Cut down on unnecessary waste by choosing products with less packaging and try to avoid using plastic bags. Buy reusable carrier bags and use them for your weekly food shop. When the assistant asks you if you need a plastic carrier, say no thanks, I have my own.
Avoid unnecessary waste paper by returning or refusing unwanted post. Also ask to have your name removed from mailing lists and occasionally read the news online instead of buying a daily newspaper.
Try to Reuse as much as you can. Buy things that can be refilled, and find suppliers who offer refill schemes, for example washing liquids and detergents.
Maybe find new uses for things; how about jam jars for flower vases. If you look at a copy of Country Life you’ll find plenty of photo’s of flowers in the most beautiful looking jam jars. The next time you find yourself buying jam (really should make our own) imagine for a moment how a bunch of fresh flowers will look sitting on your kitchen table in that jar.
Store any your empty cardboard toilet rolls for growing your broad beans and runner bean seeds.
Next time you pass the doctors or the dentist how about handing over your old magazines for them to use in their waiting room. Not sure about you but they never seem to have my kind of magazine when I’m sitting in the waiting room.
Pack up any old clothes and give take them to your local charity shop, or perhaps give your old toys to the local playgroup or your local children’s hospital. Remember; your old toys could benefit someone else.
Sell your old mobile phones back to one of the many mobile phone recycle web sites.
How’s this for an idea; http://www.mobilephonexchange.co.uk/ are currently offering vouchers from well known high street brands in exchange for your old mobile phone. Why not trade that old phone stuck in the drawer and use the vouchers as Christmas presents!
Why not donate any old or unusable furniture to a local charity, school or community project. http://www.frn.org.uk/
Look for the Recycle symbol on any household products and put them in the correct bin, or collect them in a container over several weeks and take them to your local council tip. Almost all have targets for recycling waste. If you don’t know the location of your local recycling center, call your local council to find out.
Remove labels, if you can, and take the lids off plastic bottles as they are often made from a different type of plastic.
Paper or card contaminated by waste food can’t be recycled into paper again so really should go into your main bin or if it isn’t too messy throw it onto your compost heap.
Batteries are hazardous waste and should always be recycled. Always refill printer cartridges rather than buy new as this is just piling up more plastic. http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/
As well as recycling as much as you can look for products made from recycled materials to complete the cycle.
I’d like to finish this post with a few interesting facts about recycling.
- 13 billion plastic carrier bags are used in the UK each year.
- Up to 60% of the rubbish that is in your dustbin could be recycled.
- 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
- On average, 16% of the money you spend on a product pays for the packaging, which ultimately ends up as rubbish.
- £36,000,000 worth of aluminium is thrown away each year.
- It takes 24 trees to make 1 ton of newspaper
- Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
- Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.
… and finally, how about trying to reduce your energy consumption and at the same time save money by:
- Turning your thermostat down by just 1˚C and cut your heating bills by up to 10%
- Keep your hot water cylinder thermostat at 60˚C or below
- Always turn off the lights in empty rooms
- Don’t leave equipment on charge unnecessarily
- Wash your clothes at 30˚ and you’ll use 40% less energy
- Have a shower instead of a bath; it uses 2/3rds less energy, if you must have a bath have one with your partner 😉
- Use energy saving light bulbs. At Blackbirds we’ve seen considerable savings as a result of having 25% of the new build fitted with energy saving fittings
- Fix any dripping taps, in particular hot water taps so you’re not wasting hot water and ultimately your hard earned cash
- Insulate, Insulate, Insulate! It is the single most effective way to reduce wasted energy and reduce CO2 emissions
- Choose appliances with the Energy Saving Recommended logo, which are the most efficient in their category and can save up to £45 a year
- There is so much more we can all do without too much effort, so give it a go and who knows together we might just make a difference.