5 interesting ideas to make your home truly low-carbon
Installing LED lightbulbs is all well and good, but to make the biggest impact you need to really change your behaviour too.
If you’ve already taken steps to make your home more energy efficient, you may be stuck for ideas on what to do next.
But worry not – with these five original and creative ideas, you’ll be back on track to zero carbon in no time.
1. No need for new
Cutting down on making brand new purchases is a wonderful way to lower your carbon footprint.
Take fast fashion, for instance. Did you know that, according to WWF, it takes around 2,700 litres of water to make just one t-shirt?
Inês Fressynet is a sustainable fashion writer who runs a newsletter about ‘slow fashion’ – the antithesis to fast fashion.
Her advice is: ‘Reduce the number of newly-produced clothes you bring into your wardrobe by buying garments from charity shops or borrowing children's clothes from parents with older children.’
She even recommends new parents look into renting their baby clothes.
There’s a heavy environmental cost attached to other manufactured products, too. From books to furniture, many of the things we buy brand new can come with a huge carbon footprint – but with so many pre-owned and vintage options out there, there’s really no need to buy brand new every time.
Why not try to make your next birthday or Christmas carbon neutral by encouraging people in your household to only gift pre-loved stuff?
2. Order deliveries to a shop or locker
If you like to buy online, you may have noticed that your orders often need to travel a long way to make it to your door – and in that time, they can tot up quite the carbon footprint.
This is especially true in the ‘last mile’ – the final leg of your package’s journey, from the final distribution centre to your letterbox.
While this last mile may make things convenient for you, it can have a worrying environmental impact – in fact, it’s one of the most polluting parts of the whole delivery process.
So, what’s the best way to cut down on carbon emissions while still enjoying the convenience of online shopping?
Simple. Instead of having packages delivered to your door, send them to a pick-up location such as a shop or parcel locker instead.
With many items going to the same place, delivery vehicles won’t need to travel as far on their rounds. If enough online shoppers were to switch to this method, it could seriously cut down on carbon emissions in your neighbourhood.
Best of all? You get to stretch your legs and grab some fresh air when you go to grab your order. Win, win!
3. Quit wasting food
We all know we should stop wasting food for the good of the planet. But have you ever considered how much of an impact it could have?
Here’s a sobering thought: did you know, every year in the UK, we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of food?
Source: Wrap - Food surplus and waste in the UK - key facts (PDF, 906KB)
When you consider it takes up to 100 buckets of water to produce one loaf of bread, suddenly we see why this is such a major environmental issue.
If British households could cut their food waste down to zero, we would save 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – not to mention 19,000 square kilometres of landfill.
So chill it, freeze it, compost it or donate it – but whatever you do, don’t waste that food!
4. Get green-fingered
If you’re regularly reaching for an electric fan during the stifling hot summer, you’ll be glad to know a good selection of leafy plants could do the job for you.
In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, indoor plants could help to reduce the temperature of your indoor rooms by up to 10 degrees fahrenheit.
Houseplants can also help to lower stress, reduce blood pressure and improve air quality – so what are you waiting for? Start adding some vegetation to your habitation!
5. Let it rain, let it rain
Our final tip is also one of the most simple.
As you probably know, the UK is one of the wettest countries in Europe by yearly rainfall depth.
But do you know what that means? Free water!
Collecting rainwater is one of the simplest ways to lower your dependency on the water grid and reduce your home’s water usage. Reducing your water usage is not only great for your budget, it’s good for the environment too.
And collecting rainwater couldn’t be simpler – all you need to get started is a good bucket and a rainy day.
The Royal Horticultural Society says that the average British household could harvest as much as 24,000 litres of water per year from roofwater alone.
Rainwater can be used for all sorts of purposes, from watering your plants to washing your car. And if you’re truly committed to lowering your water usage, you can even use it for flushing your toilet, rinsing vegetables and even in cooking.