36 ways to save the world
You don’t have to grow a hair coat and travel by horse and cart to make a difference when it comes to combating climate change. Tweak your daily routine here and there and you could shrink your carbon footprint in no time – and save cash in the process. Here’s how:
Food and drink
1. Think before you buy. Demand locally produced food whenever you shop – it’s your right to be choosy!
2. Cook from fresh. Avoiding processed and packaged foods reduces the emissions generated by transporting multiple ingredients and products long distances, and producing packaging. Besides, fresh food is better for your health.
3. Cook clever! Making toast? Use a toaster rather than the grill – it uses much less energy.
4. Buy food that’s in season.
5. Recycle aluminium. The amount of energy saved by recycling one aluminium drinks can is enough to run a TV for three hours.
6. Buy in bulk. It’s cheaper and limits the waste generated through packaging items individually. Don’t need much? Combine orders with a friend or neighbour.
7. Turn the oven off a few minutes early. If you keep the door closed, it’ll stay warm long enough to cook your food.
Taking a few simple steps could cut the emissions from your home dramatically, saving you plenty of cash in the process.
8. Put a lid on it. Saucepans with lids on heat much quicker, using less energy to cook your food in the process.
9. Use your oven sensibly. Don’t keep opening it to check whether your food is ready – heat escapes and your meal will take longer to cook, using more energy. Switch it off a few minutes before your food is ready and it’ll stay hot enough to finish cooking the food.
10. Turn lights off! Leaving an empty office lit overnight can waste the same amount of energy it takes to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee.
11. Buy energy-saving light bulbs. Some use less than a quarter of the electricity of traditional bulbs, and can last up to 12 times longer.
12. Make the most of nature. Light-coloured walls, ceilings and floors reflect daylight, making maximum use of natural light and reducing the need for artificial lighting.
13. Resist standby! turn off the TV at night instead of leaving it on standby.
14. If it’s fully charged, unplug it. Mobile phones, shavers and electric toothbrushes keep drawing electricity even when the battery is full.
15. Keep fridge and freezer doors closed. For every minute a fridge is open, it can take three energy-intensive minutes for it to cool down again. Similarly, it can take up to half an hour for a freezer to regain its temperature once a door has been opened for just sixty seconds.
16. Keep your freezer full. It takes less energy to keep a full freezer cool than it does an empty one. If you don't have enough food to fill it, use plastic bottles filled with water or even scrunched up newspaper.
17. Think before you cook. Pressure cookers and steamers are both energy efficient; steamers are also easy to use and very healthy.
18. Chop finely and boil smart. The smaller you dice your vegetables, the less time they take to cook. Boil only the amount of water you need, and match the size of the ring to the size of the saucepan.
19. Keep your cool when washing. Almost 90% of the energy washing machines use goes toward heating the water, so switch to a cooler wash: today’s washing powders are just as effective on 30°C programmes.
20. Use less paper at the office. Each worker uses 50 sheets of A4 a day, on average. If you have to print, do it double-sided.
21. Switch office equipment off at night. A photocopier left on from dusk ‘til dawn uses enough energy to make 1,500 photocopies.
Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change: Cutting down on the amount you and your family fly makes a huge difference to your carbon footprint.
22. Holiday at home! Flights abroad might seem cheap, but when you factor in taxes and the cost of getting to the airport they often work out much more costly than a trip within the country. You’ll save emissions as well as money: one long-haul return flight produces more carbon dioxide per passenger than the average motorist in one year.
23. Go by bike. If you’re exploring locally, hire a bicycle instead of a car: it won’t produce a drop of greenhouse gas and helps burn off that holiday excess.
24. Cut down on business trips. Why travel to meet with colleagues when you could use phone or video-conferencing? Find alternative ways to get from A to B at http://www.seat61.com/.
25. Spare your towels. Staying in a hotel? Ask for your towels to be washed every other day instead of every day to help save water – the planet’s most precious, and rapidly disappearing, resource.
Surface transport is responsible for about a quarter of emissions of CO2 – and this is forecast to rise in the future. In the past 30 years, traffic on our roads has more than doubled.
26. Do you really need to drive the kids to school? Sharing the school-run with a roster of parents is a great way to cut congestion, slash emissions and lower your fuel bill.
27. Don’t drive to the pub for your Sunday roast – make a day of it and cycle or walk instead.
28. Give your car a day off. Go to work on foot, by bike or on public transport – even if it’s only for a few days a week.
29. Think small. If you can’t do without a car, buy a small fuel-efficient one (or, better still, a hybrid): it will produce less polluting emissions than a gas-guzzling 4x4 – and be cheaper to run.
30. Keep your tyres properly inflated. Almost 80% of car tyres are believed to under-inflated, which can increase fuel consumption, and therefore emissions, by up to 5%.
31. Rent-a-ride. Rather than buying a car, consider renting one on a pay-as-you-drive scheme. 32. Drive with the windows up. This reduces drag, which increases fuel efficiency and lowers emissions. You can also reduce drag by removing roof racks when you’re not using them.
33. Switch off in traffic. Turn off the engine if you think you’ll be stationary for more than two minutes. Idling for this long burns more fuel than it takes to restart the car.
34. Change your driving style. Changing gear earlier can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15%. When you’re approaching traffic lights, slow down gradually rather than suddenly braking: slamming on the brakes increases fuel consumption by up to 30%, and pulling away too fast boosts it by up to 60%.
35. Don’t use the car for short journeys. A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel as a warmer one. Take a walk in the fresh air to the local shops instead – it’s good for you!
36. Invest environmentally. Plant trees