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3 Cool Ways to Reduce your Impact on the Environment

Updated on September 18, 2015

2012 was the wettest summer for ages. Now Britain is shivering under uncharacteristically grey and chilly skies and itâs been the coldest March for years and years. Most of us are wishing we were back in summer 2011, the driest in decades. The only predictable thing about the weather at the moment is its unpredictability.

Thatâs the irony of global warming. Climate change means the world is getting warmer as a whole but sadly it doesnât mean we get lovely warm weather. Then thereâs pollution, another critical environmental issue, and the mass extinction crisis in the natural world. Itâs clearly time to pull out all the stops and do our bit to minimise our contributions. So what can we do as ordinary people? Here are three everyday ways to walk lightly and minimise the damage.

1. Exercising consumer power

The consumer economic model means the more we buy, the healthier the economy. When we stop buying, everything grinds to a halt. We have a lot of power. We drive the system and when we decide we don’t like a product, the laws of supply and demand can easily drive it off the market. The same goes for the things we love best. The more we buy, the greater the demand, the better the choice, the lower the price and the less environmental impact.

When you buy responsibly you directly support the organisations and individuals who create ethical goods, fair trade products local produce with low food miles, natural organic foods and so on. As a general rule, they’re the businesses with the least negative effect on the planet and everyone on it, whether they’re furry feathery, scaly or human.

2. Cutting back on power

It’s relatively easy to cut energy bills with a few common sense steps, which saves cash as well as emitting less CO2. You can also switch suppliers to a ‘green’ energy company like Good Energy, who only sell energy generated by wind, solar power and so on.

Turn the heating down and wear more layers

Turn radiators off in the rooms you don’t use regularly and close the doors

Draught-proof doors and windows

Hang heavyweight door curtains

Only boil the water you need for the number of cuppas you’re making

Dry the washing outdoors (if it ever gets warm and dry enough!)

Wash up by hand

Use energy efficient light bulbs

Don’t leave gadgets and appliances on stand-by, switch them right off

Turn your mobile off at night

Switch off all the lights except in the room you’re using

Use your thermostat tactically

Check radiators twice a year and bleed out any trapped air

Service your boiler and heating system regularly

Using your car less

If you’re welded to your vehicle, think about slowing the pace a little. Walking takes longer but you stay fitter, see more and feel closer to the world than you feel when crammed into a tin box. Best of all, research shows brisk walking is just as good for you as jogging or running, without all the pain and suffering!

You could give public transport a go, provided you’re somewhere with a good service. If you live and work in a city or town centre you might even be able to do without a car altogether. It’s a radical step but plenty of people are doing it and a growing number of community car pools, city car hire and care sharing communities are stepping into the breach. If the thought of no car tax, parking fees, road tax, insurance, petrol bills, maintenance, servicing or MOTs appeals, car-less life might fit the bill beautifully. You can always hire a car when you really need one.

Combining common sense everyday buys and ethical gifts with cutting back on energy and using your car less lets you reduce your environmental impact substantially. Do you have any ideas to add? If so we’d love to hear them - feel free to leave a comment.

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