Three ways to be an environmentally conscious house

Outside of making sustainable energy choices, there are a few areas you can concentrate on to make a big difference to your household’s contribution.
Making environmentally friendly choices is important for the planet, but can also require planning and changing your behaviours.

When it comes to choosing what’s right for your household, there are three areas that you can consider: what you choose to buy, your daily habits, and what you do with the things that you don’t need.

Becoming a conscious consumer

The next time your family needs a new item, consider whether purchasing it is your only option. While modern living means we don’t always have the kind of relationships where we can pop next door to borrow something, there are community organisations and even tech solutions that can step in.

In your community you might find toy libraries, book libraries, tool libraries or even maker spaces which are designed to enable people to fix or upgrade the things that they have. When you’re looking for resources like this, your local council can point you in the right direction.

The ‘sharing economy’ is the broad term for the explosion of platforms that support peer-to-peer sharing or renting of resources. While you’ll likely have heard of well-known names like AirBnB and Uber, this is a fast-moving space and there may be a solution for the very thing you need. A quick internet search could well save you a purchase.

When you do need to buy, you have the choice of new or second-hand. Places like eBay, Gumtree and charity stores often have near-new items available for purchase, making them a good first port of call. If you decide to buy new, where possible look for good quality items that won’t need to be replaced in a hurry.

Creating ‘green habits’ together

Sometimes it’s difficult to see how small actions add up to larger change when you’re making good choices for the environment – and it can be even tougher to explain to kids why you’re making these changes. So, a hands-on approach can be a great way to involve children and get everyone thinking about the day-to-day choices we make.

If you have the room – even a balcony or windowsill can work – try creating a garden as a family. The highs and lows of growing plants is a great way to illustrate environmental concepts to kids. As a bonus, if you choose edibles you might get a healthy homegrown snack out of it too!

If your kids respond to systems like a star chart, consider introducing one for environmentally-friendly behaviours, like recycling, reusing containers and bottles and not wasting food.

To help kids understand the bigger picture, look for community events like clean-ups or tree planting days. Again, your local council is a great place to start to find events that you can take part in together.

Finding better ways to deal with waste

Of course, the best way to deal with household waste is not to create it! Taking some time each week to meal plan is a great way to ensure that you’re only shopping for what you need and don’t end up with a lot of food waste. When you do have bits to throw away, composting lets you turn scraps into useful fertiliser. If you don’t have an outdoor area, or are worried about maintaining a larger compost system, a bokashi bin system may be for you.

You’re probably already sorting your common household rubbish into recyclables, but what about those bigger or more unusual items? Have a look at the services provided by TerraCycle who specialise in recycling the “non-recyclable” like coffee capsules, pens and plastic gloves.

Local collection programs like Hard Rubbish are a good way to get rid of larger items, but don’t forget to look for avenues where you can sell or donate items in good condition. You might just save a neighbor from having to make a new purchase of their own!