Tips to make Spring more eco-friendly
Written by Emmanuelle Gammage
Daffodils are blooming, the birds are chirping and the days are getting longer. That can only mean one thing, Spring. The first signs of Spring are always a delight, even more so at the moment, as it brings a renewed hope for the year. Symbolising rebirth and growth, it’s the perfect time to embrace Mother Nature.
You may think that Spring is inherently ‘green’, with flowers blooming and creatures coming out of hibernation, but there are actually a few things we should consider to ensure we’re treating our home and garden sustainably.
Whether you’re planning to revamp the garden, redecorate the house or tear something down, you should consider the environmental impact of your Spring project first. This means researching eco-friendly methods and materials, and if the project is too much for your own hands, reaching out to sustainable contractors.
Whatever your project, you’ll most likely need materials. If you’re redecorating with paint, opt for non-toxic paint like Earthborn, which is free from acrylics, oils and nasty emissions. Choosing paint with low volatile organic compound (VOC) will keep your home happier as it’s better for the environment and your health. Other eco-friendly paint alternatives include Farrow & Ball, The Organic & Natural Paint Company and Edward Bulmer.
If you’re going one step further and renovating, aim to source sustainable or recycled materials. Construction has a huge environmental impact: construction materials account for 122 million tonnes of waste and 18% of total carbon dioxide emissions. Choosing sustainable, salvaged and reclaimed materials will reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Keep an eye out for salvaged and reclaimed materials like tiles, bricks, wood, fireplaces and doors. These can be found in salvage centres, reclamation yards, specialist companies and through word of mouth. Facebook Marketplace is a great tool to find second-hand products. Up- cycling will give your home a new lease of life using materials with a history, plus it has minimal environmental impact. Other sustainable materials include bamboo, barn wood, rock, stone and a recent trend is flooring made of cork. These materials are cost efficient and long lasting to make your home greener. Once you’ve renovated, remember to give back too. Donate your old appliances, recycle old materials and sell or give away items that would otherwise be wasted.
You’ll most likely be planning a good Spring clean soon. It’s a chance to spruce up your home and give it a dose of TLC. Spring cleaning is about embracing the natural so it seems odd that we bring in extra toxins for cleaning. Opting for homemade cleaning products or environmentally- friendly products is safer, cleaner and sustainable. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon, salt and essential oils are all household products that make great cleaning solutions. An added bonus is that you know exactly what you’re putting into your home, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted chemicals. Alternatively, explore our range of eco-friendly kitchen products, including the OceanSaver Anti-Bac Spray, a biodegradable, non-toxic, recyclable cleaning spray that kills 99.9% of bacteria, so you don’t have to choose between the planet or quality.
Spring cleaning usually includes a much needed de-clutter too. As the change of seasons brings a change in weather, it’ll be time to dust away the cobwebs on your Spring / Summer wardrobe so now is the best time to decide what is worth keeping. If you haven’t worn something in six to nine months, perhaps it’s time to consider a new home for it. Think practically, will you wear it again? Donate, sell or give away any unwanted items.
Remember, don’t throw away any items that need mending or altering, the internet has tons of tutorials to help you revamp your wardrobe. Or, find a local tailor or seamstress to help.
Also, while you’re cleaning, remember to be energy-wise. Don’t leave the tap running while you’re cleaning and fill up any buckets with excess water for your garden. While you’re at it, check for leaky taps or pipes to prevent any water waste and a big water bill. Additionally, make the most of the sunshine and clean your clothes on the washing line instead of the tumble dryer. If you have a flat with a balcony, you can dry your clothes on a rack instead.
To help you stay on top of your energy usage, we are super excited to announce a new product. The Lutron RA2 is a smart lighting control system to create personalised lighting for your home. Not only will it save you up to 20% on your lighting energy bills, it will also create any ambience you desire that can be altered in just a moment. It even helps save energy while you’re out! So if you forget to turn a light off, you can do it from your pocket.
Getting the garden Spring ready
One of the best things about Spring is the blooming flowers which can bring vibrant colour and an uplifting mood booster to your home. Spending time outside in nature can boost your mood and reduce stress, especially with an added dose of vitamin D. In theory, gardening is inherently green, but there are things you can do to increase sustainability outdoors.
When planning your garden, have sustainability in mind. Real Homes recommend sticking to this philosophy when gardening, “plant according to the garden, not the gardener” they say. Begin by making the most of native plants. According to Gardener’s World, England’s native wildflowers include ox-eye daisy, forget-me-not’s, marigold, foxglove, lily of the valley, knapweed, primrose, honeysuckle and many more! These flowers are best suited to our climate, requiring less watering and maintenance, helping to sustain local wildlife. This is especially necessary for bees, which are crucial to our sustainability. Due to climate change, pesticide use and habitat loss, bees are slowly declining. But nearly every mouthful of food can be traced back to bees, so we need to do our part and protect them.
Spring cleaning your garden involves getting rid of any Winter debris like weeds, mould and dead plants. As Spring promotes new growth, it’s pruning time, which keeps plants healthy and thriving. But make sure you don’t prune blooming plants (wait until they’ve flowered). However, sustainability isn’t always pretty. It’s recommended to keep some of your garden messy and natural. The Woodland Trust suggest allowing nature to take its course in a section of the garden so it will attract and home local wildlife. Seed bombs (best used early Spring) would be useful to throw on this patch, all you have to do is wait for the magic to happen. You can also create your own bug house using garden materials like leaves, moss and logs to shelter your garden guests.
Although a garden primarily of turf grass may be to your preference, it does little for the environment and wildlife. Using fertilisers to boost the colour and density of grass, combined with mowing your grass, has a negative environmental impact. According to Vice, lawn mowers emit about 5-6% more CO2 than the lawn absorbs. To combat this, plant more flowers and shrubs and let the grass grow more often. Mowing less frequently will save on electricity or petrol and thus reduce carbon CO2 emissions.
Other ways to reduce your carbon footprint in the garden are propagating and composting. Composting can add nutrients to your soil and prevent waste ending up in landfill. If you don’t have a garden or your garden has limited space, you could try making a worm farm which works in a similar way, on a smaller scale. Propagating involves collecting seeds and taking cuttings from your own garden. You can swap and share your cuttings with friends and family so you don’t have to spend on buying new ones.
Even if you don’t have much of a garden, you can still bring the outside in. Rather than throwing away old tin cans or jam jars, give them a quick clean and use them as a recycled planter for herbs. They’ll thrive on your windowsill and won’t take up much space. Having flowers in the house are also an instant mood booster and can transform the aesthetic of a room, but it can come at a price. 90% of flowers sold in the UK are imported so when you can, find a local florist. Alternatively, choose houseplants instead, to purify the air inside your home.
As we said earlier, planning is key. Which is why you should begin saving water now (if you haven’t already) using a water butt. Conserving rainwater means you’ll save yourself some money and preserve energy. Read more about the benefits of water butts here.
Getting the kids involved with these adjustments outside can be a fun and rewarding project for the whole family and the environment.
Don’t forget about lighting
As it’s staying lighter for longer (finally) we should make the most of it and allow our home to be lit naturally instead. Opening the curtains and using mirrors to amplify daylight are useful ways of maximising sunlight, even if you don’t have huge windows. If you are building your own house (or planning to), consider daylighting which involves strategically placing windows to maximise natural internal lighting.
You’ll most likely be spending more time outside in the evenings as it grows warmer so you’ll need to think about garden lighting. Our easy-to-use navigating system can help you figure out the best lighting for your garden and conservatory, whether your priority is decorative, easy access of safety. Our quality LEDs can save you up to 90% on energy bills and create the ideal Summertime ambience. We also have a range of security lighting available to keep your home secure and your mind at peace.
Prepare for Spring and check out our eco-friendly cleaning essentials, our LED home lighting range and stay up to date with our Learn&Save articles for more useful tips.