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Plastic Free July

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Being Sustainable – in 10 easy steps

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT

Environmental science is all about finding ways to live more sustainably, which means using resources today in a way that maintains their supplies for the future. Environmental sustainability doesn’t mean living without luxuries but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste.

  1. Reduce household energy use

    Energy conservation is itself a source of energy. Here are several simple ways to reduce your household energy use:

    • Turn off appliances and lights that you’re not using.

    • Install energy-efficient appliances.

    • Use a programmable thermostat that lowers or raises the temperature when you’re not home.

    • Set your thermostat lower than usual in the winter and bundle up.

    • Open windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air conditioning.

    • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
      light bulb

  2. Eat locally

    A powerful way to live more sustainably is to eat locally. The convenience of supermarkets has changed how people think about food. You can stroll through aisles stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other products from all over the world any time of year. But these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your corner supermarket.

  3. Dispose with disposables

    Previous generations didn’t dream of single-use razors, forks, cups, bags, and food storage containers, but these days, you can find a plastic version of almost any object and then throw that object away after you use it.
    single use plastic

    Many of the environmental health issues today stem from toxins released into the environment by trash. Even trash that’s properly disposed of, such as that in a landfill, requires careful monitoring to ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t enter the surrounding environment.
    single plastic bag

    When you make a purchase, consider the item’s life expectancy: How long can the item be used? Will it have more than one use? When you’re done with it, will it end up in the trash? Start investing in reusable products for the items you most often throw away.

  4. Plant seeds

    Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square feet on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
    kitchen garden

  5. Recycle

    Recycle as much as possible! If your neighborhood or apartment complex doesn’t offer recycling pickup, either find a drop-off location or request the curbside service. Buying products labeled post-consumer lets companies know that recycling is the way to go!

    For other items, such as CFLs, batteries, mobile/cellphones, and electronics, find an appropriate recycler. Many local stores accept used batteries over the counter, but be sure to ask where these materials go for recycling and avoid companies that ship electronic waste overseas for unregulated “recycling” and salvage operations.

  6. Resell and donate items

    Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.

    Providing your items are in good condition and are compliant with safety standards there are many charity/thrift shops that you can donate to, so your items not only continue to be used but they benefit others by generating funds.
    donation

    You can try reselling on Ebay or similar and make yourself some extra cash.  There are also many reseller or goods-for-free pages on Facebook where you can get in touch with people in your own area and give your goods a new lease of life.

  7. Drink from the tap

    Dependence on bottled water has added more than a million tons of plastic to the waste stream every year. One reason people rely on bottled water is because they believe it’s safer and better tasting than tap water. But most municipal water supplies in the U.S. provide safe, clean, fresh water (and many bottled waters are just bottled from city water supplies anyway).
    tap water

    If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, consider the one-time investment in a filtration system. If you like the convenience of bottled water, purchase refillable bottles and keep one in your fridge, one in your car, and one at the office. Encourage your employer to install filters and offer glasses or reusable bottles at work, too.

  8. Save water

    An easy way to live more sustainably is to conserve household water use. Consider installing water-efficient toilets or dual-flush toilets that let you choose whether to use a full flush (for solid waste) or half-flush (for liquid waste). Newer clothes washers can automatically sense the smallest level of water needed for each load.

    Smaller changes, such as switching to water-saving shower heads and adding aerators to your sink faucets, are also effective ways to significantly reduce household water use.

    To conserve water outdoors, use landscaping adapted to your local environment. When buying plants, look for drought-tolerant species and varieties and be sure to plant them in proper soil and sun conditions to reduce their need for excess watering. Set up sprinkler systems so they don’t water the sidewalk, the driveway, and other paved, impermeable surfaces.

  9. Rely less on your car

    Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Investigate public transit options in your town or city, such as a bus or train or find out if your company operate carpool service for staff. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike.
    cycle to work

    Many workers in the UK now benefit from the Government Green initiative “Cycle to Work Scheme”.  Cycles and safety equipment can be obtained through an employer as a salary sacrifice.  This means there are substantial savings on average of 32% on the cost of equipment.  So a cycle valued at £800 would actually only cost £544.

  10. Purchase fair-trade products

    When you purchase items that are imported from all over the world — particularly coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, chocolate, and fruit — look for the fair-trade certification. This designation tells you that these items were grown using sustainable methods of agriculture and that local people are receiving fair prices for the goods they produce.
    fairtrade logo

    Items that don’t have the fair-trade certification may have been produced unsustainably and may be the product of exploitative labor practices that don’t benefit the local people.

We hope this has given you a few pointers on how live more sustainably.  It doesn’t involve a major change to the way you do things and it most certainly

won’t cost you the Earth.

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New Year Green Resolutions

Have you made and broken your New Year Resolutions already?  Did you vow to lose weight or learn a new language maybe?  Well why not sign up for these Green Resolutions that are not only good for YOU but good for the PLANET.

  1. Walk, run or cycle to work.

    Not only is it better for the environment, but not using your car to for your morning commute will help you out on your resolution to lose weight.  A brisk walk of more 30 minutes each day will lower your BMI and help to get rid of all those Christmas inches on your waist.  Feeling fitter and healthier puts you in a good mood too!  Many employers now operate a Cycle to Work scheme where you can get tax breaks to obtain cycles and safety equipment.
    cycle

  2. If you have to drive…..

    Switch to petrol or even better an electric car.  The UK Government’s Chief Medical Officer has said that diesel should be phased out to cut the tens of thousands of deaths caused each from air pollution  Diesel cars emit more nitrous oxides (NOx), which can cause health problems for people who have lung and breathing problems.  But petrol cars also emit higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).  This has fewer immediate health risks than NOx but as it is a greenhouse gas this causes big problems for the environment as a whole.  Air pollution contributes to at least 25,000 deaths in England each year through heart attacks and other respiratory diseases.
    A greener alternative to using your own car is to join a car pool with colleagues from work.  There are also a number of ride-sharing apps that you can sign up to like BlaBlaCar or UberPool which is a taxi service that matches up people travelling the same way and is hoped to launch in London by the end of this year.

  3. Reduce the amount of meat you eat

    There is growing evidence that the amount of meat we eat has a direct effect on the environment as it takes the same amount of energy to produce 1kg of meat as it does for 3-10kg of vegetables.  According to the Vegan Society, their numbers have doubled from 150,000 to 300,000 in the last 9 years.  It is now estimated that around 12% of Britons now follow a meat free diet.  However, if you can’t give up meat completely, you can cut back on your meat consumption for a few days a week and try some alternative vegetarian meals instead.

  4. Grow your own!!!

    Growing, transporting, packaging food together with clearing the land for growing, accounts for as much as 30% of Britain’s carbon footprint.  And there is a certain satisfaction in eating something you have grown yourself isn’t there?  You only need a small patch in your back garden.
    CARBON FOOTPRINT

  5. Take your own bag to the supermarket

    In October 2015 the UK Government introduced a compulsory 5p charge for single use plastic bags.  Since then the number used have fallen by an estimated 85%.  In the first 6 months usage fell from more than 7 billion a year to less than half a billion.  This was a saving of almost 41,000 tons of plastic – roughly 300 blue whales.  It just needs a bit of planning to make sure you keep your own shopping bag handy in your bag or your car’s glove compartment.

    i-hate-plastics

  6. Choose your cosmetics wisely

    Microbeads are now in lots of everyday products like face and body scrubs.  It is hoped that these will be banned by the end of this year under new Government proposals.  The beads get flushed into rivers and oceans in their billions with an estimated 86 tons in the UK alone each year just from facial exfoliants.  If you add these to the plastic bags that also end up in rivers and oceans and over time, gradually break down into microplastics you end up with a real danger to marine creatures and birds who end up eating the microplastics which causes damage to them as they are not able to digest them but can also end up as part of our food chain.
    microbeads

  7. Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea

    When you fill the kettle to make your tea or coffee, only fill the kettle with enough water for your immediate use.  Most kettles nowadays have a gauge showing how full it is and you will cut down on the amount of energy used to boil and reboil water
    If you use coffee pods, make sure you recycle them – don’t just throw them with the general trash that ends up in landfill.  The UK spending on coffee pods rose by more than 30% in 2015 when we drank £109m worth.  If buy your coffee in a carton to go, make sure you recycle this also.  Last year, fewer than 1 in 400 high street coffee chain cups were recycled.  Starbucks even announced that it would offer customers who bring their own coffee cups a 50p discount.

  8. Turn your home green

    There are many greener, natural alternatives to chemical cleaning products.  Here are a few

    • Kitchen surface stain remover – make a paste from salt, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda.  This will leave a natural “lemon fresh” scent also.
    • Toilet cleaner – Use a can of cola to clean your toilet – YES REALLY!!!  The drink contains carbonic, citric and phosphoric acids which are often found in household cleaning products.  Leave the liquid to sit in the basin for an hour, then use a brush to clean and flush away.  You can also use vinegar as an alternative as it works in a similar way.
    • Wood polish – heat grated beeswax, lanolin, sweet almond oil and lavender essential oil in a pan then leave it to cool.  Clean wood floors with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.
    • Removing limescale – put 1/4 pint of vinegar in the kettle, fill up with water, bring to the boil and leave it overnight.  The next morning rinse out well and fill, boil and discard the water twice before drinking.  You can remove the limescale encrusted on taps if you soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap it round the taps and leave for an hour.  Just wipe with a damp cloth after.
    • Cut your fuel bills (and help to save the Planet) by being fuel efficient.  A cheap way to do this is to invest in some draught-proofing keeping those icy winter chills at bay.  You might also get some thicker curtains which you should make sure are drawn at night to help keep you cosy.    Some of the more expensive ways would be to consider getting a new boiler, loft or wall insulation and even solar panels.  There are many grants available to help with insulation depending on the age and type of property you have.
      pv panels
      photovoltaic solar panels

We hope we have given you a few ideas on how to make this year a Greener Year  We would like to know if YOU have any tips to share with us.  Please comment below.

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