Often, when we’re confronted by the big issues in the world, we think there’s nothing we can do about them. But when it comes to the environment, it’s the small things we do that count. Here are 8 simple and creative ways to make your home eco-friendlier, so that you can do your bit for the universe, your conscience and your wallet.
1. Start a compost bin
Composting is a great way to recycle waste and do good for your garden. You’ll find all types of compost bins at your local hardware store or, you can build your own.
Compost bins take care of most of your vegetable and fruit scraps, tea leaves and coffee grounds (apparently worms are coffee connoisseurs) egg shells, grass and hedge clippings. You can add a shred or two of newspaper or cardboard to the mix but don’t overdo it. Don’t add animal waste though – it doesn’t break down very easily and can attract pests.
2. Cool down the fridge
It sounds bizarre, but keeping your fridge cool on the outside can actually cut down on running costs. That means not having your fridge right next to your oven, in direct sunlight, or installing your fridge in a tight space so that there isn’t enough air circulating around it to keep it cool.
The inside temperature of your fridge is even more important in keeping costs to a minimum. The colder the temperature, the more power is used. Freezers should be kept between -15°C and -18°C and fridges between 2°C and 4°C. To help maintain ideal temperature, don’t put hot dishes straight into the fridge and don’t have the door open longer than necessary.
If you’re about to go shopping for a new fridge don’t overlook the Energy Rating Label. The more stars the better.
3. Bring plants indoors
Pot plants inside the home can be little miracle workers. Some increase the level of oxygen in the air, others reduce pollutants and airborne dust, some keep air temperatures down, and nearly all are good for the soul. Plus, they look great!
If you don’t have a green thumb, start small. Get an easy-care cactus, or an Aspidistra, which are incredibly difficult to kill. But once you’ve got a taste of the nature indoors, you’ll be hooked. Fortunately, there is every imaginable shape, size and colour of indoor plant at a garden centre near you.
Some popular indoor plants are:
- The Rubber Tree
- Split Leaf Philodendron
- Mother-in-law’s Tongue
- Peace Lily
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Heart Leaf Philodendron
4. Do your dishes the right way
A dishwasher is a great labour saver, and if you stick to a few simple rules it can also be a highly efficient use of resources too.
The main rule is: only use it when you have a full load. Then you’re making the most of the detergent, the water and the electricity the dishwasher uses. A full load is not just throwing things in anywhere as well. You’ll be amazed how many more items you can get into a dishwasher if you stack it properly.
And there’s no need to rinse before you load either. Modern dishwashers should have sufficient grunt to remove it all in the wash. Eco tip: use dishwashing powders or liquids that are free of phosphates.
5. Green up your cleaning routine
Supermarket shelves are groaning with every imaginable cleaning product. But many aren’t too friendly to the environment. However, there are now many eco-friendly products on the market too. These are cleaning products that are non-toxic, biodegradable and made from renewable resources meaning they are gentler on the environment. Take some time out to look into brands before you go shopping, a little bit of research about chemicals can go a long way!
Pro Tip: One of the best ways to keep your house floors clean, is to leave the dirt at the door. Try a socks or bare feet approach inside, you’ll be amazed what a difference that makes to the amount of cleaning you have to do.
6. Support suppliers who care about the environment
You have a lot of power in your pocket when it comes to who you buy from. If a company doesn’t have an environmental policy in place, or doesn’t have the same ethical and environmental interests you have, then you shouldn’t have to buy from them. Not only is ecological sustainable development good for the planet, it’s good for business!
Marley is a New Zealand manufacturer that takes environmental matters seriously. We have some very ambitious goals such as reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2025 with the help of Meridian Energy’s Certified Renewable Energy programme. Read more here.
In addition, we’ve cut water consumption by 63% since 2007, substantially reduced energy use, eliminated environmentally damaging raw materials, minimised waste to landfill by 57%, introduced recycling programmes and more. Plus, every year, processes and procedures are measured and evaluated to ensure that the manufacture, distribution and use of product has a minimum effect on the natural environment. Read more about our policies here.
7. Save water and use what you can for free
For years, water has been something we in New Zealand have taken for granted. But not any longer. We’re beginning to realise just how precious it is and why we should conserve it. A great place to start doing that is in the home.
There are a number of simple things every household can do to cut water usage and reduce those water bills:
- Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth
- Have showers not baths
- Fix any dripping taps
- Harvest rainwater from your roof
- Install a Marley Twist® – a rainwater diverter that easily turns your downpipe into a tap. Connect a hose and feed it into a small tank to get a free source of water for the garden, topping up the pool, cleaning pets or even an emergency supply. Check it out here.
8. Keep your drinking water safe and healthy
Fortunately, most urban water supplies in New Zealand are very safe. But as our population grows and land use intensifies we need to be extra vigilant to keep impurities and other contaminants out of our drinking water.
Charcoal filters can now be easily connected to kitchen taps and they provide an additional line of defence against water nasties. Some remove the chlorine taste too.
Rural homes are still largely dependent on tank water so keeping tanks and guttering clean and well maintained is vital. So too is stopping leaves and debris going into your tank which can be achieved with the new Marley CurveTM.
The Marley Curve leaf diverter is a very simple, effective way of keeping unwanted debris out of your water supply. It’s incredibly easy to install –just fit it onto an existing downpipe and it needs little maintenance. You’ll find everything you need to know about the Marly Curve here.
It really doesn’t have to be hard – get started now on small changes to help make a big impact!