Image credit: Shutterstock/Rich Carey
Stop Buying Single-Use Plastic
Using fewer single-use plastic items is one of the most significant changes that you can make to reduce ocean pollution. One way to do this is to reuse water bottles. Fill them up from the tap. However, if you do purchase water, buy gallons or larger containers instead of smaller bottles. Better yet, consider using refillable 5-gallon water dispensers. Tips compiled courtesy of buildyouraquarium.com
You can make other small changes by:
• Use metal utensils instead of plastic ones
• Bring your own shopping bags or choose paper bags
• Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic baggies
• Switch to a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one
• Wax your body hair instead of shaving it – disposable razors are not recyclable
Skip the Straw
Plastic straws are just as problematic as plastic bottles. They also pose a threat to marine animals. If you do have to use a straw, you can purchase a reusable one that’s made of stainless steel or silicone.
Be Careful When Using Chemicals on Your Lawn
Have you ever noticed that the area on the street near your home is stained orange? That’s from the iron in the fertiliser that runs off of your lawn. The grass can’t soak up all of the chemicals, and the excess pollutants flow into the sewer and drainage systems.
When these chemicals build up in waterways, they cause algae blooms. Sometimes, those algae blooms make it impossible to pass through the waterways. As the algae die off, they use up the existing oxygen in the water to decompose.
This limits the amount of usable oxygen that sea life needs to survive. Aquatic species relocate to other areas, and the oxygen-depleted regions become known as dead zones.
Fish also absorb the chemicals. If humans or other animals eat these fish, they’ll ingest the toxins too.
The EPA says that you can be more careful with the chemicals that you use in your garden by:
•Apply products sparingly
•Use organic products
•Plant native species that thrive in your area to minimise fertiliser use
•Reduce the amount of grass in your garden
•Avoid using chemicals on slopes or garden edges, where the absorption rate is lower
•Avoid using lawn chemicals before a heavy rainfall
•Test the soil for nutrient deficiencies to use fertiliser wisely
If you eat organic foods, you support practices that minimise ocean pollution. Organic items are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Organic soil also holds onto carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the waterways. This reduces the problem of ocean acidification.
Eating organic can help coral reefs thrive by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that makes its way into the oceans.
Picking up after yourself is one thing. You can also help others do the same. If you go to the beach with friends, make sure that everyone carries out their trash. Bring a bag with you when you head outside so that you can collect and discard pieces of trash that you find.
Join or organise a clean-up in your community.
Pretty much the only thing that should go down the toilet is toilet paper. If you’re flushing anything else, you could be harming the ocean.
Here are some products that you’re not supposed to flush:
•Wet wipes – Wet wipes are detrimental to the environment. Even the flushable versions don’t fully break down and can cause environmental damage.
•Tissues and paper towels – Even though tissues and paper towels feel similar to toilet paper, they’re not designed to be flushed. Discard them in the trash instead.
•Menstrual products – You’re not supposed to flush pads or tampons down the toilet. If you really want to help reduce ocean pollution switch to a cup.
•Cotton balls – Cotton balls don’t break down as easily as you think and could contribute to ocean pollution.
•Dental floss – Most floss is made of nylon, which doesn’t biodegrade. It’s so small that it can escape the disposal process and end up in waterways. Floss can suffocate marine animals or cause health problems when it’s ingested.
Don’t Flick Your Butts
If you smoke cigarettes, dispose of the butts properly. That means that you should toss them in the trash. Cigarette filters are made mostly of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic. They can take more than ten years to decompose.
Switch to Natural Cleaners
Many household cleaners contribute to pollution. When you dispose of them improperly, such as by pouring them down the drain, you increase the risk that they’ll end up in our waterways. Even just mopping your floor with a chemical solution and rinsing it in the sink can exacerbate the ocean pollution problem.
Try using natural alternatives to chemical cleaners. Some ideas include:
•Use a plunger or plumber’s snake instead of drain cleaner
•Use vinegar to clean glass and other hard surfaces in your home
•Mix a teaspoon of lemon juice with a pint of vegetable oil to polish furniture
•Use baking soda as a rug deodoriser
•Use cedar chips, rosemary, lavender, or essential oil instead of mothballs
Image credit: Shutterstock/Vladimir Miloserdov
Sewage treatment plants can become overwhelmed when they’re inundated with excess water. When communities use too much water at once, pollutants can make it through the processing system and end up in the oceans.
Use less water at home by:
•Take shorter showers
•Collect the cold water as you wait for the shower to warm up and use it to water plants
•Put sprinklers and irrigation systems on timers
•Run the washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full
•Turn off the sink while you brush your teeth
Reusable Wraps with Kikkerland
Time to go eco and make your very own sustainable beeswax wraps. The Kikkerland DIY Beeswax Wraps are plastic-free, mouldable, and greppable. They are fully reusable and washable. Designed to keep germs at bay, they have antimicrobial properties. They are a great sustainable alternative to tinfoil, cling film, and single-use plastics. A great choice for lunch boxes, and picnics and compostable when you want to dispose of them. . The Kikkerland DIY Beeswax Wrap Kit can be found at Kikkerlandeu.com
Smart home controls
We’re sure you’re aware of all the various home systems on the market and they can be quite baffling to get to grips with, however in the long term they can make a big difference to your life.
To put it simply, having one of these systems will allow you greater control over your home, and you’ll in essence have a smart home.
With Hive you can control everything from one app. From heating and cameras to lights and alarms.
You can also control your home hands-free. Hive’s devices work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
Renewable energy providers use natural resources such as wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass as opposed to fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) to generate your electricity. The cost of green energy is gradually getting cheaper and the use of fossil fuels is decreasing over time. In fact, the UK’s renewable electricity outpaced fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020 and is widely expected to remain the largest source of electricity in the future.
Ecotricity is Britain’s leading green energy company supplying green electricity and gas to homes and businesses across the UK. Ecotricty has built wind and sun mills up and down the country allowing them to supply 100% green electricity to their customers. They are pioneering their way with the aim of making Britain’s gas supply 100% sustainable by building green gas mills across Great Britain.
Bulb provide their members with 100% renewable electricity from solar, wind and hydro. And their gas is 100% carbon-neutral too. Bulb offset the emissions from the gas they supply by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world. They’re one of the biggest buyers of green gas for homes in the UK so a chunk of their gas mix comes from renewable sources too.
Octopus Energy is one of the largest investors in renewable energy in Europe. In 2021, Octopus acquired sister company Octopus Renewables, which manage over 300 renewable energy projects, generating 2 TWh (terawatt hours) of clean, green power annually saving 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
Opt for LED light bulbs – here’s why…
LED (Light Emitting Diode) is instant ON, there’s no waiting for the light to warm up, it’s an instant on and off.
LED’s are more energy-efficient than standard bulbs. Over the lifetime of an LED product, it uses less electricity and requires replacing less frequently; saving even more energy in transportation, packaging and maintenance when compared to conventional lamps. All this adds up to lower CO2 emissions, a win-win for you and the environment.
LED is Mercury-free whilst a small amount of mercury is used in CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) bulbs.
There’s good evidence to suggest that LEDs attract fewer insects meaning less maintenance and cleaning.
LED lamps run much cooler than traditional halogen lamps and can be less of a hazard.
Grow your own
Growing your own veg isn’t just a good way to save money, it’s also a great way to cut down your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly.
Don’t have any outside space? Windowsill boxes are a great way to brighten up your view, filter the air coming into your home and offer plenty of space for herbs and small vegetable patches.
Start small with herbs such as mint, rosemary, basil and thyme, these grow easily and they don’t need huge pots or spaces!
Eco-friendly paints and wallpapers
Natural paint and wallpapers have been specially designed to have lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and should be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certificated. The latter two certifications guarantee four trees to be planted for every tree used. There are also wallpapers with non-toxic pigments and solvent-free paste.
An eco-friendly company should be able to provide you details of the ingredients they use and note their carbon footprint and their process of offsetting. Traditional paints that contain plastic create a plastic barrier on walls that trap air. This then leads to mould and other problems. Therefore, eco-friendly paints and papers should be breathable as a result of only using natural ingredients.
Farrow & Ball is a very well known paint and wallpaper brand, they are well liked for both for their sustainability credentials and for the quality of finish.
Ingredients: Farrow & Ball makes its water-based paint using the finest quality ingredients, such as titanium dioxide, china clay, high levels of pigments that are fully traceable. Manufacturing: As well as what we’ve mentioned above, they also have their own water treatment facility and recycle 97% of their liquid waste. They’re now working to get this to 100%. Breathable: Yes
All of the paper by Farrow & Ball use is sourced from sustainable forests and responsibly manufactured in small batches at their Dorset factory.
Farrow & Ball wallpaper paste is also formulated to minimise the waste from your project. Being sold in powder form means a longer shelf life and the ability to only mix what you need.
Eico Paints manufacture their products in Iceland and Sweden using geothermal or hydropower energy, making the production process carbon positive – A 100% plant-based paint.
Their paints have one of the lowest VOC percentages in the UK market, making them great for allergy and asthma sufferers. Ingredients: 100% plant-based. Manufacturing: Carbon positive, using free solar energy. Breathable: Woodwork, no – Walls, yes
Shop second hand
22 million pieces of furniture are discarded each year in the UK and the majority is sent to landfills. The idea of everything having to be brand new almost sterilises the character and history behind your décor and home. The best places to find unique items are obviously antique markets, fairs and various antique shops in quirky parts of the country.
For example, The Decorative antiques and textiles fair is great for understanding different eras of design from across the world. With so many different stands, from dealers from across the country , it’s a great way to connect with independent businesses and their owners who know so much about the history of furniture, furnishings and all that they are selling.
Websites such as Eventbrite, have a plethora of event listings from across the country to keep you busy! auction houses, again are brilliant for spotting rare gems or even an original of something currently trending on the high street.. Check out Lots Road and Criterion of London and Bath in Islington to begin with. Everything is up for grabs, from furnishings to paintings, rugs, mirrors and much more.
Buying clothes second hand slows down the fast fashion cycle and the relentless demands on the low paid workers in the supply chain. You’re also keeping clothes out of landfills by giving them a new life and discovering unique and special pieces along the way.
Stella McCartney has been pioneering sustainable fashion since the beginning in 2001, ensuring no leather, feathers, fur, skin is used in her collections. With the use of technology in the current date, her designs are biodegradable, made using recycled materials and offer pieces using mushroom leather too.
Also on Eventbrite, vintage ‘kilo’ fairs, markets and swap shop event listings are in abundance.
The way to a more eco-friendly home is definitely accessible, it’s sometimes just a case of shifting mindset and actively promoting a greener life, starting at home, with you!
Sustainability starts with your stash
Making things that make our home life more natural and plastic-free is a great step towards living more sustainably; but it also means making the most of what we’ve already got in our stash! While it’s tempting to stockpile new yarns when there are so many irresistible choices, a neat way to be more sustainable is to dig deep and see what you’ve got hiding in your stash and work out what you can do with it!
Eco-friendly tote bags
Say no to single-use plastic at the supermarket! Instead, take along a collection of handmade tote bags. Not only will you be making a step toward living more sustainably, you’ll also look super stylish while you shop!
Just because you don’t use something anymore, it doesn’t mean it’s reached the end of its life! From old items of clothing to unused household accessories, there are heaps of upcycling projects out there to help you give garments a new lease of life.
Sustainable face scrubbies
Wave goodbye to your single-use cotton pads or face wipes, and say hello to handmade, reusable scrubbies! Crochet scrubbies make a brilliant beginner crochet project; and they also make an ideal gift for any beauty fanatic. Visit: LoveCrafts.com
Michelle Ogundehin’s Tips for a Sustainable Home
- Surround yourself primarily with elemental materials – like marble, granite, wood, glass and cotton, as these will only ever contribute to your wellbeing. But, as well as being natural in origin, these materials need to be tactile. As physical sensory beings, we need to surround ourselves with surfaces that stimulate.
- Avoid plastics, vinyl or synthetics wherever you can – from nylon carpets and polyester fabrics to formaldehyde exuding MDF. They all contain chemicals which you do not want in your happy healthy, soon to be non-toxic home.
- Boring but important: do your draught proofing. There’s no point installing solar panels, roof insulation or underfloor heating if all that lovely heat and energy is whistling straight out through leaky windows and doors. Seal them up and save.
- When adding insulation, ask your builder to look into environmentally friendly options – like hempcrete, cork, sheep’s wool, cellulose (from shredded paper) or wood wool. All non-irritant, safe to handle and completely recyclable.
- Add thermostats in every room. You can then control which rooms are heated according to who’s at home. It’s easy to turn the temperature down with home tech and one degree lower could see you make savings of up to £75/year according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Wash at a max temperature of 30 degrees. Your clothes will be just as clean, and you’ll save even more money by using less energy.
- Choose natural lime-based paints. Did you know that most paints are 37% plastic? And a major cause of global microplastic pollution? Choose natural lime-based paints so you and your home can breathe more easily. Lime-based paints also naturally inhibit bacteria and mould. Ask for lime-based plaster wherever possible too when you’re renovating.
most popular eco adaptations for 2022
To mark this year’s Earth Day, Rated People reveals how more UK homeowners than ever are opting for eco home improvements to offset the increasing cost of living, and which are the most popular eco adaptations for 2022. The top 15 eco jobs with the biggest increases in demand from homeowners are as follows:
- Roof insulation 419%
- Electric car charging point installation – 404%
- Cavity wall insulation – 352%
- Heat pump – 312%
- Underfloor insulation – 265%
- Water underfloor heating – 59%
- Smart meter – 49%
- Living roof – 48%
- Thermal insulation – 46%
- Electric underfloor heating – 35%
- Triple glazing – 33%
- External wall insulation – 29%
- Solar panel installation – 17%
- uPVC windows & door – 17%
- Double glazing – 10%
The Most Popular Eco Upgrades for 2022
Smart meters are the number one eco home improvement that the most homeowners would like in 2022, with one in five UK homeowners confirming they want to get one installed this year. Given the clarity and control that smart meters give homeowners when it comes to their energy usage, with energy prices increasing, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners are keen to have one installed this year.
When looking at the top 10 most popular eco adaptions for this year, the research shows UK homeowners are keen to invest in eco home technology – one in five (19%) will be installing smart lighting, 18% are upgrading old appliances for newer more energy-efficient models, and one in six (18%) want to have solar panels installed.
The top 10 eco improvements homeowners are planning to make in 2022:
- Installing a smart meter – 20%
- Draught proofing – 20%
- Installing smart lighting – 19%
- Extra insulation – 19%
- Upgrading old appliances – 18%
- Installing solar panels – 18%
- Installing a low flow toilet – 14%
- Installing double glazing – 13%
- Creating a compost pile – 13%
- Installing a smart thermostat – 13%
Eco Home Improvements That Will Maximise Your Home’s Value
The study also discovered how much value different eco home improvements can add to your home by asking potential buyers how much extra they would pay for a property with a range of different environmentally-friendly improvements.
Solar panels and wind turbines are revealed as the top two eco upgrades that are most valued by buyers – both of which would enable new owners to create their own energy, and in turn, could help to reduce the cost of their bills. Other highly priced eco adaptations include underfloor heating, heat pumps, green roofs and electric car charging points.
The top 15 eco home improvements that can add the most value to your home:
- Solar panels – £13,512 (value increase)
- Wind turbine – £12,941
- Triple glazing – £12,788
- Underfloor heating – £12,290
- Ground source heat pump – £12,251
- Double glazing – £12,005
- Extra insulation, like cavity wall insulation – £11,764
- Biomass boiler – £11,756
- Air source heat pump – £11,670
- Solar water heating – £11,646
- Electric car charging point – £11,538
- Green/living roof – £11,477
- Biodiverse garden – £11,444
- Old appliances replaced with new ones – £11,190
- Draught proofing – £11,151
Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People commented:
“Awareness around the importance of living more sustainably has never been higher, and it’s brilliant to see homeowners looking for ways to reduce their impact on the planet by making their homes more environmentally friendly.
From smart meters to extra insulation, there are lots of things you can do to increase your home’s green credentials that will suit all budgets, including things you can do for free such as making your own compost which disposes of waste and improves the soil in your garden.”