Five Ways You Can Help the Environment From Home
It’s always tough when our routines change. Things slip by the wayside and what was once an easy part of your daily routine suddenly seems like a daunting task. The past few months have seen a major change in all of our lives. Now that we’re all at home a lot more than usual, you might find that your waste bin is filling up faster than usual, or that you’ve not been able to be as careful with where and when you’re choosing to shop. If you’re starting to feel that twinging guilt about the impact all this is having on the environment, we’ve come up with a handy list of ideas of things you might like to try without leaving your house:
#1. Reduce waste
It’s a perfect time to try your hand at reducing waste. Now the toilet paper wars seem to have stopped, and shops are more on top of things, food shopping might become less of a stressful task than it has been over the past few months.
If you can afford to shop local, this is the ideal time to do it. Not only will you be supporting local businesses, but these also tend to use a lot less packaging than supermarkets. Fresh fruit and vegetables tend to have a shorter shelf life than supermarket stock, so planning how you’re going to use them is key so that you don’t end up with a fridge full of soft and past-their-best fruit and veg.
Another option is to buy frozen veg, which is as healthy (often healthier) than the fresh stuff. For example, peas are frozen as they are picked, which means that they don’t lose any nutrients before they get to your table. By buying ready-frozen vegetables, or freezing them as soon as you get them, they can last much longer, and you won’t have to worry about waste. Some fruit and vegetables, like berries, courgettes and peppers can be chopped up, dabbed with some kitchen roll and then frozen straight away. Others, like green beans and broccoli, need to be boiled briefly and then put in some cold water before they can be frozen.
#2. Plant something
Whether you’ve got a garden, a balcony, or a windowsill, now’s a perfect time to try your hand at planting. All you need is a pot with some drainage holes in the bottom, some soil, water and sunshine (plus a little patience and time).
You could plant your very own little herb garden. Depending on how much sun your balcony/garden/window gets will influence how well they grow.
If you have a sunshiney spot (4+ hours sun per day): Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Chives are all winners.
If it’s shadier: Mint, Parsley, and Coriander (that’s Cilantro if you’re from the US) work well.
Be warned though, some of these (I’m looking at you Sage, Rosemary and Mint) can grow massive if you let them! Not a problem if you’re growing them in a pot instead of directly into the ground, but keep an eye on them to check they’re not outgrowing the container.
#3. Add a source of water
If you have a garden or a balcony and want to get more wildlife your way, you could add a birdbath or even your very own watering hole!
Don’t have much space? No problem. All you need is an old washing up bowl, some gravel at the bottom and a few water-loving plants and you’ll have your very own pond garden. Just make sure that you have some bricks or logs so that any critters can venture inside (and get out again). Water Lillies, Frogbit and Sweet Flag, are all perfect to plant. Use the gravel to support the roots and keep the basin topped up with water, and you’ll have little visitors in no time.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a bit more outdoor space, here is a step-by-step guide to making your own wildlife watering hole using an old tyre and some waterproof material.
#4. Try your hand at composting
If you get really into #1, you might even try to see how little waste your household can produce in a week. One great way to use up cardboard and bits of food waste, like vegetable peelings and teabags, is to install a compost bin. Plus it improved the soil so you end up with healthier, happier plants!
This guide will fill fill you in on everything you need to set up your own compost bin. But what if you don’t have a garden? If you have a little bit of outdoor space, like a balcony, you could install a wormery. A wormery is a purpose-built container and a really efficient way of recycling food waste. They generally are made up of a few plastic trays layered on top of each other. You start by placing some compost, and some worms inside along with some food waste and the worms will get to work.
#5. Meat-free days
Livestock farming as an industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. It relies on a huge amount of land, both for the animals to graze in and to grow their food. Rainforest is cut down and burned every day to make more room for animal farming. In particular, red meat is by and large the worst contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Eating red meat regularly, particularly processed meat like bacon, is also associated with a whole host of health problems including cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and bowel cancers. One thing that’s fairly simple to do for the good of your families health and the environment is cutting down on eating meat.
Vegetarianism is no longer a lifestyle choice associated with hippies and hemp sandals. Now that vegetarianism, veganism and a mixed diet between plant and meat-based, are all more mainstream, we have more options than ever before. If you’re dipping your toes into including plant-based meals in your diet for the first time, you could try supplementing the meat in your favourite dishes with a vegetarian alternative like mushrooms, Quorn, or Soy.