Protecting our environment. Protecting your bank balance.
By now, most of us are aware that insulating our homes, taking reusable bags to the supermarket, and reducing our waste is good for the environment. And even if we’re not doing it for environmental reasons first and foremost, the eye-watering cost of living has given all of us a reason to think differently.
But let’s face it, we could all be doing more. As Sir David Attenborough says, ‘We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that.’
A sense of shared responsibility can make all the difference.
With an increased awareness of the problem globally, and more businesses putting forward eco-friendly options for us to choose from, all of us have a responsibility to continually monitor and adapt our behaviours accordingly. And although it may feel like a drop in the (plastic-filled) ocean, individual actions do count. ‘One individual’s action may not make a big difference, but by adding them all together, there will be a massive saving in the collective carbon footprint,’ says Dr Milena Buchs, Associate Professor in Sustainability, Economics and Low Carbon Transmissions at the University of Leeds.
And we don’t have time to hang about. So, what can be done at home?
Here are our top tips for making an impact right now:
Create a green office
With 26% of the UK’s workforce not planning to ever return to the physical office, and many more adopting a hybrid approach, it’s time we look at our hastily thrown together work from home setup and understand how we can make this a more considered, and sustainable, way of life.Let’s start with your takeaway coffee. Brits get through 2.5 billion paper cups every year, but only one in 400 is recycled. With many cafes offering discounts or incentives for those who bring reusable cups from home, the savings will cover the cost of a keep cup in no time. The switch is a no brainer.
Speaking of paper – consider whether you really need that printer. If not, take it to be recycled at your local council facility or Currys PC World. If yes, opt to stock it with fully recycled paper, and dispose of used cartridges responsibly.
Next up, challenge yourself to make lunch from leftovers and cupboard stock rather than popping to the shop for a meal deal. Why? Because environmental charity Hubbub estimates that Britain’s takeaway lunch habit generates 10.7 billion separate items of waste per year. That’s a lot of crisp packets sitting in landfill.
Switch to a green energy supplier
Whilst there’s not much we can do about the soaring cost of heating our homes, we canat least make more sustainable choices. And it doesn’t necessarily mean switching providers, as most energy suppliers will have a green tariff you can choose.
But you’ll have to do some research, as there’s no definitive approach to what ‘green’ and ‘renewable’ means across the industry, and tariffs will vary according to your individual circumstances. Check out Which’s guide to find out what suits you.
Consider your property needs
One of the single most impactful decisions you can make to reduce your carbon footprint is to downsize your property, or sell unused (or underused) property on, if you’re in a position to do so. As actionemptyhomes.org explains:
Creating homes from empty properties saves substantial amounts of material compared to building new homes, minimises the amount of land used for development and avoids wasting embedded carbon; helping to combat climate change.
Consider this alongside the cost, both monetary and environmental, of maintaining empty property and the case is clear.
By downsizing, you could save thousands by only using exactly what you need. With fewer bathrooms, empty bedrooms and living spaces requiring heating, electricity and water, you could even look to spend a portion of any sale profits on solar panels or other eco-investments. It could also be a good opportunity to take on an allotment or join a community garden.
Follow sustainable influencers
It turns out we could all learn a thing or two from Gen Z on this one. According to Deloitte:
Gen Z are adopting more sustainable behaviours than any other groups: 50% reduced how much they buy and 45% stopped purchasing certain brands because of ethical or sustainability concerns.
How many of us have followed tips we’ve found on social media for cleaning, organising and decorating? We love them because they’re quick, practical and easy to follow. And now there’s a new breed of influencer whose mission is all about sustainable hacks. Here are some of our favourite eco-influencers:
Half a million of us follow Waste Free Planet on Instagram for daily tips on living more sustainably at home. It’s packed full of recipes, quick tips and educational content to help us make better choices every day.
Max is a New York based chef sharing easy to follow, no-waste recipes with over 1 million followers. And we really do mean easy – think one-pot pasta, speedy spaghetti and five-minute cauliflower rice.
Dubbed ‘the mother of the zero-waste lifestyle’, Bea Johnson is a motivational speaker and the author of ‘Zero Waste Home’, having lived ‘trash free’ since 2008. Whilst she takes her own zero waste lifestyle to the extreme, living with her family of four in a 188sq ft Airstream caravan, she offers sound advice all of us can adopt at home.
Together, we can make a difference
So there we have it, a few ways all of us can make a difference to the future of our earth in 2022. The planet, and your purse, will thank you.