Top tips you may not have heard of
A Guide to a Sustainable Lifestyle By Paul Cox MSc
Why is Going Green So Important?
Now that seven thousand four hundred million of us are living on Earth and that number is increasing by 75 to 80 million every year, we need to make sure that enough of our planet and its resources are left to go around. This may seem particularly worrying as already 1200 to 1500 million people are right now living in extreme poverty. This figure is approximately the entire World population of 1900. The good news is you can help the planet and save money. Here are my top eight money saving tips that you may not have heard of:
1. Eat less meat
Eating less meat is probably the most important thing that you can do to save the environment. In a nutshell, it takes far less resources to produce the equivalent nutrition through growing vegetables. From an everyday practical viewpoint meat is expensive, so you will save money! And, wait for it! There is plenty of evidence to say that eating less meat is good for you too. Eat less meat; save the planet, save money and become healthier. What could be easier?
2. Use L.E.D. Lighting
Next time you are in a hotel, a restaurant or public building, take a look and the chances are that they will be using L.E.D. lighting. They are doing this to save money, but they are also helping to save the environment. Light emitting diodes are by far the most cost effective way to light your property. They use only a fraction of the power of other forms of lighting and the light quality is very good. Almost every light fitting can take an L.E.D. light and they are available in a full range of outputs, equivalent to 25Watts to 150Watts of the old incandescent i.e. traditional light bulbs. You can buy online at - www.ledhut.co.uk
3. Take a shower?
The research has been done - showers use much less water! It would appear that, the average bath uses about 80 litres of water. Showers use between 32 litres and 136 litres, with the average eight-minute shower using 62 litres. Research shows that “power showers” use the most water; with a water inefficient power shower using up to 136 litres of water for an average shower. If you need or prefer a bath then fill up the bath with just the right amount of water you need. You don’t have to have the bath full to the top. If your water pressure is high then consider Installing a water efficient showerhead and water saving taps; you should be able to find these for around £30 each. For more information, see www.waterwise.org.uk.
4. Harvest Rainwater
Water harvesting is not a new idea. Many of the old farmhouses near to where I live are built over large stone-lined reservoirs in which rainwater was stored for domestic use. My grandmother’s house was equipped with a large steel tank on legs. Situated just below the eaves, this collected rainwater for washing. Needless to say, the bathroom was downstairs. Drinking water was collected from a well, though I often drank the brackish water from the tank and fortunately came to no harm. Modern domestic rainwater harvesting schemes cost about two to three thousand pounds and are more sophisticated. Drinking water is still supplied from the mains, but the rainwater can be used for everything else. During periods of dry weather the rainwater reservoir is automatically topped up with mains water. The U.K. industries trade body the UK Rainwater Harvesting Association, claims that the payback period on metered domestic systems is 10-15 years, but that “with water bills expected to rise 10 per cent a year for the next five years, the payback period will be reduced further”. If £2000 sounds too much for you there are D.I.Y. options. For more information see websites such as www.diydoctor.org.uk and www.rainwaterharvesting.co.uk
5. Ride a bike
I find that for urban journeys of up to three miles bicycles are about as quick as a car and even as far as five miles are almost as quick. Despite the U.K’s. reputation for bad weather, most days are in fact dry and eminently suitable for cycling. The only problem in your area may be the lack of suitable cycle lanes. There is evidence to show that cycling improves your health and it certainly improves your level of fitness. Men over the age of 50 should consider using a saddle which minimise damage to the prostate gland, otherwise cycling is definitely good for you. So buy a bike and reap the benefits!
6. Install a smart meter
Smart meters are part of a new way to control your electricity use. Before too long everyone will have one, but you can request yours now. With a smart meter you can see exactly how much your electricity is costing you throughout the day, so you can see what you are saving by not overfilling the kettle; taking a shorter shower, or preventing the tumble dryer from running on etc. The long-term strategy of the energy companies is to vary the price of electricity throughout the day, so that you can make savings by using electricity when there is over capacity in the system. This will allow you to tailor your energy use to those times when energy is cheapest; saving you money and helping electricity companies control peak demands. Don’t delay; phone your electricity provider now and become part of the electricity revolution!
7. Air dry your washing
Tumble dryers typically use about 450kWh to 500kWh of electricity a year. This is about £80 worth of electricity a year. To dry your washing for free you have to use the sun and the wind. My neighbours are lucky enough to have gardens and in the summer months washing blowing on the line is a familiar sight. Unfortunately, drying washing completely outdoors is not reliable given the nature of the British weather. When I found that you can still buy the old fashioned “washing pully” from most hardware stores, I bought two. One went in my car port and one in my disused lean to greenhouse. “Clothes Horses”, “Washing Maidens”, and “Pullys” are cheap to buy, so try experimenting. You may be surprised as to how much you can save with very little inconvenience.
8. Avoid using Pesticides
Pesticides are expensive. Are they necessary? My first home was newly built. It had small gardens front and back. New to gardening, I tried to grow all manner of beautiful plants. Most were a disaster. Greenfly and slugs were the main problem. I spent a fortune on sprays, systemic insecticides, and slug pellets but to no avail. Then my beautiful daughter was born and the garden had to take a back seat. When my daughter was one year old, we had the swarm of ladybirds. This was the first sign that a balance between prey and predator was starting to develop in my neglected garden. It was also the time that I started to take notice of what was growing in established gardens in the area. By encouraging a rich tapestry of wildlife to inhabit the garden and by growing plants that like the local conditions, I have had beautiful gardens for the past 40 years. All of this has been without the use of pesticides, apart from the occasional application of herbicide for a particularly stubborn weed. Garden pesticides have been implicated in the decline in garden birds; the decline in hedgehogs and many are known to harm human health if not used properly. Canada’s province of Ontario considers garden pesticides so harmful that they have banned their use. Quebec is introducing a similar ban. So save yourself money; save yourself time and cut down on, or better still cut out those pesticides. For more info and ideas see: www.wildlifetrusts.org