The key to creating an eco-friendly home is to tackle the problem from several different angles. Reducing the amount of energy that your home uses, reducing water usage and waste, as well as shopping smarter can all help you achieve a ‘greener’ home.
New eco-friendly products are being designed all the time, so if you’re keen to improve your home, keep an eye out for new ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some of the simplest ways to have a more eco-friendly home.
1. Make use of design
If you are lucky enough to be building a new home, or renovating your existing one, making use of clever design can create an eco-friendly home that will be more comfortable and healthier to boot. Enlist the help of an architect who is experienced in designing sustainable houses.
Positioning your home so you can make the most of the winter sun can help to warm your home naturally. You can also use planting, blinds/shades, or ventilaton to help control the heat over the summer months. Installing solar panels can make a huge difference to the amount of energy that your home uses though the initial outlay can be costly.
Where possible, use salvaged materials when building for a more sustainable approach.
Reducing your energy consumption through the use of insulation and double glazing will be one of the biggest eco-friendly changes you can make. You can also use thermal curtains to keep the heat in (or out) more efficiently.
3. Heat efficiently
A blanket, thick socks and a sturdy disposition may be all you need to get through a harsh winter, but it’s a lot more practical and comfortable to use efficient heating. Modern log burners using wood from a renewable source can result in zero net carbon emissions. With a wetback to heat the water they are even more energy efficient. Heat pumps and pellet fires are also efficient methods of heating.
4. Save energy
Using LED lightbulbs and turning off lights when not in use is a simple step to reduce your energy usage (and save yourself some money). When purchasing new appliances, always look for the energy star rating. Don’t forget to turn off appliances and chargers that are not in use.
Once you’ve finished cooking the dinner, pop the baking in the already warm oven and save on having to pre-heat the oven. If you only need to cook a small amount of food, it’s more energy efficient to use a microwave or small toaster oven than to heat up a full size oven.
Washing your laundry in cold water and line-drying will also make a big difference. Also consider reducing the amount of washing that you do. Does that pair of jeans that you wore for one day really need washing?
5. Reduce water usage
Did you know that only around 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable? Water is Earth’s most important resource. Reducing your home’s water usage can be taken up by the whole family. Choose to shower instead of running a bath and keep showers short. A low-flow shower head and utilising the half-flush on the toilet cistern can also help to save water.
Having a water tank that collects rainwater from the spouting will provide you with water for your veggie patch. Fix leaking taps and running toilets and don’t leave taps running when brushing teeth or washing dishes. Use a bucket when washing the car instead of a hose and only run the dishwasher or washing machine when full.
6. Shop smarter
The single-use plastic shopping bag ban is in place so we should all be getting used to using reusable shopping bags. You can also buy reusable produce bags. Now supermarkets, butchers, bakers and other food establishments are starting to also allow customers to bring in their own containers to reduce the amount of plastic and waste that is created. Buying in bulk also helps to reduce packaging.
You can also:
- Ecostore makes it easy to choose eco-friendly body care and home cleaning products that are better for the environment and your health
- Reusable straws are available in stainless steel or there are compostable options
- Bamboo toothbrushes are compostable
- Use a razor that can be refilled with new blades
- Buy compostable dog poop bags, rubbish bags, etc
- Stainless steel clothes pegs last longer than plastic ones
- Instead of liquid soap, choose bars of soap
- Meal plan and shop from a list to avoid overbuying
- Buy eggs from farmers/locals and reuse egg cartons
- It is possible to buy milk in reusable glass bottles in some parts of the country
- Buy recycled toilet paper or even tree-free toilet paper
- When shopping online look for retailers who offer eco-friendly packaging
7. Reduce waste
Think about the life span of what you buy and how you can reuse things when they are no longer suitable for purpose. Or better yet, consider if you already have something that could be repurposed to do the job? If you have no use for something, consider donating it to a community group.
Although it isn’t possible to recycle everything through your local council collection, there are lots of recycling schemes for items including mobile phones, electronics, coffee capsules, toothpaste tubes and more. Find out about some of these schemes at TerraCycle.
You can also:
- Compost food scraps
- Get bills by email/online
- Use washable cloths instead of paper towels to clean up the kitchen
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Bento boxes are great for litterless school lunches
- Use silicone baking mats instead of baking paper
- Make your own sauces
- Bake bread at home to save on plastic bags and tags
- Grow your own veggies, fruit and herbs and join a local collective to share produce you don’t need
- Bake your own cakes, biscuits, and sweet treats
- Reduce your food waste
- Use cloth nappies, menstrual cups, washable breast pads and panty liners
These websites are full of helpful tips and information on being greener.
Written by Julie Scanlon for ecostore
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”