We’re not going to tell you how to quit sugar or run a marathon, but we can share these five little tips to help you become greener.
1. Upgrade your household appliances
Old appliances are energy hogs. And while we might not want to chuck the fridge or washing machine out of modern life, making sure they are energy efficient is one way we can fight climate change from home.
• Buy energy-efficient appliances. While the upfront cost might look big, there can be huge savings in the lifetime cost with a more efficient appliance.
• Dispose of your older appliances with care. Check your local area for appliance recycling and removal programs. Programs all across Australia offer rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances.
2. Make the rest of your house greener
After upgrading your appliances, there are a number of easy, high-impact ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home.
• Change the air filters in your heating and cooling systems.
• Install or learn how to use a programmable thermostat correctly. The average Australian house spends 40 per cent of the energy bill on heating and cooling.
• Unplug electronics and appliances. Idle electronics use a shocking amount of energy. Try using a power strip for appliances that go together. Flick one switch and you’ll shut off the coffee maker, the toaster and your mobile phone charger on your way out the door.
• Wash clothes in cold water and consider air drying. Dryers are one of the most inefficient appliances in our homes.
• Switch out light bulbs. You’ve probably heard this one before, and for good reason. While the upfront cost may seem steep, switching to CFLs or LEDs will save you money in the long run.
3. Get educated about your food
Today, we can pluck ingredients from all over the world straight from the grocery store shelf. The items in a typical Australian food basket have travelled 70,000 kilometres to make it to your table.
Luckily for us, the local food movement is gaining momentum, offering us options that are delicious, affordable and far less environmentally damaging.
• Skip meat at dinner… at least a few times a week. Livestock farming accounts for 18 per cent of all greenhouse gases. Today, there are many alternatives to animal protein readily available.
• Buy your ingredients from local sources whenever possible
• Eat only in-season fresh produce or grow your own food
4. Think before you throw
Reusing an item stops something new from being manufactured, packaged and transported, and prevents the replaced item from reaching landfill.
• Think carefully about something before you throw it away. Can it be repurposed into something else? Can it be fixed, cleaned up or repaired?
• Check out these websites that are devoted to reusing old materials. The recent popularity of turning old shipping pallets into stylish furniture is a great example of a way to repurpose something that would have been discarded.
5. Get informed, get involved and get sharing
While incorporating even a few of the above suggestions will help your household do its part, the more who join in, the better. And if your friends and family don’t appreciate a soapbox speech, show them your energy bills. Everything we do to fight climate change together is also good for our household budgets.
• Get involved with local organisations that can make a big difference, such as schools, hospitals or your office.
• Support local organisations working to make a difference in your area, either by donating or volunteering.