As humanity continues to impact and damage the environment at an unprecedented rate, it’s both our individual and collective responsibilities to make positive changes to our lifestyle to secure the future of our planet and live more eco-friendly.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, UK households contribute 40% to total UK carbon emissions. This highlights that it is a crucially important area for tackling climate change and other environmental issues.
Creating an eco-friendly home and garden is an important step towards tackling climate change individually and collectively.
Positive action starts at home and it’s quite remarkable how seemingly small steps add up to larger, cumulative changes!
Creating an eco-friendly home revolves around water, consumption, waste management and energy usage which are by far the biggest contributors to yearly CO2 and carbon emissions.
1) Consider Heat Networks, Heat Pumps or Electric Heating
Fundamentally changing your heating provision to modern, eco-friendly alternatives can permanently reduce a home’s carbon footprint.
Your home may already be part of one of the 17,000 heat networks that exist across the UK, but if it isn’t then electric heating is an option worth looking into.
Switching to electric heating is becoming cheaper and more viable for many households throughout the UK.
The CCC says that low-carbon energy usage can cut household emissions by 79%.
Installing energy-efficient lightbulbs is also an excellent way to cut baseline energy usage.
Also, switching off electronics at the wall rather than letting them sit on standby.
Efficient heating quickly loses its potency without good insulation.
Cavity wall insulation can have a huge effect but up to 40% of heat is lost through windows and doors, not the walls.
You can DIY retrofit your home with door brushes, seals on windows and other insulation to prevent drafts – it all adds up!
3) Cut Water Usage
An average UK family home can use up to staggering 523 litres of water a day, or 200,000 litres or more every single year.
That might be hard to believe, but even flushing the toilet once will use 5 litres or more.
Factor in showers, baths, washing up, hosepipe usage, car washes (that can use over 250 litres) and so on and so forth and you see how it adds up.
Any alteration you can make to your water usage is crucially important.
According to one report, turning the tap off whilst you do the washing up could save some 666kg of CO2 each year – that’s equivalent to flying from London to Oslo!
Have a look at these top water saving tips from the SesWater company:
- Turning the tap off when brushing your teeth or shaving saves up to six litres every minute
- If you have a dual flush toilet, use the small flush when possible and check if the cistern is leaking down the back of the pan between flushes – this wastes on average 400 litres a day
- Take a four-minute shower rather than filling up the bath which uses around 100 litres of water
- Make sure washing machines and dishwashers run on a full load as half load settings use more than half the amount of water and energy. You also don’t need to rinse dishes before they go in the dishwasher – simply scrape food into the bin which keeps sewers clear too
- Fix dripping taps – usually a new washer is all you’ll need
- Use the plug or a bowl to wash dishes or vegetables so you don’t need to leave the tap running
4) Eat your Leftovers
Households contribute to 53% of all household waste in Europe – this equates to 4.5 million tonnes a year in the UK.
The craziest thing is that the vast majority of food we throw away is perfectly edible!
Think twice before you chuck that sad-looking lettuce or cabbage away – it’s more than likely perfectly fine for you to eat.
5) Switch to Natural Cleaning Products
From toothpaste to soap and household cleaning products, there are eco-friendly alternatives out there waiting for you.
They may be more expensive, but you can use them less frequently to make up for it.
Whilst the home accounts for a large percentage of our individual and collective emissions, the garden provides a valuable opportunity to support wildlife.
1) Garden for Bees
Bee numbers are declining sharply worldwide and if we’re not careful, these enormously important insects could face near-extinction in the coming decades.
Fill your garden with flowering plants including foxgloves, honeysuckles, clematis, bluebells and crocuses to help support bees in your garden all year long.
2) Switch to Electric Garden Machinery
From electric mowers to chainsaws and everything in between, switching to electric garden appliances can decrease your carbon footprint and emissions.
Plus electric appliances are cheaper to run and more flexible in the long-term.
3) Grow Food
Growing food goes hand in hand with reducing household food wastage.
It’s remarkable what you can do with just a small patch of land or no land at all.
If you don’t have outdoor space then you can still grow some varieties of salad and even potatoes inside.
If you only have a patio space then you can use containers to grow food.
With outdoor space, you can grow a diverse array of vegetables and even fruit if you can plant apple or cherry trees, which are hardy and require little looking after.
4) Build Habitats
Build habits for insects and other wildlife in your garden. Bird boxes are an excellent addition to any garden.
Bug hotels, hedgehog houses and any other shelter you can provide make a positive difference to your garden’s environmental credibility.
Access is important too. Allow space in your fences for animals to get through and access food and shelter in your garden.
If you have a pond or other water feature then ensure that any wildlife that enters can also safely exit.
5) Start a Compost Heap
Start a compost heap from garden waste and leftover food and then regularly use this to pot flowers and plants in your garden.
If you can use compost to grow your own fruit and veg then that’s ideal. Live in an apartment? You can still compost! Here’s our guide.
Compost doesn’t only reduce food waste, but it also supplies the earth with a diverse selection of microorganisms which are more beneficial than chemical fertilisers.