With the recent (terrifying) news that London will have a climate similar to Barcelona by 2050, reducing our carbon footprint has never been more important - and where better to start making changes than in our own homes? From simple switches to foolproof hacks, we’ve got 12 nifty tricks to help you on your way to fighting the war against climate change at home...
1. Switch it up
Swapping from traditional to energy efficient bulbs is one of the easiest changes you can make to help reduce energy consumption. Not only do they use a whopping 90% less energy (read: big savings), they also last way longer and are safer than their conventional counterparts – the ultimate win-win.
2. Herb garden
We all know the struggle of buying a packet of fresh herbs only to use a couple of sprigs in your spag bol and throw the rest away, plastic packaging and all. So cut back on the single-use plastic and invest in a couple of potted herbs for your windowsill instead. Bonus points for added kitchen aesthetic.
3. Reduce, reuse...
Recycle! Every item that can be recycled – we’re talking glass/ plastic/ paper/ clothes/ worn out old trainers – should be. Check your local council’s website for info on everything from getting the right bin bags, to waste collection days (we never promised it’d be an exciting read, ok…)
4. Cut your shower time
The average 10 minute shower uses up around 90 litres of water. Multiply that by the number of housemates showering every day and that’s a lot of water. Cutting down your morning rinse by just a couple of minutes could save tonnes of water over a lifetime, while switching to a low flow shower head could cut your water usage in half. And less water used = less money spent.
5. Take the stairs
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Avoid using the planet's energy and use up some of your own by taking the stairs instead of hopping in the lift – perfect for offsetting the guilt of not making it to the gym (again...)
6. Fill it up
Guilty of putting the dishwasher on when it only has a handful of plates in it? Us too... Make big water savings by only setting it off when totally full or, better still, use the eco setting for less soiled plates and you could make energy savings of up to 40%. Now who’s feeling smug?
7. Line dry
Did you know that line drying your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer could save up to 90kg CO2 in emissions – in other words, the equivalent of having a 42 inch TV on for an entire 22 days!? Head down to Argos, pick up a washing line and get hanging.
8. Cut food waste
First of all, only buy what you actually need. Obvs this is harder said than done when it comes to pre-packaged food, but swapping to loose fruit and veg could help stop you going overboard on onions. For extra efficiency, plan what you’re going to eat for the week and only buy the necessary ingredients – no last minute impulse buys at the checkout. Haven’t got dinner planned? Check out apps like Too Good To Go and Karma where local cafes and restaurants give away leftover food at reduced prices. Discounted dinner + reducing food waste = a no-brainer.
9. Go vintage with your furniture
Like ‘fast fashion’, cheap, mass-produced furniture is bad news for the environment. Energy intensive manufacturing methods combined with flimsy, throw-away materials mean furniture is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to global warming. Head to second hand shops or take a browse on Ebay or Gumtree for pre-loved furniture and guaranteed savings – both for the environment and your wallet.
10. Boiling point
This one couldn’t be easier. Next time you’re making a brew, only fill up the kettle with as much water as you’ll actually need. This could save you 72kg CO2 a year – the amount of energy needed to drive a car non-stop for three hours!
11. Eco-friendly cleaning
Phthalates, triclosan, chlorine, perchloroethylene… the chemicals in most cleaning products aren’t only unpronounceable, they’re massively detrimental to the environment. Avoid filling rivers and lakes with harmful chemicals and opt for eco-friendly products made from plant-based ingredients instead. Better still, grab the bicarbonate of soda and a toothbrush and get scrubbing.
12. Towel it up
Next time you knock over a drink, avoid grabbing the kitchen roll and use a tea towel instead. Kitchen roll can’t be recycled, so it’d just be joining the 52.3 million tonnes of waste added to landfill every year. Not good.
Inspired to start living a more sustainable lifestyle? Why not make your houseshare an eco-friendly haven with our top tips for a completely plastic free home.
Image credits: Chris Barbalis