Many people today are acutely aware of the damage inflicted on our planet by mankind and are making a conscious effort to minimise their own part in this by adopting a lifestyle which reduces their individual impact. Probably the top priority of most eco-friendly individuals is to minimise their contribution to the increase in greenhouse gases and, to this end, all buying choices will have regard to the product’s green credentials. Advertisers have been quick to recognise this potentially huge market opportunity with various forms of “eco-labels” appearing sometimes on the most unlikely products. Many of these labels offer genuine information such as the energy efficiency ratings applied to electrical appliances or information regarding recycling whilst others may have no official endorsements and merely show some kind of logo usually incorporating a globe and possibly a leaf almost always in green. The practice of “greening” products in this way without providing genuine official proof is sometimes referred to as “greenwashing”. Other aspects of eco-friendly living to be considered include:
(1) Waste:- Living in a throwaway society means that there is a great deal of waste and waste damages the planet. By reducing waste, reusing and recycling items, a reduction in items ending up in landfill is achieved along with a reduced need for replacement products.
(2) Energy Conservation:- Everyone benefits by reducing energy usage and the simplest way to do this is by insulating homes to a high standard and use high efficiency heating appliances. Some people go further and opt for the use of heat pumps, solar panels, wind turbines or wood fired heating systems although the latter is rather controversial being a high emitter of carbon dioxide whilst remaining carbon neutral and 100% renewable.
(3) Tree Planting:- Deforestation is a major cause of greenhouse gas increase and the world needs more trees. Tree felling should only be carried out in ethically managed woodlands and timber products should have suitable certification such as that provided by the FSC.
(4) Pollution Prevention:- In addition to avoiding atmospheric pollution, water pollution should also be prevented and any potentially damaging products avoided.
(5) Impact of Travelling:- Travelling is a major contributor to harmful emissions and low emission vehicles should be used although even electric cars have some impact as their energy originates from power stations. Walking or cycling is best or using public transport or car sharing schemes. Air flights are huge polluters and should be avoided at all costs.
(6) Energy Efficient Products:- Using energy efficient products is better for the environment and also makes sound financial sense.
(7) Buy Local Produce:- Locally produced food reduces the need for packaging and transport. Growing your own is even better.
(8) Litter:- Litter is bad for wildlife both on land and sea so litter avoidance and removal is good practice.
(9) Buy Recycled Products:- Recycling is a great idea but depends on consumers buying recycled products.
(10) Recycle:- Before throwing an item away, consider recycling it. There are some great recycling sites online, the best known being “Freecycle”, where old items may find new homes and upcycling old items can also be great fun.
These are just a few of the ways to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle and others could include avoiding fast food, turning vegetarian and getting an allotment so it is clear to see that being eco-friendly is much more than making a few informed purchase decisions. It is a complete way of life … and it doesn’t end there! Many people are now opting for eco-friendly funerals shunning the idea of mahogany coffins in favour of cardboard or wicker. Even banana leaves or bamboo are available and knitted wool coffins are proving extremely popular. So when the grim (or should that be green!) reaper calls there is no need to abandon those eco-friendly ideals and mourners can all look forward cycling to the event and enjoying a meat-free buffet.