With Earth Hour fast approaching, here are some helpful tips that go beyond just turning off our lights.
Textiles and fabrics
Design-wise, adding textures to your décor is a must, but what if there’s more to it than an aesthetic function? Well, there is. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting; instead, highlight original flooring and incorporate your own design taste. Natural fibre rugs will not only help as sound absorbers but will reduce off-gassing significantly. Sisal, wool and jute rugs are all great looking and natural alternatives to processed textiles that are not always sustainable in production nor product life.
In a climate as hot and humid as Hong Kong’s, shade against the sun is imperative. Whether store bought or custom made, curtains and window shades can make a huge difference when it comes to hot rooms. Neutral coloured window treatments with a white plastic lining or backing can help reduce heat gains significantly. This means you won’t have to turn on your air conditioner to cool down a space as often.
Whether you have a balcony, terrace, ledge or windowsill, if it’s exposed to sunlight for six to eight hours a day, you’ve got yourself a mini garden. Planting herbs or even easy to maintain potted plants like ferns, ivy, spider plants, aloe and rhododendron will improve air quality in the home. By growing your own mint, chillies and even tomatoes, you’ll be saving on groceries as well as reducing the amount of unnecessary packaging in which these come wrapped.
Moving in or updating colour schemes? Opt for low or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint, this will significantly reduce off-gassing, which isn’t good for you or the environment. The lighter the colour, the better, as darker colours have more tints that involve more additives.
Befriend your electric bill
Although warm, yellow light is needed in some areas of the home, there might be some rooms where you can install efficient compact fluorescent lights or even LEDs. At the same time, unplug unused appliances. Whether it’s the computer or mobile phone’s charger, remove it from the socket completely as standby or idling power still impacts consumption. These two actions will make your electrical bill somewhat easier to look at.
Whether you’re going for a vintage vibe, sustainable wood or just in need of furniture quickly, several websites and stores offer gently used pieces at affordable prices. This not only helps your bank account but benefits the planet, by preventing these items from ending up in a land fill.
Take a look at the faucets and plumbing around your apartment, identify leaks and have them fixed. Be conscious about the time you spend showering; low-flow showerheads are a great way to cut down on water waste. Toilets now are widely available in dual-flush modes that significantly help with saving water and perhaps consider if you really must flush every time you visit the bathroom. Also, remember all that extra water your dehumidifier collects can be reused for watering plants, washing dishes or even flushing.