Unsure where to start when it comes to saving the planet? These five simple sustainability tips at home are a step in the right direction.
When it comes to living sustainably, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Being expected to bike everywhere instead of driving, installing solar panels on our homes and limiting flying are three big changes to help limit your carbon emissions which may not be possible for you right now.
But making small, everyday changes around your home can make a big difference to yours and your family’s carbon footprint.
We bring you five key actions at home you can take today to immediately live lighter on the planet.
Get your food waste under control
If you’re anything like the average Australian household, then each year you are likely binning approximately $3,800 worth of food, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). That food then ends up in landfill emitting methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
RMIT’s research initiative, Watch My Waste says: “The greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined.”
Isn’t that incredible? (And certainly not good incredible.) Those slightly limp carrots you just threw out suddenly take on a whole new meaning now, right?
Help get your food waste under control by writing a weekly meal plan, only shop for what you need, store food correctly to prevent spoilage, compost food scraps and make sure you consume all leftovers.
Starting to grow your own food is another great way of reducing food waste. When your own labour and love has gone into growing fruit and veg at home you’re more likely to treat it with the reverence it deserves!
Eliminate all single use items from your home
Committing to reusable products over single use items in your home is actually a lot easier than you think, and it’s a simple sustainability tip that will help prevent unnecessary waste going to landfill.
Replace paper towels with cloth towels, paper napkins for cloth napkins, cling wrap with beeswax wrap, coffee pods with a French press or reusable coffee pods, tea bags with a teapot and single use baking paper with DIY greaseproof baking paper.
Not only are reusable items better for the planet, they’re also better for your wallet, as you’re not having to continuously fork out money for single use items each time they run out. Here’s Pip‘s list of 64 ways to reduce plastic use at home to get you started.
Start using natural eco-friendly cleaning products
Household cleaning products contain a whole host of nasty and corrosive chemicals that are both terrible for the environment and for our own health.
Most products are derived from petrochemicals and contain synthetic fragrances, even when advertised as “fragrance-free”.
The chemicals in those products get into our waterways and damage aquatic life, and also release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into our homes, which can cause short- and long-term adverse health effects.
Making the simple sustainability switch to using vinegar and baking soda to clean your home will reduce the number of chemicals released into the environment, and will also cut down on plastic packaging. Here’s Pip‘s homemade cleaning products recipe.
Rethink your washing habits
Do you wear something once and immediately throw it into the laundry basket at the end of the day?
Before you do so, think about whether you could get a few more wears out of the garment. Most items can simply be aired out rather than going through the washing machine.
Consider switching to a more environmentally friendly, non-toxic laundry powder or better still, make your own. Here’s Pip‘s recipe. As for fabric softener, add ¼ cup of white vinegar to your final rinse cycle instead.
Be sure to wash your garments in cold water rather than hot water, and line dry when possible over using the dryer (and swap plastic pegs for stainless steel pegs). Also consider the energy efficiency of your washer and dryer.
Switch off unused appliances at the wall
When home appliances such as TVs, home theatre systems, phone chargers, washing machines and microwaves are on standby, they still draw electricity, so turn off anything at the wall that is not in use to limit your energy consumption.
It’s estimated that if the average household turned off their appliances at the wall, they would save 1000kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Now multiple that by all the other households in Australia… that’s a lot of wasted energy!
And of course, switch off any lights when you’re not in the room.
5 more super easy sustainably tips at home
Already do all of the above? Here are five more sustainable living tips to help you live lighter on the planet:
- Reduce your meat consumption and opt for more plant-based foods. Try to source meat from biodynamic and ethical meat producers rather than the industrial meat industry.
- Have shorter showers and install a water saving shower head in your bathroom. Consider setting up a grey water system. We show you how here.
- Install energy efficient light bulbs in your home. LED bulbs use less energy compared to regular incandescent bulbs.
- Repair or mend damaged or broken items whenever possible, whether that’s clothing, toys or household items. Google Repair Cafes and Repair Hubs in your local area. Or check out this list from Erin Rhoads (aka The Rogue Ginger).
- Unsubscribe from receiving any emails that you would usually just immediately delete. According to carbon footprint expert Mike Berners-Lee’s 2010 book ‘How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything’, the average spam email generators a footprint equivalent to 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e). It all adds up…