We have put together a series of handy tips you can do at home to ensure you play your part in reducing landfill waste, being energy efficient and preserving water – our most precious natural resource.
The underpinning values of waste minimisation are the three R’s - Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. To help make it easier to minimise your personal waste, we have put together some helpful hints.
Set Recycling Goals
Recycling goals are a great way to not only teach your kids about recycling, but they will actually help you realise just how easy it is to make a difference and help the environment.
These days about half of what we throw away into our rubbish bins is food and organic material that could otherwise be recovered for compost. With many of Australia’s landfills rapidly reaching capacity, composting is an ideal way for you to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and enrich your garden all at the same time!
Read our blog for an easy guide to composting.
Ban the Plastic Bag
Australians continue to contribute to a massive 21,000 tonnes worth of plastic, or more than four billion plastic bags sent to landfill each year. With leading supermarkets and retailers moving away from plastic bags in favour of reusable, biodegradable bags and many states following both South Australia and the Northern Territory’s efforts in ridding plastic bags, here are some handy tips to help you reduce your plastic bag usage;
- When shopping take re-useable 'green bags', cardboard boxes or baskets to place your goods in; keep them in the car for future visits
- Use supermarkets that support and endorse reusable bags, or provide suitable recycling outlets for plastic bags
- If you are only buying a few items, consider carrying them instead
- Avoid putting grocery items that have handles into plastic bags
- Avoid using plastic bags as bin liners; rather put the household rubbish straight into the bin
Here is a list of other practical things you can do around your home to recycle effectively:
- When recycling plastic bottles, make sure they are empty and remove lids
- Ensure that paper and cardboard is not spoiled with food, metals, glass or plastics before you recycle
- Recycle your newspapers
- Buy products that have minimal packaging
- Buy products that have recycled material in their packaging
- Buy recycled products such as toilet paper and printing paper
Reducing Your Water Consumption
The first step in protecting water resources is to make sure that it is not wasted, and to help we have outlined a few ways you can personally take steps to become more water wise and possibly reduce your reliance on traditional water resources.
Install Rainwater Tanks
Once upon a time these objects were viewed as things you installed if you had a rural property. However today, a water tank is a regulated requirement in all new buildings, be they urban or rural. If you live in an existing dwelling that does not include a water tank (apartment or house), you should look to install one as the benefits are exceptional!
Fortunately, today’s water tanks have been designed to be aesthetically easier on the eye and to fit into spaces where they do not take up valuable land space, such as on the side of the house or within the backyard. Wherever it is located, water is collected from your downpipes and stored for later use. This grey water is available for you to use for water intensive things such as watering the garden, cleaning the car, topping up the swimming pool and many other things.
Fix your Leaking Taps
Studies have found that a slow dripping tap will waste nearly 7000 litres of water each year. Even if you have a tap that only drips six times a minute, you will waste the equivalent of 1.8 litres per day. This is more than most people in Australia will drink per day. Changing your taps as soon as they start leaking will be beneficial for your water bill and the environment!
Reduce your Shower Time
Did you know that if you have just one ten minute shower a day, you will have used 91,000 litres in showering alone by the end of a year? If you can reduce your shower time by even two minutes a day, you could save around 16,000 litres of water each year.
Install Water Efficient Taps
If you have a shower head or kitchen tap which isn’t fitted with a water efficient head, you could be potentially using 90 litres more water per ten minute shower than you should be. Furthermore, a water efficient tap system can save you up to 47% in energy. For more information on how much water your tap system is using, log onto the Australian Government website – Water Rating.
Other ways to be water wise include:
- Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full. Don’t do half loads
- Wash your car on a soft surface (grass, dirt etc.) and let the water used water your garden as a result
- Use a broom or a leaf blower to clean hard surfaces, don’t use a hose unless there is a specific reason
- Install drip irrigation in your garden. It minimises wasted water and ensures your water reaches everywhere you want it to
Being Energy Efficient
When you consider your personal carbon footprint, the majority of it will come from residential energy use and it’s no secret that electricity costs are rising. To help overcome this ever-increasing cost pressure here are some handy hints for minimising your energy use.
Switch Off and Save
Think you’re saving energy when you turn appliances such as TV’s into standby mode? The truth is, even when on standby, these appliances are using up electricity and costing you money. The simple answer is unplug or switch off completely. The same principal applies to lighting and air-conditioning. By simply heating or cooling areas of the house where you and your family inhabit, you can reduce your energy bills and reduce your family’s carbon footprint. If you are sick of telling your family and friends to switch off…then you can also look at options including timer switches which can automate power to your appliances.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Ever since the first ‘Star Rating’ system was introduced to show you how efficient white goods were with their use of water/electricity, you have probably been aware you should look to buy equipment which doesn’t guzzle energy unnecessarily.
Other ways to capitalise on energy efficient appliances include:
- Make sure all seals on your energy efficient fridge/freezer are airtight
- Dishwashers should be full and packed correctly, as a half load uses just as much energy as a full load
- Microwaves are more energy efficient than ovens
Nobody likes being hot and to help you out during those summer months, we recommend:
- Installing a reverse cycle air conditioning unit that has a high efficiency rating. Once you have the system in, set the temperature controls to approximately 23 degrees Celsius. At this temperature and in the right clothing you can save a lot of energy. In fact studies have shown that it takes 15% more energy to maintain the temperature for every one degree above 20 degrees and that you can save 10% energy by raising the minimum temperature in summer. Additionally it is important that you clean air filters on your air-conditioning units frequently so as to ensure they are running efficiently
- Consider the use of ceiling fans in rooms where air conditioning is not essential. Six ceiling fans can run through summer for around $20 in electricity, compared to potentially hundreds for air conditioning.
- Install insulation. Insulation will help you maintain the ambient temperature inside the house and help you achieve greater energy efficiency
- Install WERS approved (Window Energy Rating Scheme) window panes. Glass is the greatest source of heat loss so installing high WERS rated glass will assist you in preventing energy loss
- Gas heaters are cheaper to run, more efficient and more greenhouse friendly
- Make sure lights are only on when needed
- Use energy efficient light globes
- Utilise natural light where possible; skylights can be used in most kitchen and bathrooms
Your energy provider should be able to give you and understanding of your energy usage. Many electricity providers deliver access to alternative or “green” electricity such as solar power which can help reduce your energy costs and in some areas offer government rebates. Don’t be afraid to shop around for an energy provider who can not only reduce your energy costs but who is also able to guide you on how to make your home as energy efficient as possible.