Going green: use eco-friendly cleaning products to make your home shine!
Angela Terry, green activist and consumer expert, separates climate change fact from fiction and explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome and visit https://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.
Q: How can I green my spring cleaning?
A: That’s a great idea.
Too many daily cleaning products in our cupboards are bad for the planet – and for us!
Luckily, you can make your home shine by 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 a few tips …
An old-fashioned staple, vinegar has many uses as it cuts through grease and grime.
The smell is minimal, but to overcome it, you can mix in a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender.
It’s fantastic for removing limescale in the toilet.
Just pour a little, leave it overnight, and scrub in the morning.
You can also use it on tiles, bathtubs and sinks.
Please note that it may damage certain surfaces and should not be used on wood, stone, iron or aluminium. And make sure to use clear white vinegar for cleaning purposes.
The baking soda you use in baking is another green cleaning product that your grandma will be familiar with.
It’s alkaline rather than acidic like vinegar, so it’s best to use them separately.
Bicarb has very good deodorizing properties, so it is good to sprinkle it on after spills or accidents.
It can also be made into a paste with water to clean tiles.
Also pay attention to soda ash, which is even more alkaline than standard bicarbide and therefore has better cleaning properties. They can be used to unclog sinks.
To save money, you can buy your basic ingredients in bulk on the Internet or in DIY stores.
In addition to vinegar and baking soda, why not try sodium percarbonate, also known as “oxygen bleach”?
You can add it to your whitewash to disinfect, brighten, whiten and remove stains without the toxicity of chlorine.
Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle shares green cleaning tips on social media.
The Moral Fibers blog 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 from your supermarket.
Look for Ecover, Method and Bio-D.
Many brands offer rechargeable solutions
It’s cheaper and it reduces plastic pollution. You just need to bring your own bottles to some stores. To date, these are largely small, independent outlets offering refills.
But supermarkets are now getting in on the act, including some Tesco branches. Aldi offers concentrated cleaning products that you dilute with water, which also cuts through plastic.
Filmmaker Richard Curtis is fighting for green pensions with his Make My Money Matter campaign. The latest research highlights for every £10 invested in UK pensions, £2 is linked to deforestation. That’s over 300 billion pounds invested to make our planet uninhabitable. The author of Four Weddings and a Funeral wants pension funds to commit to removing all companies involved in deforestation from their portfolios. It also encourages people to check where their pension is invested and change if necessary.
Keep a refillable water bottle in your bag instead of buying cans or plastic bottles of water or pop. You can buy them in durable materials, like bamboo, steel, or glass.
Once you get used to it, it will become second nature – and it will also save you money!
Are new solar panels really worth it?
Solar panels capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.
By installing it on your roof or other outdoor location, you can generate your own renewable energy.
This will reduce your carbon footprint and save you money – the amount of money depends on how much electricity you use and the orientation of your home (although south-facing homes are generally best suited ).
The Energy Savings Trust has an online calculator to help you calculate this.
Here are some things to consider…
On average, solar panel installation costs have fallen from over £6,000 for a good-sized 3.5 kilowatt system eight years ago, to less than £5,000 now.
Use an installer approved by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).
You can search for one on the MCS website.
Due to scaffolding costs, it is worth combining installation with house maintenance work.
As the price of energy skyrockets, solar panels offer much greater bill savings than ever before.
The savings will depend on the size of the system and the amount of electricity you use.
According to Money Saving Expert, an average household with a 3.5 kilowatt peak system can cut their annual bill by £170-440.
You can also earn money from your solar panels, if you generate additional electricity which is sent to the national grid.
In January 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme replaced the much more generous Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme.
However, it’s still worth doing your math, as the SEG program can work well for some, especially if you have enough savings to pay for the solar panels up front.
SEG rates vary by provider.
Energy companies pay a flat rate for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity you send to the grid.
Shop around and find the best rate.
Who did a survey and found that some companies were paying five times more than others.
Please note that it does not have to be the same company that is already supplying your energy.
Many solar sellers will also give you a price for a home battery.
In general, it’s 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 outage, the solar system will shut down anyway, due to electricity regulations.
fact or fiction
If the packaging says it’s recyclable, you can stick it in your trash can. False! Local councils vary in what they recycle – particularly in terms of plastics.
Please always check. Keep a list on each bin, so you don’t forget it.
You might also like the latest Going Green article if you missed it –