20 eco-friendly tips to help save the planet

20 eco-friendly tips to help save the planet
Freak weather, floods, bad air quality and animal extinction are affecting us more and more, as are governmental campaigns to save the planet. Even the corporate world has jumped on the bandwagon by offering us eco-friendly cars and other products. But what can we do? By making a few simple changes to the way we live, we can make a big difference to our lives and the lives of our children.
At home
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and save 10,000 litres of water a year!
- Have a shower instead of a bath. It's better for your circulation and for the planet.
- Banish plastic bottles of water and invest in a water filter to purify tap water.
- Don’t overheat your home. Install a thermostat to maintain a temperature of 16°C in bedrooms and 19°C in other rooms. Lowering the temperature of your home by just 1°C could save you 7% on your electricity bill.
- Replace ordinary light bulbs with high-efficiency ones. They may be more expensive but last 12 times longer and use 5 times less electricity.
- Turn off your TV, hi-fi, PC and DVD player - they still use electricity when not in use. Even while on standby, they consume 10% more electricity. And switch the lights off when you leave a room.
- Defrost your freezer. A 4mm coat of ice can double its consumption of electricity.
- When washing your clothes, switch to phosphate-free washing powder and never run a machine half empty.
- Think before you throw anything away. Recycle what ever you can: use your council’s service if there is one, or check out www.recyclenow.com to find where you can take your waste to be recycled. Give away clothes, books, CDs that you no longer want to charities like Oxfam.
At the shops
- Use reuseable shopping bags, canvas bags, boxes etc when you go to the supermarket instead of plastic bags that take 400 years to degrade.
- Choose seasonal and local products to reduce pollution produced from transporting exotic goods from faraway shores.
- Keep the original containers of products such as washing up liquid, shower gel and fill them up with handy refills that are now readily available.
- Buy reuseable/washable nappies. A disposable nappy takes 300 years to disintegrate and one baby gets through 5000 disposable nappies before going it alone.
- Shop ethically. Its now much easier to find products that are ethically sourced, fair trade, recycled or biodegradable. Visit www.yourtomorrow.co.uk, a website dedicated to environmentally friendly shopping.
At work
- Print only what is absolutely necessary and recycle paper by using both sides.
- Encourage your company to go green by using heating and air conditioning reasonably, recycling paper and working with suppliers who have sustainable development policies. Donate old appliances e.g. PCs, photocopiers, printers etc, as well as old furniture.
- Get each member of staff to bring their own mug to work instead of using wasteful plastic cups every day.
Getting around
- Take the train for long trips, if possible.
- Use your legs - the most ecological form of transport - for short distances. Walking is good for your health and for the planet!
- Car pool with colleagues, friends, parents. The school run alone adds up to a billion petrol-burning miles a year. Most cars only currently take 1 or 2 passengers, which equals a lot of pollution for a half-full car.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
14 Feb 2008
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