How To Make Your Home More Sustainable
15 Minute Read
Making your home more sustainable is high on the agenda of most people today, and luckily, many of the steps that you can take are simple, and you can tackle them one at a time. In many cases, it is as simple as thinking about the ways that you can create the least waste, and to make the best use of what you already have.
If you’re wondering what you personally get out of making your home more sustainable (apart from doing your bit to prevent waste, and save the planet!) well, many of these steps will also save you money.
Avoid single use
Most of us are doing our best to avoid single use these days – and it is easier than it has ever been to do so. There are great options, and even if you don’t remember every time, if you’re remembering most times, that’s a huge help. While there may be times that using a single use product is unavoidable, if you can eliminate say, 80% of them, you’re dramatically reducing what is being sent to landfill. Simple swaps you can make include:
✔ Reusable water bottles
✔ Lightweight picnic cutlery
✔ Reusable straws
✔ Beeswax food wrap
✔ Safety razors (can be recycled, rather than cartridges)
✔ Reusable period product alternatives
✔ Take reusable bags shopping
Not only is reusable better for the planet, but reusable options are getting increasingly affordable, and look so much more chic than one-use plastic versions – you can even find designer options, if that is your thing, and it will encourage you to use them!
Reduce, reuse, recycle
This is the mantra we live by here at Ben Simpson Furniture – and we do our best to do the same at home too. There are so many ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and here are some of our favourites.
♻ Compost everything possible – food and garden waste, even paper and cardboard
♻ Recycle everything you can with local council collections
♻ Recycle soft plastics and single use batteries in stores
♻ Switch to rechargeable batteries
♻ Send old tech to be recycled or used by charities
♻ Donate old clothes to charity shops; old towels and bedding is often needed by vets and animal charities
There are ways that you can recycle almost everything today. Stopping to do a quick search online takes no time, and there are almost always ways to make use of unwanted goods.
Insulate your home effectively
This is one of the biggest things that you can do to help minimise the impact of your home on the environment – as well as helping to save you money. Of course, there are up front costs with these suggestions, but it is well worth the investment in the long term, since they will save you much more in terms of preventing heat loss.
🏠 Add insulation to your loft
🏠 Install additional insulation to doors and windows
🏠 Replace single glazed windows with double glazed
🏠 Where replacing windows isn’t possible, add temporary secondary glazing
These measures will help you to be able to turn down your heating – reducing your thermostat by just two degrees in the winter months can save you loads of money – and can save thousands of pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere too. For those that complain about being chilly when they’re on the sofa or in bed, invest in some really snuggly blankets (heated blankets are incredible!) and increase that hygge vibe with a candle or two.
Switch to LED lighting
Switching to LED lighting might seem unnecessary if you have older lights that are still running well. But LED styles use significantly less power, and are more efficient, as well as being safer for the environment because they can be recycled easier. Not only that, but because they use less power, you’ll almost certainly see the benefit of the switch when you get your energy bill.
Use water wisely
While we’re lucky to live where clean water is readily available, using it wisely is the best possible move for the environment – and these tips don’t take much doing.
💦 Run washing machines and dishwashers only when they are full
💦 Turn off the tap when brushing teeth
💦 Add a water saver device to your toilet
💦 Take showers, rather than baths
💦 Capture rainfall and fill your watering can from the water butt through the summer
Switch off whenever it is possible
It is easy to just switch your TV to standby, or leave phone chargers plugged in and abandoned as you move on with your day. These small amounts of energy add up though, and doesn’t just result in your electricity bill being higher – it has a huge impact on the planet. Get into the habit of switching devices off completely, rather than leaving on standby, and if the socket isn’t easy to get to, then invest in smart plugs, so you can switch off easier.
Choose your energy supplier carefully
Although there was a spate of energy companies that went bust a while ago, it is still worth looking at energy companies and comparing tariffs. Smaller, more ethical companies might be the best option, but larger companies are now starting to offer green tariffs too – and you don’t have to look too far to find better choices. There is more information about what green energy actually means, and how to switch, here.
There are precious few of us that would be able to not shop for anything at all over the course of a year. Even if you’re buying food, by making small swaps, you can still make better choices that help to make your home more sustainable.
🍏 Groceries | Shopping local wherever possible will help to minimise the carbon footprint of your shop. If you’re a meat eater, buying better quality from local farms is a great step in the right direction, as are incorporating meat-free meals into your plan, or using less meat but filling up on vegetables and pulses.
When you’re shopping for cleaning products, look for cardboard packaging, refillable products, and see if natural products like white vinegar mixed with essential oils could be better for your family (less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and are far less expensive!) as well as the environment.
🏡 Homewares | Replacing your furniture and soft furnishings is necessary from time to time, but there are a few ways you can make these purchases better for the environment.
Choose quality products that will last. This might be obvious, and it might involve spending a bit more upfront, but there’s a phrase we like that sums it up: buy nice, or buy twice. Buying once is far less of a drain on the environment, and you’re more likely to love a quality item for longer too.
If buying high quality, brand new furniture is outside your budget, look at buying solid wood, second hand rather than cheap, mass produced MDF furniture. You’ll get better quality items for similar prices to cheap products, and you’ll have a unique piece that, if you fancy a DIY project, can be brought right up to date simply by sanding the item down and using a fresh wood finish.
👔 Clothing | Buying clothing is much the same as buying homewares, in that buying cheap fast fashion isn’t going to create a wardrobe that you will love and make the most of. Buying fewer high quality pieces will help you look much more put together. Again, if you’re on a budget, then hit the second hand shops, or check out apps like Depop and eBay to find bargains.
Plant your garden carefully
Your garden is one of the best ways you can support the local ecosystem, with each tree absorbing around a ton of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. We don’t all have space in our gardens to plant the trees that we’d like, but we can certainly plant with insects – particularly bees – in mind. Even the smallest patio or balcony offers opportunities for insect populations to thrive, and if you can incorporate wild flowers, so much the better.
If you don’t have a garden, then look at contributing financially to organisations that plant trees such as One Tree Planted – and plant trees for free by using the Ecosia browser extension. By installing the extension in your web browser, and using it to search online, you’ll get all the same results as going straight to Google, but Ecosia can make use of the advertising revenue generated to plant trees in projects worldwide.
Our final thoughts
Making your home more sustainable pretty much starts with thinking about how you can be less wasteful. If we think about how our grandparents would make use of absolutely everything they could, and combine that approach with the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, we could all make a huge difference to the planet.
Trying to do everything, all at once might feel overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. Trying for perfection isn’t the goal here – the planet needs millions of people doing their best, even if it isn’t perfect all of the time. If we all make small changes, it will add up to a huge difference – so do what you can, when you can.