Phil's Environment Page (Ideas to consider)

As Su and I have become more concerned about our environment, we have started looking at our impact on it as individuals and have tried to find ways to minimise the impact we have.

Like most folks, we can't afford expensive modifications such as solar-based water heating etc. at the moment, so we are mostly looking at things which would save a little money and not cost a lot to implement.

Here are some of the things we have come up with (you can probably think of lots more and if so, I'd love to hear about your suggestions and ideas):-

  • Our local grocery store has started supplying re-useable plastic crates as an alternative to disposable paper or plastic bags. The crates stack away neatly when not in use and regular use of the crates minimises the number of bags we need to use and then dispose of.

  • When we do use paper or plastic grocery bags, we save them after unpacking the groceries and use them as bin-liners for waste-baskets or re-use them on future shopping trips. They are also handy for packed lunches etc.

  • When grocery shopping, we try to buy loose fruit and veg instead of the stuff that is packed in those little cellophane-wrapped plastic tubs (some of which cannot be recycled)

  • Showers use less water and electricity than baths. In the hot months of summer when the hose-pipe bans are in force, the soapy water that drains from the washing machine when it rinses, is excellent  for watering the garden.

  • All those old used tea-bags are also great in the garden. Roses particularly love the tannin in tea leaves and bloom beautifully.

  • Making tea for two? Don't fill the kettle for ten. With less water, the kettle boils quicker and uses less electricity.

  • We are fortunate enough to live quite close to the local shops and wherever possible we walk to the shops rather than drive. Apart from the obvious saving on petrol and engine wear-and-tear, it's nice to get a little extra exercise!

  • Proper draft excluders on internal doors (and proper seals on external doors) help keep the heat in, which in turn reduces the amount of gas/electricity required to keep the house warm and therefore saves a few quid as well.

  • We now only buy 100% recycled toilet tissue and kitchen towels. It is comparable in price and quality and we figure that the more people that buy recycled products, the more companies will consider the ideas of re-use and recycle. Consumer power!

  • Vegetable waste from the kitchen is now collected in a bucket by our back door and composted.

  • Through the curb-side collection programs in operation in our neighbourhood, we recycle cans, plastics, glass and newspapers.

  • Before throwing away things like old clothing, books, shoes, bits of furniture etc, we pop them down to the local charity shops on the off-chance that any items in question may be of interest to them. It's surprising how often the Charity shop is willing to take things like that off your hands.

  • Every time we throw something in the trash, we ask ourselves, "is there anything else I can do with this instead of just throwing it away?"

  • The installation of long-life light bulbs (particularly on exterior lights or lights that are on a timer switch) costs a few quid more in the short-term, but they last 5-10 times as long as regular bulbs and use less electricity into the bargain.

  • Wherever possible, we try and use eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. The cost is about the same, but less phosphates means less algae in the rivers and our water supply.

  • Here in the UK the electricity supply industry has been deregulated. Next year, a new electricity supplier called Ecotricity will be starting to supply electricity to residential homes. Ecotricity has a policy of only using renewable energy sources such as wind power, hydro power and solar power. We plan to switch across to this new supplier at the earliest possible opportunity.

  • We actively support organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. If our elected representatives are incapable or unwilling to take the stand against the destructive practices of big business then we will find other ways of making our voices heard.

  • We attempt to minimise the amount of unsolicited junk-mail that comes through the door, by exercising our rights under the UK Data Protection Act, NOT to have our address details passed on to third parties in mailing lists and actively report companies that fail to comply.

  • 4% of landfill nationally is comprised of disposable nappies.  If parents switched to cloth, re-usable, cotton nappies they can save themselves a huge 600 in the 2.5yrs a child is in nappies (the average figure of a disposable is 20p each), 6 nappies (recommended by disposable manufacturers themselves) a day for 2.5yrs. Disposable nappies also do not bio-degrade for 400 years. The days of the old terry-cloth nappies are long gone! Today's nappies come in a range of shapes, colours, styles and fabrics, and the can simply be popped stright in your washing machine at a max temp of 60c.

    You can visit www.wen.org.uk for more information.

Of course there is always more that we can do. We have found that our awareness of what we can do to minimise the amount of rubbish that we throw away, increases all the time. Hopefully, we reduce the amount of unnecessary waste we produce, save a little money in the process and help minimise our personal impact on our environment.

Perhaps if enough of us do likewise around our homes and workplaces, we can collectively make the difference and when our time comes, leave our planet in a slightly better state than we found it...it is after all, the only planet we have!

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi.

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