Reducing your impact on the environment can sound like quite a daunting prospect but every journey starts with a small step in the right direction. What if the first step leads to another, then another? What if we all took a small step today collectively? What if a small step became a lifelong habit and all your friends and family followed suit? See how a small step can become a hop, skip and a jump?.
Here is a selection of steps you can take today, often with additional, bonus benefits beyond the environmental impact. See which ones you can make a habit. See how many friends you can get to join you.
1. LIGHTEN UP ON LAUNDRY
How often do you throw a garment into the wash because you either can’t find anywhere else to put it or you can’t even remember if it’s dirty or not? Get yourself a system that works for you, with items you can wear again in a specific place. Be mindful about it and consider how long and for what purpose your item was used. Sort your washing into heavy and light soil, with the latter washable in a cold wash.
Added bonus: The less your clothes are washed in hot water, the longer they will last and the longer the shades will remain strong.
2. SHOWER LIKE A SAILOR
How much of your daily shower is water down the drain? Consider a Navy shower, whereby the shower is turned off while you shampoo and soap down and on only when you need it.
Added bonus: You are likely to shower much more quickly, saving you time for other things.
3. LEARN TO TELL THE TIMER
Timers on gadgets can seem a bit daunting. Sometimes it feels like you need to read a mighty text before you can master them. It’s worth taking the time to do so. Make it a household challenge, give different members an item to learn and get competitive. One is very much like another at the end of the day. Programming air conditioning, heating, fans etc. to come on at specific times can dramatically reduce energy waste.
Added bonus: Pure satisfaction of getting tech savvy along with reduced energy bills.
4. DON’T STAND BY AND WATCH
Don’t succumb to the energy vampires! It really is true that plug switches left on and gadgets on standby continue to drain energy. It literally takes a second to flick them off.
Added bonus: Reduced energy bills, better night’s sleep due to less nocturnal illumination.
5. HAVE A MEATLESS MONDAY
The impact of meat consumption on the environment is bigger than you may first think. It takes approximately 1850 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef compared with around 40 gallons for a similar quantity of grains or veg. There is also the impact of greenhouse gasses and the use of fossil fuels to get it to your plate to consider. Swapping one or more of your meals to not include meat will add up over time and these days there are some amazing vegetarian and vegan recipes around; you may just find it spreading along your week.
Added bonus: Increased quality of your diet with a reduction in risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and risk of strokes and cancer. Your food bill will go down too.
6. DON’T GO INTO OVER-DRIVE
Most of us love our cars, but do we really need them quite as much? Be mindful about your car journeys. For each one, consider a mental checklist - Could I take public transport? Can I share with friends in a car pool? Could I cycle or walk? When you do take the car, think about consolidating your tasks and minimising the journeys you need.
Added bonus: Opportunity to read or work in public transport, chance to build exercise into your daily routine without adding in extra time constraints, chance to chat with friends.
7. DON’T LEAVE A LIGHT ON FOR ME
Be mindful about lighting; create family habits where unnecessary lights are switched off, or not put on at all. Buy energy-saving bulbs and consider candlelight where appropriate.
Added bonus: Energy bill savings, improved household ambiance.
8. REMEMBER THIRSTY PLANTS AREN’T FUSSY
Keep a vessel for plant watering where you can tip water from glasses that haven’t been drunk, or from cooking water etc. Plants don’t mind if their water isn’t crystal clean and fresh.
Remember, every little helps and every little can become a lot if we all do these things.
So, start that journey, take that step! It’s all good.