Many of us want to do our bit for the environment. But we’re also busy. Are there simple things we can do to look after our planet a bit better? You bet there are. 11 things in fact:
1. Use non-toxic cleaners
Borax, vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice are all cheap and natural. Leave the harmful chemical cleaners in the shops and try a few of the 27 tox-free cleaning recipes here.
2. Use rugs
If you have lots of wood and tiles floors, well-placed rugs can provide a surprising amount of warmth. Anything that allows you to bump up the temperature on your air conditioning unit will use less energy (while also saving you money).
3. Look for natural eco paints
In addition to being better for the environment, low or zero VOC paints usually emit less odours, and offer faster drying times and non-yellowing properties. Dulux is currently striving to reduce the VOCs in all its paints, with their Ultra Zero VOC product leading the way.
4. Grow house plants
Every day VOCs are emitted into the air via things like our carpets, furniture and appliances. In addition to processing carbon dioxide, house plants remove many of these VOCs from the air. You can also use fragrant plants like dwarf kaffir lime trees as natural fragrances.
5. Recycle furniture
Don’t throw away old or used furniture – restore and re-paint it instead. If renovating furniture is not your thing, give it to someone who will breathe new life into it. Restoring or giving it away, is a better alternative than adding it to land fill.
Insulation is essential in the Australian climate. Building codes are becoming stricter now with regard to the level of insulation new houses should have, but many old houses are freezing in winter and boiling hot in summer and draw a lot of energy from the grid to stay warm and cool. If you’re the owner of a lovely old house, consider getting high quality insulation for your roof.
7. Buy efficient appliances
Front loading washers use substantially less detergent and water than top loading washing machine. Check efficiency ratings too. The higher the rating the better the savings on energy and water usage.
8. Install a low flow toilet
30% of our yearly water is used by flushing the toilet. Water is so precious so when it is time to replace that old toilet look for a low flush toilet. Or at least one that offers a half flush option.
9. Change your shower heads
A family of four can save 160,000 litres a year of water just by changing to low flow showerheads. As hard as it sounds, making showers less enjoyable (by reducing this flow) also helps reduce the time we spend in there, and the water we use.
10. Household food scraps
The older generation who lived through the depression were recyclers without knowing it. Food scraps were never put into plastic bags and thrown away – they were dug into the garden. Food scraps make brilliant organic waste and reduce the need for water and the worms love it.
You can also use food scraps to make your own stock. There is a great recipe here.
11. Homemade pesticide
Another great way to reduce toxins in your home is to make your own pesticides. (Store bought pesticides are full of chemicals.) You can make your own using:
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper powder
- 6 drops of dish soap
- 1 gallon of water
Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Spray the plants thoroughly.