Sustainable Living

Sustainable Living at Home

Sustainable living actually covers everything, but for the purposes of this website, we're looking at other stuff which we can all do which is still fun and worthwhile, but maybe doesn't involve renewable energy or being energy efficient. At least, not directly.



Eco Homes

SuperHomes is a rapidly expanding network of 150 energy aware UK households. These pioneering homeowners are redefining green living. All have refurbished their old homes to the highest standards of energy efficiency. Eco friendly, sustainable, low energy and low carbon – the refurbished houses are least 60% less reliant on fossil fuels. This means that SuperHome owners are really leading the way. Visit the website to learn from them at www.superhomes.org.uk.

Check out the B&Q Victorian Eco House which is an ordinary suburban home they have refurbished to be more energy efficient and using renewable energy: DIY One Planet Home.

See also GreenMoves – the UK’s first dedicated ‘eco property for sale’ website – aiming to make finding, buying, renting or selling eco properties as easy as possible – www.greenmoves.com.

Eco DIY

DIY can be stylish and sustainable. Whether you are re-designing your living room or giving your whole house a new lick of paint, there are a number of ways to minimise environmental impact by choosing the right paint for the job, ensuring the best performance and protection, as well as purchasing the correct amount to reduce wastage.

Climate Week recommend Crown Paints who measure the carbon footprint of every product it manufactures. Advice on choosing products and how to calculate the amount of paint needed can be found on Crown Paint’s website at www.crownpaint.co.uk.

The Story of Stuff

Be inspired to modify your general consumption by watching The Story of Stuff movie – a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. Watch the movie and visit the website at: www.storyofstuff.org.

Eco-Friendly Clothing

Harmful chemicals and practices are not allowed in organic textile production, so its better for local wildlife, animals and people to go for organic cottons for example. Look for the Soil Association or Global Organic Textiles Standards logo – find out more at www.cottonedon.org. (Note that bamboo textiles production is not as environmentally friendly as it is sometimes marketed, which is why it’s best to get clothing from a certification scheme).

Eco-Friendly Household Products, Toiletries & Cosmetics

Look for eco-friendly products that are chemical free and as natural as possible and avoid using harsh and toxic bleaches.

Ecover do a great range of cleaning products as do Faith in Nature who also do lovely personal care and beauty products (which are vegan friendly too so contain no animal products).

The Co-operative have many eco-friendly own brand products which are also BUAV approved (look for the leaping bunny logo!) meaning they also aren’t tested on animals.

Sustainable Travel

In the UK around 27% of carbon emissions are from the transport sector, so if you want to reduce your impact on the environment it is important to try to reduce these emissions. While some journeys are virtually impossible without a car, others can be done by foot, bicycle, or public transport. If you have to drive try to share lifts with someone else going in the same direction.

Take action to reduce your transport emissions!


Walking and Cycling

Walk or cycle where you can!
Walking or cycling keeps you fit, is free and can give you a little time to relax, think, or plan. It may take time to get used to so why not start by trying it for a day or a week. If you have never cycled or not cycled for years, some local authorities organise Cycling Courses for adults, and road safety cycling courses are available for children.

Keep safe walking or cycling, that means lights on your bike and reflective clothing. Someone who cycles 20 miles a week is on average as fit as someone 10 years younger!

Contact your local authority for information on local footpaths and cycle routes.

Car Share

Legs really are best but in a rural area, it is more difficult, so car sharing is a popular alternative.

If you are going to drive we highly recommend you invest an electric car such as the 100% electric Nissan LEAF with % emissions!

Public Transport

Using public transport can free up time to work, be sociable, and can be a great way to reach town and city centres without needing a parking space. Don’t forget – if you are over 60 you can get a free bus pass from your Local Authority!

Some towns now even run electric buses!

Travel planning websites make it much easier to find out how to get from A to B too.

Flying

Flying causes a significant proportion of carbon emissions, and because these are emitted at high altitude the effect on the environment is much more harmful. Do you really need to go ? If it is for a meeting, could you use the telephone or videoconference instead? If it is for a holiday, why not try a Staycation instead?! We need to reduce the amount we fly. For UK and European destinations travel by train is a viable and enjoyable alternative.

A good resource for routes and price information for world-wide rail travel is the website Seat 61.

Eco Holidays & Tourism

You can look for an eco-friendly place to stay here in the UK.

If going abroad, make sure you use a responsible travel agent with a good ethical/environmental policy such as Responsible Travel.

Sustainable Food

Livestock farming accounts for around 18% of our global greenhouse gas emissions - more than the global transport sector! And it's not just carbon dioxide that's the problem - gases including methane from cattle and nitrous oxide are also produced in significant quantities, released through various sources including animal waste and fertiliser use. Livestock farming produces 37% and 65% of our global methane and nitrous oxide emissions respectively and both gases are much more potent than carbon dioxide.


Reduce Food Waste

Reducing food waste is a major issue. We throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food from our homes every year in the UK. It’s not just about good food going to waste either; wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year, or £50 a month, and has serious environmental implications too. If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

You can make delicious food from leftovers while saving money, cutting waste and helping to combat climate change. Visit the Love Food Hate Watse website for more ideas: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

Get Composting

Put all your remaining waste food into a compost bin.

Choose Organic and Free-Range

Currently 2 out of 3 farms worldwide are intensively factory farmed in an unsustainable way and you may be surprised to know that most farms here in the UK are still factory farms, so its important to look out for local, organic and free-range food. Check out the RAW campaign which is kick starting a food and farming revolution to see how we can feed the world sustainably and without further damaging our planet: www.raw.info.

Eating local and seasonal food is the key. Our country is choc-full of fantastic artisan producers, and if you don’t have the time to shop around every week, why not make a visit to your local farmers market or arrange for a home delivery? Also some supermarkets are better than others at stocking regional produce!

Organic and free-range food is not only much more planet-friendly (and is kinder to animals too of course), but is also better for your health and tastes much nicer too. Look out for Soil Association logo on your meat and dairy labels and avoid the Red Tractor logo if you are concerned about animal welfare – check out Compassion in World Farming’s ‘Know Your Labels’ Guide.

Eating less meat is also a good idea – it is better to spend a little more money on quality food, and just eat it a little less often – vegetables and pulses are much cheaper than meat too. Check out the Meat Free Monday website for recipe ideas: www.meatfreemondays.com.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own vegetables in a veggie patch or in pots can be great fun and extremely satisfying!

If you don’t have your own garden or enough room to grow anything, or if you do but aren’t green-fingered yourself, there are Landshare schemes where garden owners who have an unused corner of their garden allow local gardeners to come in and treat it as if it were their own garden. Garden owner benefits include the chance to link with other Gardenshare Owners and the pleasure of seeing a developing vegetable plot emerging. (Or maybe they are number hundred-and-something on the allotments waiting list and are getting a bit hungry!).

Give a Hen a Home!

Why not raise your own free-range chickens in your garden and enjoy fresh eggs every day! The British Hen Welfare Trust rehomes thousands of commercial laying hens destined for slaughter that deserve loving homes (they make great pets too!) and they still lay enough lovely fresh eggs for you and your family. Visit: www.bhwt.org.uk.

Saving Water

The amount of water we all use every day at home is simply unsustainable, so we need to save water and recycle it where we can...



Water Harvesting

There are two main options here – water butts to collect rainwater, and grey-water systems to capture waste soapy water (not sewage) for outdoor use in your garden. Contact your local water company or waste water company to see if they can help you with any special deals or advice.

Hippo the Water Saver

Did you know that flushing the toilet accounts for 30% of household water use? Start saving water and money today by putting a ‘Hippo the Water Saver’ in your cistern. A low-cost and proven water-saving device, the hippo saves up to 3 litres of water, as well as reducing the carbon emissions associated with pumping, treating and heating water to our homes. Find out more at www.hippo-the-watersaver.co.uk.

Flush less!

Flushing your toilet less often reduces wastewater and promotes water conservation.

Shower Power

Take a shower instead of a bath – a five minute shower will use less than half the water needed for a bath.

Reduce Your Waste

The key thing here is to reduce the amount of stuff that goes to landfill waste and to make sure you recycle, re-use, and use as much eco-friendly products as possible.



Avoid Plastic

Try and avoid using or buying any plastic (or other toxic waste) going to landfill. Use biobags for bin liners (see www.thebincompany.com) as these decompose naturally. And if you walks your dogs use a PoopScoop for their doggy business (see www.poopscoop.biz).

You can also buy many household products as refill packets to reduce plastic waste – from coffee to showergel!

Recycle

Virtually every home uses toilet paper, and every office uses paper for printing, so make sure you use recycled paper or at least paper from sustainable forests.

Where you have a choice, buy the option that has the least amount of un-reusable or un-recyclable packaging.

Where you have waste, take the time to sort it and recycle it, even if it means taking a special trip to your local tip once in a while.

Make do and mend

Get your sewing machine out to mend or adapt old clothes, and get onto some DIY projects such as…

Upcycling

Upcycling is a great way to give your home or yourself a facelift – repainting old desks, using unwanted clothes for cushion covers, or giving everyday items an interesting new use can make for a great new look, and it saves sending your old unwanted items as ‘waste’ to the landfill.

For some great upcycling ideas visit www.upcycling.co.uk.

Get Shwopping!

Approximately 500,000 tonnes or 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year – that’s 114,000 items every single hour!

Neither the planet’s landfill, nor its resources, are infinite and we know that placing unwanted clothing items into the bin (and therefore into landfill) when they could be recycled or re-used – it’s madness.

One solution that’s been around for donkey’s years, is donating our old clothes to charity. But for a number of reasons, we’re still sending a billion items of clothing to landfill. The idea that one day not a single item of clothing would end up in the rubbish seemed insurmountable.

Yet, suddenly, it now seems completely possible. M&S, a founding partner of Start has now set itself the enormous challenge of making it the norm to take an item of clothing with you to donate every time we go shopping.

M&S’s shwopping initiative makes clothes donation so simple and convenient, it’s almost hard not to do it. With ‘Shwop Drop’ donation boxes in every single store across the UK (except for Simply Food branches) this project will certainly help us all move away from ‘disposable’ fashion where we throw away clothes when we’ve had enough of them.

Find out more at: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a/about-plan-a/shwopping


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