Deciding to become more environmentally conscious is a big deal, and will likely have an impact on everything you do in life.
From buying clothes to shopping at local grocers rather than major supermarkets, there are so many ways to reduce your environmental footprint and live a cleaner, greener life. And where better than to start that journey than at home?
Below, we’ve rounded up some simple ways to make your home greener and eco-friendly…
Clear out your wardrobe
When was the last time you went through your wardrobe and had a good spring clean? It’s so easy to hold on to things that you no longer need, but learning to let go and decluttering is a great way to create a greener, more eco-friendly home.
Granted, you’re not going to save the planet by throwing old clothes away, but unwanted garments can be sent to charity shops or repurposed and given another life, rather than collecting dust in a wardrobe.
What’s more, when you clear out your wardrobe, you’ll reassess your relationship with your clothing, and perhaps think twice before buying anything new.
Plus, you’ll be able to replace unwanted t-shirts and jeans with eco-friendly clothing made from high-quality materials that last longer and are made from sustainable, organic materials that are better on the skin.
Fill your home with houseplants
Houseplants not only look great, but they’re good for the planet and some are anti-pollutant, removing indoor toxins and making your air healthier.
There are a number of indoor plants that remove formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide, like the areca palm (dypsis lutescens) and rubber plant (ficus elastica). Large, leafy plants are good year-round, so you won’t have to worry about them dying at the height of the summer or in the freezing winter.
If you live a busy life or you’re bad at looking after plants, then opt for a low-maintenance plant like spider plants (which remove formaldehyde and xylene) and dracaena plants (but be aware that these are toxic to cats and dogs).
The peace lily is another popular indoor plant variety, whilst the snake plant (also known as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) is famed for being one of the hardest houseplants to kill, thriving in dry conditions with some sunlight.
Cut down on household waste
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon emissions and create an eco-friendly home is to reduce your household waste and pick up habits that will make you leaner and greener.
The average family throws away around a month’s worth of food per year, so cut back on waste by planning meals and freezing leftovers - not only will it save you money, but it will reduce the amount of unnecessary food waste that ends up rotting away in a landfill.
When it comes to recycling, make sure you’re clued up on what you can and cannot put in your general waste bin and recycling bin, and consider buying larger sizes or concentrates to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you bring into your home.
Take your own bags when you go shopping, and reuse unwanted books and magazines by sending them to schools, hospitals or second-hand shops, and toys by sending them to nurseries or charity shops.
Plant a tree in the garden
According to new climate change research, if we planted one trillion trees around the world, we would be able to reverse the side-effects of global warming.
Granted, you’re not going to be able to plant a trillion of them in your garden, but if you want to play your part and create a greener, more inviting space, then consider planting one of the UK’s fourteen native trees.
The best trees to plant in the UK are alder, silver birch, blackthorn, bird cherry, wild cherry, crab apple, dog rose, dogwood, elder, hawthorn, hazel, holly, rowan or goat willow, but you should research your favourite before planting to ensure it won’t out-grow your garden.
Grown trees, which can be purchased from as little as £15 from your local garden centre, can be planted all year round, and not only filter pollutants, but provide shade in the summer, create homes for wildlife, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and fight soil erosion. Above all else, they look beautiful and help you leave your own mark on the planet.
Buy and install a brick for insects
Bee populations are a great concern amongst environmentalists, so lend a hand by installing a brick in your property. Whether you’re building a new home or doing renovations, you can replace a standard brick with a ‘Bee Brick’, which creates a habitat for solitary bees to live.
Such bricks provide nesting spaces for bee species like red mason bees and leafcutter bees, which are not aggressive and are vital for the future of our planet. Bee bricks contain cavities where bees can lay their eggs, and if you place it near pollinator-friendly plants like lavender, honeysuckle, and buddleia, then you’ll see more bees and insects in your garden, which is great for the planet and good for your plants and shrubs, too!
Get a composter
Rather than wasting leftover food and putting teabags in the bin, consider a composter for your garden. You’ll be surprised how much waste you throw away that could be composted instead, and because companies now produce compostable packaging and boxes, there’s never been a better time to reduce your waste and cut back on unnecessary paper and plastic.
To maximise your yield and feed the microbes that break down organic materials, aim for a 50-50 mix of green (food, grass) and brown (straw, leaves, twigs, sawdust, etc).
Install solar panels on your roof
If you want to create an eco-friendly home, then consider installing solar panels on your roof. Depending on where in the world you live, it takes around 20 years to break even once you have installed solar panels, but it’s not just about the money - it gives you an opportunity to become totally eco-friendly and reduce your reliance on big energy companies.
Capture your own energy to power your home, and challenge yourself not to buy energy from the grid for a year to see how you get on. It can be expensive to make the initial investment, but the good news is that some companies offer them for free if they get to keep the energy produced, so it’s worthwhile looking into your options to see how you can create a self-sustaining home.
Be smart with food prep
Another great way to cut back on waste is to get smarter in the kitchen and make more sensible decisions when preparing food. For example, you lose a lot of heat when you open the oven door during cooking, so make an effort to time your food and only open your oven when you know your meal is cooked.
And rather than preparing a fresh meal every day, why not batch cook food in bulk on a weekend, like salads and pasta, that you can heat up when you get home from work, saving preparation and the energy required to cook from scratch?
One other way you can reduce waste with your food preparation is to get rid of coffee pods.
Yeah, we get it: if you’re buying pods and making drinks at home, then you’re not going to be spending a fortune in Starbucks and buying single-use coffee cups, but the plastic capsules used for coffee pods are just as damaging, with the majority ending up in landfill, and some in the sea. Switch to instant coffee instead, and get rid of waste-producing coffee machines.
There you have it - just some of the ways you can make your home greener. The truth is that becoming more eco-conscious takes time and requires dedication and persistence.
Making changes won’t come naturally at first, but over time you’ll build habits and your footprint will fall as a result. We wish you the very best of luck with your eco-mission - you can do it!