Anthology

How to Make
a More
Sustainable Home

Words by KATHERINE ORMEROD

Katherine Ormerod on the choices each and every one of us can make on a daily basis to impact our personal consumption of the planet’s resources.

How good are you really when it comes to making sustainable choices in the home? Perhaps you are diligent with your recycling, rinsing out your baked bean tins and yoghurt? Maybe you send your yellowed pillowslips and stained bedding to designated recycling bins? You might compost your food waste, only buy furniture made from FSC wood, or upcycle, always making do and mending rather than buying new. There’s a chance you already set your washing cycles to 30 degrees, keep your cleaning products organic and opt for jumpers and blankets instead of turning up the heating dial.

These are all choices which each and every one of us can make on a daily basis to impact our personal consumption of the planet’s resources. The problem of course, is that many of these behaviours have the unintended consequence of causing us physical or material discomfort. No one wants to sleep in a cold house, cool washes are far less effective at banishing stains, energy efficiency upgrades can be pricey and are essentially invisible and sometimes the foxes get to the recycling bins and you wake up with last week’s food waste strewn all over your doorway.  It can all be another weight on our already taxed and tired bodies struggling to keep up with the ever-exhausting pace of modern life.

So, what to do? How can we make sure our good intentions translate into positive action for our environment? The first step is being honest with yourself about where you maybe could improve. Did you throw that towel which resembled cardboard into the bin last week? Did you potentially hide some plastic wrapping inside your cardboard recycling?  Look, no-one’s perfect and we’re all doing our best to do the right thing along conflicting vectors. It’s ok if you’ve been wasteful in the past, the question is how can you do better in the future for the future?

The answer here is all about systems. If we want to be more sustainable, we need to make sustainability more convenient for ourselves. Starting with your refuse. Every year each household throws away a huge percentage of the food purchased to feed its inhabitants, food which then heads to landfills and releases methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. If you want to make a dent on that you need to a) buy food logistically and b) recycle more.

Pontos Jute Lamp
Emily Gillis Kitchen

“It can all be another weight on our already taxed and tired bodies struggling to keep up with the ever-exhausting pace of modern life."

So, what to do? How can we make sure our good intentions translate into positive action for our environment? The first step is being honest with yourself about where you maybe could improve. Did you throw that towel which resembled cardboard into the bin last week? Did you potentially hide some plastic wrapping inside your cardboard recycling?  Look, no-one’s perfect and we’re all doing our best to do the right thing along conflicting vectors. It’s ok if you’ve been wasteful in the past, the question is how can you do better in the future for the future?

The answer here is all about systems. If we want to be more sustainable, we need to make sustainability more convenient for ourselves. Starting with your refuse. Every year each household throws away a huge percentage of the food purchased to feed its inhabitants, food which then heads to landfills and releases methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. If you want to make a dent on that you need to a) buy food logistically and b) recycle more.

Kirill Bergart California Home
Moragas Lamp

This sounds so simple, but of course both require time and effort, which is often in short demand. It also depends on your living environment. I shop for groceries several times a week and rarely overbuy. It’s more expensive on the face, but after wasting so much money doing ‘big shops’ it’s proven more economical for my family to respond to our unpredictable daily needs. It’s much less convenient than buying online, but I cycle to and from my local supermarket and do my best to plan the 24 hours with any leftovers in mind.

When it comes to our décor, the same principles can be applied: buy logistically and recycle (and upcycle) more.. Seek out furniture made from non-toxic materials which are both renewable and recyclable, always remembering that anything you buy second-hand will beat out anything made new in terms of sustainability. Buying local beats shipping miles and natural materials—bamboo, reclaimed oak, cork and jute are all environmentally friendly and also add a touch of organic elegance to your home. In the U.K., The British Heart Foundation offers free home collections of good quality furniture and sales will go to a good cause—so much better for the planet than organising a trip to the tip or getting the council to collect your discarded large waste items.

Another system you can change up easily is your cleaning products. Plant based and non-toxic brands from brands like Method and Neat (plastic free) are yes, slightly more expensive, but make a good investment in terms of what you get for your extra 50p. When it comes to body products, I’ve recently been introduced too Reia, a wonderful company which enables you to post packaging back via Royal Mail for free so they can expertly recycle it for you (the reality is that even sustainable packaging can sometimes end up in landfill depending on your council’s facilities).

Finally, make it easy to recycle. Sectional bins area great starting point as they save you having to sort through your garbage come recycling bin collection day. There are so many both stylish and practical solutions now on the market- for every budget – that it’s a no-brainer. Then finally. Stop wishcycling. We have all done this by the way, but it is definitely beyond time for every responsible adult to know which plastics can be recycled and which can’t. Don’t simply wish your empties can be born again, actually check on the back label. And never forget: mixed recycling is just trash.

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