Thoughts and ideas about how to make a small and ethical footprint in this world
Reduce the amount of things we buy, and invest in quality items that will last. Better stuff is often more expensive (so it creates plenty of economic activity), but if it lasts longer it leads to less waste.
Does each household in your street really need their own ladder / drill / bikes that are never used? Streetbank encourages you to share your things with your neighbours which has the benefits of less stuff sitting idly around and building community at the same time! I recently lent our drill to a neighbour I had never met, and really enjoyed chatting over a cup of coffee – so easy!
Do you know how much water you use each day? Ofwat suggests it is 153 litres. Compare this to many people in the world who exist on 10 litres of water or less a day. That is the amount we use this in almost one flush of the toilet – and we flush away perfectly clean water suitable for drinking – what a horrendous waste of resources. Reduce your water use – check out this website or this one for some ideas about how you can do this.
Reduce the number of children brought in to the world – make a difference to those who are already here (fostering / adoption / child sponsorship). According to the UN, the global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by mid-century (UNDSEA, 2008). This will intensify the already intense competition over access to Earth’s limited resources and will put even more pressure on Earth’s fragile ecosystems. As well as that, in January 2014 an annual report by LV has calculated that the cost of raising a child to their 21st birthday now stands at a record £222,458 – imagine what a difference you could make with that amount of money? Have a look at Home for Good if you want to explore the possibility of fostering or adopting a child.
The average EU citizen uses 198 plastic bags a year, the vast majority of which are single-use – what a waste of resources! Reduce your use by always carrying a reusable one with you. Reduce packaging by buying loose fruit/veg etc. – keep them loose in the trolley or take your own bags.
Reduce your dependence on your car. Even better, sell your car and use public transport instead. Have a look at Getting around for some more ways to help you live without your car.
Reduce energy use by using energy-efficient appliances. When you come to replace an item, buy the most efficient product possible (rated at least A).
Reduce electricity use by turning off lights and changing to energy-efficient bulbs. You can read about 15 more easy ways to save energy (and money!) in your kitchen and living room here.
Reduce the temperature of your boiler / radiators – shiver yourself thin! British homes are being kept much warmer than 30 years ago which may be causing us to pile on the pounds. We should turn down our thermostats to between 15-17 degrees for a few hours each day. Being colder raises your metabolic rate (the speed at which calories are burnt) by as much as 30%.
Reduce waste by continuing to use items of technology for as long as possible – don’t buy into our “throw-away” culture.
Have a go at the Rubbish Diet – the UK’s dedicated slimming club for bins.
Install the Print Friendly tool on your web browser so you can save money and the environment by only printing what you need.
Reduce the number of empty bedrooms when there are people sleeping rough – get involved with Nightstop. Check out my post for more info and for a bit about our experience of sharing our spare room.
Rather than throwing away mountains of cotton wool and tissues after removing your make-up, what about using re-useable organic pads which you can pop in your normal wash and re-use to your heart’s content? You can buy them from the Friends of the Earth shop. I use them and love them!
Reduce the amount of plastic you use. Plastic uses loads of resources in its creation (including oil); often gets thrown away after a single use; and takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Other than the convenience (and is that really worth the cost?) there’s nothing to like about it. Watch this 1 minute infographic and, for one day, keep track of every plastic item you use and throw away. The first step to making a difference is being mindful. What about creating it into something beautiful instead of throwing it away?
Reduce the number of empty properties and reduced what you have to pay to put a roof over your head – become a Dot Dot Dot Property Guardian. Dot Dot Dot lets people who do great volunteering live as property guardians in buildings that would otherwise be empty, turning empty buildings from a blight into an asset for property owners, guardians and local communities.