5 things you can do in 10 minutes to improve your green credentials

With the busy lives we lead – and the many competing priorities for our time – sometimes our good environmental intentions don’t come to fruition.

Most of us could analyse any given day and know that we made some choices that served convenience over conservation.

Tackling our own bad habits in bitesize chunks is one way of ensuring we’re consistently taking steps toward doing the right thing for the world around us and encouraging others to as well.

All of the following can be achieved in 10 minutes and will build lasting change in our lives.

 Switch energy provider

In Europe, about 40% of all energy consumption comes from buildings and more than a third of CO2 emissions, according to A London School of Economics and Political Science report.

Ensuring the energy that powers your home is as green as possible, is an immediate thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

Solar panels or a heat pump system may be considerations for longer term changes, but in the shorter term it is possible to switch to a green energy company. Some comparison sites allow you to filter down to green energy providers and find the cheapest deal amongst them.

Cancelling paper bills and statements is another way to reduce your environmental impact.

Draw up a household charter

Ensuring our own good habits and intentions are shared by others in the household will increase the impact of changes.

Drawing up, discussing and committing to a simple plan of things everyone within the house can do to save energy and the environment is one way to make a dent.

Include things like commitments to dry clothes outside instead of in a tumble dryer. This takes a bit of planning from everyone to ensure washing is ready to go in at the beginning of the day and has time to dry off outside – but it’s easily achievable.

Similarly committing to only washing full loads means everyone ensuring their clothes are in the wash bin and ready to go. Washing clothes less frequently and only when they’re really in need of a freshen up as opposed to after every wear will also help.

Turning devices off that are not in use instead of just switching to stand by also makes a difference. One study concluded that UK households spend up to £86 a year powering appliances on standby.

Wearing extra layers rather than switching heating on or up in winter and avoiding use of fans and air conditioning by opening windows in summer is another idea.

Getting a shower timer and committing to shorter showers can also have a major impact.

Turn the thermostat down

UK household thermostats are set, on average to 20°C, though 18°C is commonly seen as the minimum for comfort.

Turning the thermostat down and not heating rooms that aren’t in use, minimises energy use and reduces our carbon footprint.

Smart technologies assist in this by allowing closer control of climates in different rooms.

Research your local recycling offer and sort waste accordingly

Some councils report rejecting more than 14% of recycling waste due to non recyclable waste being mixed in with recyclables.

Taking the trouble to research exactly what can go in your own recycling bins and ensuring only those things do get added will help reduce contamination and the amount of potentially recyclable waste that doesn’t get reused.

Printing a list of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ items and keeping it close to the recycling bin will avoid mistakes.

Investing in a compost bin will further reduce waste.

Hesitate before shopping

Fast fashion is now a known environmental foe – and hesitating before making purchases is a way to reduce the amount of unnecessary production and disposal of goods.

Can you revive that old top or skirt with a bit of stitching or a button instead of buying new? It’s a simple mindset change that takes no time at all – but could save on unnecessary purchases.

One area where spending could still be in the interests of the environment is in the purchasing of reusable products to replace disposable ones, such as an electric razor, washable napkins to replace paper towels or reusable bamboo or cotton face pads.

In regard to food, putting some research time into what is grown locally and what is in season when, will help reduce the food miles you contribute to.

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