Tips to be Climate Smart at Home

As we all continue to spend large amounts of time at home, it has given some of us more time to think about what we can do to help the environment and live more sustainably.

Our carbon footprints and our impacts on the environment come mainly from:

  • The energy we use at home
  • Transport and holidays
  • Food
  • Shopping
  • Waste

So, if you want to lower your carbon footprint and tread a little more lightly on the world, explore our top tips to help you make changes.

  • Active Travel

    We're experiencing cleaner air and safer streets during the Covid-19 lockdown.

    The pandemic has shown us the importance of our green spaces and that riding a bike helps to improve both our mental and physical health.

    As a result, many of us are trying out cycling for the first time or for the first time in a long while.

    Top 10 Tips for Active Travel

    1. Buy the right bike for you.
    2. Set up your bike to get a comfortable riding position.
    3. Make sure your bike is safe to ride.
    4. Plan your route to identify and use shared-use paths.
    5. Involve the whole family - use trailers, tagalongs or trail-a-bikes to attach to the rear of your bike.
    6. Don't let the weather put you off!
    7. Always lock your bike.
    8. Combine cycling and walking with using Public Transport - check out Translink Secure Cycle Shelters
    9. Consider the health benefits of walking and cycling.
    10. Read Translink Covid-19 public transport advice and download the Journey Planner App.
  • Waste

    Everything you throw away has a carbon footprint, by reducing your waste at home you are lowering your emissions.

    The less there is going in your bin or your recycling, the less you’ll be adding to your carbon footprint.

    In this section, you’ll find practical ways to reduce waste, which should also save you money overall and protect the environment in other ways, too.

    Top 10 Tips to Reduce Waste

    1. Find out what can and can't be recycled at home.
    2. Try not to waste food.
    3. Compost your garden and food waste.
    4. Recycle clothes in charity shops.
    5. Find a different use for old t-shirts!
    6. Live a plastic free life.
    7. Buy better -  invest in better quality items as they will likely last longer (and you also may be inclined to take better care of them).
    8. Buy experiences not things.
    9. Avoid junk mail.
    10. Shop smarter by asking yourself if and why you need something in the first place - consume less to waste less:
      • Consume less
      • Don't buy new
      • Repair more
      • Shop ethically
      • Shop locally
  • Energy

    A few simple changes to the way you do things around the house can make a difference to your energy bills and your carbon footprint.

    These quick tips are the perfect way to trim your energy bills, especially if you’ve done all the big stuff, like improving your insulation and draughtproofing, or if you can’t tackle those just now.

    Top 10 Tips to Save Energy

    1. Use your controls - use your central heating controls effectively, or get them installed if you don’t have any.
    2. Turn down by 1 degree - turn thermostats down by one degree.
    3. Switch to LEDs - replace old-style bulbs they’re using more power and costing you more.
    4. Boil what you need - don't boil more water than you need in your kettle, as it uses quite a bit of energy
    5. Don't leave electrical equipment on standby - turn off your electrical equipment when you're not using them.
    6. Use less hot water - heating your water costs you money and uses energy, take showers instead of baths.
    7. Do laundry less often - washing machines use power to run and heat water so you'll trim your bill by using it less
    8. Turn lights off - it doesn’t come more simple than this tip… turn off lights when you’re not in the room!
    9. Check your boiler - get your boiler services regularly to check it's running efficiently and is set up properly.
    10. Cover up all drafts to avoid losing heat and ensure your home is sufficiently insulated.
  • Water

    We get plenty of rain in Northern Ireland but this rainwater has to be cleaned at treatment works before it goes into the taps. So the less water we waste the more cost effective the system is.

    We all have a part to play to ensure there's enough water for everyone now and in the future.

    Top 10 Tips to Save Water

    1. When washing dishes/food/fruit use a bowl of appropriate size to avoid excess water use.
    2. Avoid washing half loads when using the washing machine to reduce water use.
    3. Take shorter showers over the period of a year this can save 10,000 litres of water.
    4. Fix leaking taps a leaky tap can waste 60 litres of water a year.
    5. Add a toilet cistern bag to your toilets cistern this can reduce the amount of water used in every flush.
    6. Turn off tap while brushing your teeth a running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.
    7. Purchase a water butt to collect rainwater for use in gardens.
    8. Only boil the amount of water needed in the kettle to save wasted water.
    9. Grass is more resilient than you think, avoid over-watering when unnecessary.
    10. Use the NI Water water calculator to assess how much water you use and set a goal to improve it.
  • Biodiversity

    Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is important to people in many ways. Plants, for instance, help humans by giving off oxygen. They also provide food, shade, construction material, medicines, and fibre for clothing and paper. The root system of plants helps prevent flooding. Plants, fungi, and animals such as worms keep soil fertile and water clean. As biodiversity decreases, these systems break down.

    Top 10 Tips to Enhance Biodiversity

    1. Sow Seeds - watching the plants grow is a great way to relieve stress and remain mindful of your surroundings
    2. Plant up a container display - a pretty container display can really help to lift the spirits.
    3. Feed the birds - hang feeders in front of a window where you sit regularly, so you can watch the antics of the birds from your sofa
    4. Clean the green house - this will bring more light to tender seedlings growing inside.
    5. Install a water butt - wall-mounted water butts are a great way to save space.
    6. Build a raised bed - a raised bed makes growing vegetables easier, particularly if you have heavy soil.
    7. Plant wild flowers to attract bees.
    8. Build a bee hotel - A bee hotel provides nesting habitat for solitary bees such as red mason bees, which are on the wing from April to June, and leafcutter bees, which are flying from June to August.
    9. Grow houseplants - if you don’t have a garden, or can’t get into the garden, you can bring a touch of the outdoors, in.
    10. Sign up to the woodland trust newsletter to receive tips and ideas.
  • Resources

    Sustainability Podcasts


    • Mothers of invention: Climate is a man-made problem with feminist solutions with former Irish President Mary Robinson (it's lighthearted and the co-presenter is a complete novice which makes the information very palatable)
    • Resurgence Voices - this is the resurgence & ecologist magazine podcast - (it’s okay not as well done as some other but worth a listen)

    More specialist

    • Vegan Vanguard podcast - run by a Canadian political economist who shares anti-capitalist perspectives on everything from indigenous land rights to geoengineering, gender-based violence and the alt-right. It’s very useful for learning about the underlying political structures of some of our big sustainability challenges.
    • In Defence of Plants - more botanical than about sustainability per se, but plant conservation figures large in some episodes:
    • Ways to Change the World with Krishnan Guru-Murthy -not always sustainability explicit but does have some great ideas on how to change the way we think, act and live
    • Feel Better, Live more - Dr Rangan Chattergee (not sustainability as we know it but absolutely links to SDG 3)

    Sustainability Links

    Additional links