Living Greener In Your House

Living a little greener throughout our lives is something we think is hard to achieve. Companies like to croon all the time about how energy efficient they are, and yet when you have all that money behind you it seems so easy to keep that up! However, a huge lifestyle change doesn’t have to be in swing here, and some simple changes are just as effective as taking to a cabin in the woods. We already know a child friendly home with a bit of flair is possible, but what about living as green as possible whilst still being comfortable?

A vase of flowers on a wooden table in a large bright room.

Check Your Appliances

Checking your appliances means going around your house in the last five minutes at the end of the day and making sure everything is turned off and unplugged. It’s something simple and yet so effective, and you’re not going to be donating valuable hours to it. You see, even when something is plugged in and switched off, there’s a very good chance it’s still using power, considering how popular the standby function is these days.

At the same time, make sure everything you use has a good energy rating. When something is in the A band for electrical use, you’re not going to be wasting any energy simply as a byproduct of chilling your food in the fridge for example. And that also ends up saving you some pennies, which all add up at the end of the month.

Start Recycling Everything

Of course, not every material out there is yet capable of being recycled. But recycling as much of your waste than ever before means you’re going to be doing a great bit for the planet.

Sort through your clutter! If something is using the space you need to live harmoniously, it’s definitely going to need passing on. Make some effort on reducing your carbon footprint; don’t throw away anything that could be avoided. Make sure any electronic waste you have laying around, either on the side tables or in the attic, are being disposed of or sold off. Those old laptops are never going to see the working world again anyway! Sometimes you can make some cash, sometimes you just have to part with an object responsibly.

Open Up Your Curtains

If you have curtains, make sure they’re open for as long as they can be during the day, and then close them at night. Keeping a room warm is a lot easier when you’re using the insulating material over the windows to full effect after all. You won’t have to turn on the heating so much when you’ve got your curtains on a tight schedule, and it just takes a bit of arm work to pull them open and closed when the time comes to it.

There’s a lot of little changes you can make to your daily routine to make sure your house is as green as possible. Try to incorporate these moves as soon as you can to save you time and money.

*This is a collaborative post.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You?

There has been a steep rise in environmental concerns and a deep uncertainty surrounding financial markets in recent years. Those who are recognising the difficulty in the financial markets are turning more and more to a life of self-sufficiency. The dream of being off the grid in a home that is free of a mortgage with solar panels to generate electricity and heat without being tied into contracts? That’s a big dream for a lot of people.

We used to live in a world where we made do and mended; people learned how to sew and cook and garden for themselves – these were not jobs that were outsourced to others. The conveniences of modern technology and consumerism have all but eradicated the want to learn how to mend something rather than throw things out and start again. Society is stuck in an endless cycle of spending money, getting into debt and an overall dissatisfaction with life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A photo of homegrown tomatoes growing.

Living a self-sufficient life can be busy, hard and labor intensive. However, the satisfaction you get from cutting down your expenses, changing your reliance on fossil fuels and even installing Cultivar greenhouses to grow your own produce is immense. It doesn’t matter whether you are already barefoot and farming or you’re living in a city tower block, you can take the right steps toward a life of independence and throw off the shackles of society.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You? Title on background image of bees.

One of the best and biggest investments that you could make toward a lifestyle that is independent is learning some DIY skills. The whole point of self-sufficiency is not relying on the professionals to repair your car, sew your clothes and grow your food. Learn how your home operates, from the pipes to the electrics. Learn with videos like this one how to rewire a plug and learn the basics of maintenance of your car. There are a lot of free classes you can take to learn how to fix things and use a thread and needle, and YouTube is a goldmine for things like that.

Gaining independence from your home includes generating your own resources, and that will mean learning how to grow your own food and collecting your own rainwater. This article can tell you the benefits of rainwater collection and what you can use it for. Having a wind turbine installed or adding solar panels to the roof gives you the chance to have the ultimate solution for moving off the grid. If the costs don’t allow for those things, checking out solar water heaters or even outside lights could really make a huge difference to the way that you live – and what you pay out on utility bills. You can make many home improvements to conserve energy, from covering the windows in a film to keep the heat in and installing skylights to bring in natural light. You can enhance your energy use by harnessing as much of the natural light and heat as possible.

i - robot plugged into wall.

The world is ruled by automation – everything that we do is now automated to be efficient and easier. While this is great in the business world and can make life a lot easier all around, opting for manual systems where you can is the best way to conserve energy. Turn off the Roomba and use the brushes and vacuum cleaner that you bought to clean the house. Utilise the clothesline in the backyard instead of using the dryer every day. Small changes like that – even ones that see you using a bowl and a wooden spoon instead of an electric whisk – can add up to the biggest savings. You don’t have to do much to change the way that you live, but the best change that you could make is to stop plugging in and start using a little elbow grease!

One of the biggest expenses – aside from a car and a mortgage – is healthcare and insurance. It would be stupid to cancel your health insurance altogether, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot take control of your health. Eating organically, reducing the use of toxic chemicals such as aerosols and bleaches and turning toward natural medicine solutions can make a difference to the spend on healthcare. You can use recipes like these to make your own household cleaners and you can start ditching the car and getting on your bike to improve your health. Taking the right steps to ensure you get a good workout in everyday can make a big difference to your overall health, which will save you money on what you spend in medicines and at the hospital.

Starting to learn how to grow your own food, and if you have the land, raise your own animals for slaughter can change the way you spend your cash on groceries. You get to know exactly where your food comes from, and you can learn to cook your own food from recipe books or classes. Growing and preparing the food that you have chosen to raise in your garden can save you cash but also save the number of trips to the doctor that you have each year. Home grown fruit, herbs and vegetables means no preservatives and no chemicals sprayed on them to get them to grow. Chickens could provide your family with eggs. A beehive supplies you honey and gives you the chance to have pollinators on site in a natural way.

A swarm of bees pollinators making honey

Being self-sufficient isn’t for everyone. We always become comfortable with consumerism and automation, and while that is okay to an extent, you do also have to look at the impact this has on your daily living and your budget. Take the time to shut things down and learn how to do it all for yourself. It’s not easy, it’s not light work, but it’s going to change the way you see the world. You can save a little piece of the world while you do it and you can feel good about that!

*This is a collaborative post.

4 Eco Garden Hacks That Will Have You Seeing Green

Saving the planet often revolves around the house, particularly the interior. Homeowners want to know how to recycle, reduce energy usage, and get on Mother Nature’s good side. Well, one way to show her you care is to take the fight outdoors. An average property has a garden, and it needs to be as green as the rest of the house. No, not just in colour but in practicality too! A garden may seem self-sufficient, but it needs lots of support if it is going to an eco-friendly haven. And you can provide plenty by reading the following tips. These are the four hacks to keep in mind…

4 Eco Garden Hacks That Will Have You Seeing Green title on faded background image

Attract Wildlife

One way to tell if the garden is environmentally-friendly is to check on the plants and flowers. Both produce oxygen and reduce the levels of CO2 in the air. So, with more in the vicinity, your home will suffer from less air pollution. It can be hard to keep plants alive, especially in the winter. However, the key, aside from shelter, is to attract wildlife. Everyone knows about bees and pollination yet forget about ladybirds and lacewings and the food chain. Pests like greenflies will eat vegetation, but predators eat pests and prevent the destruction of plants.

Plant Companions

The plot of soil in the backyard is a fantastic place to grow fruits and vegetables. And, this allows you to keep the shopping bill down as you don’t need to buy as much from the supermarket. Sadly, the UK isn’t a great place to grow food because of the weather. Even in the summer the rain and wind can be too strong for fragile seedlings. The answer is to plant companions to aid growth.Tall plants, for example, provide shade and protection from the elements. As long as they aren’t competitive, they won’t take away water or nutrients either.

Maintain Furniture

Every garden has a table and chairs combo, as well as a swing or a bench platform. These pieces are pretty and practical, particularly when BBQ season comes back around. Of course, caring for your garden furniture is essential because they are susceptible to breakage. Metal items are the worst because they rust in the rain, and the brown stuff can erode away at the steel. The only way to prevent this is to add a galvaniser and place a cover on the top. Softwood also needs protection in the form of a stain to stop rot and discolouring. Hardwood is durable thanks to natural oils.

Start A Compost Heap

Maintaining a green garden can be an expensive and inorganic procedure. After all, you need to buy everything from fertiliser to pesticides and mulch. Well, the truth is you don’t because a compost heap will take care of growth. All you have to do is break down the garden’s natural waste in a bin and add it to the soil. Not only is it cheap, but compost is twice as effective as regular fertilisers.

Bee pollinating flower

Whether you are looking to save money or the planet, there are plenty of options. What are your favourites?

*This is a collaborative post.

3 Questions That Make For a Better, Cleaner Wardrobe

We’ve all been there. You open the door to your closet and it’s a mess. Closets seem to always become the place we store everything we love and hate at the same time. They always have the top you can’t live without, while also containing some items you hope never see the light of day. Cleaning and organizing our wardrobes is a task that can always seem daunting, which is why it rarely gets done.

When we start to ask ourselves some tough questions about where our clothes come from and how they were made, the choices of what to keep and what to donate can be much easier than you think. Today I wanted to bring you some hard and fast rules you can use to get the job done. As a bonus, you’ll feel better about yourself and the environment as well.

Go through each piece of clothing you own and ask the following questions…

3 Questions That Make For a Better, Cleaner Wardrobe

Was it ethically made?

It’s easy to overlook the true cost of some of our clothing in regards to the physical labor that goes into making it. Unfortunately, with the rise in globalization came an increase in child labor and exploited adults in the fashion industry. Take a look into some of the brands you own and find out if they are using ethical labor to produce them. There are a lot of tools out there made specifically to help you research various brands and their manufacturing practices. If you find out something nasty about a brand, ditch their clothes! You’ll make some room and will no longer support their actions as a brand.

Is it made from sustainable material?

It’s no secret that the production of the clothes we love has a pretty big impact on the environment. Cotton alone  consumes 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all the pesticides! Now more than ever it’s important to support brands that ensure their materials come from sustainable sources. Sustainable clothing materials include soy, hemp, bamboo, PET plastic, and organic cotton. Pact is a great example of an up-and-coming clothing brand that uses only organic cotton to help cut down on the use of chemicals in the environment. Bonus: they’re GOTS certified, which means their clothes are also ethically made.

If you are on the fence about keeping something, take a look at what the item is made out of. If you like it, and it’s made from natural, recycled or upcycled fibers – keep it. But if you’re not sure, and it’s not made from something sustainable, ditch it!

Does this piece bring me joy?

Sounds simple right? But how often do we ask ourselves that question about the clothes we wear? It won’t have a major impact on the environment or teach any unethical brands a lesson, but it will help you ensure that every time you open your closet, you’ll come away with something that makes you feel great. This method of organization was pioneered by Marie Kondo with her now famous “KonMari” method of organizing. This way of thinking teaches us to cherish the things that matter, and get rid of the things in our lives that don’t. If you tackle your closet in this way, you’ll be amazed by the impact it can have on your well-being.

Eco fashion, ethical clothing, sustainable fashion clothing. Lady wearing a comfy jumper.

I hope these questions help you get your closet organized. I think the ethical and environmental impact of our clothing should play a huge role when deciding what to keep, and what to purchase for that matter. And of course, never settle for anything that doesn’t make you happy!

*This is a guest post.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What’s So Amazing About Menstrual Cups? A Guest Post by Jackie Bolen

Here’s something that I have some serious regret about…

Not knowing about menstrual cups until I was in my early 30’s. I’m not sure how I didn’t figure it out until then. Maybe I wasn’t hanging around the eco-friendly crowd, or maybe it was that menstrual cups weren’t so popular back then. Whatever it was, I’m happy that I did eventually hear about them from a friend of mine. I went out and immediately bought a Diva Cup, and have been using it ever since.

I do regret all those wasted year though. Imagine how much money I could have saved, and how much trash I could have not thrown out?

I’m going to share with you what’s so amazing about menstrual cups, and offer some advice if you’d like to make the switch yourself.

Eco- Friendly Periods: What's So Amazing About Mooncups? Image of 4 confident womens silhouettes against a sunset background.

More Money in the Bank at the End of the Month

I’m sure you know this already, but disposable pads and tampons are expensive! I know that I always feel a bit of sticker shock every single time I walk down that aisle at the drugstore. According to the Huffington Post, people spend an average of 13 pounds a month on feminine hygiene products. That’s a lot, especially considering that it’s an expense we incur every single month for around 40 years.

In the UK, tampons and sanitary towels are taxed at a rate of 5%. This has changed a few times during the last 40 years, but it’s currently at the lowest rate possible. It’s still too much.

Although menstrual cups cost around 20 pounds, they can last for years with proper care and cleaning. The best news is that you’ll recoup your costs in only a couple of months, when compared to disposable pads or tampons.

Less Waste Going to the Landfill

Estimates vary, but it’s thought that the average person uses between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons during their lifetime, resulting in 100-200 kg of waste from sanitary products. A portion of this waste is plastic which is not biodegradable. Although tampons and pads are not a big part of the larger waste problem, this is waste that can be avoided by making the switch to a menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups generally last for 5-10 years, so over a lifetime, a person will need only 4-8 of them. This is significantly less waste than thousands of pads and tampons. And there’s more good news—depending on where you live, menstrual cups can often be recycled.

Reduce your Exposure to Chemicals

Pads and tampons often contain trace amounts of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Manufacturing companies aren’t exactly upfront about what’s in their products, and legislators have been slow to require this. Although there are no long-term studies about what effects these chemicals have, it’s thought that exposure to them might be linked to things as serious as cancer.

I hope that governments will pass legislation that requires companies to disclose what’s in pads or tampons, and/or companies will work to eliminate these harmful things. In the meantime, it makes sense to use a menstrual cup instead.

As long as you get a top-quality cup (avoid the cheap ones from China), it’s made from medical grade silicone that is safe to use inside your body. It will not leak chemicals into your bloodstream and you’ll be able to have a safer period experience.

No Risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome

To date, there has been one reported case of Toxic Shock Syndrome that resulted from using a menstrual cup. With tampons, there are thousands of cases every year. Menstrual cups are not without risks, but it seem that the risk of this very serious condition is far lower than when using tampons.

Ready to Make the Switch?

Are you ready to have a cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly period? Then it’s time to consider choosing menstrual cups instead of disposable pads or tampons.

If you live in the UK, an excellent place to start is the MoonCup. It’s a company based in Brighton that makes one of the most popular menstrual cups in the world. MoonCup has been around for years, and people that try the cup really seem to love it.

You can buy the MoonCup directly from the cup for around 20 pounds, and shipping is free in the UK. Check it out here: MoonCup’s Website.

Image of hand holding mooncup with box and bag also in photo. Photo by Dylan and Me.Image Credit: Dylan and Me

Author Bio

Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found on top of a mountain, paddling the rivers, or drinking coffee around Vancouver, Canada. She hopes that one day, a menstrual cup will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. This has the potential to make it a much better place.

*This is a guest post.

Rainwater Harvesting: Advantages for Your Home and Garden

It need not be said that water is an essential resource for all of us. We can live without a day of electricity, and there are many undeveloped places in the world that make do without its convenience; but everyone in the world, regardless of where they are, needs water. It is a necessity to all life.

Some of us are privileged to have instant and convenient access to water anytime we want. But not all of us appreciate this privilege; in fact, a lot of us take it for granted. We think all the water that we have at our fingertips -literally – is unlimited. But it’s not. Already, certain parts of the world are experiencing drought, and if we remain heedless about how we consume our water supply, this drought will become a global problem.

It becomes crucial then that we find ways on how to save on our water usage. For one thing, we should fix leaks around the house, as leaks are one of the top causes of wastefulness in the home. You might think all those drips don’t amount to anything, but over time, they accumulate to a sizable quantity of water. How sizable? Approximately ten thousand gallons per year. So get in touch with a professional plumber and stop those leaks before they give you problems.

Another thing you can do is to upgrade the faucets and showerheads in your household to more modern and more efficient ones. For instance, when brushing your teeth, do you really need a faucet with a really strong, pressurized flow? You are much better off with a low-pressure flow for these activities.

Finally, the practice of harvesting rainwater can help to cut down your monthly water consumption as well as your bills. Rainwater harvesting is the habit of making use of one of nature’s free resources – rain – and harnessing it for our own various household uses. This practice can bring about several advantages for your home and garden…

Rainwater Harvesting: Advantages for Your Home and Garden title with image

It reduces the risks of soil erosion and flooding.

This sustainable habit can benefit the environment in a lot of ways. For one, it can help to prevent erosion around your property as well as reduce storm water runoff. It can also decrease incidences of flooding in your area. In incidents of a torrential downpour, there’s a lot of excess rainwater that doesn’t get soaked into the ground and only ends up flooding your area. It would be much better if you made use of this water instead.

It reduces your water bills.

Harvesting rainwater can also help you reduce your monthly water consumption. Imagine if you were to use rainwater for your various household needs and tasks like doing the laundry and washing your car. You would not need to consume that much water from your tap like you normally do. Ultimately, you get to save on your water bills each month.

It can give you a backup supply.

There may come a time when your water supply gets cut off due to various reasons, like when the water company is doing major repairs or when there is simply a drought in your area and your community needs to ration their water use. In these instances, the rainwater you harvested can serve as a useful and necessary backup supply.

It eases the demand for ground water.

Although the Earth is covered with water for about 71 percent of its surface, more than 96 percent of that water is ocean-based and thus is unusable. Disregarding inaccesible fresh water found in icecaps and glaciers, we thus only have access to 1 percent ground water. Consider the fact that entire Earth population relies on this 1 percent and you can realize the extreme demand that is continually put on our limited supply. Once we start harnessing the power of rain, we can greatly reduce the demand that our population exacts on ground water.

Rainwater can be used for a variety of purposes.

We use water in our household for a variety of purposes, such as doing the laundry, washing the dishes, bathing and showering, flushing the toilets, washing the car, watering our plants, among many. All these tasks require a large amount of water in total every single day. While rainwater is the softest kind of water there is, it is also versatile in that you can use it for all these different purposes. Because it has no chemicals, it is better for your hair and skin and your plants and it also requires lesser amounts of detergents when washing clothes and dishes.

Now that you know all about the advantages that rainwater harvesting can bring about for your home and garden, you might want to invest in quality containers that a reputable company like Rain Water Tanks provides. Just a little cost upfront will help you save a lot on your water consumption and bills in the future.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post.

4 Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions

Make sure that you give yourself the best possible chance of achieving your New Year’s resolutions in 2018 and do your bit for the environment at the same time with some green, eco-friendly resolutions!

The end of another year is fast approaching, and we all know what that means – it’s time to make your New Year’s resolutions!

Of course, we all know that making the resolutions is the easy part. When it comes to keeping them and staying on course, many people find it too difficult and give up before really giving themselves a chance.

The trick to sticking to your resolutions is to choose something which is realistically attainable and that really matters to you; you need to be motivated to succeed! So go for something that is personal to you and pick something that you really want to achieve, as then it will provide that little extra boost of motivation to get you through if you start to waiver.

The usual resolutions like visiting the gym, eating healthily or giving up smoking are all great, as long as you are truly motivated and determined to stick to it. But for 2018, why not go for something a little different and work to incorporate a greater level of eco-friendliness into your life?

To provide some inspiration and get you thinking, here are four green New Year’s Resolutions perfect for starting 2018 in the right way…

Title 4 Eco-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions with faded background image of jogger outdoors

Greener Parties

Whether it’s a birthday, a New Year’s bash or a kid’s party, the vast majority of parties and special events are simply not sustainable. Just think about how much uneaten food gets wasted! Add to this the massive amounts of single-use paper (or worse, plastic!) cups and plates being thrown away, and it’s no surprise that many parties could do with an eco-friendly boost.

Commit to making any parties or special events you host in 2018 much greener affairs – buy fully recyclable wholesale party supplies to cut down on waste and make sure not to go overboard on the food itself. You could even go for a full-on green theme to really push the boat out!

Reduce Waste

In the UK, 1.9 million tonnes of food and drink is wasted – every year. While we, as individuals, have little sway over the habits of the food industry, we can do our bit to cut down on waste by being sure to only buy things we need or that we know will get eaten. Try and cut down on impulse buys (this resolution will also be beneficial for your bank balance!) and plan out any shopping trips before leaving the house.

Similarly, try to opt for organic produce, locally-grown or sourced food and items with recyclable, and less, packaging wherever possible. Just this one small lifestyle change will help you become healthier and benefit the environment and local industry at the same time!

Sticky note saying reduce reuse recycle pinned to wooden board

Head Outdoors

How often do you use the car to travel somewhere within easy walking distance? Reduce the impact of vehicle emissions and help yourself keep fit in 2018 by committing to using your personal car less, wherever possible.

Even if you can’t walk to your destination, have you considered using public transport? For work, it may also be worth finding out if any colleagues live in your area and wouldn’t mind setting up a car-sharing scheme.

Quality over Quantity

A key part of sustainable living is cutting down on what you buy, how much you buy, and the amount of waste that you generate. While it is probably food that first comes to mind, there are actually many other ways in which you can resolve to cut down on low-quality items and waste.

Just think – how many times have you picked up a few pieces of cheap or low-quality clothing while out shopping only for them to disintegrate within weeks or shrink in the wash? Instead of continually buying large quantities or poor-quality clothing, commit to choosing fewer pieces of high-quality clothing that will last throughout the year.

Are you ready for the New Year? What green, eco-friendly resolutions are you planning?

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

How To Live More Sustainably: My Top Tips On Easy Ways To Become More ‘Green’

Would you like to find out more about living a more eco- friendly sustainable lifestyle? Are you looking for tips on Green Living so you can be more environmentally friendly? Then this post is for you! Read about my top tips for green living and overview of different ways you can live more sustainably…

I have talked alot about green living previously and regularly discuss ways that we can all help to protect our environment. But more often I cover specific aspects in-depth, therefore I thought it would be useful to pull it altogether into a post about my top tips for green living. So here is an overview of different ways you can live more sustainably…

Background image of wind turbines with title How To Live More Sustainably: My Top Tips On Easy Ways To Become More 'Green'

Go Electric

Have you thought about buying an electric car? There are many factors when choosing a car generally of course and some specific considerations when it comes to choosing an electric car. One of the biggest concerns – aside from the retail price, which is in the longer term offset by the low running costs and also is dropping dramatically as they become more common anyway – is the availability of chargepoints. However, as electric cars grow hugely in popularity, the distribution of chargepoints has become far more widespread. You can also get a NewMotion chargepoint to charge your vehicle safely at home too.

Electric car at charging station

Home

From a full renovation to simply changing a light bulb, there are lots of ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Using LED lightbulbs, changing your shower head and toilet flush to low-flow and turning your water temperature down on your boiler are all fairly cheap and easy minor changes you can make. When it comes to buying new appliances, choose environmentally- friendly models with high energy efficiency ratings. Also opt for eco-friendly, ideally natural, products to clean your home so there are no nasty chemicals!

Switch To Clean Energy

I mentioned above switching away from fossil fuels in the context of vehicles; the same applies to your home. Install solar panels if you can or switch your supplier to a green energy company.

Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse (then Recycle)

The term zero waste sounds daunting I admit! But really the aim is simple – to reduce the amount of rubbish you create. Especially waste that ends up in landfill in particular. Key elements for achieving this are actually quite straightforward:

  • Refuse single- use plastics, especially ‘the big four’ (straws, bags, cups and bottles).
  • Reduce your waste by trying to choose items that have less packaging, especially plastic, when shopping generally. Try to reduce your amount of food waste too.
  • Reuse items. Invest in reusable bags, straws, coffee cups and bottles. Use long-lasting reusable containers to store food too.
  • Recycle as much as possible of whatever rubbish you do create. Don’t throw anything into the landfill bin that doesn’t belong there!

And an extra point on this subject…

  • Upcycle and Repair. Try to mend before discarding things. Upcycle old furniture and other items if possible. If you have any household items, toys, clothes etc… that you have finished using yourself, pass them onto someone else to use.

Graphic of bottle, bag, straw and cup with caption 'I will say no to plastic's big 4'

    Slow Fashion

    Fashion has alot to answer for in terms of environmental impact. With ever changing trends, there is a high consumer demand for cheap fashionable clothing. The problem is, this throwaway fast fashion culture has a high price on the environment. Make a capsule wardrobe with high quality pieces made from natural materials your new latest trend instead.

    Reduce Meat Intake

    Whilst not everyone necessarily has any desire to become vegetarian, or vegan, a plant based diet is better for the environment. Even reducing your meat intake by having just one meat-free day per week is a step toward living a more sustainable life.

    Picture of a delicious healthy vegetarian meal.

    What are your top tips for living a more sustainable life?

    *Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

    How To Renovate A House Sustainably

    Have you ever thought about how to renovate a house sustainably and turn your home into an environmentally friendly palace? This post is full of ways to renovate a home more sustainably, with ideas such as building essentials, materials, energy saving design ideas and eco friendly finishing touches.

    Renovating your home can be costly. But it is not just the financial cost of renovations involved; it can take its toll on the environment too. Yet it certainly doesn’t need to be that way. Renovating your house whilst protecting the environment at the same time is achievable, and the result can be a beautiful eco-friendly home. So if you are looking to renovate your house sustainably, here are some ideas…

    A picture of a house with title of post written in sky next to it.

    Building Essentials

    Choose tradesmen who are environmentally conscious. Insist that they do what they can to reduce waste or recycle, minimising the amount that ends up in landfill. It is also absolutely essential that anything that does unavoidably have to be disposed of (as a last resort!) is done so responsibly.

    If you are looking for an eco house refurbishment specialist in the London area, Twickenham based company Unique Design and Build offers energy efficient and green solutions designed to preserve the environment, and save money too. They understand that people might not have time to devote to labour-intensive projects or have a definite idea about how to make their ideas into a reality but still want the best results.

    Materials

    When choosing materials, try to use natural whenever possible. Alternatively, use recycled or reclaimed materials. Certainly make sure materials are non- toxic. Also try to source materials as locally as possible too, because of the environmental cost of transporting it.

    As suggested in a Telegraph article “choose wood-framed windows rather than UPVC or metal. They are easier to repair, more insulating, last a lifetime and are less polluting than the cheaper UPVC (unplasticised poly vinyl chloride), from which many domestic window frames are made, which emits toxic compounds”.

    A picture of architectural plans and colour samples.

    Design Essentials

    One of the key things to consider is insulation. Properly insulated walls, ceilings and floors help to keep heat in, which prevents wasted energy and also saves money. Fill cavity walls with insulation, otherwise they can be almost as wasteful as an uninsulated loft. On that note, ensure the loft is well insulated too! For all types of insulation, again use natural materials or recycled materials, if at all possible.

    For heating up your home, underfloor heating is cost- effective and can be installed in older homes that are being renovated as well as new homes. Also, choose your boiler carefully. An energy efficient boiler that is regularly serviced will make a big difference to your energy bill… and the environment.

    A picture of a room flooded with lots of natural light.

    When designing your home, also try to allow for the maximum amount of natural light to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Install double-glazed windows, which are far more efficient at keeping in heat and therefore save energy, then team them up with thermal-backed curtains for even more energy saving.

    For powering your home, rather than using fossil fuels, choose clean energy sources. It could well be a good investment to install solar panels for this. Alternatively, try to choose a clean energy company to supply your home.

    Extra Considerations

    Redecorating

    Use water, rather than oil-based, paints with natural pigment as they are more environmentally friendly.

    Furniture

    Choose secondhand furniture, upcycle or select furniture made from recycled materials.

    Fixtures and Fittings

    • Swap regular light bulbs for eco bulbs.
    • Fit a water-saving showerhead. You will save more energy if you opt for an aerated or low-flow showerhead. Same goes for sanitary fittings too.
    • Select appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings.
    • Install a rainwater collection tank.

    *Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Unique Design and Build.

    8 Tips for Taking an Eco-Friendly Vacation (Guest Post by Samara at Tiny Fry)

    What is Eco-Friendly Tourism?

    Trends come and go, but here’s one we hope will stay: eco-friendly travel!

    What does this actually mean? Well, the terms “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” are often used interchangeably, although it’s possible to be eco-friendly without being sustainable. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be using both terms to mean a form of travel that does not negatively impact the natural environment or culture.

    Why Should I Do It?

    Choosing an eco-friendly vacation means you’re in for a unique adventure, experiencing a place through an authentic lens. You’ll enjoy places without the slick tourist spiel, and learn what really goes on in a community. What’s more, you’re helping locals. For example, you can show your support by shopping locally and choosing activities that won’t harm the environment.

    A picture of someone hiking through the countryside with a camera in hand.

    How Should I Do It?
    Planning an eco-friendly vacation requires some research and preparation. Here are 8 tips to get you on your way…

    1. If You Travel by Air

    Obviously, taking a plane isn’t “green” but if it’s your only option, search for direct flights that require less fuel than ones with stopovers. Once you reach your destination, you can walk, ride a bike, or rely on public transportation to get you where you need to go.

    2. If You Travel by Car

    Choosing an energy-efficient vehicle can reduce emissions by up to 50%. Make sure the car is in good shape and as efficient as possible (for example, clean the air filter, fill the tires). Pack only what you’ll need (lighter cars are more fuel efficient!) and plan your route before you go so there’s less of a chance you’ll get lost and waste both fuel and time.

    A photo taken from the inside of a car. Out of the windscreen there is a view of mountains.

    3. If You Camp

    Camping is probably the “greenest” option and also may be the most cost-efficient. That said, it does require some careful packing. You’ll want to be as self-sufficient as possible and carry the essentials with you: your own water bottle, snacks, toiletries, and utensils (disposable cups and utensils are wasteful). If you’re traveling with kids and plan to hike or bike, assume you need to bring your own gear (bikes, strollers etc…)

    A picture of a tent and sunrise scene.

    4. If You Prefer a Hotel

    Sustainable hotels are popping up in major cities and towns. What to look for: low-energy light bulbs, non-toxic fabrics, non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycling programs, bikes for guests, locally sourced menus and a green certification from a bonafide agency. If possible, green hotels should be built and furnished with reclaimed or renewable resources and they should definitely employ locals. Another tip: ask if the hotel has a volunteer program that allows you to get directly involved in the community (for example, plant trees or work in a garden).

    5. If You Hire a Guide

    Rather than joining an exclusive tour group, hire a local guide. Certainly, a guide who lives in the area has more invested in the surroundings than a company that’s only interested in making a profit off of your trip. The best guides promote ethical practices, explain how to support the community, respect the natural habitat, plus show off the most authentic and “behind the scene” spots!

    6. If You Book an Experience

    There’s so much to get excited about when travelling to a new place that it’s easy to overlook stuff. Overall, you never want to be disruptive or disrespectful when playing the role of tourist in any community. What’s more, if you want to get up close and personal with the wildlife, make sure you aren’t in any way harming or disturbing the creatures or their habitats.

    A photo of someone taking a photo of a beautiful canyon.

    7. If You Buy a Souvenir

    Double check that your souvenir of choice is 100% ethical. For example, you don’t want to take home anything that may have come from an endangered species or was made with enforced labour.

    8. If You Want to Make an Impression

    Be mindful of what you leave behind! Don’t mess with your surroundings and pick up your trash wherever you go. The goal of eco-travel is to make only a positive impact on the area; in other words, leaving behind nothing but some dollars for the local businesses and a tremendous amount of good will!

    The Evolution of Travel

    Eco travel has been a hot vacation option for some time now and it’s growing in popularity. It’s easy to see why. Traveling responsibly is as good for the tourist as it is for the host.

    It offers an authentic, educational, and inspiring look at an unfamiliar territory while supporting and promoting local resources. By booking a sustainable vacation, you’ll be doing your part to ensure that vacation areas will be protected for the next generation of travellers.

    A photo of Samara and her family.

    Author Bio

    Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three), or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry.