Top tips on how families can help protect the environment at home in 2022

Many have decided that 2022 is the year that we put more effort into doing our part to protect the environment. However, you’ll be forgiven if you’re not in full swing – it’s not always easy to know where to start.

And especially now that Earth Day has arrived, more and more people are looking for ways to make small changes that can be applied on a daily basis. Others are interested in finding ways to invest in the future of the planet for the longer term – but either way, there are a variety of ways you and your family can make everyday life at home greener.

But these grand gestures aren’t all that can be done to help the environment. Here we have compiled a list of simple steps you can take from the comfort of your own home to reduce your carbon footprint.

How you can help protect the environment in 2022

Change your kettle

We are a nation of tea lovers, which means we expend a lot of energy boiling the kettle every day. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if we all boiled just as much water as we needed (rather than boiling and reboiling), we could save enough energy to power all of the UK’s streetlights for seven months.

So what is the most environmentally friendly way to heat water? According to Professor Peter Main, former Head of Physics at King’s College London, the answer is the hob. “Boiling a kettle full of water takes the same amount of energy no matter how you do it, so there’s the question of energy loss,” he explains.

“A kettle reduces heat loss a little better than a kettle on a gas stove – but there’s a much more important effect. Most of the UK’s electricity is generated by burning gas, and this process is only about 60 per cent efficient. So overall it is more efficient to burn the gas directly in the kitchen to heat the water than using a kettle.”

If you have to stick with a kettle, your best bet is eco-kettles, which let you choose how many cups you actually need to boil. Also, remember to descale regularly: buildup on the heating elements means the kettle takes more time (and energy) to boil.

Find alternative power sources

We love our dogs – their waste not so much. Not only is it polluting our streets, but the bags that responsible owners use to clean it up are contributing to our growing plastic problem. Even so-called green ones don’t easily biodegrade if they end up in landfill (like most of them).

Tired of seeing rubbish ruining his area in the Malvern Hills, local resident Brian Harper found a solution. A few years ago, he built an anaerobic digester that converts dog poop into methane, which in turn powers a street lamp. Ten bags of feces are enough to provide two hours of light. “We’ve had people come from all over to see it – including a busload of pensioners from Dudley,” he says.

In addition to solving the dog poop problem and reducing the need for plastic bags (there are free paper bags on the website), Harper says it has reduced the need for waste collection “in a diesel-powered truck.”

Become a flexitarian

Researchers have been warning about the climate impact of a meat-heavy diet for some time, but vegetarianism isn’t necessarily the solution. In fact, a 2019 study found that a flexible diet with one serving of meat per day is better for the environment than a vegetarian diet high in milk and cheese.

When researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US modeled the environmental impact of all major diets in 140 countries, they found they were calling a “two-thirds vegan diet” — one that consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables and legumes, supplemented with small amounts of meat – resulted in a lower carbon footprint than a vegetarian diet high in dairy. This is because certain dairy products, like cheese, are actually “more carbon-intensive” than some meats.

Use refillable containers

Single-use plastic is an ever-growing problem – 700,000 plastic bottles are thrown away in the UK every day. One commercial response is the sale of canned and carton water. But these aren’t really better for the environment.

“All materials have environmental impacts that can lead to different levels of environmental impact,” says Libby Peake, head of resource policy at independent think tank Green Alliance, which focuses on green policies.

She cites research showing that if aluminum cans replaced half of the UK’s plastic water bottles, “the degradation of this new material could create enough toxic waste to fill the Royal Albert Hall more than six times a year”. Switching to cardboard boxes could fill nearly 9,000 garbage trucks a year with waste that cannot be recycled in that quantity. “The only sustainable option is to use a reusable container.”

Invest in renewable energy

Maybe it’s time to think about using renewable energy sources like sun, wind or hydropower.

As part of Cop26, Harry Roberts, Managing Director of My Favorite Cottages, released a guide on how homes can be made more sustainable.

He suggested that among other measures, installing solar panels can reduce your home’s carbon footprint by 80 percent in just one year. Solar panels can last up to 50 years and therefore do not need frequent replacement and require very little maintenance. They can also save up to £120-310 a year on your electricity bills, the Energy Savings Trust.

Smart alternatives such as LED light bulbs now last 25 times longer than conventional light bulbs and are 80 percent more energy efficient. They can convert 95 percent of the energy they use into light, compared to the five percent that fluorescent lamps use. So, swapping reduces power consumption and eliminates specialist disposal.

It is also important that all your appliances have an A++ energy rating, as these are more environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run.

save water

We are often told to turn off the taps when brushing our teeth to avoid wasting water. But how seriously should we actually take the advice?

Well, on average each person uses around 142 liters of water per day, which together with increasing pressure on natural resources means the UK could face water scarcity by 2050.

To avoid waste, homes can install water-saving showerheads, low-flow faucets, and even double-flush toilets (which use four to six liters versus the standard 13 liters).

Also, it is possible to opt for modern energy and water efficient devices to control water consumption and reduce your water bill.

Start small

Making a big impact always starts with making the smallest changes.

Families can start making the switch to eco-friendly soaps, dish soap, and laundry detergents that are free from harmful chemicals or pollutants.

Remembering to recycle properly, opting for reusable shopping bags, and reducing the need for extra heating by investing in thick curtains and furniture can make a difference. Not only does this help reduce your heating bills, but it also adds extra cosiness to the interior.

This article will be updated with the latest advice. Top tips on how families can help protect the environment at home in 2022

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