How much was your latest energy bill?
At the end of winter it’s entirely possible that your energy bill was alarming to read. This isn’t ever a good time for the bank balance but as well as the obvious cost to you there’s the hidden cost of what overconsumption is doing to the planet.
Being aware of how much energy you use at home and taking steps to reduce overall energy usage not only will save you money but it will also reduce the size of your carbon footprint.
Small disclaimer! It’s worth mentioning that the concept of a carbon footprint was created by BP in order to put the responsibility for climate change onto the customer. In this case we’re not using the term to guilt trip people into using less we are using it to illustrate the impact we all have as consumers. While we should be conscious of our individual effect on the environment, the best way to make change is as always to lobby companies and government representatives to put the pressure exactly where it needs to be.
So while these are ways to reduce energy usage in the home, which will hopefully save you money and energy, please do not feel guilty if you can’t do these things. The overwhelming responsibility for climate change lies with corporations and governments. For now all we can do is adjust our habits and vote both physically and financially.
Now that’s out of the way here are some things to consider!
How old is your boiler?
This is not an easy or cheap fix, and we’re well aware that nobody will ever change their boiler for fun. However, if you are in the process of replacing your boiler, we encourage you to choose the most energy efficient one you can afford.
Boilers typically account for 55% of a household’s energy bill so while this is an expensive fix, it can reduce the amount of energy you’re using overtime which makes it worth the effort.
When did you last switch your energy provider?
We’re always bombarded with adverts about switching energy providers to save money, and this is a good way to save overall. If you can’t make changes to lifestyle to reduce your energy consumption we recommend switching to a provider that’s committed to generating green energy.
This won’t stop the older companies continuing to produce energy the old fashioned way but it sends a strong message that the better these green energy companies do the more demand there is for this service. Ultimately that’s how big corporations start to listen, when an outsider starts to take their profit share they will adjust their methods to match in an attempt to get previous customers back.
If you aren’t sure where to start, the usual price comparison websites now have the option to search for a new supplier that specifically uses green energy.
The old methods will still work!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the good old fashioned ways of saving energy still apply.
Switch off lights when you’re done in the room, those at home Blackpool Illuminations will run up your energy bill and cost you in the long run. If you do want to light up your house, make the effort to switch to low energy bulbs that will cut your energy use and last far longer than traditional bulbs.
Unplug devices when you aren’t using them, especially things like phones and tablets when you’re done charging them. Even when they are done charging the battery they will still draw energy and contribute to your total usage. Why not plug your phone in to charge a while before you’re planning to go to bed? Then you can unplug it before you go to sleep and there’s no way for it to take up more energy than it needs.
If your appliances have an eco-mode, use it! Dishwashers and washing machines typically have this mode and are designed to make the machine more efficient. If you’re replacing any appliances choose one with the highest rating you can afford, it will pay off long term.
There are so many little things that you can do around the home to save you energy and ultimately money. While big companies need to change, and we need to tell them to change every chance we get, we can still play a very small part and send an important message.
Is part of your 2021 New Years Resolutions to be more environmentally friendly with the products you buy? If yes, fantastic! This is a great goal to have for 2021.
For this goal, you may have already thought about buying from sustainable clothing brands or cutting down on the amount of meat you purchase this year. These are great ways to be more eco-friendly but have you considered the benefits of going green with your shampoo?
Move away from plastic shampoo bottles
It’s not something that everyone thinks about, but start thinking about how many bottles of shampoo you go through. This is a product that is often such a part of our lives that we don’t think about the impact it can have on the environment.
Once you know how often you wash your hair, you can work out how fast you go through your shampoo and then how many bottles you’re potentially sending to landfill. The sad fact is, even if you put it into the recycling bin it doesn’t mean it will be recycled.
So much of our plastic waste ends up travelling overseas, and the plastic that stays in the UK sometimes just can’t be recycled. The best way to reduce the impact of plastic is simply not to use it.
There has been an explosion of plastic-free hair care in the UK. Before you were looking at having to buy online or finding a local Lush, but now you’re spoilt for choice. Boots, Superdrug, and the big supermarkets all have shampoo bars for you to try. Even in a lockdown, you can still go plastic-free.
What to expect if you do switch to a solid shampoo?
Before you buy a bar make sure to use up what shampoo you have before going to purchase more, there are no benefits from buying more than you need.
When you’re ready to switch to a solid shampoo bar you’ll need to do some research before you dive in.
Shampoo bars will respond to different water hardness and give you different results depending on your hair type. It’s worth bearing in mind that they can become quite harsh on your hair if they don’t have any conditioning qualities.
It is a process to switch from liquid shampoo to a solid bar, so definitely take the time and look up specific advice for your hair type. It can be a challenge, and it will take time to adjust but if you really want to cut down on plastic waste in the bathroom this is a good option to explore.
Choose cruelty-free products where you can afford to.
As with make-up, it’s important to choose products that are ethically made without cruelty to animals. We’ve done a separate guide on why ethical make-up matters if you’re looking to start switching your products.
It’s well known that animals bred for meat contribute to climate change, but so do the animals unnecessarily kept for testing chemicals before they are introduced to us in our beauty products. While this may not be the biggest factor in choosing to switch to eco-friendly shampoo, it’s certainly an important one.
Cruelty-Free does not mean expensive or difficult to find. One of the brands that we love is the Superdrug cruelty-free range of haircare. There’s something for the majority of hair types and it’s reasonably priced. If you’re looking to spend a bit more on your haircare why not try Function Of Beauty? They’re an entirely online store that specializes in customised hair care just for you.
As with anything we recommend, this is a change you can make gradually. Do some research to find the perfect cruelty-free and (hopefully) plastic-free shampoo for your hair type that’s in your budget.
If you can’t afford to make a change to your beauty routine right now, that’s fine too. Why not spend some time getting in touch with companies and letting them know that they should be taking steps to be greener and stop using chemicals tested on animals? Using your voice to let companies know that they need to change to meet consumer demands is a big way to help if you can’t necessarily vote with your wallet and is a perfect way to make a difference.
Bees are a quintessential part of UK life. They help to pollinate a lot of our crops, worth up to £600 million per year in the UK, and keep our wildflowers returning year after year.
Unfortunately the plight of the bees is one that unless you’ve heard about it you could go years without knowing it’s an issue. Thanks to changes in agriculture, pesticide use and overly manicured gardens the number of bees and variety of bee species is decreasing.
Some species of bees can now only be found in remote areas of the UK where they are safe from human interference. The sad reality is that unless we adjust how we impact our local environment, we could do irreparable damage to the bee population in this country.
There is good news however, with some simple changes we can help to turn our gardens into safe spaces for local bee colonies.
An obvious way to counteract the impact of an overly maintained garden is to start to introduce some bee friendly plants. The easiest flowers for bees to access are single flower plants that either have their middle exposed or are tube flowers for the bees to climb inside and get the pollen. Bees are also more drawn to purple flowers as numerous studies have shown they can see this colour the easiest.
Now is a great time to start thinking ahead about plants for the garden. You can get ahead and research the best plants for your space and get them planted ahead of time ready for the warmer weather.
For immediate benefit to bees, why not choose some of these winter flowering plants to help bees that have ventured out to stock up on supplies:
- Snowdrops and aconites
The best way to use your garden to help local bee colonies is to plant a variety of plants that will bloom at different times of the year so any bees can find valuable resources no matter the season.
To find out more about looking after bees in your local area and to see how much you garden could be helping bees we recommend visiting the Bee Conservation Trust and taking their beekind quiz.
As well as making these changes at home we urge you to consider asking your local MP what they are doing in parliament to help protect wildlife areas and to help farmers create wildlife areas in their land to give nature a safe place year round.