Especially at home we can do many little things that, adding up, will make a difference. They help saving money and natural resources.
Just re-use packaging and ribbons of christmas or birthday presents next year.
If you buy hygienic papers like toilet paper, paper towels or kitchen rolls made from non-recycled paper, you should know that rainforests are still being destroyed for the pulp production for those articles. In the meantime, all these articles are available made from recycled paper, soft, white and hygienic .
Worldwide, a space as large as 30 soccer fields of rainforest are destroyed every minute, estimated every 5th tree because of the pulp which is used for the production of paper and hygienic paper. If everyone would start using recycling paper, there could be three million hectare of forests saved every year!
If you don't want to receive direct marketing through the post, register to have your name removed from mailing lists. To avoid circulars you throw in the bin right away anyway, you can also put a sticker on your mailbox, saying that you don't want to receive anymore unrequested advertising.
Replace your most regularly used standard light bulbs with energy-saving equivalents. By doing so, you will save about 80% energy costs compared to traditional bulbs. In Germany alone, based on each household using light 3 hours per day, the change to energy saving bulbs would save 9,8112 terawatt hours per year! This corresponds to the energy production of one nuclear power plant, which would then be made redundant.
Dripping water taps should be exchanged or fixed as soon as possible. If you think it doesn't matter, have a look at this calculation: Per hour a dripping tab wastes about one liter. That adds up to about 8760 liters a year!
The tap water in most European countries is of equal quality to the bottled water you can buy. So it is far more reasonable to drink tap water, it saves money, energy, plastic, glass and long transport.
Your waste can have a value to someone else - take old clothes, books, toys and bric-a-brac to charity shops or car boot sales.
Wait to run dishwashers and washing machine until you have accumulated a full load.
Take old batteries to recycling facilities; don't throw them in the bin!
Just try to dry your clothes on a laundry line after washing instead of a tumble dryer. The tumble dryer uses a lot of energy and the smell of sun dried laundry is unmatchable.
In the garden, use natural, organic alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
In the garden, plant a wildflower meadow instead of a lawn that needs lots of pesticides and fertilizers. Bee populations are decreasing at alarming rates, with a wildflower meadow you create a piece of home for bees, butterflies and other insects.
Peat helps our vegetables to flourish and our borders to bloom. But if we don't use less of it, warn scientists, the future of the planet will not be nearly so rosy. Peat bogs cover just 3% of the world's surface, but they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests combined. Destroy the Amazonian rainforest and we're in trouble; destroy the peat bogs and we've had it. Unfortunately it looks like we're using more and more of it, between 1993 and 1997, our peat purchases rose by 57% to nurture our boisterous bulbs and tasty tomatoes.
* Peat forms at a rate of only 1mm per year, whilst peat extractors remove up to 22cm a year
* Apart from gardeners, whisky distillers are big users of peat:the single malt Laphroaig is marketed for its distinctive peaty flavour
* On top of that, 65% of all peat used in Europe is imported from other countries, including Eire and the Baltic states, adding emissions from transportation to the mix
* So where do you fit in? Simple - 70% of the peat used in Europe goes on our gardens
To stop this, just substitute one of the following:
* Only buy compost specifically labelled as 'peat-free', which makes use of 'coir peat', a sustainable coconut by-product
* Mulch: tree bark, cocoa shells, shredded prunings, hay, straw, coir (a tough, fibrous, pithy material removed from coconut husks)
* Soil conditioners: animal manure, leaf mould and garden compost
* Soil acidifiers for alkaline ericaceous shrubs such as rhododendron, camellia and azalea: pine needles, composted heather or bracken
* Make your own compost
Connect a diverter to your drainpipe and collect water for your houseplants and garden in a water butt.
Eighty per cent of energy used in homes is for heating
Many countries now offer government funding when you build a new house, so you can make it well insulated ( for example with Warmcell loft insulation, which is made from recycled paper), provide it with a highly efficient heating system and take other measures to save on CO2 emissions.
Solar panels can slash your electricity bill and even have you selling energy back to the power companies.
Getting your electricity this way means zero CO2emissions (excluding the ones that go into making the panels), so they are have a big impact on your CO2 footprint.
You can also use sunlight to cut your hot water bill. A solar panel on your roof could provide about a third of the hot water your household uses every year. Solar water heaters use the sun's energy to pre-heat the water in your tank. When the fossil-fuelled boiler kicks in, part of the work has been done already so it can knock off early.
Although these technologies aren't cheap, in many countries grants are available to cut the cost. Moreover you save yearly on your energy bills.
Refer to energy efficiency ratings when buying new electrical items.
Most appliances in your local showroom have a brightly coloured energy label telling you how efficient they are. Graded from A to G, an A-rated machine provides the biggest CO2 saving, and can reduce the long-term running costs too. The most efficient models get an Energy Saving Recommended (ESR) badge. Fridges and freezers go up to an A++ rating. Try to switch off TVs, computers and Hi-fis when you aren't using them, as they still consume energy in Stand-by mode.
Replace your washing powder or liquid with a 'greener' alternative, like those from:
When you build a new house or decide to renovate an existing house, there are many things that can be done that will have a positive impact. The materials you chose, paints and finishings, the insulation, the windows, the wood, etc. all choices can be made consciously and sustainably. Look out for paints with a low VOV rating, for wood with the FSC seal and for well insulated windows and walls. The use of energy-efficient heating or solar panels additionally brings you financial advantages.
Just look up 'green building' on Google in your language to find a vast number of resources.
Ready-made-food is mostly unhealthy and uses a lot of energy and resources in the production and packaging. Just buy fresh produce and cook something with your family, it's healthier, better for the environment, it's more fun and probably tastes better.
Compost kitchen and garden waste. Not only will it cut down on the space we need to dump rubbish, it will also provide you with a useful end-product.
In the meanwhile there are many companies offering 100% green energy for your home or business. The prices are the same as traditional electricity, and is made exclusively by solar, wind- and waterplants.
Companies can be found in every country, just look 'green energy' up in Google.
If you switch your electricity provider to a 'green' company you also make a political statement. The higher the demand for green energy, the more it will be of importance for the industry and governments.
Every tree counts. One single tree produces about 40 kg of oxygen a day and uses up around 56 kg CO2 in the process. It evaporates 400l of water, cleans the air from dust, gives shade and reduces noise. Just choose a space in your garden or ask someone who owns a garden or even a forest if you can plant there. There are so many spaces to do it. And you get to go outside, get some fresh air and have some fun. You can even go with your family or some friends and organize a planting-session.
You can get trees and tips on how to plant best at your local tree nursery. If you don't have the time you can donate to non-profit organizations like the one below, so they plant for you.
United Nations "Billion Tree Campaign"