|This article is part of the|
Living together theme
An Environment-friendly gesture or green gesture is an action, a behaviour, most often a very easy daily way of doing something differently to limit one's imact on the environment, to pollute less and lower one's ecological footprint.
- Keep an eye on your water consumption, not down the figure on the metre, say in the ecening, then compare it in the morning to check there are no leaks : leaks can amount to gallons and gallons of wasted water (and money) ;
- To find a leak, control the consumption by closing all the taps one by one ;
- When you want hot water, salvage the water that first runs cold or mildly warm. You can use it later for plants, eg ;
- Use rain water to water plants, wash your car, all that doesn't require drinkable water ;
- Use a basin for the washing-up or block the plughole of the sink ;
 Household appliances
- Prefer those highly efficient ones with A, AA or AAA labels. the extra cost will soon be compensated ;
- Make sure your dishwasher or washing machine is full or select the half-load programme ;
- Use a dual flush toilet (0.8 gal(half flush) / 1.4 gal (full flush)) or Dry toilets (pour one or two ladles of sawdust or ash for a good ratio carbon/nitrogen for your compost and to prevent smells) ;
- Check the flush doesn't leak by turning the tap off when full and turning it on before using it : if some water flows, the tank leaks (this may amount to several gallons a day) ;
- Use a showerhead equipped with a faucet : you can save up to half the flow of water ;
- Have a shower rather than a bath.
- Avoid poor quality osmosis equipments, 90 % of the water gets back to the sewer ;
- While washing-up, brusing your teeth, shaving ... : do not let the water run. You can save up to 10 m3 yearly per head ;
- Don't fully open the tap to limit the flow rate ;
- Close the taps properly, without crushing the joint though le joint : a dripping tap can waste up to 35 m3/ a year ;
- Use mixer taps, save up to 10 % of water by setting the flow and the temperature ;
- Use tap aerators, you can save up to 35 % of water.
 Electric appliances
The average consumption for appliances (PCs, TVs...) on stand-by only is about 150 à 500 kWh a year for a household, that is the energy produced by a nuclear plant !
- Buy energy efficient appliances : it'll be cost-efficient thanks to energy savings. For refrigerators, washing machines, deepfreezers, tumble driers, dishwashers, ovens or air conditioners, choose according to enery efficiency : the best ones are A (or A+), the worst ones being G : a class F washing machine will need three times more electricty than a class A one ;
- Install a system to produce renewable energy : a heat pump or solar boiler for hot water, solar panels or a small windmill.
- Don't let your appliances on stand-by (music player, video recorder, computer, television…) : a TV set uses 100 W , and 20 W on stand by ! Given the time you don't watch it, it will cost you more in energy on stand-by than for normal use ! Similarly a computer and its screen still consume from 30 to 100 W when off. All this may represent 30% of a household electricity consumption and can easily be spared. A simple solution : a multiplug with a switch...
- Change cathode-ray screens for liquid cristal display (LCD) or Thin-film transistors (TFT) ;
- Prefer plugging to the mains to batteries and rechargeable accumulators rather than disposable batteries ;
- You can watch your consumption live thanks to a Wattmetre to compare what you use when the appliance is on and when it's on stand-by.
Incandescent light bulbs (conventional or halogen) are only 10% efficient : most of the electricity is converted into heat ! Prefer energy-efficient bulbs such as neon or fluorescent tubes, compact lamps , or, better still, induction ones that last for some 100000 hours !) or LEDs.
- Switch off the light when you leave a room except if you're back in an instant 'and you use gas-discharge lamps ;
- Replace incandescent light bulbs by compact fluorescent lamps (except for short light cycles, eg timers) ;
- Ban conventional incandescent light bulb, except for art work or places where they won't be on for long. Prefer gas-discharge lamps. For the same efficiency, fluorescent lamps need 5 times less energy and last for 6 to 10 times longer. Even though they're more expensive, they're cost-effective : a 20 W fluocompact bulb produces a much light as a 100 W classical one and saves about 80% of electricity). Fluocompact bulbs cost from £2 to £10.
- For corridors, cellars or outside, in large spaces remplace switches by proximity sensor (that will last for some years) or timers (adjust regularly). Always prefer fluorescent tubes.
 Refrigerator and deep-freezer
- Defrost your deep-freezer and refrigerator regularly : frost will cause about 30 % of energy waste;
- Don' let the door open for too long or too often to check your stock !
- Don't store hot or warm food, wait till they're cold ;
- Defreeze for some hours in the fridge ;
- Check the oor is airtight. If the rubber joint is ok, you can't insert a paper sheet between the fridge and the door ;
- Put these appliances outside the kitchen if the room is quite warm, especially in Summer.
 Cooking food
- The best option is gas or wood (a solar oven in Summer). Avoid electricity that is less energy efficient, especially microwave ovens that can modify the food.
- Adapt the size of the burner to that of the container ;
- Adapt the size of the container to the volume of food and use lids ; eg, boiling water implies quite a lot of energy, so it"s useless to boil 5 pints of water to cook one leek ;
- If you have to use electricity, switch off before the end and let cook up on the hot plate : sit boiling will halve the consumption ;
- To boil food, use the hot water from the tap to save energy.
 Heating and insulation
- Prefer a gas boiler to an electric one. You can also couple it a solar heating system. If you live in a flat and gas is forbidden, you'll have no other choice but an electric water-tube boiler that will use quite a lot of energy. Ste the temperature de son thermostat à 120 °F, this is enough to avoid the proliferation of germs (legionella), and you won't get burns ;
- Don't cover up radiators (to dry clothes , hang them above instead) ;
- Open the windows wide at the end of the morning, heating off, to refresh the air ;
- Use a condensing boiler (up to 15 % of energy saved) ;
- Insulate the boiler and pipes ;
- Insulate the roof : 30 % of energy saved ;
- Install double glazing to reduce thermal exhanges : besides soundproof advantage, double glazing saves 15 % of heat in Winter and keeps fresh air in Summer ;
- Shut the blinds and the windows during the day and you won't need air-conditioning ;
- Do not overheat :
- 66°F is quite comfortable ;
- 60°F for bedrooms :
- 33°F less means 7 % of energy saved !
- Lower the thermostat in rooms that remain vacant, if you are to leave for several days, set to 46 °F to prevent freezing ;
- Put on a pullover rather than raising the temperature.
- Use programmable thermostats to lower the temperature at night or when you're away and save about 10 to 20 % of energy ;
- Install a ground-coupled heat exchanger so that the conditioning air passes through underground pipes at about 2 yards deep : thanks to ventilation, the air is warmed in Winter and cooled in Summer.
Mind the recommandations before using or diposing of a chemical product.
- Use a plunger to free your drains rather than soda ;
- Descale your plumbing with a toothbrush damped in vinegar ;
- Clean sinks and baths with white vinegar ;
- Clean your window panes with wet newspaper paper. For tougher spots, use vinegar or ammonia ;
- Use a toothbrush and soap for hard-to-access spots ;
- Use biodegradable soap rather than synthetic products ;
- Don't use fabric softner, prefer essential oils and vinegar ;
- For your washing, use Soapnuts : natural and cheaper than synthetic detergents ;
- Ban aerosols every time other presentations are available ;
- Use lavander, cedar wood or wild thyme essence against moths ;
- Prefer acrylic paint (diluted with water) ;
- Let your brushes damp in water in order not to have to clean them with solvents ;
- Use sand instead of salt for icy pavements.
The average wheelie contains some 28 % paper and cardboard, 12 % of Plastic, 12 % of glass, 26 % of organic matter and 5 % of metal, the rest being dust, textile, ceramic, etc. Chemicals are as dangerous for the environment as for people : a mere cigarette butt will take 6 months to degrade, a chewing gum 5 years and a plastic bag 100 years ; 2 pints of oil can contaminate the volume of drinkable water needed by a whole family all along their life. The average mass of garbage dumped per household every year represents 2500 times that of the Eiffel Tower while more than half of it is recyclable. Add to this wastes that are indirectly generated : Grey energy : wastes linked to the manufacture of consumption goods, to the production of energy (greenhouse gas, nuclear wastes, etc.).
To comply to the European directive concerning electrical and electronic watses, all the remains of such appliances must be sorted out and recovered. In Europe 7 million tonnes of them are produced every year. Throughout the world, 130 millions of mobile phones have been discarded in 2005, in 2000, 500 millions ofcomputers containing some 720 000 tonnes of lead, 1400 tonnes of cadmium, 860 tonnes of chromium and 290 tonnes of mercury. It is thought that in 2010, there'll be more than 1 billion of computers globally…
Here are some suggestions to do your best to Reduce, reuse and recycle your wastes :
 See also
- 10 tips to preserve the environment Grandma's tips and tricks
- Ecological footprint
- Ecological rucksack
- the DEFRA, UK
- The Department of the Environment
- The Environment Agency
- The Guardian : ethical living
- Friends of the Earth
- Energy saving
- Green living tips
- 8 easy green gestures
- The green village