We all know of the need to reduce the level of environmental pollution. No matter how insignificant a small action may seem, such as placing a jar in are cycling bin, switching off a light when it is not needed or mending a dripping tap (faucet), if everyone made an effort, the waste of vital resources could be drastically reduced.
Buy re-fill containers to fill up bottles and minimize the number of unwanted plastic containers ending up on landfill sites. Separate your household waste into groups: vegetable waste which can be composted in the garden; items that you can take to is local recycling centers such as paper, card (cardboard) and newspaper, metal drinks and food cans and tin foil, glass jars and bottles; and finally any waste which cannot be recycled and needs to go in the dustbin (trash can).
Re-use old envelopes and cut up old letters and scrap paper for writing lists and messages. Keep old margarine tubs to store nails, screws and small fittings, and use jars or bottles to keep scraps of ribbon, string and elastic together the latter containers are especially convenient as they enable you to see at a glance the contents inside. Keep a large bag in which to place recyclable waste such as cans, jars and bottles until you can take them to the recycling centre.
It takes the energy of 1 gallon/4.5 liters of petrol (gasoline) to make just thirty house bricks. Use reclaimed bricks when building to help save the earth’s resources and to give a traditional weathered look to houses, gardens and patios at the same time. The use of reclaimed architectural materials such as floorboards, baths and windows looks good and rarely costs more than the modern equivalent.
Using architectural salvage not only recycles unwanted items, but also adds character to a home. When buying woods, choose only those that you are satisfied come from sustainable sources. Avoid hard woods cut from tropical rainforests, including teak and mahogany, the do-forestation caused by the removal of such woods results in rare species being forced into extinction, and massive forest fires which contribute to global warming. There are plenty of sustainable alternatives, with pine, beech and rubber wood being among the best. These woods can be stained, waxed or varnished to darken them or even painted to achieve a range of attractive effects. To save on new paper, buy toilet paper and kitchen paper (paper towels) that contains a high percentage of recycled material, and look for ‘non-chlorine-bleach’ labels as the use of bleach increases pollution.
Avoid buying aerosols that contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). These destroy the ozone layer, resulting in dangerous ultra-violet radiation from the sun penetrating to the earth. Foam blown plastics (used for food cartons), air conditioners and some refrigerators also release CFCs into the atmosphere, so bear this in mind when buying. There are so many excellent alternatives to all these products that there is no excuse for buying them.
You can also greatly reduce your consumption of fuel by insulating your home properly. Good insulation saves money on heating bills as well as reducing the amount of pollution, so it is a good idea for both reasons. The burning of fossil fuels also creates ‘acid rain’ which kills forests and eats away at buildings that form our architectural heritage, and should be reduced as much as possible.
When replacing an appliance such as a refrigerator, freezer, cooker or washing machine, look for the models that are energy efficient and have ‘economy’ programs. Take your old fridge or freezer for recycling, and to a place where harmful CFCs can he recycled or disposed of safely. For economic running, place the refrigerator and freezer on an outside wall and well away front the cooker or a hot dishwasher. Defrosting the freezer regularly will prevent thick layers of ice from building up, which in turn prevent the freezer from functioning correctly and cause it to use more electricity to maintain a low temperature.
Try to cook in batches when using the oven, by making several dishes at a time and using all the oven space. A microwave oven cooks quickly, and consumes far less energy than a conventional oven. It is ideal for reheating foods which tend to dry up under a grill or in an oven.
If you plan to install a gas central heating system, choose one of the latest energy efficient condensing boilers, as it will save both on fuel bills and on unwanted carbon-dioxide emissions. Also, only operate at dishwasher when you have a full load, and use the ‘economy’ setting for normal soiling.
Heat and light
Avoid wasting heat by fitting thermostatic radiator valves to each radiator, so that you can control the temperature of each mess to suit your needs. Shelves above radiators help to deflect heat back into the room, as well as creating valuable storage space.
Fit thermostatic radiator valves to each radiator to avoid wasting heat. They mean that you can control the temperature of each room separately. Try to use curtains or drapes with special insulating fabric to help keep the heat in a room. Blinds (shades) also act as simple heat barriers, so close them at night for additional insulation. Block gaps under doors and prevent draughts by using ‘sausage’ draught excluders.
To save on the cost of lighting, switch to low energy light bulbs. Although these are more expensive than ordinary bulbs, they last up to six times longer and use approximately75 per cent less energy. Try also to get into the habit of switching off lights as you leave a room. Fitting two way switches in the hallway and on the landing will ensure that you have good lighting while going up and down stairs, but can also switch off the lights when they arc not required.