There are many things you can do to make your life greener. Here are just a few suggestions to start with.
Audit your lifestyle
How much energy (transport, electricity, gas, your own energy and that of others) do you use every day just going about your daily business? Keep a diary for a week or so. Just being aware of the routines and patterns in your life will help kick start the process of change towards a greener lifestyle. Ecological footprinting is a useful tool, you can calculate yours at: http://calculator.bioregional.com/
What changes can be made?
Once you are aware of your energy consumption patterns, it is possible to analyse them. Why is the heating on all the time? If the house is cold without it on, then why is that? Are there issues with insulation, or is the heating system not effective? Is the house draught proofed? Why hasn't this been addressed? Lack of time/finances, etc. Once you understand the current situation, it will be a lot easier to think of appropriate solutions.
Make small changes at a time
As with everything, the path to success lies in simplicity. Relatively small & easy changes will make you feel you have achieved a lot, but added up they will make a big impact on the amount of energy your lifestyle uses up.
These changes may include:
Reduce, reuse, recycle. In 2004/05 nearly 20 million tonnes of municipal waste, most of which is household waste, was sent to landfill. Reduce the amount of waste you produce by buying minimally packaged goods, choosing reusable products over disposable ones, and recycling. Join a recycling doorstep collection scheme or locate the nearest recycling bank to you. Consider holding clothes-swapping parties with friends, or taking old clothes to charity shops. Consider buying in bulk, or using refillable containers.
Refuse plastic carrier bags. Either invest in a good quality shopping bag or basket, or keep a selection of plastic bags in your house. Next time you have to go out to the shops, take a handful with you for your shopping. Some supermarkets now have biodegradable carrier bags. Great as that may seem, these bags still require energy to be produced, and don't do anything to change the mindset of our throwaway society.
Join a local vegetable box scheme or buy local food. Most of the food we eat is flown in from halfway across the world. By choosing locally produced food, you will drastically reduce the ‘food miles', support local businesses, and the food on your plate will be a lot fresher and tastier too! There are many local box schemes and farmer's markets.
Turn your refrigerator down. Refrigerators account for about 20% of household electricity use. Make sure that its energy saver switch is turned on. Also, check the gaskets around your refrigerator/freezer doors to make sure they are clean and sealed tightly.
Insulate and draftproof your home. This will also save you money in the long run, as proper wall and loft insulation can save between 20-30% per year on your energy bills. The government currently has various initiatives such as ‘Warm Front', which can help you with the costs of the work, whether you are a homeowner or a tenant.
Switch to a green electricity provider. Good Energy is often cited as the greenest supplier. For details, click here.
(Please note that Brighton Permaculture Trust receives a commission for each person that switches to Good Energy via this link.)
Give something back
Why not get involved with others who are making a difference? Learn about volunteering with us.