60 ways to go green
Want to know how you can reduce your carbon footprint and be more ecologically friendly as a family?
The global warming carbon emissions we produce from our homes account for a massive 25% of total emissions in the UK. So everything we can do to reduce this will help
1. Just boil the amount of water you need for one cup of tea, rather than half a kettle full and save cash with each cuppa.
2. Use a lid on saucepans. In this way you’re saving energy and money with every meal.
3. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They cost a little more, but save up to 10 times the price over their lifetime and use at least two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs.
4. Turn off appliances. Switch off PCs and TVs when not in use. And never leave them on standby – appliances on standby wastes at least 6% of domestic electricity use in the UK.
5. Make sure your hot-water tank is dressed correctly. A British Standard lagging jacket costs £10 and the insulation for the pipe leading to the hot-water tank from the boiler costs £3 a metre. The yearly saving on your bill? Up to £20.
6. Produce your own energy by installing small-scale renewable energy systems, such as solar panels or wind turbines. Grants are available from the Low Carbon Building Programme. See www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk if you’d like to find out more.
7. Save water. Did you know that having a shower instead of a bath can save about 40 litres of water? But avoid power showers as they can use more water than baths. Install spray taps for new sinks, as they use less water than normal taps.
8. Do all you can when it comes to household recycling. If you have a collection service – use it! Go to www.recyclenow.com for lots of information on recycling in your area.
9. Avoid disposable batteries and use rechargeable ones. You can even use a solar-powered recharger – try www.naturalcollection.com for eco-gadgets.
10. Recycle mobile phones and printer cartridges. If you really need that new phone, find a home for the old one. Recycle through your local Oxfam shop or call ActionAidRecycling on 0845 3100 200.
11. Most high-street opticians will take your old glasses to give to people in need around the world.
12. Only print when absolutely necessary. If you do print, use both sides of the paper.
13. Candlelit dinners are not just for the romantics. Inside and out, try leaving the lights off to save electricity. Citronella or beeswax candles will also keep insects away.
14. Try a local grocer or a vegetable box delivery scheme instead of highly-packaged supermarket goods.
15. Buy refills. Using refills saves you money on the products you use in large quantities like laundry and dish-washing detergents.
16. Glass bottles can be re-used as many as 20 times. So use your milkman!
17. Buy green kitchen appliances. Choose fridges and washing machines which have the highest energy rating and the longest guarantees.
18. Close the fridge door. Each minute the fridge door is open takes three minutes of energy to cool down again. And don’t put hot or warm food straight into the fridge – allow it to cool down first.
19. Defrost your fridge regularly. It keeps it running efficiently and cheaply. If your fridge seems to frost up quickly, check the door seal.
20. Keep your freezer in a cool room or garage. It won’t need to work as hard, and so uses less energy.
21. Wash at low temperatures. Wash laundry loads on the low-temperature programme.
22. Dry your clothes outside. Use a washing line whenever it’s not raining, and you can enjoy the fresh smell that only comes from line-dried clothes.
23. Don't dry clothes on a radiator. It stops heat reaching the room, creates damp and encourages mould.
IN THE GARDEN
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, there’s so much more you can do. Growing your own veg, making compost, helping wildlife and avoiding nasty chemicals can all help create a green haven just outside your door
24. Avoid energy-hungry patio-heaters. There are 2.3 million domestic patio heaters in the UK. Every one of them uses twice as much energy as a kitchen hob. For those evenings in the garden when it gets a little chilly, put a jumper on.
25. Collect rain water in water butts for using in the garden. A garden sprinkler uses as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day.
26. Make your own compost. Almost one third of our domestic waste could be composted, but ends up in landfill. Shop-bought compost for the garden costs about £2.50 for 20 litres. A heap in your back garden is absolutely free.
27. Get your children into gardening. Give them their own little veg patch and enjoy the cheap food. A bunch of radishes costs about 45p. A packet of 1,000 radish seeds costs about £1.
28. Grow hedges. For £25, you can buy 50 hedge plants that will give you 10m of thick hedge. Takes time to grow, but a lot nicer than a typical fencing panel which costs £25 for just under 2m, excluding the cost of posts and concrete, and wildlife and birds will love you for it.
29. Go peat-free. Avoiding peat-based composts means stopping the destruction of our peat bogs, which are invaluable habitats for a wealth of wildlife.
OUT AND ABOUT
Going green doesn’t need to stop once you leave your front door
30. Use the car less. Cycle or walk instead and get some exercise. The average cost of a gym session is around £3.80, but the cost of pedalling fast to work is nothing.
31. Stick to 70mph where it says so – or keep under it. Not only is it illegal when you go over, but fuel costs can go up by as much as 4p a mile for small cars cruising at 80-85 mph on the motorway. According to the Slower Speeds Initiative, driving at 50mph instead of 70mph can reduce fuel consumption by a further 30%.
32. Use retreaded car tyres. You don’t need to always buy new. For more info, contact the Retread Manufacturers Association.
33. Start a walking bus group. Get the kids to class without having to do the school run twice a day.
34. Become a skipoholic. Rather than spend, spend, spend at the DIY store, look out for usable materials in local skips. Ask the owner of the contents before taking from any skips.
35. Libraries don’t just loan books. Lots of them hire out music cassettes and CDs, movie videos and DVDs, and even PlayStation games. Use your library to save yourself the cost of building up your own collection.
36. Shopping locally will cut out food miles and support your local economy. Large out-of-town supermarkets are driving the smaller local shops out of business so support your local shops and help the environment too.
37. Re-discover your local area. Holiday nearer home to avoid excessive travelling. You’ll be supporting the local economy, and discover a new appreciation for your area.
38. Avoid flying. It’s easy to get to anywhere in Europe by train. One call to Rail Europe on 0870 8371 371 will tell you all you need.
SAVE CASH AND SAVE THE PLANET
If you think going green is just for those who can afford it, think again. Lots of what you can do that’s good for the planet is good for your wallet too
39. Carry out a financial health check. Could your money be doing better financially and ethically? You could be banking with an ethical institution and getting as good a deal or better.
40. Do you really need it? Buy less and avoid waste. You can then spend more on things which you really need, and buy quality that will last.
41. Babies don’t need special baby food, especially not at up to a pound a jar. Buy a hand-held blender for £5 and purée ordinary, UK-grown organic food, such as potato, carrot, cauliflower and pear.
42. Give your time. Rather than searching for a present that may never be used, you could help with decorating, gardening or a big clear-out.
43. Cut the cost of cleaning. Add lemon juice (59p for 250 ml), soda crystals (51p a kilo) and bicarbonate of soda (44p for 200g) to your shopping basket to get your taps sparkling, dissolve grease, and shift stains on your work surfaces. All for £1.54.
44. Banish aerosols. Air fresheners fill your home with a toxic soup. Avoid wasting money and open a window instead.
45. Ditch disposable nappies. Switch to reusables. This could save you up to £600 in total. A set of 10 reusable nappies with simple Velcro fasteners costs about £70 new.
46. Save energy, save money. Use less energy in your home by improving insulation, draught-proofing, heating controls etc. Call the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 for free advice.
47. Pack your own lunch. Making your own sandwiches instead of buying over-packaged snacks could save you more than £4 a day.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
There’s only so much that each of use can do in our daily lives. But there’s a lot more that our politicians can do that affects us all. Make sure the Government knows that you want a greener Wales
48. Campaign. Take part in letter writing campaigns, postcard campaigns, petitions, online actions – it does make a difference, honest!
49. Demand strong leadership on climate change. We need strong leaders to take tough decisions and come up with creative solutions. If Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ken Livingstone can do it, you can too, Rhodri Morgan.
50. Educate and inform. Ask the Welsh Assembly Government to launch a high-profile awareness raising campaign to improve understanding of climate change and the many solutions we can implement to reduce its impact.
51. Demand they spend our money wisely. The Assembly Government should move some of the expenditure from roads (50% of Welsh transport budget at present) to support better public transport, cycling and walking schemes.
52. Email you MP now. Ask your MP to take strong action on climate change by emailing them at www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/climate/press_for_change/email_mp.
If there’s so much that each of us can do alone, there’s so much more we can achieve if we work as one
53. Join a Friends of the Earth local group. If you want to do more for the environment both locally and globally, join one of Friends of the Earth’s many local groups around Wales. For information on your nearest group phone 029 2022 9577 or visit www.foe.co.uk/cymru/english/local_groups.
54. Have a clothes swapping party. Get together with you friends and swap clothes. This way you can get a whole new wardrobe for nothing and save the planet too!
55. Use your affiliations to magnify your input. As an employee, a union member, or a member of a club or society you’ll have more influence, so encourage your organisation to make itself heard.
56. Make your town a Transition Town. The transition network is all about people taking control of their own communities, and making a difference by working together. Find out more at www.transitiontowns.org.
57. Join ‘Cymruaction’ at www.foe.co.uk/cymru/english/press_for_change/mailing_list and become part of a powerful email campaign to protect the environment of Wales.
58. Share transport. Get together with work friends to car share.
59. Share tools and DIY equipment. Does every house in your street need a £70 lawnmower, a folding workbench for £30, and a steam cleaner at £100? Share with your neighbours, and it’ll do wonders for your community spirit too.
60. Join Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask Online March. Film yourself on a digital camera or a mobile phone and upload it at www.thebigask.com, and you’ll be joining Welsh luminaries Cerys Matthews, Goldie Lookin Chain and Huw Stephens and many others in asking the Government for a really strong climate change law. Or go along to The Point tonight at the Cardiff Swn Festival, where you can visit Friends of the Earth Cymru’s video stall and they’ll do the filming for you.