I’m always looking for ways to create an earth friendly and more sustainable home.
In the digitally enlightened age, we really have no excuse for ignorance. We’re more aware than ever of the impact our lifestyle has on the planet. What’s more it’s easier than ever to see how the decisions that we make as consumers can impact on the planet we share.
Unless we pull together to do our bit, the late Stephen Hawking suggested that we could render the planet uninhabitable within a century. In fact, UN experts predict that we have just 11 years left until the climate change we have brought about becomes irreversible. In light of this, we all want to make a better world for our children and future generations, and the best place to start doing this is at home.
When making your home more sustainable, the great news is that you don’t have to go from top to bottom making expensive renovations. In many instances you can actually save money. Here we’ll go through a few key locations in your home and how they could be way more sustainable and eco friendly.
Okay, let’s start by taking a look inside your fridge. What do we have here? Hopefully nothing packaged in non-recyclable plastics or polystyrene foam. When these wind up in landfill they can leach harmful microplastics into the ocean, endangering fish, birds and other marine life. Unless we mend our ways there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Unfortunately, single use plastics like food packaging can be hard to avoid which is why supermarkets are rarely the best choice for sustainable shoppers. Try farmers’ markets or plastic free food stores online. Check out Shop Naturally for some great resources for zero-waste food shopping.
What’s more, if you’re seriously into sustainability, you need to consider eating more plants and less… Everything else. Animal agriculture is one of the world’s leading causes of deforestation, pollution, species extinction and animal habitat loss. The rise of industrialised farming is placing a colossal drain on our natural resources and the less we can feed this leviathan the better.
Your kitchen sink
We all want to keep a clean, tidy, cosy and inviting home. However, do we really need the plethora of products under the sink to do it? The truth is… Probably not. Not only are many household products packaged in non-recyclable plastics, the average household has way too many of them.
We have been conditioned to believe that we need one product for the bathroom, one product for the kitchen, another for our floors, another for our surfaces… And it’s nonsense. In most cases, a 50/50 mixture of water and spirit vinegar is all it takes to clean surfaces (maybe add some essential oils for scent). Add in some bicarbonate of soda for persistent stains or for moulds and fungus and you have pretty much everything to keep the home looking great.
Your garden is your home’s passport to sustainability. Why not dedicate a portion of it to growing some fresh organic veggies. Not only is it one of the most eco-friendly ways there is to keep your family fed, it’s also a great way to keep them well nourished. Many of the fruits and veggies we see on supermarket shelves are not only covered in plastic film (why?), they’re bred for their marketable appearance, not their nutritional content. What’s more, the longer this produce sits on the shelf, the more their nutrients slowly drain away.
Home grown vegetables are only more sustainable, and more nutritious than their store bought counterparts… They’re also a good deal fresher and tastier! There’s nothing quite so satisfying as tucking into freshly picked goodies!
That’s right, the humble shed can also be instrumental in making your home more sustainable. Titan lite have a great guide to building and maintaining the ultimate sustainable shed. Solar panels (however small) can be installed on the roof of your shed and the installation of whirlybirds on the roof can help to keep your shed cool even in the blistering hot summer months without needing to resort to electricity or other energy use.
Your bathroom has no shortage of options for greater environmental friendliness and sustainability. One of the smallest but most impactful ways to create a more sustainable bathroom is to think about what gets thrown away or flushed down the toilet. Your choice in toilet roll can actually have a significant impact on the environment.
Believe it or not, a toilet roll is made with chlorine bleach to make it whiter and softer, but the damage it does to the environment is simply not worth it for a slightly happier bum. Instead, use unbleached biodegradable toilet paper made with bamboo. Your bottom won’t notice the difference but the planet sure will.
Installing low flow showerheads is cheap and easy and with less water to heat it can save you money on your energy and water bills. Most people don’t even know that their toilets ,may well have a low flush mode or efficiency mode which reduces flush volume from around 6 litres to about 4 and a half litres. Day by day and month by month that adds up to a lot of saved water!
Finally, we all want to look great when we step out of the home, but the more we contribute to fast fashion the more we contribute not only to the horrendous conditions of third world textile workers, we also don’t do the environment any favors. If your clothing is largely comprised of synthetic fibers you may not know that these will not decompose when disposed of. And, since both Americans and Australians throw 85% of their textile waste into landfill that means that used clothing is left to leach yet more harmful chemical compounds into our oceans.
Aside from buying more clothing that’s made of natural and biodegradable fabrics like organic and sustainably sourced cotton, it behooves us all to think about what we do with old clothing. Never throw a garment away if you can upcycle it, recycle it or give it away to charity. Heck, cut it up and make cleaning rags out of it if all else fails!
As you can see, it needn’t cost the Earth or be a logistical nightmare to make these parts of the home a little more sustainable. And a little can go a long way!