Sustainability and environmentally friendly. These are words that are being used daily in the media and by the public in general – and for good reason.
As gardeners, we can see first-hand the significance of looking after the environment, and the importance of practicing good habits. However, for gardening newbies, how to create an eco-friendly garden may be a bit of a mystery. And what about the home, can that be improved at the same time?
There are many different ways that we can make our home and garden more sustainable. Here are a few simple options that take little effort, and don’t cost a fortune.
What can you do to make your home and garden more sustainable?
The checklist of items that you could transform around your home could be exhaustive. And even the most environmentally aware person could probably still make some improvements.
However, sometimes you need to wait until the time is right to implement a change. For example, you may see recommendations for swapping your plastic food storage boxes for ceramic or bamboo ones. But if you have perfectly usable items in your home, then ditching them will simply add to landfill. In this situation, a much better approach is to wait until you need to change them.
On the other hand, some changes are worth making earlier, as they can have an instant impact. Switching to solar power, for instance, can have an immediate effect on your home’s sustainability.
When it comes to making your garden more eco-friendly, the following areas can deliver easy wins:
- Install a water butt to collect rainwater for garden use
- Consider an alternative energy supply
- Reduce your carbon footprint by growing your own vegetables
- Set up a composting system to reduce garden waste
How popular is solar power in the UK?
Solar power was supposed to revolutionise UK homes by now. According to a 2014 report from The Guardian, it was anticipated that 10 million UK homes would have solar panel installations by 2020.
The reality is far more disappointing. In 2020, there were approximately 970,000 homes with solar panels. However, the situation isn’t as dismal as these figures suggest. Many people simply didn’t opt for full solar panel installations, but chose to use solar power in other ways.
One of the most common ways to use solar power is in the garden. Solar power can be harnessed for security lighting, driveways, pool covers, and much more.
How can you utilise solar power in the garden?
There are lots of simple ways to take advantage of solar power in the garden.
Solar pool covers help to reduce evaporation while keeping the water warm. This helps to reduce water loss and energy consumption.
Solar security lighting can perform just as well as mains powered lighting to reduce the chances of intruders, while solar decking lights and lighting for pathways deliver on safety and ambience.
Decorative solar garden lighting is probably the most common use of alternative energy outdoors. Solar garden lights come in many different styles, and not only do they add aesthetic value, but they also reduce the need for fossil fuels used by electricity.
Is solar power actually a practical way to light a garden?
Not that long ago, when solar-powered garden lights first appeared, they were pretty weak, to say the least. Now though, solar lights can match any traditional garden lighting, in a much more sustainable way.
Stripping out existing lighting may seem wasteful, but the savings for the planet and your wallet can make it worthwhile.
An added bonus is that by removing electrical cabling from your garden, you’ll reduce the number of hazards. This is particularly relevant to gardens where kids or pets are running around.
How long would a vegetable patch take to come to harvest?
A vegetable garden is another way to make a garden and home more sustainable. This has the knock-on effect of bringing produce into the home, which reduces shopping bills and packaging waste.
There are many tips for simple vegetable gardening for beginners, and no one should be put off just because they haven’t explored this area before. Depending on the varieties and the seasons, your seeds could be ready to harvest within 3 to 4 months.
How useful is a rain barrel?
Water is one of the planet’s most essential commodities, and one that can cause damage too. Using a rain-catching barrel gives you a free source of water for your plants, and also reduces run-off which can cause erosion. If you have a water meter, it can save you some money too.
Adding a solar powered pump to your water butt will make it easier to use without adding to your utility bills.
Does composting really make a difference to the environment?
If you don’t compost your food waste then it has to go somewhere else, namely into a landfill. Thus, composting helps the environment in this way.
Using compost in the garden also helps to reduce water run-off, adds nutrients to the soil, and is an easy way to reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.
As Tidy Planet reports, next year there will be mandatory collections for household food waste in the UK. So, you may as well get into it now.
Can solar power be used inside the home too?
The benefits of solar power can also have an impact inside your home.
For example, if you don’t have a garden, then you can still fit a composting bin indoors and have it collected.
There are also such things as indoor solar lights, and these can help to reduce the amount of time you use electricity to power your lighting. Although not as effective as garden or outdoor lights, there are still eco-benefits to be had from them.
If you decide to go the whole hog and add solar panels to your home, then you may find yourself eligible to sell excess energy back to the grid. This means not only is your home more sustainable, but you could even make some money.
You can of course aim to reduce energy consumption as a way to be more sustainable in the home. An easy way to start this process is to switch to energy-saving bulbs. You can also get into the habit of switching lights and appliances off when not in use.
These are just a few of the simple ways that you can make your home and garden more sustainable. Do you have any top tips for making the move towards eco-friendly living?