On a typical day, how eco-friendly are you? Few of us wake up with saving the planet on our minds … and the truth is, we’ve often got so much going on in life that it’s easy to let our eco-friendly habits slip. Maybe we manage to keep a few green habits going when we’re at home, but we struggle in the office – or vice versa. Perhaps we’re good at remembering to switch off electrical appliances before work, but we often forget before bed.
So here’s how to have a great eco-friendly day, from morning till night:
I’m British, so breakfast definitely wouldn’t be complete without a cup of tea! We use electric kettles over here – they’re more efficient than boiling water on the hob. Don’t overfill the kettle – just put in the amount of water that you need.
When it comes to breakfast itself, avoid products with tons of packaging and ones which have gathered a lot of air miles. Opt for local produce, such as fresh fruit, eggs or bread. If you do go for cereals, look for ones that aren’t highly processed, such as oatmeal.
Do you drive to work? Could you carpool instead, or take public transport, or find some other way to go green on your commute? If you live near enough, how about cycling (here’s seven serious benefits to riding a bicycle) or even walking? In many cases, seeking alternatives to the car can benefit you as well as the environment: it’s easier to relax on a bus or train when someone else is doing the driving!
If you stop off for coffee on the way to work, take your own mug, rather than getting a disposable one. Better yet, fill your own thermos with coffee and save some money!
In the Office
Even when we’re good at sticking to eco-friendly principles at home, it’s easy to let these slide in the office. Perhaps your colleagues just don’t care, and it’s hard to encourage your office to go green. Or maybe you’ve given in to the temptation of seeing workplace environmentalism as someone else’s responsibility.
Simple measures – like switching off computers (not leaving them on standby) at the end of the day, and turning off lights in empty rooms – will have a real impact. Why not take things even further, and start up an office recycling scheme, if one doesn’t exist already?
You could also treat yourself to some gorgeous and green stationary. (Just be prepared for office mates “borrowing” your cool stapler…)
When you’re busy at work, lunch often ends up being a quick sandwich, or something grabbed without much thought for the environmental impact. Most store-bought sandwiches come in plastic packaging (though here in the UK, more and more retailers are using biodegradable cardboard – a step up, but still not perfect!)
How about making your own sandwiches at home and taking them into work? You can put them in an airtight box, or a reusable bag. It’s a lot cheaper than buying sandwiches out – and it’s better for the environment too. Plus, avoiding highly processed foods is one of the ways you can lose weight while saving the planet.
In the evening, try to stay eco-aware. If you typically slump in front of the television after a hard day at work, make sure it gets switched off when it’s not being used: get your kids or partner into this habit, too!
If you’ve been keeping an eye on your health, you might be in the habit of visiting the gym on the way home from work. Tons of strip lighting, electric-powered machines and high-flow showers aren’t great for the environment. Talk to your gym about their environmental policies, or look for alternative ways to work out: if the weather permits, jogging or walking outside is free, simple and doesn’t harm the planet.
Do you typically order takeout for dinner? If so, wash up the containers and put them in the recycling – don’t just bin them.
When you cook, try to be efficient in your use of water and heat. You don’t need a giant pan of water just to boil some pasta. Keeping lids on saucepans means you won’t need to turn the hob up so high – or try using a steamer to cook lots of vegetables with just a little water. (And while we’re on the vegetables: remember that meat comes with a high environmental cost.)
If you’re putting the oven on, try to use it effectively: perhaps you can put that batch of muffins in along with the baking potatoes, for instance. You don’t need extra heat to cook more things in the oven, so keep it as full as possible.
After a glowingly eco-virtuous day, you won’t want to spoil it by falling into bed without taking a few simple planet-friendly measures. That means:
- Switching off lights
- Turning down the heating (use an extra blanket – or snuggle a bit closer!)
- Ensuring that computers and televisions are switched off
Don’t lie awake feeling guilty about the times you’ve thrown something recyclable in the trash, or when you’ve left your computer running while you were in a meeting: focus on the good bits of the day, and on the ways you’ve minimized your impact on the planet’s resources.
What does your typical day look like? Are there areas where you can up your eco-efforts?
(Image by jimmyroq)