For many people, the New Year brings a list of ambitious new year’s resolutions.Resolutions which are often unrealistic and thus discarded by early February. However, if you have grand ideas about saving the planet this year, first of all, I salute you and second of all, I bring you the back-up plan, just in case life gets in the way of your noble plans.
Here is a list of ten tiny changes* you can make to help protect our planet and its resources.
1) Put a brick in your toilet cistern. Unless your bathroom is kitted out with mod-con water-saving bathroom appliances, you are probably flushing a lot of unnecessary water down the loo. By putting a brick in there, the volume of your cistern shrinks thus decreasing the amount of water you use with each flush.
2) Set the washing machine to 30 degrees Celsius and dry your clothes in the sun. Most of us set the washing machine temperatures at random, however, by reducing the temperature of the wash you can use up to 40% less energy and your clothes will be just as clean by the end of the process. As for the dryers…they guzzle energy like no-one’s business, and if you live in a sunny climate, you really have no excuse.
3) Be mindful when you shop. The two biggest environmental costs of a product are the distance it’s travelled to get to the shelf and its packaging. With that in mind, buy local as far as possible, choose the option with the least packaging, and take your own re-usable bags (this goes for grocery shopping and other shopping).
4) Take part in movements like Meat-Free-Monday. The meat industry does huge damage to our planet owing to the enormous amount of resources required to feed and water one animal which is going to be killed anyway.
5) Turn off your appliances at the wall. This goes for televisions, microwaves, computers and more, at the office and at home. Appliances use energy even when in stand-by mode.
6) Don’t leave your car idling. Unless you’re stopping for less than 30 seconds, it is more fuel efficient to turn the ignition off and on again later than to have it constantly belching out fumes and using fuel for 5 minutes.
7) Buy products displaying the Fair Trade logo wherever possible. Becoming fair trade certified is a rigorous process which ensures the product is produced ethically with the utmost care given to looking after employees and the environment.
8) Sign up for a My Planet card. This extension of the old My School card idea, is absolutely free. Just sign up online and then swipe it every time you shop at a participating outlet and a percentage of your bill will be donated on your behalf to the charity designated (by you) on your card.
9) Eat fruit and vegetables when they are in season. This means you are less likely to buy imported food, which, owing to its travel distance has a high carbon footprint.
10) Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
And that makes 10. If you can’t reach these easy, planet-saving goals this year, then you are not trying hard enough!
* Tips compiled from Going Green: 365 Ways to Change Our World by Simon gear.