With spring here in full force and Earth Day having just passed, I thought it would be a good time to share some simple ideas to help take some pressure off the environment. Our membership of the WWF helps remind us and our Members that there are many ways that we can protect the planet.
Every day we toss out the kitchen scraps with barely a thought for where those vegetables came from and ultimately where they end up after being sealed in a bin liner and taken away by the bin men.
Believe it or not, all the potato peels, onion and garlic skins, bean ends, and rotting salad in the packet at the back of the fridge can be turned into compost and put back into the soil to give your garden a healthy boost. You can compost pretty much any vegetable matter that isn't cooked, even used tea bags.
You will need a compost bin, which you can get at any good hardware or garden centre for between £15 and £30, depending on the size. Simply collect your kitchen scraps in a bowl and put them into the bin at the end of the day. A year or so later you should have a bin full of lovely plant-friendly humus to dig into your beds and soil.
Composting works by allowing plant material to decompose naturally, the same way it would in nature but in a controlled environment. Friendly microscopic soil organisms break down the food scraps over time, leaving nothing but beneficial minerals. An abundance of earthworms is a sign of a healthy compost bin.
If you don't have a garden or don’t want to use compost, most city councils in the UK now provide brown bins for vegetable waste. They generally take it away once a week to be composted and your kitchen waste will eventually find its way back to you in the form of healthy vegetables.
Use low-energy bulbs
It may sound obvious because low-energy light bulbs are stocked everywhere these days, but if you look around your home I am sure you will find some clunky old light bulbs that will no doubt need replacing soon. Why wait?
Not only do low-energy bulbs use less electricity, they only generally break if you drop them. This means you save money on your bills and your shopping all while secretly pretending to be Captain Planet when you walk down the electrical aisle at your local supermarket.
If you have a lot of spotlights in your house you can now get low-energy spots too. Most of them use clustered LED lights instead of temperamental halogen bulbs, and as such will hardly ever need to be replaced.
Use biodegradable soap
This is another no brainer idea, yet for some reason most people still use copious amounts of petroleum-based detergent when they wash their dishes. Yes, I said petroleum based. That seemingly innocent looking bottle of green detergent on your kitchen sink is what’s left over after crude oil has been refined into petrol and other products you use every day. It’s quite toxic to aquatic life when dumped into the sea and if it’s skimmed off in a waste water treatment plant it usually ends up somewhere where it’s not going to do much good.
There are many brands of biodegradable soap available and a quick Google search can help you find the one that suits your needs. Ecover is an excellent brand that is used by some of the Institute’s team.