The world’s biggest climate change summit COP26 has started in Glasgow, where global leaders will meet to discuss our planet’s future.
While most of us won’t be at the United Nations conference we can still use this momentous event to spur us on to reduce our own carbon footprint. We’re bringing you 12 tips – one for every day of COP26 - to help you with how to be more eco-friendly at home.
Our sustainability manager Olivia Ward says: “It is vital that we all take individual action to tackle global warming, particularly because around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes. So, if you’ve ever wondered about how to be more eco-friendly at home, we’re bringing you 12 things you can start doing today to help the planet.”
1. Ditch gas guzzling cars
“Switching to more sustainable transport is one of the biggest ways to reduce your carbon footprint if you are looking at how to be more sustainable,” says Olivia. “Ideally walk or cycle for shorter journeys, or for longer trips take the train instead of driving. If you must travel by car, swap your diesel or petrol car to an electric or hybrid model if you can.” All new Redrow homes can now be fitted with car charging points before you move in.
2. Choose slow travel or a staycation for your holiday
“Air travel is a large contributor to global carbon emissions, particularly among richer nations,” says Olivia. “Flying less is something we can all do while still enjoying a holiday every year. We have all learnt the joys of a staycation over the last year, rediscovering the diverse holiday locations in the UK. If you still want to travel further afield, why not adopt a ‘slow travel’ approach, where you travel by train or boat and increase the number of stops along your journey? You may even discover new places to fall in love with that you would normally have flown over.”
3. Eat more plant-based foods
“If you’re really keen to know how to live sustainably, then eating less meat is one way to do it,” explains Olivia. “Meat production is roughly equivalent to the emissions from all the world’s cars, planes and trucks combined. If everyone switched to a plant-based diet, we’d need 75% less farmland than we use today globally. You don’t have to give meat up altogether, but by eating meat on just one or two days a week, you can make a big difference, and sourcing meat from local organic producers rather than mass production farms can also help.”
4. Buy fewer clothes
Fast fashion can have a devastating impact on our world with emissions pumped into the atmosphere during manufacturing and shipping. Low-quality, mass-produced garments also lead to huge wastage, with more fabric ending up in landfill.
“As consumers we need to change our mindset when it comes to fashion,” says Olivia. Buying fewer garments is key to protecting the environment so repair or repurpose where you can and when you do need to purchase clothes, opt for pre-loved clothing from second-hand stores or online. If you must buy new, buy quality you know will last from companies with ethical supply chains.
5. Switch energy supplier or choose a green tariff
Switching to a renewable energy supplier or a green tariff is a fast and effective way to take control of where your energy comes from.
Olivia explains: “The Energy Saving Trust has lots of advice on switching tariffs or providers and many of the larger energy companies have committed to supplying more energy from renewable sources.”
6. Recycle more
Did you know, the average person in the UK throws away around 400kg of waste each year? Recycling is the process of turning waste into reusable material. Olivia explains: “By recycling more of our household waste, we can reduce the amount that ends up in landfill as well as safeguarding more of the earth’s raw materials, which is great news for the environment. If every person in the UK recycled just 10% more paper, we would save approximately five million trees each year.”
7. Think about lighting
Olivia says: “It sounds obvious but making a conscious resolution to use less energy is sometimes about going back to basics. Make sure your light fittings are energy efficient throughout your home and switch the lights off in rooms you’re not using.” All Redrow homes come with low energy light fittings as standard.
8. Cook smart
There are lots of ways we can save energy during the cooking process. “Again these are simple ways to save energy but every little really does make a difference. Put lids on pans, only boil as much water in the kettle as you need and heat food in the microwave as it uses less energy than the oven. You can also opt for energy saving appliances for example a fast boiling "one cup" or eco-friendly kettle can use up to 50% less energy than a standard model.” Olivia adds.
9. Wash even smarter
Appliances that use water, like the dishwasher and washing machine, are some of the largest energy users in our homes so if you are wondering ‘how to live a sustainable lifestyle’ then you can try to run fewer cycles or washes to save energy. Utilise the eco settings on your appliances and wash clothes at 30 degrees. Save energy heating water by switching your bath to a shower and try to keep shower time to a minimum.
10. Invest in sustainable tech
There are products on the market that can help with lowering your home’s carbon footprint. Smart power strips are a quick win as they can help to ensure your devices aren’t continuing to use energy while not in use. Some can detect when an appliance is in standby mode and cut its power, others allow you to set timers to turn off the socket when you know your items won’t be in use, for example overnight, while some products allow you to control the sockets remotely, so if you forget to unplug a device before you go out, you can do so via an app.
11. Plant a tree
Planting trees helps to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Plant a tree at home or join a community planting initiative in your local area. Choosing the right type of tree is also important. Native trees that originate in the UK, and are ideally grown from local stock, are best for helping native insects and animals to thrive. The Tree Council has helpful advice on becoming a volunteer tree warden in your area, while free trees are available for schools and communities from the Woodland Trust.
12. Generate your own renewable solar energy
Despite our lack of sunshine, Solar PVs are very effective in the UK. They harness energy even on cloudy days as they only require some level of daylight in order to produce electricity. Of course, the more direct sunlight they receive, the more energy that is produced. Olivia adds: “While south facing roofs are best for solar panels, the orientation doesn’t matter as much as you may think. We can also install them on east or west facing elevations and in these cases the system should still generate up to 80% of the energy as a south facing elevation.”
Visit www.redrowplc.co.uk/sustainability to find out more about how we’re working towards creating a Better Way to Live and reducing our carbon footprint.