Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Being green

Well I cant really be employed by The Environment Agency and not actually try to live in a green and sustainable way, can I?

So although I dont want to bore anyone to death and come across like a loony lefty green tree hugging sandal wearing preacher of all things environmentally friendly - I thought that I would give people a few tips that I use, having spent more than a decade trying to change my lifestyle.

Some of these things, well I suppose most people do (or try to do), but one or two things Ive picked up along the way you may NOT do so here you go.

These are some of the things I do
Use energy saving bulbs in all of your light fittings (even your table lamps).

Switch electrical appliances off at the wall - dont leave them on standby.

I joined the MPS (mail preference service) which is a free service that removes your details from UK mailing lists and therefore reduces the amount of junk mail you receive - check out their website for more information

Only fill your kettle with enough water for what you need - dont fill it up to the top if you're only making one cup of coffee or tea - a quarter of all energy used in households goes on boiling kettles.

Get a Hippo for your cistern (or a brick) and drop it in. This will reduce the amount of water used with each flush. And I heard a very funny (and handy) phrase when I watched the film "Meet the Fockers".... Dustin Hoffman proudly announced his tip for saving water when you flush... "If it's yellow, let it mellow. But if it's brown - flush it down" hahaha

Dont leave the tap running when you brush your teeth.

If you have a bath leave the water in rather than letting it run away. This will help to heat your home (believe it or not) and then when the water is cold, use it to flush your loo by filling a bucket and pouring it down the toilet instead of using the flush (this is especially great if you are on a water meter - you really will notice the difference).

If you have the option of switching over to green energy then go for it - here is their website - please check it out.

Buy locally produced fruit, veg and meat - check where it's come from and know what is in season locally. By refusing to purchase these items that have come from overseas, not only are you helping local farmers/the local economy, you are also reducing the "food miles" and helping the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. Better still, try growing your own where possible. I grew chilis, peppers and garlic on my window ledges, and am going to make a little herb garden this year in my tiny yard.

Staying on the gardening theme - get a wormery. My worms sadly died over the horrible winter, but I will start my wormery off again in the spring. Most food waste can be put into the wormery, the worms eat it, it comes out the other end of the worm (Im being polite here so use your imagination), and you are left with a fantastically rich home made fertiliser/plant food. Perfect for your home grown fruit and veg.

Do you really need to drive? Walk or cycle if you can. Use public transport if it's practical for you rather than taking your car into town.

Im currently being a guinnea pig for a work mate who is making his own bio diesel out of used cooking oil from his local chip shops. And so far it is working a treat. Ive just put 25 litres into my old landrover and although every time I put the heating on, I feel really hungry as it smells of fish and chips (always a down side haha) it works out at a cost of around 10p a litre - which is a HUGE difference from 112p a litre for diesel.

Think about having a green roof if you have a decent roof to utilise.

Use rain butts to catch rainwater (something we definately arent short of in the UK at this time of year). I use it for washing the car, washing the dog, watering plants, and have set up a drinking system at the stables for my horses so that I have a secondary water supply when the butts are full to reduce the usage from the main water pipes.

Do you have a real fire? And do you know anyone with sheep or horses? I used to make my own fire bricks by compressing and then drying out their poo in a paper press I bought for making fire bricks out of used paper. And it actually doesnt smell as you would think it should. Saves buying coal or logs and it gives out a great heat (and its FREE).

Shop at charity shops - no better way to recycle and as we all know, everything comes back in fashion sooner or later.

Addicted to using air fresheners? Buy an essentail oil (scent of your choice - but I love lavender), pour it on a cloth and wipe your radiators with it. The scent as they start to warm up is beautiful. Also another tip is to re-use the fabric conditioner cloths that you can put in with your laundry. Roll them up and put them down the back of the radiators too once you've used them - dont just throw them away. You'll be surprised how nice they smell.

Try to reduce what you send to landfill. Buy items with a reduced amount of packaging. Recycle wherever possible - most local councils now have green waste schemes and promote recycling of paper/plastics/glass/cardboard. I only fill one black bin bag (refuse sack) every 5 or 6 weeks with things that I cannot recycle. Not bad going considering my single neigbour easily fills two per week (Im slowly trying to convince her to try my methods).

I know that there are loads more things that I do, but I also dont want to make anyone yawn - if you want some more tips to not only help save the planet but help you to save money, just give me a shout.