Surprising ways to reduce your environmental impact from home.

In these times of eco-consciousness, we’re all aware of how to separate our rubbish into the right bins for recycling, we are handed our orders at the coffee shop wrapped in recycled paper and we don’t leave the office lights on any more. We never left the lights on (or the heating for that matter) as we were the ones who had to fork out for the bill at the end of the month. Aside from these quasi-efforts (not separating your rubbish for recycling is often punished with a fine in many jurisdictions), what else can the average homeowner do to reduce their environmental impact? The answers are myriad:

Many of us know about car-sharing. It’s a great idea in many ways, but it’s chipping away out our limited supply of fossil fuels and can’t be considered to be good for the environment. How about saving yourself a lot of money, cashing in the car (and never having to pay insurance, road tax or petrol ever again) and getting a bike? It’s a free workout (saving again on that gym membership) and you can often get to work just as fast as in a car. Imagine speeding past all your colleagues as they sit in traffic, panicking that they’ll be late again. Now, if there was ever an excuse needed for caring about the environment, that would be it! If you really can’t avoid using a motor vehicle, take the bus. At least that way, if all your colleagues took the same bus, you wouldn’t be the only one who arrived late for work!

Many people ridicule the idea of getting rid of their car as they loudly wonder “How am I supposed to get to the supermarket and back without a car?” Well, the simple answer to that is on your feet. If you’re not keen on that answer though, there is another option – let the supermarket come to you. With so many of the big chains offering an online grocery delivery service, it both saves time for hundreds of people and avoids the carbon emissions of around two hundred journeys (one hundred cars multiplied by the journey to the supermarket and the journey back).

Another great way to help the environment whilst saving money is to eat the food you buy. That means don’t throw it away. According to some studies, the average household throws away 40% of the food it buys. That includes, but is not limited to, stale bread, leftovers from plates, sour milk, unfinished soft drinks, yoghurts past their expiration dates, rotten vegetables and fruit and so on. Improve your planning. Don’t snack between meals – this will ensure you are hungry enough to appreciate the food on your plate. Throwing away food not only means the produce is wasted (oftentimes meaning a life has been lost for no reason), but the plastic wrapper was made for no reason, the water and energy used in production was wasted, all the fuel transporting the produce was wasted, and so on. Just don’t do it!

If you look around your house, you’ll find countless other ways to help the environment, from your lightbulbs, power tools (take a look at, washing machine cycles, home insulation and so on. You don’t have to tackle all of these at once. Make it your goal to improve on something once a month. Make a compost heap in the garden, grow your own vegetables. It’s fun, too!

An Australian Social Trends study found that energy consumption increased by over 50% in households through the 1980s and 1990s. Couple that statistic with the knowledge that in 1980 the world had 4.5 billion people, now there are over 7 billion and in another 30 years’ time, there will be between 9.5 and 10.5 billion. You can see that if we don’t change soon, it will be too late and we might as well give up on trying to save our home planet and invest all our resources into settling on another. However, considering that mankind hasn’t even set foot on another planet, what are the chances of us being able to colonise another world before we wipe ourselves out? Very small indeed. So let’s all try to do our bit to keep our home world in a good state.