In 2017, humanity reached the point where it was using up more natural resources per year than the planet. People are now beyond the point where small gestures such as recycling or choosing eco-friendly groceries are sufficient to turn things around. Because one in ten people don’t make an effort at all, those who do need to go further in making significant changes if humanity is to stand a chance of improving the environment. What better place to start with this than in the home? Wherever you live, there are things that you can do to dramatically reduce the ecological impact of your lifestyle over the long term.
Walls and floors
Wooden floors are not only good to look at, but they’re also good for the environment as long as they’re sourced from sustainable forests. They’re adept at keeping heat from leaking out of the home, but they can feel cold to the touch, especially on bare feet first thing in the morning. It’s a god idea to combine them with rugs made from organic materials – a much better choice than synthetic carpets, which can be highly polluting during the manufacturing process. For walls, consider grass-weave wallpaper. There are lots of different styles available, and it’s attractively textured as well as being completely biodegradable. If you want something a little more glamorous, then traditionally made tapestries or woven wall hangings provide additional insulation and can look amazing. For areas that need to be painted, be careful to choose paints with low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Need color ideas? Check this color painting guide..
Light and heat
Opening window spaces as much as possible lets more natural light into the home, reducing the need for artificial light and helping heat rooms on sunny days. Fitting traditional wooden shutters makes it easy to control the ingress of light so that the home doesn’t heat up too much and doesn’t block as much of the sunlight as bulky curtains can. Shutters are usually more eco-friendly to produce than curtains if they’re made from ethically sourced wood, and they provide better insulation at night. When you do need artificial light, stick to LED bulbs, which are vastly more efficient than old incandescent types and are also less trouble to replace since they can last for ten to 15 years.
Power and water
In most areas of the country, you’re going to need additional heating for at least part of the year.
- Solar panels can be a practical way to achieve this, and they are getting more efficient all the time.
- Depending on where you live, setting up your own private wind power generator may also be an option.
- Some rural houses are powered by water wheels.
- Options such as these are getting more practical thanks to advances in battery technology, which mean that you can now store large quantities of power in a fully rechargeable unit to see you through those times when no new electricity is being produced.
Even if you are taking electricity from the grid, using a home battery can make it more eco-friendly because it soaks up the surplus at quiet times and avoids adding to demand at busy times, helping the whole system run more efficiently.
In some rural areas, collecting rainwater is a highly effective way to provide for your home. Saving “gray water,” the stuff that’s left over after cleaning or washing dishes using eco-friendly products, lets you return rainwater to the environment and irrigate your garden without requiring more fresh water.
Most appliances available today have energy ratings, so you can choose the ones that are best for the environment. It’s also worth thinking about their lifespan since a lot of the environmental damage connected with these appliances comes from the production process. Avoid buying washing machines with sealed drums, which can make them so expensive to repair that their lifespan is limited to just three or four years when they could otherwise last for a decade. Keep refrigerators and freezers as full as possible, as this makes them run more efficiently, meaning that they use less power and last longer. Place them in a shaded part of the kitchen so that they don’t have to do as much work to stay cold.
Actions such as these may require a bit more effort than taking re-usable bags when you go shopping or turning off your electronics when not in use, but they can make a big contribution to reducing your impact on the planet, helping to buy a little more time in which to persuade governments and other people to change their ways.
What changes are you making?
Leave your suggestions and ideas in the comment section and please share this article to help others learn how to reduce their impact on our home – planet earth!