New to ethical living or planning to start the New Year by turning over a new leaf? Take a look at our favourite earth friendly ideas and add one, two, or all of them to your list of resolutions, to help make this year or your next one, an ethical one.
1 Switch to renewable energy – The burning of fossil fuels to provide electricity for our homes is one of the biggest generators of carbon emissions, and renewables still only account for a minority percentage of energy generated. Switching to a green electricity supplier either online or by telephone is really easy and can take less than 5 minutes!
2 Zap your phantom – If you leave your electrical appliances and gadgets plugged in, even if they are switched off, they will often still be using energy. Make a resolution to walk around the house at the end of each day and unplug any unused items, such as phone chargers, to avoid this phantom energy being zapped from your home. A gadget, which monitors your electricity use and tells you how much you are spending, can help with this.
3 Go solar – Remember how amazed you were when you got your first solar powered calculator? Well now you can harness the energy of the sun to power all sorts of gadgets. On a big scale you could pledge to install photovoltaic panels on your roof. On a smaller scale you could resolve to use solar power for one or two of your electrical gadgets, such as your mobile phone, or laptop, by investing in a portable solar charger.
4 Cool it – Keep your thermostat turned down by just a couple of degrees during 2023 and put on an extra layer of clothing instead. This could cut your carbon emissions by over 5%. It will save energy and gives you the perfect excuse to put on those gorgeous, cosy, organic wool and cashmere jumpers.
5 Keep it all in – Make this the year that you ensure your heating is as efficient as it can be. Installing loft insulation is simple, stops heat escaping through your roof, saves energy and can help you reduce your energy bills. Wall Cavity insulation will also save energy by stopping heat from escaping through the walls. You could also fit a jacket to your hot water tank.
6 Start composting – You can reduce the amount of waste going into your bin and being transported to landfill by composting your kitchen and garden waste and it will give a good supply of quality soil for your garden too. A compost bin will keep your compost tidy, easily accessible and smell and pest free. If you’re short of space, a wormery may be a better option as many will fit on a patio or balcony.
7 Recycle and Freecycle – Could 2023 be the year you do more to recycle than just putting paper, bottles and cans in your weekly doorstep collection? Check out the Freecycle network where you post your unwanted items to see if anyone else can make use of them or give someone else’s item a good home and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. One man’s waste is another man’s treasure.
Around the house
8 Clean up your cleaning – Start the New Year by cleaning up the cupboard under the sink. Have a good look at the ingredients in your household cleaning products and replace anything containing petrochemicals or hazardous chemicals, which can leak into the environment and cause damage to humans, animals and the planet. Ecover, Bio-D and Natural House have a range of highly effective, eco-friendly alternatives.
9 Get a hippo – See how much water you can save in 2023 and help limit the drain on our precious water supply. Put a water hippo or save-a-flush in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water wasted every time you flush. Wash your vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap and install a water butt to catch rainwater, which can later be used to water your garden.
Out and about
10 Get on your bike – Cycle, walk or take public transport on your daily commute, every day if you can but even once a week will make a big difference. As well as saving on petrol and cutting your carbon, you’ll get fresh air and exercise and will feel more alert and awake when you reach your destination.
11 Share and care – If you need to use a car, consider buying an electric or hybrid model to minimise your impact. Keep your tyres fully pumped and make sure there are no unnecessary items in your boot. You could also join or start a car pool at your workplace or join a larger scheme such as National Carshare.
12 Holiday at home – and avoid air miles. You won’t have to look hard to find some stunning spots for your 2023 annual break right here in your own country. If you do go overseas this year, offset your emissions. And don’t forget to pack lightly. The more your take with you the more energy is used in getting your belongings there and back again!
13 Eat and drink organic, local and seasonal – focus on seasonal food, its healthier and tastier too. Support local farmers, avoid pesticides and limit your food miles by also buying organic and local foods whenever possible. Your local farmers market is a great place to start and allows you to chat with the producers themselves as well.
14 Go veggie – Intensive meat production can be an energy intensive business, a cause of greenhouse gas emissions and often environmentally damaging through over-grazing and deforestation for ranches. Cut down on the amount of animal products in your diet by going veggie once or twice a week in 2012.
15 Grow your own – If you are lucky enough to have a garden you can really minimise your food miles by resolving to grow your own organic fruit, vegetables and herbs this year. Its healthy, eliminates the need for packaging and you get to eat the tasty rewards. You can start off in an allotment, a patch of garden, a grow bag or even a container on your windowsill.
16 Ban the plastic bag – Plastic bags are ugly and take over 300 years to break down. Say no to plastic and lessen the load of the 17 billion bags that are given away in the UK each year. Fortunately, there are lots of stylish ethical shopping bags available. From hemp, to jute, to sari silk, there’s something to suit everyone.
17 Know your labels – Dedicated shoppers can make a pledge to swap their designer labels and brand names for ethical labels during 2023. Keep your eyes open for The Soil Association logo for organics, the Fairtrade Mark for fairly traded goods, the FSC logo for sustainable wood, the MSC logo for sustainable and well managed fish stocks and the Energy Saving Trust logo for the most energy efficient appliances.
18 Make up with Mother Nature – Our skin absorbs high quantities of what we put onto it and the chemical and synthetic ingredients used in many products can cause irritations. Start the New Year with a beauty regime of natural and organic skincare and cosmetics and give your skin a breath of fresh air.
19 Get out more – Walking, jogging and cycling are a great way to get some exercise and much more fun than a stuffy gym. It’s also a good way to explore the local area, meet people, enjoy nature and get some fresh air. And whilst you are out and about you’ll be saving energy at home by not watching the TV.
20 Dress to impress – Not all resolutions have to be hard work. Buying fair trade and organic clothing and accessories in 2023 will keep you looking super stylish, will protect the environment and farmers from pesticides and ensure that workers are paid a fair wage for the items they produce.
21 Get skilled – Learn a new skill such as growing, making or mending. Home grown and hand made goodies will help you become self-sufficient, minimise your impact on the planet, make excellent original presents and will give you a real sense of achievement.
22 Shout about it – We’re proud of each and every step you take to make a positive difference to the world around you, so why not shout about it? Write to your local politician, representative, or MP and ask them what steps they are taking to tackle climate change. Tell your friends about your wonderful new eco discoveries. Talk to your children about climate change and how they can help protect their future.
James has come to writing and blog writing in particular, late in life. When not working as a systems analyst for an American Telco, he spends his time honing his writing skills on our blog and commuting between Houston and Dar es Salam to the family home in Mikocheni.