As the title reads, today is Sustainable House Day here in Australia and, to spread the message, North Sydney Council organised a tour of a few sustainable homes in our community.
We visited a high-rise apartment block which has overhauled its entire lighting system to energy-efficient LED lights. We also checked out the Council’s Coal Loader for Sustainability.
But the highlight for me was the North Sydney Eco House.
LED lighting, solar panels, compost bins, veggie gardens, recycled timber, reused bricks and pavers, energy-efficient white goods, roof gardens – all this and more in one home alone!
While not all of us have the ability – or budget – to make big eco-friendly renovations to our homes, we CAN make small changes.
Here are some of my simple, sustainable tips to follow at home:
1) Make sure you take off off the bottle caps from your milk bottles before you pop them into your recycling bin. Do not screw them back onto the bottle! This is because the chemical composition of a bottle cap is different to that of the bottle and requires a different recycling process. Take this one step further by following the “wash and squash” rule. Rinse out the bottle and then squash the plastic bottle flat.
2) If you don’t have low-flow taps and shower heads, time your showers. Five minutes tops and you’re done. You’ll save gallons of water in the bargain.
3) Invest in a compost bin or worm farm. Instead of binning your food scraps, you feed them to your worms who convert this to organic fertiliser for free! Our “worm juice” and castings have transformed our backyard.
4) Keep your footwear near your home’s entrance. Take off your shoes as soon as you step foot indoors. You’ll have less vacuuming to do thanks to less dirt and dust trailing into your house from your shoes.
5) Before you turn on the air-conditioning or heaters, see if you can change the temperature in your home by opening and/or closing windows, doors and blinds. If you’re cold, put on a pair of socks and a jumper!
6) Grow your own herbs – you don’t need a massive garden. Why pay $2.98 for a bunch of basil (which you will chuck out once it withers in your crisper) when you can grow all your herbs in small tin cans on your windowsill? Some plants even regrow when you simply stick the ends in some water.
7) Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off switches at the power point. Better yet, unplug appliances when not in use.
8) Dry your clothes out in the sun on a clothes line instead of using your clothes dryer. Who doesn’t love the scent of fresh air-dried laundry?
9) Use less chemicals in your home. Soda bicarb and white vinegar clean away a multitude of sins – with a little bit of added elbow grease!
10) Question your consumption. Do you really need one more pair of shoes? Do you really need to buy fruit that is not in season? Do your kids need more toys?
11) And lastly, the first rule of being eco-friendly: Repair, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle instead of throwing things away. An old T-shirt can be crocheted into a stool cover, for example. If you have to get rid of stuff, donate to charity.
So tell me, do you have any tips to share that help make your home more eco-friendly? How do you live more sustainably?