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Tipsheet - Going Green at Home

by Fiona Williams and James Lea, January 2005

Principles

Start simple and build up. Take pride in achievements and tell others about them and why you're doing it.

Appreciate that we are all creatures of habit, and habits take time to change. When we first started composting all our kitchen waste it sometimes felt like a real pain. Now, it's second nature, and we feel awkward about any kitchen that doesn't compost their waste. Even restaurants make us feel uneasy - how many of them compost their waste?

Treat money spent on green technologies as ethical investments.

Acquire practical skills in going green - mend don't chuck away.

Don't aim for perfection and be pragmatic - small sustainable steps are best.

Take pride in your home as a reflection of who you are.

Identify your personal obstacles to going green (often habit and perception) and challenge them!

Next steps - some ideas (not a prescription)

Get some ideas by observing your impacts. Sketch a picture of your home with all the inputs and outputs. Think about where they come from, where they go, and how much energy is involved. Start to reduce the linear flows and make them cyclic. For more ideas on how to mimic nature see the permaculture resources on www.permaculture.org.uk

Switch to green electricity - the simplest no-extra-cost measure that makes the biggest single difference (apart from giving up the car and avoiding flying), and can save the average home over a ton of CO2 per year. It also helps stimulate the renewable energy industry. Visit www.good-energy.co.uk for more information.

Compost kitchen and household waste - this makes a big difference to the volume of waste going to landfill and also produces high quality compost to feed your plants with.

Buy local organic food and start growing your own. e.g. herbs on windowsill

Stop using the car - join a liftshare scheme or a shared car club, minimise wasted journeys, use public transport, get a bike or rediscover shanks pony.

Switch lights off when not in use and fit compact fluorescent light bulbs to save electricity.

Insulate your home to minimise heat loss and save on your gas bill. Try to use a green insulation such as Thermafleece or cellulose fibre. Ask council for details of energy saving schemes. Your domestic gas suppliers may also offer discount roof and loft insulation - ask them.

Try to buy goods that last. Cheaper in the long run.

Decorate with natural paints, varnishes and floor waxes and use reclaimed wood rather than new wood.

To really get a feel for the improvement you've made, carbon profile your lifestyle - try a before and after comparison. Simple changes such as these can make a big difference. See carbon calculator pages on this site.

Some Green Suppliers

Green Building Store - low flow thermostatic bathroom mixer taps, Thermafleece sheep wool insulation and many other products

Rainharvesting Systems - components to build a rainwater harvesting system, including Ifo Cera low flush dual mains/rainwater toilet.

Keith Foskett - painter and decorator, working with both natural and conventional paints (highly recommended)

Villa Natura, Brighton - suppliers of Biofa natural paints, varnishes, waxes

Southern Solar (www.southernsolar.co.uk) - energy-efficient boilers, solar hot water and solar electric system design and installation

Permaculture Magazine - buy a copy for their enclosed Earth Repair catalogue for books and products such as Kitchen Caddy compost bin

 

Any comments on this article?

If you have any comments you'd like to make, please send me your feedback.

 

-- (c) James Lea, www.GreenLiving.co.uk, 2005 - 2007 --