Earth Day 2020 ideas: tiny sustainable changes you can make at home

Did you know that some of the most effective changes you can make towards slowing the effect of climate change can be made in your home? Ailiuna’s Earth Day 2020 ideas are all simple to implement, have the added bonus of being totally free and could even save you some money!

person holding glass ball up against waterfall background earth day

5 minutes to read

Earth Day 2020 ideas – small changes, big difference

We’re all about building good habits here at Ailuna. One of the best pieces of advice we’ve received from our resident behavioural expert, Emmie, is to start small. No, actually, start tiny. The smaller the change, the easier it is to stick to,  and the bigger the long-term difference we can collectively make.  With this in mind, our Earth Day 2020 ideas are all tiny changes that could potentially make a huge difference.
 
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1. Take the Earth Day 2020 shower challenge

I don’t know about you, but I find my daily shower is more than “just a wash”. It’s cleansing, yes, but it also feels like I’m resetting myself, practising a bit of self-care, and escaping from the chaos of a house full of to-dos, snack demands and general noise.

This is why I definitely find myself staying in the shower for longer than necessary. The average shower uses 10 litres per minute, so by cutting your shower from 8 minutes to 5 you save a whopping 30 litres of water per shower. Not to mention the energy and money it takes to heat the water in the first place. So I’ve started setting a timer for 5 minutes every day to make sure I don’t stay in too long. It’s now become a personal challenge and this morning I managed 2 minutes 48 seconds. YES!

On the subject of heating water, some people swear by the power of a cold shower. I’m no expert on any health benefits, but what I do know is that a cold shower means less heating. So tomorrow I’m going to try a 2.5 minute shower with the last minute set at cold. Wish me luck!

2. Plan your meals

Another really simple way to help reduce food waste is to spend some time sitting down and planning out your week’s meals before going shopping. If you shop for exactly what you need and also take into account the fact you’ll probably have some leftovers some days, you’ll find that your efficiency of food use as well as your shopping bill will go down. If you want to make your fresh fruit and vegetables go even further, have a read of our blog post on reducing food waste for some innovative ideas for using more of your scraps, seeds and skins.

3. Wash cool, hang dry

A lot of people think that if you wash your clothes in cold water, they won’t be as clean. So it can be tempting to crank up the water temperature. But the fact is, most detergents work as well on a cold or 30 degree wash as they do at 40 or 60 degrees. Give it a try!

It’s also very convenient (especially in the wet, dreary British winter) to put your wet clothes into the dryer instead of hanging them to dry. If you have the time and the space, try hanging clothes to dry wherever possible. Oh, and if it’s windy outside they will dry even faster on the washing line if you have one than in the dryer – even on a cold day. My friend lives in the Scottish Highlands and hangs her washing outside all year round. She says they just get blustered dry! It’s also a fact than line drying makes clothes smell SO much fresher than tumble drying.

several items of clothing hanging outside on washing line

4. Ditch paper towels in favour of old clothes and rags

This is a really simple one. Instead of buying kitchen roll to wipe surfaces and mop up spills, keep hold of old clothes (that can’t be donated) to use instead. Anything works, from the ripped and stained t-shirt your child has now grown out of, to one of the 438 odd socks without a friend sitting in the bottom of your laundry basket.

5. Start Earth Day 2020 from switched-off

There’s plenty of advice out there about turning your heating down at night or making sure you don’t leave your TV on standby, but if you’re going to switch some things off, why not switch EVERYTHING off?

This doesn’t necessarily mean 20 minutes every night before bed searching your house for things that need to be switched off. A much more efficient way to have the same effect is to start with everything off, and only switch it on when you need it.

It’s unlikely that small appliances like your kettle or toaster are drawing any power when you’re not using them. But anything with an internal clock, a standby mode and even some things you wouldn’t expect to be drawing power when you’re not using them, could be contributing to up to 10% of your home’s energy usage.

Examples include microwaves, radios, your desktop computer, printers, and anything that can be operated with a remote control without first using an on/off switch on the device itself. 

So spend some time during the day switching your devices off at the plug (or unplugging totally). Then, whenever you use it, remember to unplug it again straight away. 

Obviously there are some things you need on all day, like your wi-fi router, so just remember to flick that off at the mains before heading to bed. Oh and charge your phone during the day when you can unplug it when it’s fully-charged, because leaving it plugged in all night means that every time it drops from 100% to 99%, a little bit of power is used to top it back up again.

6. Uplevel your recycling

Recycling can be a confusing game. Each council or local authority has a slightly different process which means we all have different access to recycling facilities. The best way to make sure you’re recycling the absolute maximum is by using your household recycling as instructed, but not just throwing away everything else!

yello, blue, red and green waste bins lined up outside against a wall

For example, our local council don’t accept plastic trays and tetra-paks in our weekly collection, but there are two recycling stations nearby that we can take them to. Similarly, when we lived in our old house in Surrey, we couldn’t recycle plastic wrapping or things like crisp packets, but a couple of local schools and supermarkets were set up as collection points. With a bit of planning and research you can significantly reduce the amount of  your waste that goes to landfill or incineration. If you need a guide to what all those recycling symbols mean, you can have a look at Ailuna’s Facebook page, where we created some handy graphics to tell you just that!

It’s also worth noting that most local tips are now fully set up as household waste recycling centres, with separate areas for anything from batteries to carpets to used cooking oil. 

The best first step is took look at your council’s website so you can start planning where all your recycling can go. See how empty you can keep your general waste bin!

7. Earth day 2020 is the day to go paperless!

2020 is year to go completely paperless with your household bills. If you’re looking for an idea for Earth Day 2020 that you can do on your laptop whilst having a cup of tea or relaxing in the evening, this is the one. Most of us have online access to our bank accounts, credit cards, utility bills and other services. Make a list of all of them then log in to switch to paperless billing or notifications. 

person looking at laptop with feet on table

Oh and if telecoms companies are still sending you a paper directory (I bet some still are!) then take the time to opt-out of these too. The internet has ALL the answers these days.

8. Research renewable energy companies

Now is also a great time to switch to a renewable energy supplier.  There are plenty of options and a lot of them will save you money, too! Just search for availability in your area and make the switch. A lot of them offer referral bonuses for introducing friends and they do all the switching legwork for you, so all you need to do is provide meter readings. Easy!

9. Earth Day 2020 ideas in the garden – collect shower and rain water

One way to save a little bit of that shower water is to put a bucket in the shower to collect some of the water while it’s warming up, before you get in. Use this to water your indoor plants or your garden.

Similarly, if you’re able to collect rainwater, this is a great way to water your garden without having to use the hose or sprinkler all the time.

10. Don’t pre-heat the oven

Well, who’d have thought that something I do because I’m too impatient/forgetful to pre-heat the oven is actually saving energy? I usually just stick whatever it is I’m cooking straight into the oven as I switch it on. It takes a little bit more checking (through the door rather than by opening the door so you don’t lose any precious heat energy into the kitchen!), but unless you’re baking bread or cakes or something similarly sensitive, there’s no need to have your oven running for ages before you cook.

11. Do a mini litter pick near your home

If you pop to the shop or take the kids to the playground, try to pick up a few items of rubbish you see on the ground each time. If you do this every time you go out, you could make a huge difference to the wildlife and nature of your local area, and potentially stop those items eventually ending up in the ocean.

plastic bottle laying in the gutter partially covered with autumn leaves

Spread the word with your own Earth Day ideas!

One of the powerful things we can all do to have a positive impact on climate change is by sharing stories, information and our feelings on the subject. The more we share, the more others will be inspired to share too and to make changes of their own. Community is the key to change. So log in to your social media accounts and share your own Earth Day 2020 ideas…or this post!

 

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