7 ways to make your home more sustainable
Sustainability is all about being responsible with our resources so that future generations can enjoy the planet as much as we do without being left wanting. However, a sustainable lifestyle can go further than just taking advantage of renewable energy sources and choosing public transport over driving your own car.
Living more sustainably is also about using less. It's about reducing waste and finding different ways to do things, without continuously tapping into resources that are hard to replenish. Guess what? We can all do it.
Consciously making decisions with sustainability in mind, is where we should all be. But it does take time to swap out our old habits for more sustainable ones. With that said, we wanted to share with you seven ways to make your home more sustainable. We divided the ideas into three categories: repurposing/upcycling, protecting, and generating less waste.
Repurposing and Upcycling
Repurposing and upcycling are two practices that let you extend the life of objects you would otherwise throw away. If we all repurposed and upcycled more frequently, we would ultimately send fewer things to the dump. With that in mind, here are a couple of ideas:
1. Old toys can become garment hooks
Kids grow up and outgrow their stuff, right? Right. But there's no need to ditch their old toys. With a little creativity, you can turn some of those old toys into useful household objects. Right now, we're thinking that some of them could become garment hooks.
An old plastic dinosaur might've once been the source of many imaginative stories. Let's honour the good memories by having them stick around for a little while longer. Turn it into a garment hook with a little bit of Sugru on each foot. That long neck is perfect for hanging a jacket, your umbrella, or a hat. Here's how you do it:
1. Stick a little Sugru to each foot, then shape it with your fingers.
2. Firmly press the toy against the wall where you want the hook to be.
3. Hold the toy in place with a piece of masking tape; then let it set.
As this is a load-bearing project, we recommend allowing Sugru to set for up to 48 hours.
With very little effort and absolutely no power tools, you just prevented a plastic toy from becoming landfill fodder. You have a great place to hang your coat and a conversation starter next time you have guests over.
2. Teapots can becomes bird feeders
How many old teapots end up in the bin? Too many. Yours doesn't have to. You can turn it into a durable and stylish bird feeder with some Sugru and a tea strainer. We have complete instructions in this post.
Check out the post and you will see pictures along with detailed instructions. You'll notice that this example contains a teapot with an intact lid. Hang it perpendicular to the ground and the lid becomes a nice shade from the sun. Meanwhile, your bird friends can perch on the spout as they nibble on delicious bird seed.
3. Your old t-shirts can become rags
If you are like most people, you have a collection of t-shirts and vests in your wardrobe. You wear them until they start developing holes. Here's the thing: if you donate those t-shirts to a charity, in the hopes of them being sent to people who may get some use out of them, forget it. Chances are they won't see the light of day again.
But wait. Those t-shirts don't have to end up in the bin just yet. They are key to a sustainable home by replacing paper towels and napkins. That's right, your old T-shirts can become cleaning rags. Use them until they fall apart. You can also cut them into small squares, run a hem around the edge with the sewing machine, and use them as cloth napkins.
Not only will this keep t-shirts out of the bin when they still have plenty of life in them, but it will also help you reduce unnecessary waste. More on that in just a bit.
Protecting What You Already Have
Have you ever been tempted to throw something away simply because it suffered some sort of cosmetic damage? What about minor non-cosmetic damage? Unfortunately, we throw away too many things. Equally unfortunate is that we don't tend to take any measures to care for what we have, and preventing them from said damage
Protecting our possessions is part of creating a sustainable home. How so? Protect what you have, and you end up keeping it longer. Protect its function and it will work for a longer period. Protect its aesthetics and it will look good, too. Here are a couple of ideas for doing so:
4. Put rings round your cups and mugs
Hot beverages in coffee mugs can leave marks on tables when there is no coaster to hand. Likewise for cold beverages. They leave ugly watermarks on beautiful wood furniture. You can prevent both scenarios by putting Sugru rings around the bottoms of your mugs and cups.
Detailed instructions, with pictures, can be found here. This is the process in a nutshell:
1. Place a piece of masking tape around the bottom of a cup or mug. Leave a little space between the bottom edge of the tape and the actual bottom of the mug or cup.
2. Apply Sugru all the way around, creating a ring that will adhere to the surface. Make it thicker on the bottom and thinner around the edges.
3. After creating the ring, use soapy water and your finger to even out and smooth the surface.
4. Let the Sugru set for 12-24 hours. Remove the masking tape and you're done. Now your cup or coffee mug has its own built-in coaster.
5. Create bumpers on your hair straighteners
Hair straighteners and curling irons are bad news for wood furniture. They are not all that good for some types of laminate countertops, either. The problem is that they get so hot that they can easily burn the wardrobe or bathroom counter.
Because Sugru sets up as a durable rubber, you can use it to create customised feet for your hair straightener or curling iron. We put together a complete guide here. With two rubber feet properly placed, you can set either appliance down on the counter or your wardrobe and rest assured that it will not make contact with the surface.
Again, this makes for a more sustainable home by preventing unnecessary damage. You won't have to replace your counter or wardrobe because of a silly and avoidable appliance mishap.
Generating less waste
It goes without saying that maintaining a sustainable home involves reducing waste as much as possible. Waste is a problem. And whilst we know it's not possible to eliminate all waste entirely, there are measures we can all take to significantly reduce it. Little changes to the way we do things.
To start generating less waste in your life, we first need to recognise what actions we take in our daily lives that are generating waste unnecessarily. Below are two ideas that should drive home the point pretty clearly.
6. Invest in a travel coffee mug
Who doesn't like a good cup of coffee or tea? We all do. But if you're using paper or foam cups, you are unnecessarily generating waste. Why not replace paper and foam with a good travel mug? The cheapest ones are made of plastic. More expensive travel mugs are made of steel. They are superior because they do a better job of insulating and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
This particular idea goes beyond just making your own home more sustainable. It is also about being sustainable outside the home. You can take your travel mug with you to work. When you stop at the coffee shop, just hand them your mug. There's no need to use one of their paper or foam cups. The same goes for the break room.
This particular solution doesn't require any Sugru. It doesn't need any creativity on your part. All it requires is a willingness to think about drinking coffee and tea differently. It is so easy to do, that it's an instant habit you can adopt into your everyday life.
7. Fix what is broken
If you have spent any time looking around the Sugru website, you've probably already discovered by now that we are big advocates of fixing what is broken. In the old days, before mass production, manufactured goods were very expensive. So expensive that people were reticent to throw them out. They fixed everything they could.
But now we live in a disposable society that would rather toss broken things into the bin, rather than fixing them. But that practice only generates waste. What's more, the waste is often times unnecessary, and often a simple repair would save an item from landfill.
Take your guttering for example. If like most of us, you don't know the first thing about it, if there's a fault, your first instinct may be to get someone in to fit a new one. In which case your old one would be thrown out. That's an expensive way to solve the problem, and there may be a chance to avoid all of it with a simple repair. Home repair expert DIY With Emma, shows us lots of ways to repair your guttering with Sugru. Check them out here.
Those dining room chairs that are old and rickety can be made like new with a little TLC and some wood glue. You can make them as strong as ever in no time. That broken picture frame can be repaired with a thin layer of Sugru. The list goes on and on.
We used to take pride in fixing things. Putting broken things back into service gave us a sense of pride and accomplishment. It also saved money. Most importantly, it reduced our dependence on natural resources by requiring less manufacturing.
Wrapping it all up
Having read this article completely, you have probably figured out that there is a lot that goes into maintaining a sustainable home. We have only discussed a few ideas relating to repurposing/upcycling, protecting, and generating less waste. There are literally hundreds of ideas this post didn't cover.
One last thing we want you to know is that you don't have to save the world by yourself. You also do not have to implement every single sustainable home idea you run across. Just start somewhere. Do something small and make it work. Success might motivate you to try something else.
Leading a more sustainable lifestyle is really a matter of doing a lot of little things that add up over time. Repurposing and upcycling can seem like such an insignificant exercise. But imagine how much less you will throw away after doing it for many years.
The same goes for protecting what you already have and generating less waste. What you do today may not contribute a whole lot to global sustainability. But what you do over the course of many years will add up. If we all do those little things on a daily basis, the world will become a more sustainable place.