I’ve recently moved to Brighton to start University. After two years of shared houses over which I had little control, I now have a flat with my boyfriend… This is great because we have the chance to make it our own personal bubble. Apart from aesthetics like poster placement and furniture juggling, a large part of this for me is making sure my new home is as environmentally responsible as possible. In this post I’ll talk you through where this has been easy, and where this goal has come up against barriers of various kinds.
- Brighton has a fairly comprehensive recycling system so I can put paper, card, glass and tins outside my door for collection. Just down the road there’s large bins for clothes, shoes and even toys. Also recycling can go on even when out and about as they provide bins for paper, plastic bottles etc in town as well.
- Politically, my new constituency is the only one in the UK to be run by the Green Party. Go Caroline Lucas!
- Brighton University is the 3rd greenest in the country, apparently. I’m yet to get stuck into what stuff they have going on to live up to this title but today I joined their student led food co-op, which is a great start!
- I’ve discovered to my joy that eco-friendly cleaning products are not actually that expensive. Never having to buy washing-up liquid or toilet cleaner before, I was set on buying the eco versions but was worried they’d be at break-the-bank prices and would severely cut into my funds… Not so. Each of these essential house-ey items cost me about £2. I can cope with that! Especially as they are concentrated and last for ages.
- My flat came complete with a freezer, which has helped me avoid food waste considerably. If I make too much food but it’s one of those ‘awkward amounts’ that aren’t enough for another meal, I can just whack it in the freezer. I can already see a poor and hungover future me celebrating upon finding an icy portion of homemade soup!
- We’re on a meter for electricity rather than a standard monthly bill, so we’re being encouraged to be as frugal and efficient with power as possible. Little habits that I’ve always tried to do for ethical reasons are suddenly being reinforced as important money-saving tactics. We never leave lights on, even for ten minutes. We turn off computers when we won’t use them again for half an hour, wheres before I would leave them on. We turn the hot water off as soon as the washing up’s done. It really works – it’s made me think how effective it’d be to make every house on a meter. I’d like to think I was doing stuff like this any way, but it’s crazy how much a financial insentive has really made me go the extra mile.
- We thought this flat had a shower, but it turns out it doesn’t work. The landlord doesn’t want to pay for a new one to be installed at the moment so we’re using the bath… But it just seems like such a massive waste! After washing myself I have to leave the room as gallon upon gallon of still-almost-clean water rushes off to the same place as the definitely-not-clean-at-all toilet water… It’s such an inefficient system. Plus I find showers more convenient and refreshing anyway. If we owned the house we could get some kind of system installed to catch the grey water and re-use it, but renting just doesn’t allow you these options.
- Despite the high quality of recycling with everything else, food waste isn’t collected here. I think this is a bit shocking and am trying to find time to write a letter to my local (Green!) MP about it. Needless to say, this is certainly not helping me to avoid food waste!
- I wanted to go to Ecotricity for our electricity but I’m not sure if we can change our suppliers… Sorting out utility bills is an aspect of adult life that I have faced with no gusto whatsoever. They’re all boring, money-grabbing and confusing and I’ve only actually payed one bill so far. I will talk to my landlord about changing to a green supplier but I’m not holding my breath.
And that’s it for now, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated! What are some of the eco highs and lows of your own home?