11 February, 2006

A Green Life

A Greener Life

Every day you are using water and energy, and creating waste. That means, every day you are impacting the environment. These tips will help you make choices with the good of the environment in mind.

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- Conserve fuel by turning down the heat at night and while you are away from your home — or install a programmable thermostat. Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C could cut your carbon dioxide emissions by over 5% as well as saving you around £30 per year. Over 60% of our household carbon dioxide emissions are due to the fossil fuels (such as natural gas) which we burn to heat our homes. By taking a number of sensible steps we can reduce the heat we use, save money on our bills and substantially reduce our emissons.

- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They are inexpensive, and easy to install. Energy saving light bulbs last up to 12 times longer than normal bulbs, so each one can reduce your lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb. There's a wide range of attractive designs now available and they emit 70% less carbon dioxide than normal bulbs. This is one of the easiest ways to make a difference!

- Insulate your home against heat loss and periodically check insulation. Insulating your house is one of the most effective ways of reducing your carbon dioxide emissions. For the average house 30% of the heat simply escapes through the walls and is wasted. You can also insulate your loft, floors and windows too.

- Fix air leakage with weather-stripping and caulking.

- In the winter, change your furnace air filters once a month. The heater uses more energy when it is full of dust.

- Avoid using cars and airplanes — walk, cycle or use public transportation whenever possible. The way you choose to travel significantly effects your impact on climate change. On average each us in the UK pours 3.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year from our personal car usage and a further 1.3 tonnes from our aircraft flights. It's unlikely to be practical for us to give up our cars and stop flying altogether, but we can make a significant difference by thinking about the choices we make and weighing up other options for how we get around.

- Avoid anything battery operated (or use rechargables or solar rechargables if batteries are unavoidable).

- Buy locally — not only is it good for the local economy, it will save energy because products haven’t traveled across the globe to get to you. Also keep seasonal foods in mind. Again, people aren't really meant to eat fresh strawberries in January, it means they have travelled a great distance and used a considerable a,ount of jet fuel to get to you, whilst losing a huge amount of nutrients along the way.

If everyone consumed the way we do in the UK we would need 3 planet earths!

Our contribution to climate change doesn't just come from our travel, our electricity use and our heating. In fact almost everything we do in our lives involves products or services that have consumed energy to be made or transported, thus emitting carbon dioxide and causing climate change.

We can have a huge positive impact by aiming to live and consume in a "sustainable" way. What's more we won't just make a difference by our own lifestyles, but also from the influence we have on others.

- Don't buy things you don't really need or want.Most of us far more 'stuff' than we ever need. Every time you buy a product you're responsible for the emissions due to its manufacture, packaging and transport. So only buy stuff you really need or will actually use.

- Buy local food to avoid unnecessary "food miles." When you buy food from overseas you're responsible for the "food miles" incurred by shipping that product to the UK. Why not reduce your impact on climate change by buying local produce instead? It tastes better too!

- Buy organic or grow your own. Conventional intensive farming methods use 25-50% more energy than organic farming per unit of product. Buying organic or growing your own significantly reduces your impact on climate change.

- Use a vegetable compost at home. Using a compost for organic waste is easy and avoids it decomposing in landfill sites where it will emit methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas which contributes heavily to climate change. It's also handy to use in the garden.

- Make an effort to recycle. We live in a throw-away culture, but if packaging, glass and other items can be recycled that reduces the energy needed for manufacturers to get the materials to make new items. It saves things ending up in landfills too.

- Re-use rather than throwing away. Every time you throw something away it gets buried in the ground and energy needs to be used to make another one. Save energy by keeping and re-using packages and bags more than once.

- Give unwanted items to charity. If you don't want something and it can't be recycled, don't simply throw it away. If you give it to a charity shop someone else can use it and that saves on unnecessary new products being made and energy wasted.

- Use refill packs. A great way to reduce on packaging for the products you use is to buy refill packs for items like soap powder - they use less packaging and therefore have lower carbon emissions from manufacturing.

- Buy less packaged food. The more packaging your food has the higher the energy that was required to make it. Try to buy produce and goods with less packaging and send a signal to manufacturers that we don't need that kind of wastage.

- Don't waste food. Energy is used in packaging, transporting and heating food, so if we waste food rather than consuming it that's a lot of needless carbon dioxide emissions. Think before you throw it away.

- Drink tap water instead of bottled water. Tap water is clean, fresh and free so why buy expensive bottled water? Energy is consumed for each bottle created, filled and transported, leading to unnecessary carbon emissions and yet more plastic in landfill sites.

- Take your own bags (canvas or cloth is preferable) to the grocery store. If you take plastic bags, use them until they are worn out.

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1 comment:

  1. You might want to check out this article (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0620/p01s03-woeu.htm) about the Plastic Bag Revolt going on currently. Brief stats:

    500 billion: Number of plastic bags consumed worldwide every year (1 million per minute)

    500: Years it takes a plastic bag to decay in landfill

    167: Bags used annually by the average British consumer

    4.175 million: "Average" person's plastic-bag legacy, in years

    £64 to £80 million ($127 million to $159 million): Amount British retailers spend yearly on providing plastic bags to customers



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