Over the last ten years, we have seen a huge increase in the amount of people who are making an effort to try sustainable living. Rising energy prices, concerns about global warming, and the increase in the availability of recycling facilities in most parts of the country have all contributed to the increase in awareness and the change in sentiment of the general public.
It’s easy enough to live in a “sustainable” fashion when you are established in your home; if you are willing to make-do-and-mend, recycle as much as possible, and source most your products from local stores and suppliers, then your day-to-day carbon footprint should be fairly low. The challenge comes, however, when it’s time to move house or re-decorate.
Research Suppliers Before You Buy
The National Forest Green Guide is packed full of advice about a wide range of products, and is a good place to start if you are shopping for new household appliances, gadgets and furnishings.
Try to choose Fair Trade products whenever possible. In addition, look out for Soil Association approved foods, and Energy Star rated appliances. For other products, consider where the product is made (local is better), and the amount of packaging used.
Source Sustainable Materials
When you’re shopping for wood, try to find the most eco-friendly option. Look for Forestry Stewardship Council sustainable wood that comes from sustainable managed forests or source oak doors that are made of reclaimed wood. Do not import wood products if you are not certain of the source; they may come from rainforests where deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate.
Upcycle and Recycle Whenever Possible
If you are moving to a new area then your opportunities for upcycling and recycling may be limited, but it’s still worth keeping those options in mind. Look out for local car boot sales, and join the area’s freecycle group to see if you can pick up any items for your new home. Be sure to return the favour by offering up any items that you decide to get rid of later down the line.
Consider the Total Cost of Ownership
When you are planning your renovation project, consider the total cost of ownership of each home improvement. Things such as under-floor heating in the bathroom may be inexpensive to install, and seem like a brilliant idea at the time, but they cost a lot of energy to run and will have a big impact on your carbon footprint.
On the flip side, fitting solar panels or double glazing may look like costly projects, but they will pay off over the lifetime of your home. Double glazing is a particularly good investment, and will increase the value of your home.
With smaller purchases, think about the running costs versus the cost of the product and the amount of time it will save your, or the convenience it will offer. Do you really need a free-standing electric heater, or would you be better off fitting draft excluders and saving up enough money to update the central heating in your home? Low up-front expenses don’t always indicate a good investment.
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