Thursday, August 17, 2017

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5 Ways to Go Green at Home

If there is ever going to be a time to officially end the debate on whether human activity has been the cause of accelerated climate change, it would be in the year 2017. Snowcaps, glaciers, and ice-shelves have been melting away faster with each passing year, releasing more water into the seas and threatening to flood coastal cities around the world. In August of 2017, our species had officially exceeded the annual planetary resource budget, having used more natural resources in eight months than could be renewed in a year, and having produced more carbon than could be absorbed in that same time-frame. But all is not lost yet, below are some things we can do to help to stem the tide of accelerated climate change.

1. Reduce Power Consumption
Besides changing incandescent bulbs to CFL (or the even more efficient LED lights), turning off appliances when not in use, and supplementing the power grid with solar panels, every homeowner should consider performing regular energy audits to identify the power requirements of their appliances, and which ones need to be serviced, repaired, or replaced. Some appliances such as refrigerators simply need their coils cleaned to optimise energy use and maintain cool temperatures. Adjusting temperature settings on your refrigerator, or other appliances such as air-conditioners, washing machines, and water heaters, can also result in reduced power consumption without sacrificing too much comfort. When considering purchases of new appliances, opt for Energy Star qualified appliances where possible.

2. Reduce Water Consumption
Fixing leaking faucets and only washing with full loads in your washing machine or dishwasher will help to reduce wasted water. Avoid taking baths and opt for short showers instead, some research has indicated an average bath will consume more water than an 8-minute shower. Water consumption can be further reduced, without significantly reducing the experience of showering, by the selection of an efficient, low-flow shower head. Collect rainwater for watering the garden or washing the floors outside your home.

3. Keep a Garden
Grow herbs and vegetables in your home where possible to reduce the climate cost of transportation in your meal. Compost food waste and other biodegradable materials to reduce the waste output of your home and increase the quality of your garden. As a bonus: go vegetarian at least one day out of the week to reduce the environmental impact of animal farms.

4. Reduce Material Waste
While Malaysia has adopted a charge on plastic bags in retail sectors as well as a basic recycling program to reduce the amount of material waste going into our landfills and waterways, there is more that we can do to decrease the nation’s garbage output. Consider reusing or repurposing old electronics rather than replacing them if possible. The recycling of electronics is not as comprehensive as most of us would like to believe, as the majority of the world’s electronic waste still go into long-term storage. Buy reusable bottles instead of the disposable types, repurpose old cloth for cleaning, and empty jars for storage.

5. Use Natural Chemicals
Use natural cleaners such as mixtures of baking soda and white vinegar for scouring cookware instead of some of the sudsy chemicals marketed as household cleaners – which tend to contain chemicals we do not want mixed into our global water supply. Use natural fragrances (essential oil diffusers or orange peels in a mesh bag) instead of the ambiguous liquid solutions that sometimes come packed with an automatic spray-dispensing device.

Article by Kevin Eichenberger

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