So what can you do around the home to lower your carbon footprint? Both home owners and renters alike can do simple things to reduce their CO2e emissions. So, today from the Zero Footprint Week site are the three categories or challenges if you like, with my own tales of how I did it.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. By recycling just 20% more saves money on rubbish rates. That is straight from the site, but what do they mean? Well I have a perfect example. Two years ago, I used to have three wheelie bins. One 120 litre landfill bin, one 240 litre Recycling Bin, and one 240 litre Green waste bin. Due to a lot of composting and vermiculture, I no longer needed the green waste bin so in June this year we returned it to the council and we now pay $57 less in waste rates. I believe that if we keep it up, we should be able to change out the 120 litre landfill bin to an 80 litre size, which would then reduce our waste costs by another $21 a year.
Now saving money on rates is not the only reason why you should try and use the 3R's. By reducing consumption and therefore waste, you generate far less packaging waste, and save dollars by not buying stuff. Reusing items like ice-cream containers for storage, jars for preserving, and soft drink bottles for homebrewing for instance, you can saving on having to buy brand new items for these purposes. For more information on recycling visit the Visy Recycling Project. Or have a look at one of my past posts called "Eco House Challenge - Waste".
Borrow, Swap or Buy Second Hand. How many drills, hammers or shovels do we really need in this world? How many DVD's are purchased each week, and just sit on a shelf only and have only been watched once (guilty as charged sir). Instead of buying something that you might only use once, see if a friend has what you require and borrow or swap for what you need. Hiring a movie at your local Video Store is much better than buying a copy and you rid the world of another piece of landfill that takes thousands of years to break down. Go and visit your local opportunity shop (Vinnies or Salvos), and browse for a while. It is amazing what you can find. I personally have found many fowler-vacola jars for my preserving kit as at least 90% discount. I have even bought a pair of house jeans (Levi's) that are still in nick that I wear when gardening. They cost me $20 and were a bargain. Imagine how much money you could save just by buying second hand stuff for a month!
Insulate Your Home. Now all you renters don't switch off. There are simple things that you can do as well. Ever heard of draft proofing. Remember that door snake or draft sausage that your Nana used to have at the front and back door. They were used to keep a cold draft out, and guess what, they still work today. Two bits of long, thin material filled with wheat or sand. Bung it up against the bottom of the door and you stop the cold air getting in. If anyone has written a post about making a door sausage, please share a link in a comment. I am sure those handy with a sewing machine could whip one up.
If you are a home owner, fit a draft stopper on the outside of the door that seals when the door closes. I have also fitted rubber strips around the front and back door frames that seal tight upon closing. Check anything that opens to the outside for drafts. I use an smoking incense stick to detect drafts. It works a treat. The smoke moves (other than upward of course) when there is a breeze. You can use the same type of rubber strips for windows as well.
Another item that most people miss are exhaust fans. Most exhaust fans are installed straight into the ceiling without anything preventing the hot or cold air from entering your living space from the roof cavity. Shut your bathroom doors on a hot day, and you will notice the difference! You can also buy a device called a Draftstoppa which seals the vent when you turn it off, or do what I did and simply wrap the cover/filter of the exhaust fan with aluminium foil for the summer (it was one we didn't use in the kitchen). Make sure you tape over the switch so that no one burns out the motor by turning it on accidentally. Last summer we notice that we did not need to use the air-conditioner half as much, and saved at least 20-30% on our cooling bill for the season.
If you do own your home, then make sure that your have insulation in the roof space with a high R value. The higher the better. We have cellulose loose blown insulation (made from pulped wastepaper and mixed with borax and boric acid to make it fire proof) in our roof cavity, which was cheap and has a good R value.
With all these measures in place, and with your doors and windows shut early in the morning, you will have no problem keeping your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter and you will save swags of money in electricity, natural gas, wood, or heating oil.
Tomorrows post will be about how you can reduce your carbon footprint at the Office.
Keep an eye on the official Zero Footprint Week web site for more tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint during the week.