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5 Little changes that can make a big difference to the planet


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

5 Little changes that can make a big difference to the planet

We all want to do our bit to look after our wonderful planet. You've probably heard the environmentalists’ mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. But how does that apply to everyday life? Here’s a round-up of tiny actions we can all take. Collectively, we can make a big difference.

1. Water you waiting for?

It’s widely known that we should be taking shorter showers and turning off the tap while cleaning our teeth. But there are loads of other simple ways we can save water, too. For example, if your hot tap takes a while to warm up, why not collect the cold water that comes out first, and use it for watering plants, cleaning, or rinsing fruit and veg? You could even throw it down the loo instead of a full flush. 

Keen to do more? Install a water butt or another receptacle to collect rainwater that you can use for watering plants.

2. Power to the people

What do you mean, you haven’t already switched to energy-efficient light bulbs? They use up to 80% less electricity than standard ones and last for years, so make the switch today. Don’t leave lights, heating and appliances on when they’re not needed, switch off at the plug rather than using the standby function, and dry clothes outside or on a rack rather than using a tumble dryer.

Keen to do more? Switch to a green energy supplier, or have a home energy audit carried out by a professional to identify where you can save energy, for example, by increasing your insulation, or taking steps to prevent draughts.

3. Waste not, want not

UK homes throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. Eliminating that waste would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road. We’ve all been guilty of this, so let’s commit to only buying food that we can eat. Plan meals, write shopping lists, use freezers wisely, be creative about using up what’s in the fridge, and don’t get tempted by buy-one-get-one-free offers if the free one’s likely to end up in the bin. The more thought that goes into what you eat, the better, so shop local, eat less meat and cook from scratch. 

Keen to do more? Compost and grow your own.

4. Changing gear

Leave the car at home and cycle, walk or use public transport wherever possible. You’ll be fitter, it’s more sociable, and you’ll reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If you must drive, improve your fuel economy by unloading unnecessary items, keeping your tyres pumped up and going easy on the brake and accelerator. 

Keen to do more? Invest in a bike that suits you - A site like Bike Hint can help you decide on the bike for you: a folding bike for commuters, or a tricycle or cargo bike for anyone who’s nervous or has a lot to carry. There’s a bike out there to suit everyone. When buying a new car, check out the latest fuel-efficient vehicles on the market. They’re getting more affordable and more user-friendly all the time.

5. All over the shop

At the shops, look out for natural products, organic where possible, as these have the lowest impact on the environment. You can get natural eco-friendly toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, beauty products – you name it! Oh, and don’t forget your reusable bag or basket – plastic carrier bags are so last season…

Keen to do more? Make a commitment to eschew the big-name brands and switch to eco-friendly alternatives, and encourage your friends and family to join you.