Little ways to a Greener Life

June 20, 2013

Panasonic Eco Challenge - Greener Life

Making the shift towards a greener lifestyle does take some effort and requires you to be more aware and sensitive but the effects over time are not only good for Earth but also great for your pockets, your health and your soul. The crazy PSI 372 haze that we are currently experiencing, comes only from just 173 hotspots in Sumatra. Just the action from those inconsiderate people is enough to drown the whole of Singapore in smog. It goes to prove the importance of each individual action, no matter how small, collectively we make an incredible impact.

Ditching bad practices are easier and more compelling if you can get your family and friends to work together as well. Save the environment, the eco system and have some fun in the process. Here are some tips in 10 areas that you can help save our environment.

1. SAVE ELECTRICITY

One of the most direct steps you can take to reduce the impact your lifestyle has on the environment is reducing the amount of energy that you use in your home. Along with making your home greener, saving energy has real, tangible benefits on your life in that it can save you money. Although some energy-saving techniques require some initial financial outlay, in the long-term the money you save can really add up.

  • Use low energy light bulbs. By switching to Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED, you only use one-third to one-fifth electricity compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, and last eight to fifteen times longer. Save both energy and money, why not?
  • Switch off appliances when they are not in use. Leaving electric items such as computers, audio-visual equipment, and kitchen appliances on “standby” uses electricity. If you are not using these appliances, you should switch them off completely.
  • Unplug your appliances when not in use. Similarly, when your phone, laptop, tablet and batteries when it is fully charged, unplug the charger to conserve power.
  • Buy and use re-chargeable batteries.
  • Ensure that your refrigerator’s seals are fully functional and don’t leave the refrigerator doors open for too long. Refrigerators turn themselves off when they become cool to save energy, but when the air inside them warms, they switch on.
  • Use a fan instead of an air-conditioner to keep cool. Run the air-conditioner about an hour before bed and switch to a  fan after that. Save about $485 a year.
  • Switch off your water heater immediately after use. Leaving it on for too much time wastes energy.
  • Wash your clothes at low temperatures and at a full load. Much of the energy used in washing laundry is expended on heating the water, so always use room temperature water.
  • Instead of using a dryer to dry the clothes, consider hanging up your laundry to let it dry naturally. After all, Singapore is rather warm and clothes dry pretty fast outdoors.
  • Cover pots and pans when cooking to reduce energy loss and help food to heat up faster.
  • When buying appliances for the home, remember to check the energy efficient rating on the energy label. 4 ticks is the best!

2. SAVE WATER

Saving water around the home is another way to reduce the environmental impact of your lifestyle and, as with reducing energy usage, can save you plenty of money.

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth to save liters of water everyday.
  • Use washing machines that has an eco-cycle or short cycle for your clothes.
  • Ensuring there are no leaks in your plumbing system – including pipes, taps, toilet cisterns – helps prevent unnecessary water wastage.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  • Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.
  • Take shorter showers and  replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.
  • Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  • Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
  • Turn off the water while you wash your hair.
  • When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink basin or a large container and rinse when all of the dishes have been soaped and scrubbed.
  • When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.
  • When purchasing appliances, check the Water Efficiency Labels. 3 ticks is the best!

3. SAVE FUEL

Whenever possible, avoid driving in a car. Close journeys can be made by walking or cycling, and always look for public transport routes when travelling further. Taking MRT or buses are the best way to go! Obviously, these options are not available to everyone depending on personal circumstances, but cycling and walking will keep you active and help the local environment. If you have to go by car, always try to carpool. Friends or colleagues staying in the same area can take turns to drive for the day.

4. AVOID BOTTLED WATER

Bottled water is inefficient, expensive, and produces large amounts of plastic waste. This is especially true in Singapore where our water is drinkable straight from the tap. Use refillable bottles to store water in the fridge and you’ll have fresh home bottled water anytime without the waste.

5. SAY NO TO PLASTIC BAGS

Whenever possible, bring a reusable bag or if the items are small enough, just put them in your handbag. I know that most people, including myself, reuse the plastic bags as trash bags at home which is great but do be mindful not to keep collecting too many plastic bags if you already have more than enough to use at home. If you are able to choose biodegradable trash bags, it’s even better.

6. SHARING IS CARING

Whenever possible, share and pass on your clothes, CDs, DVDs, books, magazines and other stuff to reduce waste and to promote great community bonding. You’ll save money too!

7. GO PAPERLESS

  • In this day of technological advancement, you can receive all your bills and letters from banks, energy companies, and other service providers by email.
  • Choose to subscribe to digital versions of newspapers and magazines instead.
  • Don’t print off documents unless it’s absolutely vital. 
  • You can also help the process by recycling any paper and card you no longer need.
  • E-tickets are a wonderful idea.

8. RECYCLE

Whenever possible, sort out your trash and recycle those you can.  There are more than 1,500 recycling bins all over Singapore so finding one near you shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

9.  BYO CUTLERY AND CONTAINERS

I covered this in my previous post but essentially, by bringing your own cutlery and utensils instead of using disposables, you’ll reduce wastage and prevent the chemical from the plastics from contaminating our oceans.

10. GREEN HOLIDAYS

I know most Singaporeans love to travel. Holidays can have damaging effects on the places tourists visit via fuel consumption, damage to local habitats, pollution, and distortions in economies. When planning a holiday you should consider green alternatives or destinations that manage a good eco-tourism balance. Learning more about preserving simple cultures and immersing yourself with Mother Nature can refresh your mind and motivate you to save the environment.  A “staycation” is also a good choice as it helps reduce the environmental impact of vacationing and boosts the local economy.

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