4 unexpected ways you can help the environment!
I’ve been talking a lot about the big changes that I’ve been making or am planning on making this year, and you can read more about them here. It’s made me realise that it’s not only big lifestyle alterations that are important, and there are a lot of little things that I’ve started to do which also make a difference to my environmental impact. Now some of these might seem really obvious, but a lot of them are things that you probably do through habit and might not have given a second thought to before.
1. Washing your clothes
You may or may not be aware that a lot of your clothes are made from plastic. Polyester blends are really common as they reduce the need for ironing and dry much quicker than natural fibres. There are also other plastics like acrylic used to make clothes, because of their cheapness and ease of use.
Every time you wash your clothes plastic microfibres break off and there is the potential for them to enter our water systems, and eventually, fish and other marine life. The answer, to not buy plastic clothes, is not always affordable and sometimes not practical. If you are washing plastic clothes, here are some tips on how to reduce the amount of microplastics released:
- Wash on a low heat or even cold
- Have a low spin cycle
- Air dry, don’t tumble dry
- Make sure you have a full machine (this reduces friction during the cycle)
- Do not use detergents containing harsh chemicals
- Only wash your clothes when you need to
2. Turn the tap off
Although, here at Kalleco, we are mainly focused on the threat of plastic to our environment, this isn’t the only way that we risk damaging the earth. Whenever we overuse and waste we are causing environmental harm. It takes a good deal of energy to produce clean drinking water that we get through our taps, so wasting it is good to avoid!
It’s fairly common knowledge that showers are more eco-friendly than baths, using less water (and therefore also requiring less energy to heat). But have you considered stopping the shower stream whilst you shampoo, condition, or soap up? Turning the tap off rather than letting it run down the drain is a small change, but it will make a difference. The same goes for when you are cleaning your teeth. I left the tap running for years because it’s what I did growing up, and it has taken me a while to get out of the bad habit.
3. Lights out… All the lights!
I used to laugh at my mum and sister when they went around the house before we went away turning all the switches off. I thought they were living in a nightmarish imagined past where plug sockets frequently spontaneously burst into flames.
To this day I do not know if the “It’s to stop the house burning down” excuse was intended to mollify a complaining child, or if that was their real reason. I do know that they were right! In fact, they were also right to turn the TV off at the plug, to make sure the dishwasher was powered down, and so on. Any appliance left in standby mode is using energy and when we think about it, we all know this. If there’s a light on, it’s using energy from somewhere!
The old rule about turning a light off when you leave the room still applies, and needs to be spread out to all the lights! And also to anything that doesn’t light up but still uses power… It also costs you money!
4. Measure your food
Food waste is also a problem, and the figures in the UK are huge. Part of the problem is buying too much, because of the size of pre-packed packages of food. One way to get around this is to go to a zero waste store and buy the amount you need!
It is not so much throwing the food away that harms the environment, as food waste is often compostable and biodegrades anyway, but it is the environmental costs of producing the food and getting it to market. As a result you should think carefully before tossing away your leftovers.
If you do end up with too much, you can reduce the waste by refrigerating and having in the next couple of days (this can be helped even more by using beeswax wraps which have anti-bacterial properties as well as keeping air exposure to a minimum).
It’s sometimes hard to cook for one, or even getting the quantities right for two, so we also freeze our leftovers so we can enjoy a week, or even two later.
I’m a big believer that little changes make a difference, and by gradually changing our habits we can become better people. Not only happier with our impact on the world around us, but happier in ourselves and knowing that we are doing our best. Sadly, changing bad habits isn’t easy, but it is doable! Being mindful of our actions and not beating ourselves up when we fall short of our own expectations is vital if we want changes to stick, and eventually they become routines that you don’t even need to think about!
Comment below if you’ve got any other tips - remember, things are sometimes only obvious when they are pointed out to you!