6b. Resource saving housekeeping – Energy, water and all the rest of it

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There are countless ways that we can all make small changes to reduce our environmental impact and live our life more simply and kindly. Now I’m not saying that everyone should go and live up a tree, surviving off foraged mushrooms and spear fishing (although that does sound quite nice if you could find a tropical location…). But I know I feel a personal responsibility to, in my own little way, find new, better ways of living my life to minimise precious resource use. As I’ve highlighted in previous posts (To be perfect…or not to be?) nobody can be perfect and shouldn’t be expected to be but making tiny changes, here and there, can add up to big changes if amplified across the population.

Energy saving

• How often do you leave devices on stand-by because it’s just too far to turn it off at the wall? TVs and computers are a good example of energy drains as they still use energy even when they’re not fully on. Money Saving Expert reckons the average house can save around £50 just by switching off electrical appliances when you don’t need them on.

• Don’t charge overnight! Many newer phones will charge in less than an hour so there’s often little reason why they should be left plugged in for hours at a time.

• Wash clothes at 30°C – trust me this will help make your clothes last longer and switching from 40°C to 30°C can save roughly £52 a year.

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Water saving

• Washing up in a bowl instead of under a running tap can save so much water. Same goes for washing up tiny amounts at once, it can be much more water efficient to wash a bunch at once.

• Have shorter showers – obvious, but so true.

• Don’t brush your teeth with the water running, again sounds like common sense but you wouldn’t believe…

• Use the water used to cook veggies to make gravies, soups and stocks; plus this means you still get the benefits of the nutrients leached into the water during cooking from the veg – happy I could still sneak a nutrition tip in!

Do I really need a new coat this winter…?

Mend – there are so many community centres offering free or very cheap sewing clubs and lessons. So why not do some socialising why you sew and save some well-loved clothes from the bin? On that note clothes don’t belong in the bin, there are often clothes recycling banks at many larger supermarkets.

Second-hand – been to a charity shop recently? There are around 11,000 charity shops now in the UK that raise over £270 million annually and could raise a whole lot more if they were better supported. Taking your old clothes to them and checking out the bargains you can get saves you money and helps out charities…win win, no?

Care for your clothes – when washing separate lights and colours, wash on a cool wash and avoid the tumble drier. Hanging clothes out to dry in the summer and on a drying rack inside in bad weather helps prolong the life of clothes and prevents microfibres from passing into the water supply.

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What about at work?

• Get your own reusable coffee cup… and use it! Saves you money too as most cafes offer a decent(ish)  discount when you bring your own cup.

• Think before you print – emails from many companies now come with this at the bottom. It’s a good habit to get into of thinking before you print emails, or any documents really.

• Reusable water bottles – in 2016 480 billion plastic bottles were sold, barely half of which ever get recycled. What’s worse is that many people do own reusable water bottles and forget to use them. Having one on your desk is also great reminder to drink more water throughout the day.

Some of the rest of it…

• Sanitary products – one for the girls really, although pass it on to anyone you know who might benefit. One word, cups. Sounds gross, really isn’t when you get used to it. This is a great article for how to reduce your waste and save a bunch of money too.

• Plastic bags – this is one which everyone in the UK should be getting good at by now since the plastic bag charge of 5p was introduced in 2015; this charge is actually set to double to 10p soon. Although you have to use ‘bags for life’ or cotton tote bags 8 to 100 times respectively to reduce their carbon footprint to less than a plastic carrier bag, the fact that you are getting so much more use of it and reducing how much non-recyclable plastic goes to landfill definitely makes them superior

Coffee grounds – just a random one to get you thinking about things you might otherwise have put forever in the “cannot re-use this” pile. From garden fertiliser, to DIY body scrub; just shows there are usually always ways to extend something’s use!

Support the circular economy and let’s start cutting back on the crap and re-using to reduce our environmental impact.

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” – Robert Swan, Author

For the keen readers and evidence-checkers amongst you:

WRAP – http://www.wrap.org.uk/

Carbon Trust – https://www.carbontrust.com/home/

Energy Saving Trust. Transport: Valuable driving advice for a greener journey. Available at: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/transport-travel

Going Zero Waste. Zero waste all purpose cleaner. Available at: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-all-purpose-cleaner

Money Saving Expert (2018). 13 ways to use less plastic, save cash. Available at: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/team-blog/2018/01/13-ways-use-less-plastic-save-cash/

The Guardian (2018). Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/sep/05/ditch-the-almond-milk-why-everything-you-know-about-sustainable-eating-is-probably-wrong

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