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Seven top tips to reduce your environmental impact

This year is vitally important for green issues, as highlighted by Antonio Guterres in his sobering speech at COP27. COP15 in December will focus on biodiversity and the global decline in species. It can seem overwhelming, but every small action we take can make a difference.

By Rosemary Horry - 11 November 2022

Now’s the time to think about little changes that can be made to reduce our environmental impact.

Here’s how you can help:

Tip 1 – Watch your energy consumption

As energy bills increase, it is becoming even more important to use less energy and use it wisely. Here are some things you can do.

Switch those incandescent light bulbs to energy-saving fluorescent ones. Not only will you reduce the amount of power you consume, you’ll also save money on electricity bills. Think about other ways in which you can cut your electricity usage.

Many electronic devices such as chargers for phones and cameras, televisions and computers, continue to draw energy even when in the “off” position. To avoid this phantom power use, unplug such devices, or plug everything into a power strip which you can turn off when not in use. Remember to switch off computer monitors, printers and other equipment at the end of each day.

Tip 2 – Go vegetarian for a day

With food costs on the rise, you could save money by eating less meat and more vegetables and potatoes. It will help the planet too: recent studies have found that livestock production contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and has other environmental impacts. Why not go vegetarian one day each week? 

Tip 3 – Recycle old technology

The chances are that you’ve got an old phone or laptop lying around. Think about de-cluttering your life and donating your old technology to charity or send them off for recycling.

Tip 4 – Conserve resources

Water: Only turn the tap on when necessary and make sure you get those dripping taps fixed.

Paper: When you do need to print, make sure that it is on the duplex setting (so it prints on both sides of the paper) and be sure to recycle when you have finished with it. Buy recycled paper but also look for paper that is processed chlorine free (PCF). Chlorine is sometimes used to bleach paper to make it white, however this process is harmful to the environment and to human health. PCF paper is made without this type of chlorine processing and is also made using recycled paper.

Clothes and other goods: Many websites have sprung up where you can sell your own clothes or other possessions and make some money. This also saves resources and means that others can get the benefit from things you no longer need or want. If you don't need to make money from them, you could donate the items to charity shops who are starting to struggle as people increasingly sell their own items.

Tip 5 – Do some gardening

Swap chemical fertilisers and pesticides for organic substitutes. Chemicals eventually seep into the water table and can affect local wildlife. Try starting a compost bin in your garden to turn organic waste into natural fertiliser. You can also make your garden more animal-friendly by putting up bird feeders and planting pollinator species or fruiting trees.

Tip 6 – Buy in season and avoid packaging

Choose local food where possible to reduce the distance from ‘producer to plate’, which will lower your environmental impact. Try to eat foods that are in season. They’re often tastier, cheaper and better for the planet.

Tip 7 – Travel smart

You can reduce your CO2 production by using public transport, car sharing with others or ditching the car for short journeys in favour of cycling or walking.

Find out more about the University of Derby’s environment policies and activities.

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About the author

Rosemary smiling

Rosemary Horry
Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management

Rosemary is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management. Her current role is within the College of Science and Engineering, in the School of Built and Natural Environmental. She tends to be involved in modules that discuss sustainability and environmental management issues and is currently the Sustainability Lead within the school.

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