There are lots of things we can do at home, both in the house and around the garden, to be more environmentally friendly. It is more important than ever that human beings look after the planet and work to mitigate the effects of climate change, and we can all play a part in the global movement to manage our environment better. Young people can also get involved and help us stay focused on environmental priorities.
Tips for the house
Many of us are already helping to reduce waste by recycling, and this makes sound economic as well as environmental sense. In most places we can now recycle food waste, garden waste, paper and cardboard, old clothes and textiles, plastic bottles, glass, and aluminium cans. Try to make that extra effort and look out for locations that will take old shoes, schemes to re-use spectacles, and initiatives to take old mobile phones off your hands. Before paper and card get as far as the recycle bin, it is a good idea to check to see if they can be used for children’s paintings, or to make handmade cards at playtime.
Many of us now use low energy light bulbs, turn the central heating down an extra degree or two, and put a brick in the cistern to reduce the amount of water per flush in the toilet, as well as keeping shower times reasonable. We know not to leave electrical equipment, such as computers and televisions, on standby. A free – or very inexpensive – energy monitor will reveal which appliances are costing the most money, and you will be able to take action accordingly.
Today’s washing machines and dishwashers offer shorter, low temperature washes using reduced amounts of detergents – and clothes get just as clean. Always make the most of water; once it has cooled down, any water left in the kettle after a cuppa, for example, can be used to water houseplants.
It is also good to re-use plastic bags when shopping, or invest in a permanent shopper made from recycled materials. When shopping trips require a car, plan carefully so that only a single weekly trip is necessary, thereby reducing expenditure on fuel.
Tips for the garden
Garden waste can be composted as well as recycled; this will produce good organic matter that can be dug into the soil, which helps to rejuvenate it. In designing a garden, consider re-using old stone or timber – spare planks left over after a decking job, for example, make great edging for flowerbeds.
Garden furniture and equipment can be a headache if they are high maintenance and require repeated painting or varnishing with chemically-based substances, so it is better to seek out furniture made from materials that have been responsibly sourced and will continue to look good without frequent upkeep. Village Garden Furniture has washable cushions for outdoor lounge and dining sets, which is a bonus.
Plant an herb garden if possible, or keep herbs indoors in pots on a sunny windowsill. These are easy to grow, especially for children, and there will always be herbs on hand for cooking. What is more, they are a constant reminder of how important the environment is to our survival.