People all over the world are becoming more and more interested in ‘greening’ their homes and getting a healthier lifestyle for themselves. Awareness of what we are doing to the planet is making us look at what we are also doing to ourselves, our lifestyles and the health of the planet seem to run in parallel.
If you want to make a grand gesture there are any number of things you can do to make your home greener, installing solar panels and wind turbines are the most dramatic, replacing your car with an electric or hybrid vehicle and buying up all the latest low emission, low energy eco conscious goods and appliances for the home are all brilliant ways to make your home kinder to the planet and show your commitment to environmental issues.
Of course that’s all rather expensive and future focused, most of us don’t have the money or a coherent long term eco-strategy for our lives so what can we do today to reduce our carbon footprint and be kinder to the world in general?
There are simple steps you can take today which will bring down your bills, reduce your consumption of energy and limit the number of miles things coming to your door have to travel.
Don’t Throw It, Grow It.
You might have a garden which you can dedicate a corner of to growing fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s never going to make up for your entire produce consumption but fresh foods that you’ve grown yourself reduce stress on agriculture and just taste better! And don’t throw the scraps away, compost them to re-enrich your soil. If you don’t have a garden just growing your own herbs can save a few pounds a week if you use a lot of expensive dried herbs in your cooking.
Put a Lid On It.
Keeping saucepans covered while cooking can reduce the amount of energy consumed by up to 75%. For example, if you’re cooking pasta without a lid you can keep the water boiling for the entire cooking time, if you use a lid you can bring the water to the boil and then turn off the heat altogether. Leave it for the manufacturers’ recommended cooking time and you will find that it’s cooked perfectly, saving having the gas or electricity on for ten to fifteen minutes.
Buying manufactured sauces and soups is expensive and ecologically harmful, the foods contain a great deal more salt and sugar than you would normally use as, lets’ face it, sauces from jars are generally rubbish. All you need are a few simple ingredients and you can make your own. That cuts down on the number of jars and cans which are made and recycled, you eat fresher, healthier foods and you only make so much as you need. Currently anything up to 50% of food is thrown out of our kitchens as waste because we buy things and let them go bad before we’ve used them all up.
Get Orgiastic For Organic.
Now, organic foods might cost a little more at the store and they might not always be as ‘pretty’ as the foods reared with herbicides, pesticides and hormones but naturally they have less impact on soil and waterways. To see what effects man’s fiddling with water courses and the chemical balance of the soil watch this movie about the Salton Sea. It’s a terrifying vision of what our future could be if we don’t act.
Be Fantastic, Shun Plastic
This is a hint I always kick myself for forgetting but we should take our own bags when we go shopping. We currently use an absolutely astonishing 17.5 billion plastic bags per year in the UK alone. They take approximately 1000 years to decompose and yet they have an actively useful life of an average of 12 minutes. Taking your own bag each time you go shopping cuts these bags out of the loop saving landfill and recycling. Using bags made of recycled plastics means that you’re re-using re-used materials, a double plus!
Keep It Real
A full freezer is an efficient freezer and cooking a few kilos of food uses comparatively far less energy and water than cooking one meal at a time. Make a bucket load of soup, stew, curry or pasta sauce and keep it in the freezer. You’ll have to cook less frequently as you’ll always have healthy, tasty food in store. Re-heating food (provided you defrosted it first) uses an almost negligible amount of energy compared to cooking from fresh too. Freezing food is a savings bonanza!
Shop For Efficiency.
When it does come time to replace your kitchen appliances, boiler, TV et cetera, make sure you get the most energy efficient goods you can. Look out for a triple A star rating or as close as you can get for white goods, the savings you’ll make in energy bills will pay for the difference in price in next to no time. When it comes to brown goods, STOP PUTTING THEM ON STANDBY! Not switching things off completely means that they continue to consume as much as 33% of the energy that they would if they were still switched on. Looking for a plasma TV? They’re sleek and swish and use up to ten times as much energy as a TV which uses a cathode ray tube. It might have better picture quality but is that the price you want to pay?
Dan Cash is a feature writer and environmental aggitator. While many of the tips here cost nothing investing in energy efficient kitchen appliances can be costly as an initial outlay, however, in the long term buying items like efficient chest freezers, combined with the cookery tips can end up costing much less than buying cheaper, less efficient goods.
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