This is a highlights archive of our past tips on sustainable living. If you have a tip/s you’d like us to share with the world, please get in touch.
Saving energy when cooking
Using energy efficient appliances is one way to reduce carbon emissions (if one doesn’t have too many) but how about no or low cost solutions? Here are a few little tips:
One way of tackling the problem is focusing on things that are under our control – our homes. Bioregional, which inspired St Nicks to adopt the One Planet Living principles in our work, has put together a simple list of “tips and ideas for helping make the world a better a place as well as staying healthy and happy at this tumultuous time”. It’s a bit short on ideas for connecting to nature without a garden, such as the simple but brilliant sit-spot routine, but that’s where we can chip in. You can keep connected by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more online content, inspiration and support. Meanwhile St Nicks’ Patron and local edutainor Anneliese Emmans Dean has published some of her nature-inspired poems as videos on her blog to help keep children entertained when stuck at home. We hope you enjoy these resources; they will be relevant in post-pandemic world too. We also recommend checking out the Climate Psychology Alliance for interesting thoughts and debates on facing difficult truths about climate change and ecological crisis.
Aim: Zero Carbon Britain
Tackling climate change is a huge task which requires everyone to get on board. The Centre for Alternative Technology has published a series of excellent reports exploring how we could make the UK carbon neutral using existing technologies. The Centre also provide a wealth of resources, courses and inspiration for action. Well worth a look!
According to the Freshwater Habitats Trust, ponds support an extraordinary two thirds of all freshwater species including frogs, toads,diving beetles, damselflies and plenty more besides but there’s been a huge decline in the number and quality of ponds around the UK. You can help by making your own and giving a home to some of those species – the Trust’s great how-to guide is full of good tips. You might even want to contribute to their Milllion Ponds Project. In any case we look forward to hearing how you get on! For more wildlife gardening tips, see our blog on Making space for nature.
Being full-time vegan is not a sure-fire way to reduce the environmental impact of your diet but signing up to Meat Free Mondays or Veganuary is a fun and supportive way to give a plant-based diet a go. The Vegan Society website is also full of good information and resources including recipes. During Veganuary 2019 nine St Nicks’ staff members, who were not vegan or veggie already, managed to have 100 vegan and 145 veggie days between us. It was challenging but it made everyone think a bit more about where our food comes from and its impact. One colleague lost some unwanted weight and most of us have continued to reduce the amount of meat and dairy we eat. Whether it’s animal rights, health or the environmental impacts (outlined in the People, Plate and Planet report) that speak to you, reducing the UK’s meat consumption and adopting the planetary health diet would be good for the climate and us all. If meat and dairy are too hard to give up, eating less but better is a good choice.
Reducing carbon emissions from housing
Did you know that in York 36% of carbon emissions come from housing and only 36% of homes are well insulated (according to 2019 research by Friends of the Earth)? Eco-retrofitting of homes, which we showcase with our York Open Eco Homes events, brings multiple benefits – from reduced carbon emissions to greater comfort and lower energy bills. To get started, it’s good to know how good, or bad, your home is. St Nicks can help you with tips and by lending you a thermal leak detector, which shows where draughts come in. York Community Energy can even lend you a thermal imaging camera and help you get an assessment so you can plan your improvements.
Want to help pollinators?
Want to support bees and other bugs that help feed us? To attract pollinating insects into your garden, plant a variety of native flowers to provide some food at least from spring to autumn but ideally throughout the year. Buglife offers a handy list of plants for bees and other wildlife gardening tips on their website and we’ve got some on our blog too. If you don’t have a big garden there are still plenty of ways you can attract wildlife such as butterflies and other invertebrates to smaller spaces like yards and window boxes.
Want to start composting your food and garden waste but don’t have the equipment? Local councils are offering reduced price composters via GetComposting.com – just punch your postcode in and see what’s on offer in your area. If you need advice on how to get started, we can help – just get in touch.
Clean Air Day
Air pollution is a serious health risk and York is possibly one of the most polluted cities in the UK despite long-term efforts to clean up. As our air filter photo on the right shows, more needs to be done but we can all help York clean up; for example, St Nicks uses electric vehicles and load-bearing tricycles to collect recycling from the city centre. For more info on the annual event see https://www.cleanairday.org.uk
How to reduce condensation issues
Condensation can be a sign of an underinsulated house which loses a lot of heat and costs the earth in both carbon footprint and high energy bills. There are a number of ways to tackle it as clearly described in the video by the Energy Saving Trust (below). Even just a thin plastic film over inefficient window glazing can help reduce condensation as well as the mold attracted to it which can lead to health problems. For more tips and York-based advice visit York Community Energy.
World Mental Health Day
10th October is World Mental Health Day – it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. If you are amongst those, ecotherapy may help improve your wellbeing so get in touch to find out more. But as Nature-Rx cheekily remind us, being outdoors in nature is good for everyone!
This is an annual national event, endorsed by David Attenborough. Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment and their declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses – apparently, more than 75% of UK’s butterflies are experiencing population decline. Will you help check on their numbers by taking part in the count at the end of July or early August?
Learn about climate from the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series, especially 2017 lecture 3 by Kevin Anderson (see below). He is very good at explaining how scary climate change is but also how we can address it – if we all act now or very soon.
Thin Christmas waste-line tips
Want to keep a thin waste-line at Christmas? After a careful gift and food selection, you can further reduce the amounts of rubbish generated by using one of these eco wrapping techniques suggested by Olio – an app that lets you give away surplus food and thus helps fight food waste. Even better, why not give an experience instead of an item?
Do you dig peat?
Gardening, especially when based on permaculture principles, is a good way to protect wildlife. At the moment, however, a lot of gardeners are uknowingly helping to destroy peatlands – some of the most fragile ecosystems. Huge amounts of peat are dug up every year for use by amateur gardeners, which also releases vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Find out why we need to stop using peat and how to go peat-free from Garden Organic. The surest way to avoid using peat in the garden is to make your own compost.
Take climate action, for the love of…
It can be disheartening and overwhelming to think about climate change and how it affects our lives. The short video below demonstrates links between people’s favourite local activities and the global picture. Sadly, things have not improved much since 2014 when the video was made. There are even more reasons to join Climate Coalition, Possible or many others in campaigns calling for climate action, and doing our best to reduce our own carbon emissions.