Green Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visithttps://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.
Q: How can I green my spring clean?
A: This is a great idea.
Too many of the everyday cleaning products in our cupboards are bad for the planet – and us!
Thankfully, you can make your home sparkle using effective, natural cleaning products.
They will also save you money and protect your children and pets from toxins that enter our waterways and harm wildlife and our health.
Here are some tips ...
An old-fashioned staple, vinegar has many uses because it cuts through grease and grime.
The smell is minimal but, to overcome it, you can mix in a few drops of your preferred essential oil, like lavender.
It’s fantastic at removing limescale in a toilet.
Just pour some down, leave it overnight and scrub in the morning.
You can also use it on tiles, baths and sinks.
Be careful, it can damage some surfaces and shouldn’t be used on wood, stone, iron or aluminium. And make sure to use clear white vinegar for cleaning purposes.
Bicarbonate of soda
The bicarbonate of soda you use in baking is another green cleaning staple that your grandmother will know well.
It’s alkaline, rather than acidic like vinegar, so it’s best to use them separately.
Bicarb has really good deodorising properties, so is good to sprinkle after spillages or accidents.
It can also be made into a paste with water to clean tiles.
Look out too for soda crystals, which are even more alkaline than standard bicarb and so have greater cleaning properties. They can be used to unblock sinks.
To save money, you can buy your basic ingredients in bulk from the Internet or DIY stores.
As well as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, why not try some sodium percarbonate – also known as ‘oxygen bleach’?
You can add it to your white wash to disinfect, brighten, whiten and remove stains without the toxicity of chlorine.
‘The Great British Bake Off’ winner Nancy Birtwhistle offers green cleaning tips on social media.
The blog Moral Fibres is another great source of ideas.
If you don’t have time to make your own cleaning products, try some of the eco-friendly ranges at your supermarket.
Look out for Ecover, Method and Bio-D.
Many brands offer refillable solutions
It’s cheaper and cuts down on plastic pollution. You just need to bring your own bottles to certain stores. To date, it’s largely been small independent outlets offering refills.
But supermarkets are now getting in on the act, including certain branches of Tesco. Aldi offers concentrated cleaning products that you dilute with water, which cuts plastic too.
Filmmaker Richard Curtis fights for green pensions with his campaign Make My Money Matter. Latest research highlights for every £10 invested in British pensions, £2 is linked to deforestation. That’s over £300 billion invested in making our planet uninhabitable. The Four Weddings and a Funeral’ writer wants pension funds to commit to removing any companies involved in deforestation from portfolios. He also encourages people to look into where their pension is invested and switch if appropriate.
Keep a refillable water bottle in your bag instead of buying cans or plastic bottles of water or soft drinks. You can buy them in sustainable materials, like bamboo, steel or glass.
Once you get into the habit, it’ll become second nature – and it’ll save you money too!
Are new solar panels really worth the money?
Solar electricity panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.
By installing some on your roof or in another outdoor location, you can generate your own renewable energy.
This will cut your carbon footprint and save you money – how much money depends on the amount of electricity you use and the direction your home faces (although south-facing homes are generally best-suited).
The ‘Energy Savings Trust’ has an online calculator to help you work it out.
Here are some things to consider ...
On average, solar panel installation costs have dropped, from more than £6,000 for a good-sized 3.5 kilowatt-peak system eight years ago, to under £5,000 now.
Use an installer that has been approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
You can search for one on the MCS website.
Due to scaffolding costs it’s worth combining the installation with any home maintenance work.
As the price of energy skyrockets, solar panels offer far bigger savings than they used to when it comes to bills.
The savings will depend on the size of the system and how much electricity you use.
According to Money Saving Expert, an average household with a 3.5 kilowatt-peak system can knock between £170 and £440 off its annual bill.
You can also earn some cash from your solar panels, if you generate any extra electricity that’s sent to the national grid.
In January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme replaced the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, which was much more generous.
However, it’s still worth doing your sums, as the SEG scheme can work out well for some – especially if you have enough savings to pay for solar panels upfront.
SEG tariffs vary by supplier.
Energy companies pay a set rate for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity you send to the grid.
Shop around and find the best rate.
Which did a survey and discovered some companies paid five times as much as others.
Please note, it doesn’t have to be the same company already supplying your energy.
Many solar salespeople will also give you a price for a home battery.
Generally, it is not worth it.
They are expensive to install and have limited benefits.
Many people like the idea of going ‘off-grid’ – but if there is a power cut, the solar system will shut down anyway, due to electricity regulations.
Fact or fiction
If packaging says its recyclable then you can stick it in your recycle bin. False! Local councils vary when it comes to what they recycle – especially in terms of plastics.
Please always check. Keep a list on each bin, so you don’t forget.
You may also like the last Going Green article if you missed it -