As extensions of the Earth, it is becoming more imperative that we work with its natural systems rather than against it. Sustainability defines the ethical maintenance of a method for as long as possible. There are a myriad of practices we can enact in the home that contribute to the healthy co-existence of us and our biosphere.
Like any lifestyle change, long-term success is more probable with the introduction of small alterations at a consistent pace, rather than an explosion of adjustments at one time.
So we’ve created a plan of eco-friendly practices you can bring into the home each month for the rest of the year! This hopefully is a more gentle segue into different sustainability methods for all of us to get the ball rolling.
We’ve also included a FREE downloadable calendar, so you can tick off each eco-ambition you do throughout the year!
JANUARY: CHANGE YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER
Most energy providers like to ‘green-wash’ their brand to appear more attractive, but in reality, there currently is no perfect eco-friendly energy retailer. The simplest way to choose what brand to go with is by looking at the eco-friendly products they provide and the eco-friendly initiatives they support.
In Australia, an energy retailer may provide green energy products such as GreenPower. A GreenPower certification ensures that customers are purchasing renewable electricity for their home. Though, this usually comes as a separate cost.
Another option is carbon offsetting. This is usually offered as a free extra by participating retailers and supports renewable energy projects and carbon-neutral emissions.
If you’re questioning what an energy provider supports in terms of sustainability, here are some things to look for:
- Do they own any renewable energy farms?
- In what ways are they trying to contribute to clean energy?
- Do they support any renewable energy industries other than electricity?
- What are their plans for renewable energy?
- Have they been accountable for any unsustainable practices in the past?
FEBRUARY: INSTALL TAPWARE WITH A HIGH WELS RATING
Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, or WELS, is a rating by which you can measure how water-efficient your fixtures are. It is a legal requirement to have a WELS record on a product that purveys water. To make it simple, a fitting is given a star rating. The highest star rating is six, which details the greatest water efficiency.
But why save water? The result of pollution, extreme environmental changes, and a rising population have made freshwater a limited resource. There’s under 1% of usable water for humans, with the rest stored in ice caps, saltwater or the atmosphere. So we need to look after it!
Having high-quality fixtures in homes and businesses can further conserve our precious freshwater resource, which benefits not only us but:
- Prepares us for future droughts (especially food growth in that time)
- Allows more availability to impoverished communities
- Preserves more for flora and fauna
- Allows more for recreational purposes
- Ensures supply for emergency services
- Lowers bills and protects against potential future conflict
Here at ABI, we pride ourselves on the very high WELS ratings across our products.
MARCH: PARTICIPATE IN EARTH HOUR
On March 27th 2021, Earth Hour will commence at your local time of 8:30 pm. Switch off all your lights, and wind down with a glass of wine by candlelight for an hour.
Make sure to plan ahead and clear your schedule! Maybe we could all try doing it a few times this month to get us in the swing of things.
It’s not only a great time to connect with your loved ones, but Earth Hour’s impact has been a catalyst for positive environmental change, by using the power of the people.
APRIL: MAKE OR BUY BEESWAX WRAP TO PHASE OUT CLING WRAP
Every item of plastic that has ever been made still exists. Cling wrap has been extremely popular in the home to cover food, but it’s not the most environmentally sustainable material long-term.
Beeswax wrap is a fantastic alternative! Comprised usually of cotton or hemp, the fabric is then pressed with beeswax. It’s reusable, waste-free, highly durable and even antimicrobial.
You can buy it from stores, but it’s highly customisable if you make it yourself! Shapes, colours and sizes are all up to you. Our favourite method comes from Good Housekeeping here.
Make sure you wash it in cold water, so it doesn’t strip the wax. If your beeswax wrap isn’t as tactile over time, re-wax them!
MAY: SWITCH TO ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING PRODUCTS
Conventional cleaning products can contain hazardous chemicals that can negatively affect the environment and our health.
So in preparation for the mid-year clean, gradually make the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. There are heaps of alternatives in grocery stores now, but make sure these ‘green’ brands don’t include dyes, fragrances, chlorine, phosphate, or hypochlorite.
If you have empty bottles, you can always make your own cleaning concoctions! Some popular DIY cleaning ingredients include white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and much more!
JUNE: MID-YEAR DECLUTTER, DONATE OR SELL UNWANTED ITEMS
We’re halfway through the year, and it’s the perfect time to do a big reset in the home. Take stock of things you don’t want anymore and either donate or sell it.
Depop, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and even eBay, have become a mecca for users to sell their unwanted items. Can’t be bothered? Then donate! Second-hand stores usually have donation bins out the front or around your community, so you can easily drop them off. You never know, your unwanted decor might be someone’s dream!
This supports environmental sustainability, as fewer products go to landfill.
JULY: CURB YOUR WASHING MACHINE USAGE
Unless you’ve been playing actual stuck-in-the-mud, your clothing doesn’t need to be washed that much. It also ensures that they last longer! Overwashing clothes tend to reduce their lifespan.
Not-for-profit group Fashion Revolution found that around 25% of a garment’s carbon footprint is influenced by how we care for it. Try washing in bigger loads to reduce the amount of water and electricity used.
If your clothing looks visibly great but smells interesting, we have a solution. More specifically, a vodka solution!
Pour one cup of water and ½ cup of vodka into a spray bottle. You can drop your choice of essential oil in for scent. Spray this solution over clothes to give them a great refresh.
Vodka has natural disinfectant properties that kill bacteria, and bacteria is the culprit for making clothes smell funky.
AUGUST: PLANT SOME SEEDS TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD
Whether you have a vast backyard or a tiny metropolis apartment, there’s always a plant to suit your size! Always do what you can, and don’t feel bad if your circumstances can’t allow for more.
Growing your own food contributes to reducing carbon emissions from the transport and refrigeration of food items.
It also gets us back in touch with the natural world, and there’s an uncomfortable satisfaction when you harvest your first crop!
SEPTEMBER: CREATE A COMPOST BIN
Now that you’ve got some plants in germination, they need some food too! Adding a compost bin into your home means you can put your food waste to work.
The Eco Guide has a fantastic article on how to compost in under 15 minutes and what items are compostable. Check it out here!
Composting reduces waste going to landfill, helps grow healthier plants, allows the soil to retain water better, and decreases the need for chemical fertilisers.
OCTOBER: GO VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN FOR TWO-DAYS A WEEK
Don’t follow this suggestion if you need meat every day for health reasons! But one of the leading causes of environmental degradation is the meat industry. The amount of land and water needed to farm is extensive, with half of the usable land on Earth used for livestock.
Our dollar is essentially our vote. Cutting meat out for two days a week, or even just one helps slow the production of meat by signalling that demand is decreasing.
NOVEMBER: INSTALL LOW-E OR DOUBLE-GLAZED GLASS
Low-E or low-emissivity glass has a special metal coating on the glass that conduces insulation. On the other hand, double glazed windows are two panes of sealed glass, with a void in the middle filled by an insulating gas. Both of these act as a sunscreen too, blocking UV rays.
Installing Low-E or double glazed glass can increase windows’ energy efficiency as your house stays warmer in winter and cooler in summer. This reduces the need to use electrical heaters and air conditioners, diminishing the service of fossil fuels.
DECEMBER: BUY ECO-FRIENDLY XMAS GIFTS, WITH SUSTAINABLE WRAPPING
Share the love this Christmas. All the tricks and eco-friendly products you’ve unmasked on your journey is the best gift for your loved ones.
The Christmas period produces a lot of waste from wrapping and packaging, so maybe you could try wrapping your gifts in fabric instead! Furoshiki is an eco-friendly gift-wrapping method and has even been promoted by the Japanese Minister of the Environment in 2006 to spread environmental awareness.
There is also a myriad of small businesses who create wrapping from natural materials.