In today’s climate, the stakes are rising for individuals to better their impact on the planet, with a need to extend green initiatives beyond subtle sustainable lifestyle changes alone.
To prove care and commitment, it’s important that homeowners turn to larger investments and purchasing decisions in their property too.
While this may sound daunting, there are some simple switches that can have a bigger impact than it would seem. And if we all play our part, we can help take sustainability from a pipedream to a deliverable that can, and will, be achieved as a collective.
To shed some more light, here are ten pointers for inspiration…
1. Recycling and compost bins
The fundamentals of sustainability are reducing, reusing, and recycling where possible. As a place to start, separating glass bottles, jars, plastics, and paper from general waste will help to boost your eco credentials.
For food and garden waste, compost bins offer a place to produce fertilizer that can both help reduce household refuse and produce a fertilizer to help your plants thrive.
2. VOC-free and low-VOC carpets
Traditional carpets contain significant amounts of volatile organic compounds – or VOCs – in elements such as the pile, backing, and adhesives, that release harmful carbon emissions into the air we breathe. Also known as ‘off-gassing’, this process can last anywhere from a few days to a few years.
In a bid to support global sustainability initiatives, many manufacturers are increasingly introducing VOC-free and low-VOC alternatives. Look for materials with a 100 percent undyed wool pile, no chemical additives or insecticides, natural jute secondary backing, natural adhesive, and biodegradable properties, for example.
3. Natural insulation
Most homeowners leave the decision of insulation to contractors, but a new weave has risen in recent years that’s well worth exploring to support the green agenda.
Natural formaldehyde-free materials are not only safe to handle and cause no irritation to the skin or respiratory tract, but can often provide better insulation per square inch to help curb energy costs. Plus, these options are made from recycled materials, which means you’re investing in a product that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
4. LED light bulbs
One of the primary reasons LED lighting is considered to be so eco-friendly is because they’re longer lasting by design and waste far less energy than traditional lighting styles.
Fluorescent lights, as an example, convert only 5% of their energy into light – with 95% being wasted as heat – whereas LED bulbs are the polar opposite. The less energy they require, the better for the environment and the more money saved. Not only this, but they’re also kinder to the planet because they do not contain toxic elements and therefore don’t require specialist disposal like their alternatives.
5. Greener drying habits
There are a whole host of ways to make your laundry habits more eco-friendly – including using colder washes, reducing cycle frequencies and intensities, and avoiding harmful detergents and microplastics.
But one overlooked tip that we’re sure many will love, is to skip the iron. It may sound simple – and to be honest, that’s because it is – but emitting this step from your laundry routine not only saves on the electricity bill, it also improves the longevity of your clothes by preventing heat damage. Instead, hang items up straight away either on a hanger or the line and let the weight of the water pull creases out.
6. Non-toxic paints
Synthetic, oil-based and acrylic paints may be the traditional market leaders, but they also contain VOCs that release harmful emissions into your home.
While all paints by necessity contain some chemicals – such as preservatives to keep them fresher for longer, or binders to prevent separation – there is a range of options that have a significantly lower impact on the planet, such as Earthborn and Lick.
7. Sustainable homeware
Besides using natural materials such as bamboo, rattan, and seagrasses in your home, the best sustainable furniture choices are created from recycled items like wood pallets and recycled textiles.
Furthermore, it’s important to consider homeware as an investment – something that should be robust and long-lasting, rather than replaced on a regular basis. Did you know, according to The North London Waste Authority, 22 million pieces of furniture are discarded every year in the UK? And over a staggering 50% of these are reusable, too.
8. Homemade cleaning products
When made correctly, natural cleaning products are just as effective as shop-bought ones. The big difference is, they don’t contain harmful chemicals that negatively impact both the environment and your health – and, they’ll keep your wallet happy too.
For a scented all-purpose cleaner, you can concoct a planet-friendly alternative from some simple pantry ingredients – one part vinegar, one part water, lemon rind, and rosemary sprigs. Just be careful to check appliance instructions before taking to them with your DIY cleaner, as manufacturers recommend against using vinegar on items such as granite or stainless steel.
Potted plants are renowned for their indoor air cleaning properties – removing harmful toxins such as ammonia, benzene, and formaldehyde, reducing airborne dust to purify oxygen, and raising humidity levels to minimise skin and respiratory irritations. The most effective leafy additions include English Ivy, peace lilies, parlour palms, and snake plants.
Not only that, but they’re also a great touch to make your home feel more inviting.
10. Switch off
While living in the digital age is brilliant in many ways, technology can have a detrimental impact on the environment – not to mention our health and wellbeing.
Every time we use our mobiles, televisions, and other electronics, we’re using energy that – more often than not – is generated from a non-renewable source. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to put down your device and focus on a more eco-friendly hobby such as reading, drawing, or stepping out for a walk.
Switching off sockets when items are not in use is also another great way to better your impact on the planet, conserving electricity, and preventing the waste of precious resources.
And there you have it! Ten simple pointers to help measure up your green credentials.