How green is your house? It’s a question we ask a lot of ourselves particularly when it comes to recycling our trash and avoiding single-use plastics. It might be that you are extremely conscientious and do everything you can to make your home as sustainable as possible. But, there always seems to be so much more we can do.
It can feel a little overwhelming, especially if you already operate on a hectic time schedule with a family and work to contend with. We take a look at some simple changes you can make around the home that make for greener and cheaper living.
Ever considered homemade washing powder? It seems like it might be a lot of hassle and involve having to source unusual ingredients but in fact it’s super easy and will save you a fortune in the long run. You simply need a cup of washing soda, half a cup of baking soda, a grated bar of soap and a drop or two of essential oils for scent. As an optional extra for brighter whites you might add one cup of borax but it’s perfectly good without this additional item.
Just add a tablespoon or two for more washing power, into your machine and you’re all set. You’ve saved the purchase of an unnecessary plastic bottle, re-used existing plastics and have created a detergent without chemicals and as such a harmless by-product to be fed back into the environment. To top it all off, your powder will last far longer than anything you can buy in the stores and for far less money.
If you’re pleased with this invention, then turn your attention next to creating your own beauty products. Sure, you could buy expensive hair conditioner but for very little layout and exactly the same effect why not try mixing up one tablespoon of coconut oil, one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoons of curd and something non oily to fragrance it with. Your scalp will be nourished, your hair will grow stronger and thicker and you’ll be glad you invested in these ingredients that can be used to create a fresh batch of conditioner many times over before they run out.
Your home too will benefit from your homemade touches. Banish soap marks and tricky stains in the bathroom with some liquid detergent and vinegar. No need to spend out on expensive products, just reuse the bottles they come in to create a sustainable alternative. You’ll also find alternatives that are gentle on your more delicate furnishings like wood panels from Definitive Designs Flooring.
Want to freshen up your carpets and soft furnishings? Create your own with liquid fabric softener, baking soda and hot water. You’ll have enough to freshen up every room in your house and enough raw ingredients to do it all over again when you’re running low.
Cut down on plastics
Had enough of all the excessive plastics that seem to come with fruit, vegetables and meat nowadays? Cut back by buying your fruit and veg loose. If your supermarket doesn’t have enough choice, then consider finding a local grocer who does or perhaps checking out if there are any vegetable box schemes in your area that will deliver your fruit and veg to the door with next to no packaging. Locally grown, locally transported and putting income back into the community, it’s a win-win situation.
The same of course goes for meat but more and more supermarkets are starting to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable plastic containers to put meat in, so ask what your local supermarket is doing to support that initiative if it doesn’t seem obvious. Supporting local business is by far the best way to ensure that the food we buy hasn’t traveled miles and miles and is the freshest it can be. It may mean adjusting what we eat to a more seasonal diet but in the long run that can only help our diets and our environment.
You probably are doing what you can but unless you’re super organised sometimes it’s easy to end up throwing recyclables away rather than wash them up and place them in the correct bin. The trick is to do the recycling little and often. To wash up as you go along and to regularly take your recycling out rather than let it spill out into the kitchen or wherever you keep it.
Turn down the heat
One significant act you can make is to turn down the heating in your home. Have your home insulated more effectively to enable you to turn down the thermostat and save energy. The knock-on effect of cheaper energy bills is helpful too.
The same principle applies to your electrics. Televisions, charging cables left on overnight use up energy at an alarming rate and by turning them off at the plug, you’ll be making a deep impact on the environment.
Learn some skills to save on the bills
Fixing rather than throwing is a fantastic way of becoming less wasteful with items such as clothes. If a pair of tights suddenly develops a hole in the toe, a couple of quick stitches will save a trip to the shops and having to spend out unnecessarily. You don’t have to be a 1950s family to learn these skills, take a look at a YouTube video or take up a DIY course at your local college to learn some skills that are going to come in useful over a lifetime of home maintenance.
For many people, knitting has even become something of a hobby with many people who had never before picked up a pair of needles, learning the art with knitting groups. The fashion for homemade is back, so embrace it and choose a hobby that will get you started in the right direction towards self-sufficiency.
Cut down on food waste
A major problem in households across the developed world. Mountains and mountains of food go to waste each year as we overestimate how much we will eat. As well as cutting down on portion sizes, you might also consider how best to use leftovers the next day. Wrap them up for lunch, freeze them for an emergency meal or turn them into something different like a curry or a filling for a jacket potato. Vegetables can be transformed into a ratatouille with some chopped tomatoes or placed on a compost heap.
While it can seem a little overwhelming at first to try and incorporate all these things into your life, try just one at a time to see if it’s something you can accommodate. Doing things over again, week in, week out will soon become a habit and then second nature as you gradually incorporate more and more eco-friendly choices into your lifestyle.
Start by simply looking around your own home and seeing what can be done to help cut down on your energy consumption. Put some of these measure in place and you’ll soon notice a difference in your bills too. Do the same with the products you use and the household cleaners you buy. Swap them out for homemade versions and you won’t even have to think about refilling them for the next few months.
Next, you’ll want to turn your attention to your food choices and figure out how to get the freshest, most organic ingredients fresh to your door. Cut down on wrapping them with unnecessary plastic bags and eat seasonally as much as you can.
Go green and go cheaper, fresher and more sustainable for a brighter future.