Greener Living in 5 steps!
Would you like to lead a ‘greener’ lifestyle and contribute to the transition towards a sustainable economy and a healthy world? In the end much comes down to personal responsibility. Your individual impact might be small, but the cumulative impact is great.We know we won’t save the world by bringing our reusable cup or refusing a plastic straw, but the more people do it the sooner it becomes the norm.
‘Green Living’ is not difficult
Are you looking to reduce your personal impact on the planet? With a few small steps you can often achieve very good results. Below you will find a simple 5-step plan with practical tools that you can start using today.
The positives to living more sustainably are endless, not only will the climate, planet and oceans be grateful, but you can also save more money and, as you will see, make your body and mind healthier & happier. So, start now with this step-by-step plan and experience how nice, easy and good it feels to be greener!
Step 1: Reduce your energy consumption and switch to green energy
Whether you’re looking to save money or simply decrease your carbon footprint, reducing your energy consumption is actually quite simple and one of the most popular ways to save the planet. With a few small adjustments, you can be a positive influence on the environment and help to reduce the amount of energy consumed by your community. By switching up your habits just a bit, you’ll be well on your way to a low-energy lifestyle!
Saving energy is a mindset, it is a habit. You should try to always use energy sources such as electricity, gas, wood, oil, coal, diesel and gasoline as little as possible. Make sure that the energy from these sources is not wasted in your life. There are countless ways to save energy, and below are five ideas that will help you on your way.
- Make a habit of turning off all lights and electronics when not in use. Use power strips for multiple gadgets. If you have lots of electronics or appliances that require an electrical outlet, plug them into a power strip. When these items are not in use, you can switch them all off at once to prevent “phantom” energy loss.
- Switch your incandescent lightbulbs to LED bulbs.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star label on appliances like refrigerators, freezers, ovens, dishwashers, desktop computers, laptops, printers, and scanners, which indicate that these appliances are energy efficient.
- Use your refrigerator, oven, washing machine and dryer efficiently. Adjust your refrigerator temperature (3 to 6 °C) and your freezer temperature to −15 to −18 °C. Check that the seal on the oven door is intact and avoid peeking in the oven more than necessary, as this lets out heat and increases the cooking time. Set your washing machine to wash your clothes in cold or cool water, which can save you up to 50p per load while still cleaning your clothes effectively. Always clean the lint out of the filter of the dryer after each use and remember to dry heavy and light fabrics separately.
- Ensure your home is well-insulated. Having a well-insulated home will reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the area.
Also switch to an energy provider that makes use of green energy. Green energy comes from natural sources such as sun, wind, rain, tides, plants, algae and geothermal heat. These energy resources are renewable, meaning they’re naturally replenished. In contrast, fossil fuels are a finite resource that take millions of years to develop and will continue to diminish with use.
Renewable energy sources have a much smaller impact on the environment than fossil fuels, which produce pollutants such as greenhouse gases as a by-product, contributing to climate change. Gaining access to fossil fuels typically requires either mining or drilling deep into the earth, often in ecologically sensitive locations.
Step 2: Conserve precious water
Water is one of the biggest commodities on the planet. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most misused and abused resources, making it a scarce resource in many parts of the world. In fact, according to the United Nations Population Fund, half of the world’s population lacks clean drinking water. Between the depletion of this resource and the high costs associated with enjoying an overabundance of this resource, it only makes sense to save water and, therefore, money, wherever you can.
With water being such a necessary resource for life on Earth, reducing your water footprint is a great way to take action. Water conservation can be simple, and it starts at home:
- Turn water off when not in use, for example when brushing your teeth or shaving
- Install water-saving taps and shower heads.
- Take shorter showers. Take a timer or clock into the bathroom with you and challenge yourself to cut down your showering time or play one song and try to finish your shower by the time the song is over. Cutting down your shower time by just two minutes can save 40 litres of water.
- Use less water outdoors. Of all the residential water we use, on average we use about a quarter outdoors. A few simple steps can reduce your outdoor water consumption, so don’t run the hose while washing your car, instead use a bucket of soapy water. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and pavements. Cover swimming pools to reduce evaporation. Tighten taps and eliminate leaks. Use water barrels to collect rainwater which you can in turn use for watering your plants.
Step 3: Opt for biological food and eat less meat
As the demand for food has increased enormously in the last century, global agriculture has also been intensified. More food needs to be grown for a growing number of people, and of course to feed animals later used in meat production. To achieve this, chemical pesticides have been used for decades. This kills harmful insects that would otherwise affect the crops.
However, the disadvantage of this is that these toxins are found in the crops. In addition, the enormous use of chemicals worldwide has led to serious soil erosion, soil pollution, groundwater pollution and ultimately pollution of our oceans.
As all of the ecosystems are so closely intertwined, groundwater ends up in streams, streams in rivers, rivers in oceans and oceans eventually into our food. The chemicals are harmful to humans and animals and are an undesirable by-product of intensive agriculture.
For your own health, and that of the planet, you can therefore opt for organic fruit and vegetables. In fact, no chemical pesticides are used in the production of organic crops and the soil is not unnecessarily depleted.
Eating less meat is another good option. People used to joke about cow farts, but a lot more humans are catching on that the factory farming industry is creating A LOT of greenhouse gases. There’s data supporting that meat and dairy consumption has an enormous impact on the planet.
Forgoing a pound of beef is the equivalent of taking one car off the road. It takes 500 gallons of water to grow one pound of chicken meat. That amount could be used to make three loaves of bread or five pounds of potatoes, creating a smaller carbon footprint, while using less water and feeding more people. And of course, it takes more land to raise crops to feed animals (which also need land), than it does to simply raise crops to feed humans.
Step 4: Reduce and separate waste
Waste is a huge problem worldwide. The large amount of disposable packaging creates a pile of waste that is harmful to humans, animals and the environment.
Did you know that plastic cannot be broken down by nature? What is currently emerging in the ocean can be described as Plastic Soup. Plastic waste (DVD boxes, plastic bags, packaging, polystyrene, etc.) breaks down into small particles, but does not completely decay. The water is therefore filled with toxic chemicals that are harmful to the animals that come into contact with it.
About 40% of seabirds eat plastic, probably by accident. Larger animals eat whole plastic bags because they look like jellyfish.
Waste is a by-product of our society, and it is a by-product that we need to minimize to reduce our impact on the planet. You can deal more consciously with the waste that you generate and what you subsequently do with it.
- Avoid Single Use plastics. Use reusable shopping bags, fruit and veg bags. Try to buy loose products rather than prepackaged items. Refuse a plastic straw, switch to soap and shampoo bars. Use loofas rather than synthetic sponges…….there are endless alternatives. Many plastics cannot be recycled and end up in land fill having been used only once.
- Drink water from the tap or filter it yourself. Bottled water is a heavy burden on our climate (bottling, transport) and on our ecology (plastic bottles). Buy a glass or reusable bottle and refill it to take along.
- Give preference to products that can be broken down in nature (wood, paper, cardboard, iron)
- Separate your waste as well as possible (glass, organic waste, chemical waste, paper, batteries, cooking oil, waste oil, plastic, residual waste, etc.)
- Throw as little away as possible. Only throw things away if you cannot sell them, give them away to friends or charity organisations or reuse them in another way
- Buy second hand via places like gumtree, ebay or charity shops.
Step 5: Choose sustainable prodcuts
Voting with your wallet is one of the most powerful ways to influence companies. Companies respond to money. If they notice that the customer is moving away from buying products that are produced or transported in a non-sustainable way, then they look for an alternative solution.
So don´t turn a blind eye, investigate a little as to how things are made, by whom, and how they end up with you. Choose products that are part of the solution and do not increase the problem.
As consumers, eco labels provide the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact associated with the products we buy by using the information on the label to influence our purchasing decisions. However, consumers should be wary of ‘green wash’ – attempts by manufacturers to promote certain environmental credentials of a product to divert attention away from another, more significant, environmental impact. For example, if a car manufacturer wants to tell you about renewable energy used at their production plant rather than the fuel efficiency of their cars, the alarm bells should be ringing.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid being tricked by green wash and make more sustainable product choices by:
- Having a basic understanding of the lifecycle of products and the impact these products have on the environment from material extraction through to disposal.
- Look for eco labels that provide credible, science-based environmental information such as the European Union’s Eco Label, the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Label, or the US EPA’s Energy Star label.
- Make use of tools such as GoodGuide which provides an independent assessment of the environmental, social and health impacts of products and is available as a web-browser plug-in and a smartphone app.
Take positive steps towards a green lifestyle
Although global problems concerning the climate and the environment might seem overwhelming, you can have a positive impact. Problems are solved as soon as enough people work on the problem, not necessarily when everybody does it. A critical mass is needed, and you can be part of that group of people who choose to make a change.
The 5 steps above are a powerful start to a greener lifestyle. And while you change your habits, and find new sustainable ways to live, you can be a source of information and inspiration for others.
Every step in the right direction is a positive one. And if you manage to successfully change your habits, before long you will be doing dozens of good steps a day. So, be someone that makes a difference and get started with the above steps! Because the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it! So, good luck and make it work!