Top Tips For ‘Low Impact Living’
With its own trending hashtag, #UseLessPlastic, awareness that single use plastics are incredibly damaging to the environment is at an all time high. And according to Greenpeace UK, The Blue Planet II series did as much to raise awareness of this issue as years of campaigning.
This awareness has sparked a tide of change – with individuals and organisations hurrying to reduce their environmental impact.
A movement that is currently trending within UK households is to apply low impact living, which means looking at all areas of our life and working out how our actions can have less impact on the environment.
But what are people actually doing – and what can they do?
Eco-expert and author of award winning blog www.ecothriftyliving.com who is currently writing a book and developing a course to help others to be eco-friendly and save money has this advice:
Because living off grid, on your own personal organic smallholding, is not an option for most people, I have gathered together some easy to apply ideas that can help you reduce your impact on the environment. I find that once people start to look at one area, for instance, single use plastics, then in time they gradually want to find other ways to live without causing environmental damage. And a fantastic side effect is that you will definitely save money.
Try out small space gardening.
Allotments are notoriously hard to get hold of and many of us live in apartments or have small gardens, but don’t let that put you off. If you have a windowsill – you have a mini-garden; if you have a balcony you have a bigger garden! Try growing herbs or salad at first and enjoy having your own supply to hand.
Gardening brings enormous health benefits – exercise and good food. Home gardening should also be good for the purse. The smaller your gardening project, the more you should concentrate on the high value or rare crops that you like. A balcony garden is probably not the place to grow a few kilos of potatoes that could be bought for a couple of pounds, but if you grow salads, basil, parsley, strawberries and even some lemons from a tree in a pot, your balcony garden could be worth hundreds of pounds over a year.
Make your own natural cleaning products, as they have less impact both on your wallet, your health and the planet.
Baking soda: dissolves dirt and grease in water. It is abrasive, so good for surfaces, it neutralises acids and removes odours too.
White (distilled) vinegar and lemon juice: nature’s acidic grease cutters and they are good at removing limescale
Borax: mineral (sodium, boron, oxygen and water), formed when salt lakes evaporate. Very low toxicity, yet an effective fungicide, anti-bacterial cleaning and bleaching agent.
Cream of tartar: a natural leftover when grape juice is fermented into wine, but turned into a paste with water and it makes an excellent cleaning product – even removing rust stains
Get your house properly insulated.
This means getting rid of any gaps and holes, filling them permanently.
Invest in double glazing if you can but another great idea is using insulating blinds at your windows, versus normal blinds or curtains. Duette® Energy Saving Blinds, for example, say they reduce heat loss by 46% and help to cut energy bills by up to a potential 25%. Considering the average annual dual fuel bill is now £1,163 for a three-bedroom house, that’s a considerable potential saving. So, this is helping not only your pocket but also reducing overall energy needs – good for the planet.
Get smart about energy!
Consider buying an intelligent heating system like Tado, which turns your heating off when you leave the house and turns it back on when you are on your way home!
You can also purchase smart radiator valves which you can use turn your individual radiators on and off at set times of the day.
We find that we only need the heating on in certain rooms at specific times of day. For example we are mainly in our bedrooms in the mornings and evenings and overnight. We don’t need the heating on in there all day long. You can also do this manually, but automating it makes it much easier. That way you only have the heating on when and where it is actually needed!
Most people are now pretty well informed about the benefits of switching energy supplier to get the best possible tariffs. New energy suppliers seem to be popping up all the time, and now we have a raft of suppliers with green credentials. Ecotricity commits to using only renewable sources of electricity and using only ‘frack-free’ gas. Find out more about the other providers at the Ethical Consumer.
Finally, one significant lifestyle change that we should all consider, is eating less meat. The latest buzz word ‘flexitarian’ describes someone who eats a vegetarian diet mostly, with occasional meat or fish. The benefits of this are that overall meat consumption will drop, which means lower water consumption, less intensively farmed land, lower methane output and less use of pesticides and antibiotics. Eating less meat and dairy products will definitely have a positive impact on your health, and your pocket.