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Plastic Free July: Going beyond recycling - tips to make eco-friendly choices in your home

Author: Rebecca Moseley (Socitm Advisory Consultant)

Socitm Advisory are dedicated to reducing their use of single-use plastic within our organisation and within our staff's personal lives. As part of showing our support for Plastic Free July, we have put together a series of blogs throughout the month giving tips and information on how to reduce your use of single-use plastic that we are following too.

Now I we know what you're thinking, "so now even recycling isn't enough?"

The short answer, no.

It's easy to be overwhelmed when thinking about the massive effects of climate change on the globe and small acts such as unplugging un-used electrical items or remembering reusable tote bags on food shop day seem to pale in comparison. However, if the 87% of us that do have access to electricity (that's 6,606,780,000) people make just that one simple change, that will result in a huge drop in fossil fuel consumption and subsequently improve a range of areas such as the carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

There are a number of small changes that if they were more commonly used would have a massive effect on reducing individual carbon footprints and contribute to a more sustainable future and here's some of them:

Switching to LED bulbs

Small changes such as replacing lightbulbs in your home with LED bulbs, which not only last longer than conventional bulbs, but are also far more efficient is another great way to make greener choices in your home. LED bulbs use around 90% less energy than traditional incandescents and last around 25 - 30 years. Their long life and energy efficiency often result in energy and money saved after a matter on months. If that is not enough there are also 'Smart' LED bulbs which can be controlled through various AI systems such as Alexa or Siri and switched to whatever colour you're in the mood for.

Switching to a renewable energy supplier

Another great tip to reduce your carbon footprint and maximise your energy efficiency is to switch to a renewable energy supplier. A green energy tariff works by the supplier promising to match all or some of the electricity you use with renewable energy, which it then feeds back into the National Grid. So, the more people who sign up to a green energy tariff, the bigger the percentage of green energy in the national supply.

Switching is simple and changing to suppliers such as Ecotricity, Bulb or Octopus Energy means that when you use electricity on renewable tariffs such as these there is effectively zero carbon.

Buy used!

Another great way to cut down your carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly is to buy second-hand items, which is good for the planet but is also just as good for your wallet! Buying used means fewer items end up discarded in our landfills and saves the raw materials that would have been used to make a brand-new item. Around 235 million items of clothing end up in landfill annually.

The Environment Audit Committee released statistics that stated 3,781 litres of water are used to make one pair of Levi 501 jeans, an astronomically high price to pay for classic denim.

When you buy used it saves energy and pollution created in the production, manufacturing, packaging and transportation process of the garment - and searching for unique and vintage pieces is fun; and giving back to charity also means getting a new piece is rewarding!

Planting a garden

The final tip for this blog is to grow your own fruit and vegetables where possible. If you grow your own food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you'll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution as well as reducing needless plastic packaging that is commonly used in supermarkets. You'll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.

If you don't have access to a garden, windowsill boxes are a great way to brighten your view as well as filter the air that comes into your home. Balcony gardens are also growing (literally) in popularity in inner city gardens to effectively grow their own food. However, if this is not enough there are also thousands of local allotment spaces that can be rented for a small fee where you can grow fruit and veggies in fun community space.

What little changes will you take forward in your life to become a more responsible and eco-conscious individual?

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