Wednesday, 13 May 2009

How to be greener

Most people reading this blog are interested in being greener, having a smaller carbon footprint, even if we are not sure where and how to begin. Like most things in life, keeping it simple is the best way to begin. I would suggest that you start with the things that are relatively easy to do and that way encourage yourself. No point in attempting something big and then getting discouraged when it all goes pear-shaped or proves costly. So, let's begin.

  1. Switch off lights and electrical equipment when not in use; change your bulbs to low-energy ones and don't leave electronic goods (TV, radio, hi-fi, computers etc) on stand-by. It may not seem a lot of electricity to you but it all adds up and if everyone did this simple step there would be significant reductions in energy wasted and carbon emissions.
  2. Buy green - buy local produce as much as possible to reduce the distance food etc has to travel between supplier and consumer. Buy AAA-rated equipment when you replace aged or broken items (washing machines, refrigerators, TVs etc). Buy only what you need - tons of food are literally thrown away each day. So, avoid those buy one get one free offers unless you know you will use the item.
  3. Travel green - walk as much as possible, or cycle; use the bus if you need to go further than you can easily walk or if you have to carry heavy items; use the train rather than the car for longer journeys and fly only if absolutely necessary.
  4. Grow your own - growing some of your own fruit and veg will reduce your carbon footprint and it tastes better too. Also, you can avoid the use of pesticides and home-grown is nearly always healthier.
  5. Share - share things like lawnmowers with family, friends or neighbours; share the car, either on journeys to work etc or go the whole hog and get rid of your car and use one of the many car share schemes popping up all over the country.
  6. Compost - even if you only grow flowers, making your own compost from waste food, newspapers, cuttings etc makes sense from a green perspective. If you grow your own fruit and veg it makes even more sense.
  7. Recycle - take your unwanted items to your local recycling centre rather than just dump them. If they still work consider joining one of the many freecycling groups on the internet and essentially give your stuff away to a deserving home.
  8. Go online - rather than receive paper bills and bank statements, go online and register for online statements and dispense with the paper ones. This makes sense from a green perspective but also, most utility companies give you a discount for doing this. Its usually only a small amount each money but every little helps.
  9. Turn down the thermostat - if you are feeling a little chilly, put on more clothes rather than turn up or turn on the heating. Turn down the settings on your central heating as each degree means even more savings on energy use, carbon emissions and saves you cash!
  10. Change your boiler - consider changing to a more efficient boiler and save as much as 50% of your energy use for heating and hot water! There are also grants available for many people so check if you qualify. At the same time you may be able to get cavity wall and loft insulation installed at little or no cost.
So, these are just some of the steps each of us can take that will help us to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle, save us money and cost little to implement.

Sites to check out for more information are:

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