We can’t help but have an impact on the planet, but it’s easier than you might think to make a positive rather than a negative one. Around the house and garden, there are plenty of ways to lighten your load, from cutting your carbon footprint to reducing your waste. Try a few of these simple steps to help make the world a greener, cleaner place.
Don’t skip it
Next time you’re doing some serious DIY, don’t send your rubbish to landfill. Instead, grab a Hippo Bag (Midi, £8.88, holds one tonne; Mega, £11.88, holds 1.5 tonnes). These flat-packed bags are large enough to take a huge amount of rubbish, from shelves and flooring to an entire bathroom suite. When full, just call or go online to arrange a collection (Midi, £42.45; Mega £59.45). Best of all, unlike waste you put in skips or bins, the rubbish in HippoBags gets sorted, and around 80 per cent is recycled. Book your collection by calling 0845 850 0 850.
Food for thought
If you don’t have a compost bin, now’s the perfect time to get one. Hot summer days will kick-start the process, helping turn your rubbish into nutrient-rich soil in a matter of months. You can compost around one-third of your household rubbish, including teabags, coffee grounds, vacuum bag dust and crushed eggshells, significantly reducing your contributions to landfill. Visit www.recyclenow.com/home_composting for a more detailed list.
We put around 150 loads a year in the tumble dryer, unnecessarily wasting huge amounts of energy. Hang up at least one or two loads a week instead of putting them in the tumble dryer. Investing in a spacious clothes airer will make this energy saving measure easy as pie. Ditch your dryer altogether, and you could save up to £40 a year on your energy bills to spend on new clothes!
Weeds not only make your beautifully planted bedding look a mess, but they also steal nutrients and water that should be going to your blooming beauties. Keep them at bay with an environmentally friendly weed control liner, such as Weedblock Natural, made from renewable resources. Simply spread it over the soil when putting in a new bed. Finish off with a layer of mulch to reduce evaporation, and you’ll be able to ease back on your summer watering duties.
Take a dip
Chlorine has been implicated in numerous health problems, especially of the lungs and skin. To keep your swimming pool clean, inviting and healthy, use a natural water purifier like Aqua Blanc Water Treatment instead of chlorine. Each chlorine-free sachet lasts a week, and because it uses an oxygen-based disinfection system, you won’t have to worry about your hair turning green!
If it wasn’t a grass, bamboo would be the most sustainable source of wood on the planet. It grows several inches a day, is not killed when harvested and requires fewer pesticides than timber. When the strips are pressed together, they make boards that look similar to wood flooring, are just as easy to lay and are stronger and less liable to contract than many types of wood. Try bamboo flooring boards, easy to lay with glue or nails.
Flames of glory
When getting ready to fire up the barbecue this summer, think carefully before striking the match. Up to 90 per cent of the charcoal used in Britain comes from unsustainable sources abroad, often fragile tropical forests. To ensure your barbecue is kinder to the planet, choose BioRegional Home Grown Charcoal (£4.98/3kg). The wood used is from UK forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Look out in store for a range of other products using FSC-certified wood, from garden furniture to flooring.
Everything but the kitchen sink
If your kitchen is looking tired, don’t ditch it for a new one. Adjust the screws on drawers and cupboards so they’re functioning at their best, then spruce them up with some natty new handles and a lick of environmentally friendly low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and some natty new handles. VOCs are found in a wide range of items, including solvents, paints and glues, and they can be pollute the air and ground, so choosing low-VOC options will help keep your home and the planet cleaner and greener. If you have more than one-third of a pot of paint left, don’t send it to landfill. Save a little in a small, tightly sealed jar for touch-ups, then donate the rest to Community Repaint (www.communityrepaint.org.uk), who give it to charities, community groups and individuals on low incomes.
If you have to struggle to free your bike from the back of the shed every time you want to use it, you’re less likely to hop on it for short trips. Make accessing it easy by installing a proper bike storage system, like this Bicycle store (£479). With two padlock points and a lid that raises easily, it’ll keep your bike secure and dry between trips to the shops, helping cut down on your car use and your carbon emissions.
Each British household uses around 21 batteries a year. The vast majority go straight to landfill, where they leach dangerous, polluting chemicals into the soil. Rechargeable batteries can be used up to 1,000 times . The Uniross fast plug-in battery charger with AA batteries (£14.98) gives new life to rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.