According to a recent survey in The Sun, three quarters more of us are concerned about our effect on the environment than we were in 2014. Here are 20 things you can do in 2020 to reduce your impact.
- Buy less stuff
When we buy something, we cast a vote on the future of the planet. Everything we own has gone through a process which generates carbon emissions so ask yourself if you really need it. If yes, then pre-loved is a great way to save money and the planet. Look at freecycle, Gumtree and Craigslist.
- Spring clean using natural cleaning products
Vinegar, lemons and bicarbonate of soda all work wonders. Meanwhile eco brands are booming – and they’re often cheaper, too – so consider switching. Ecover’s Pine and Mint Toilet Cleaner 750 ml is £1.50 at Sainsbury’s compared to Harpic Power Plus Toilet Cleaner 750ml, which is £1.90. Check out our top tips for green cleaning.
- How low carb can you go?
- Grow your own
You don’t need a big garden. Salad leaves, chilli, and herbs are just a few of the things that do well in containers. It’s a low-cost way of reducing your reliance on supermarket fruit and veg.
- Switch off when idle
Leaving TVs, games consoles, the washing machine and microwave on standby eats energy. Some appliances draw energy even when they are not being used and phone chargers are among the worst culprits. ‘Vampire power’ costs each house up to £80 a year according to the Energy Savings Trust. Learn more about standby power here.
- Use energy saving lightbulbs
LEDs last longer and offer big savings – in the region of £32 per bulb per year. LEDs are about 30p more expensive than halogen, but use 85% less energy and last for 15 years, whereas halogen bulbs typically fail after two years. All major supermarkets and hardware stores stock LEDs.
- Be a careful cook
Only use as much water as you need and cover your pans so you save energy. Overfilling your kettle is a waste of electricity so only boil as much as you need.
- Lose the packaging
Plastic packaging is energy intensive in its production and causes terrible damage to habitats. Choose items that are light on packaging and refill as much as possible – there’s no reason to buy avocados on a plastic tray which is also wrapped in plastic! A loose avocado will taste just as good. Find out more about the supermarkets’ war against plastic.
- Go low
Wash at 30°C, or even 20°C. Doing the laundry at 30°C can be one third cheaper than doing it at 40°C. For lightly soiled clothes, try 20°C and always make sure your machine is full.
- Get your free water-saving devices
Moving water around the country and treating it requires huge amounts of energy. Get in touch with your water company to find out what gadgets you can get for free, such as low flow shower heads which use less water.
- Holiday close to home
Flying is one of the most carbon intensive activities in the world, so consider a staycation instead. If you must fly, choose short flights with no transfers. Cut down on the cruises too, if they’re your thing – they eat fuel and deposit one billion tonnes of sewage each year.
- Make your home cosy
Draught proof doors and windows, install secondary film glazing, top up your loft insulation to 27cm and get your boiler serviced. According to the Energy Saving Trust for a semi-detached house, loft insulation will cost around £300, with £130 savings every year, while insulating a mid-terrace house will cost around £285 and save £115 a year. Find out how much you could save by insulating your home.
- Turn down radiators in rooms you’re not using
You don’t need to heat a room you’re not in, so use the radiator controls to adjust the temperature.
- Get on your bike
Over half of all UK car journeys could be made by bike in less than 20 minutes. Reduce the huge impact of cars, which account for around 15% of global carbon emissions, and shift some of those Christmas calories by walking or cycling more.
- Slow down on fast fashion
We’re buying more and more clothes every year. Choose vintage, rent your outfit for those special occasions and don’t forget charity shops. Oxfam has a brilliant online shop. For outfit rental try ByRotation, HireStreet or My Wardrobe HQ. If you really want to buy new, look out for sustainable certifications. Find out which shops are reducing their impact on the Good on You app.
- Be curtain clever
Keep curtains away from radiators so warm air can circulate. Choose thicker curtains, or ones with a thermal lining or blackout blinds. Keep them closed from dusk until dawn.
- New is not always better
The traditional method of line drying your clothing is much better for the environment – running a clothes dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour! The tumble dryer is one of the top energy-consuming appliances (not to mention the leading cause of appliance-related house fires).
- Check where your money is saved
You’d be surprised at the number of schemes branded ‘ethical’ which are investing in polluting industries. Consider ethical banks and research investment options using an impact investment app.
- Sign up to a green energy tariff
You’ll be supporting renewable energy investment. Go to Which? to research the best tariff for you.
- Get talking!
If you do nothing else on the list apart from this, it will have been worth the read. By talking about the environment and climate crisis, we make change happen. Talk to friends about your new year’s pledge and consider speaking to your MP at their surgery, especially if they are new in their job.
The bottom line
2020 is the year for climate action. Even picking up just a couple of these 20 top tips will make a difference to the planet – and to your pocket! Try them today and tell your friends about the changes you’re making to protect our One Home.
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