DOING OUR BIT TO SAVE THE PLANET

 


We owe it to our children to pass the planet on in as good a shape as possible. Not everyone can join the eco-warriors in direct action, but in our daily living we can help by "living simply so that others may simply live".

The following suggestions are just a few examples of the changes that we can make. Keep these pages for reference. Re-read them every six months or so and see if there are more right actions that have now become habits. Read them through with your family or group to encourage each other to do more. Click here.

Here is a link to the Green Providers Directory. andd one to a site that guides on finance and savings associated with buying green goods.

 


SAVE ENERGY

  • Saving energy saves scarce oil resources for the next generation, reduces Global Warming and prevents acid rain
  • Switch off lights and other electrical items when not in use. Switch off the TV at night - don't leave it on standby.
  • Use draught strips on doors and windows and make sure you have at least 6" (15 cm) of loft insulation.
  • Lag your hot water tank and consider installing cavity wall insulation.
  • If you need a new central heating boiler, fit a more energy efficient "condensing boiler."
  • Gas is better than electricity for heating your house.
  • Put foil behind your radiators.
  • Fit double or secondary glazing (the cling film type is very cost effective) or get special heat-retaining roller blinds.
  • Consider fitting solar water heaters on your roof. They are energy and cost efficient - if you can afford the capital investment.
  • Consider whether you really need to buy that electrical appliance. If you do, buy the most energy-efficient one available.
  • Fit a "Savaplug" to your fridge.
  • Use low energy light bulbs. If every household in Britain fitted just one, we could close down a power station! Although more expensive to buy, they last eight times longer than traditional bulbs and save money in the long run.
  • Use rechargeable batteries.
  • Switch off lights when not in use. Ditto the TV - don't leave it on standby overnight.
  • Fit thermostatic controls to your radiators and a programmable timer to your boiler to ensure that heat is provided where and when its needed. Set your central heating thermostat at around 18-20 degrees. (Turning down the thermostat by 1 degree C can save around 10 per cent of the heating bill).
  • verheated homes are wasteful and unhealthy. It is illogical to have the heating on and windows open.
  • If you feel cold at home, why not put on extra clothing rather than turning up the heating?
  • Fix your Carbon dioxide by planting trees. The average household emits 20-30 tonnes of CO2 per year. To fix this, we need to plant around 100-150 trees per year per household - a donation of about £150 should roughly cover that. Why not plant some locally yourself, and some through agencies like

    Trees for life The Park, Findhorn Bay, Forres IV36 3TZ, Scotland

  • Woodland Trust, Autumn Park, Dysart Rd., Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL Tel: 01476 74297, or

    Climate Care (01865 777770)

    Suntaa-Nuntaa helps community tree planting in Ghana. Contact them at 44 Melville Place, Leeds LS6 2LZ.

  • If you want to calculate exactly how much CO2 you emit, see the address at the foot of this document.
  • These energy saving measures will save you money - which is just as well, because in the shops you will have to spend more in creating a demand for more expensive ethical goods.


TRAVELLING

  • Shareyour car, especially when going to work.
  • Convert your car, if suitable, to unleaded petrol.
  • On motorways,y the year 2025 the number of cars on UK roads is expected to double to 40 million and by the middle of the next century transport emissions are expected to be the largest single contributor to global warming.
  • Even if you own a car, try biking or walking instead.
  • Most car journeys are for less than five miles. A five mile cycle ride makes you fitter and healthier. You are 20 times more likely to die of a heart attack because you didn't cycle than you are to die in an accident because you did cycle. You have more energy at the end of a day when you cycled than at the end of a no-cycling day. Cycling is faster than a car if you count in the hours you spend sitting stationary at your desk earning the money to pay for the car.
  • Use public transport more often. Get a season ticket. If the service is inadequate, make sure your MP and local authority know about it.
  • Bus and train travel allows us to read, work meditate, or meet other people. Car driving is a waste of time.
  • Consider s reduce your speed to around 55 mph: you will use less fuel, arrive safely, produce fewer polluting gases - and you will save money.
  • Drive with consideration for others. Observe all speed limits. You are 17 times more likely to kill a child if you hit one at 40mph than if you hit one at 20mph.
  • Drive smoothly - sharp braking and fast acceleration wastes fuel. Keep your engine well tuned and tyres at correct pressure for the same reason.
  • If you're stuck in a traffic jam - switch off.
  • Join the Environmental Transport Association - it offers a similar service to the AA and RAC, but campaigns for environmentally sound transport systems (Tel: 10932 828882).
  • If buying a new car, choose a more fuel-efficient one. Consult the ETA's 'Car Buyer's Guide' or the 'Green Car Guide' by P Nieuuwenhis, P Cope and J Armstrong, Greenprint 1992.

SAVE WATER

  • Shower more, bath less. Rather than a deep soak, have an Indian bath: use a shallow bath or a bucket of hot water to wash all over.
  • Don't let the tap run while you clean your teeth or wash.
  • Save rinsing and hand washing water in a bowl and use it for the garden.
  • Do not waste water on the lawn - let it go naturally blonde.
  • Put a brick or a "hippo" in your toilet cistern.
  • No need to flush the toilet each time you pass water. And why not use a bucket of old bath water to flush the toilet sometimes?
  • Do not wash your car during the dry season.


SAVE FORESTS

  • At present, only a fraction of wood and wood products imported into the UK comes from well-managed forests. A number of retail, DIY and home furnishing companies have joined the WWF 1995 Group - a group of companies that is committed to phasing out the sale and use of all unsustainable wood and wood products by the end of 1995.
  • Ask suppliers whether they have adopted the WWF 1995 target. If not, ask why not. Contact WWF for a list of 1996 Group members (WWF, Panda House, Weyside Park, Godalming, SurreyGU7 1XR).
  • Buy recycled paper, use the blank side of old letters for rough and draft paper, recycle your old paper and re-use envelopes using sticky labels.
  • Return unwanted mail and ask to be removed from their mailing list. Contact the Mailing Preference Service at Freepost 22, London, W1E 7EZ - it can arrange for your address to be deleted from around 90% of mailing lists. (Telesales can also be stopped by dialling 0800 398893).
  • Do we really need to take a daily newspaper? The news is bad enough; killing trees to report it only makes things worse. Keep in touch with radio news - and respond to it by writing in to the programmes. Get Planetary Connections for positive news. (Six Bells, Church St., Bishop's Castle, Shropshire SY9 5AA).


SAVE IN THE KITCHEN

 

  • If you can, buy organic food. Although it is expensive, it is tastier, more nutritious, much better for the environment - and is imbued with good vibrations from dedicated growers who believe in putting principle before profit.
  • Support your local economy by buying in local shops. Buy from the milkperson(!) - s/he uses glass bottles and performs an important social service.
  • Consider unwrapping your goods in the supermarket rather than taking unnecessary packaging home with you.
  • In the fridge, use containers rather than wrapping everything in wasteful foil and plastic wrap.
  • Choose glass containers rather than plastic if possible.
  • Get a compost bin for food scraps.
    Don't waste food! Use up fresh foods before getting food out of tins and packets.
  • Where recycling facilities exist, use them, but do not make a special car journey. Incorporate it into another trip. Paper, glass, clothes, cans, wellington boots, aluminium foil, tins and engine oil can usually be recycled. Local charities often collect books, stamps, jam jars (for re-use), greeting cards, old furniture, spectacles, wool, and old inkjet and fax cartridges. Ask your Council about local arrangements, and press them to provide for batteries and PET plastics too.
    When disposing of an unwanted fridge, contact your local Council for guidance. The CFCs should be withdrawn before scrapping.
  • If buying a new fridge, consider the Greenfreeze make, which has no ozone-depleting chemicals.
  • Do not dispose of cooking oil down the drain. Or engine oil!
  • Do not buy air fresheners or perfumed deodorants and cleaning agents. They are unnecessary, and may cause dizziness and other problems to some people.


SAVE IN THE BATHROOM

  • Only 50% of sewage is treated before being discharged into the sea.
  • Avoid throwing anything down the toilet including sanitary wear, condoms, cotton buds, cigarette ends or plastic wrappings and labels. Sanitary wear can take four months to biodegrade and plastic wrappings do not biodegrade at all; they will eventually turn up on the beach. Put them in the dustbin.
  • Do not pour chlorine bleach down the toilet.

 


SAVE AT WORK

  • Follow the example of the offices of WorldWide Fund for Nature - they have already reduced electricity consumption by 22%, food waste is being composted, bicycles are provided for staff travelling locally and stationery is being re-used.
  • Does your work place have an environmental policy? If not, suggest that one be started.
  • Treat your office as your home by turning off lights when not in use, using both sides of scrap paper etc.
  • Get a green commuting scheme started.
  • Read 'Green Business - Making it Work for Your Company' by Malcolm Wheatley, Pitman Publishing, 1993.

 

SAVE IN THE SHOPS

  • Remember the four R's - "Refuse (to buy unnecessary goods), Reuse, Repair, Recycle."
  • Cut down "food miles" - buy local or UK produce rather than those which have travelled thousands of miles. This means don't buy fruit and veg out of season.
  • Choose loose food items rather than pre-packed.
  • Do not buy clothes that need dry cleaning.
  • Buy pump action sprays rather than aerosols - even CFC substitutes contribute to the greenhouse effect.
  • Buy recycled or recyclable products such as toilet tissue and stationery.
  • If you can, buy in bulk - it saves packaging and money.
  • Avoid products designed for a short life-span such as disposable razors and paper towels.
  • Take your own shopping bag or re-use plastic carriers.
  • Buy Hemp clothes, not Cotton Resources and information about hemp and green living.
  • Support companies who are making a real effort to clean up their act, like the Body Shop, B&Q, and the Co-op Bank. Look for "TraidCraft" goods like Cafe Direct.
  • If you have money to invest, make sure it goes into ethical funds. Would you really want your money to support the manufacture of arms and torture equipment?


IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

  • Take all your rubbish home. Take other people's rubbish home too - leave the site more tidy than when you found it.
  • Cut up and bin any plastic multi-pack can holders. Every year hundreds of birds and animals get caught in them and die.
  • Don't pick or dig up wild plants.
  • On the coast, don't move rocks and stones in rock pools and don't take plants or shells home.
  • Do take discarded fishing line home - it entangles and kills sea birds.
  • Water sports can disturb and even damage marine life. Find our whether there are any particularly sensitive areas to avoid. Jet skis are particularly disruptive to sea mammals (including humans!)


IN THE GARDEN

  • Start a compost heap.
  • Don't buy peat or plants grown in peat. It is irreplaceable. Buy alternatives - or make your own leaf mould by putting leaves in bin bags to rot down over three years.
  • Choose independently certified organic fertilisers.
  • Avoid pesticides altogether - use biological pest controls instead.
  • Encourage wildlife in your garden - put up nest boxes , build a pond and plant a wide range of flowers, especially native British species.
  • Many bulbs are uprooted from the wild. Buy bulbs only from cultivated stock.
  • Plant drought resistant species.
  • Install water barrels to collect rainwater for your garden.
  • If you have a barbecue, buy British charcoal rather than imported charcoal which may have come from endangered rainforests and mangroves.


DON'T OVERPOPULATE THE PLANET!

  • If you want a large family, why not go for adoption?


SPEAK UP FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

 

  • Write to your MP and MEP on local, national and international environmental issues that concern you.

  • At election times, let the candidates know that you are going to vote for ecological policies. If you think Green, vote Green. If you are a Green sympathiser, but feel that a Green vote is a wasted vote - remember that (in the UK) if you live in a "safe seat" your vote is always wasted, because a safe seat is by definition one where no change will come about except in the most extreme circumstances. So the best possible thing you can do with your vote is to use it to boost the Green Party, which makes the other parties upgrade their own green policies.

  • Find out about how the Citizen's Charter affects your local authority. It may cover many areas including air pollution control, litter, noise and rubbish collection.

  • Campaign for better public transport and recycling facilities.

  • Get involved in Local Agenda 21 activities. LA21 is community based Green effort with the backing of the United Nations, with Central and Local Government. Ask your Council for more details.

  • Join at least one Green organisation (preferably the Green Party, which gives more bangs per buck).

  • Above all - enjoy changing your way of living. Right living should not be a heavy burden, but a joyful consciousness that every one of our actions, even the most trivial, has a universal significance.

 

We acknowledge the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Global Action Plan whose Action at Home questionnaire forms the basis of this document.

 
© 2001 R. LawsonThis page was last updated on January 19, 2002