Tips For A Greener New Home
Our advice for making your new house more eco-friendly, reducing electricity use and becoming more sustainable.
Starting afresh in your new Melbourne home - whether a 70s South Yarra unit, Carlton townhouse or CBD apartment - is a great opportunity to green up your act. With a couple of tweaks to the new place's set-up, you'll be able to reduce your waste and carbon footprint for the duration of your stay.
Here’s the Man’s list of pointers for making your new place more eco-friendly.
1. Start composting
Turn your food waste and kitchen scraps into useful compost, rather than general waste. Believe it or not, the same food scraps that could be decomposing happily in your garden actually release harmful greenhouse gases if placed in landfill. You can read more on that in this article from The Guardian.
It’s quite simple to start a compost system - you’ll just need to grab a small compost bin for your kitchen (it should have a lid to make sure your food scraps aren’t constantly on the nose), and a larger one for outside. Bunnings or your local hardware store should have outdoor compost bins available for a reasonable price. Chuck your kitchen food scraps in the inside bin as you prep your meals, transfer them to your outside bin, give the scraps a turn with a shovel every month or two, and you’ll shortly have rich compost ready to fertilise your garden beds.
If you are in an apartment and don’t have any space to put an outdoor compost bin, check out your council website - a number of Melbourne councils provide green waste bins.
2. Grow your own vegetables and herbs
Now that you’ve started composting, you’re well on your way to having a thriving garden. If you’ve got a backyard, you’ll want to build up a garden bed, for your veggies with soil and compost (you can buy compost mix if yours isn’t ready yet).
Find out what vegetables are in season, and visit your local nursery to get some seeds or seedlings, plant them, and water regularly. You’ll be well on your way to providing some of your own food. If your new property has limited space, you may be able to get a small planter box or some plant pots, and grow herbs and perhaps a veggie or two. Providing some of your own herbs and vegetables can save you a lot of money, and it reduces your carbon footprint - think of how much energy goes into packing, transporting and packaging your food before it gets to the supermarket.
3. Use your heating and cooling sparingly
In Melbourne’s long and dreary winters, you’ll be tempted to leave your heating on constantly. In the height of summer, you may need to run your air conditioning most of the day - especially if, as currently, it’s being recommended by the governmental agencies to reduce the harmful effects of bushfire smoke in the air.
That said, it’s worth developing a plan to minimise your usage. Try putting on the heating to warm up your house when you get home for the evening, and turn it off once you’ve reached a comfortable temperature, or just before you get under the covers - don’t leave it running all night. With air conditioning, try the same approach - run it to cool the home down, but not continuously (except on those intolerably hot days).
4. Hang thick curtains instead of blinds
In the heat of Melbourne summer, thick curtains help with insulation, keeping your new home cool for longer.
5. Get a water-efficient showerhead
Some showerheads use less water than others, without noticeably sacrificing pressure. You should look to install a showerhead with a low litres-per-minute rating at your new property - you can save water while saving money on your bill. Showerheads are also deceptively simple to replace, so this is an easy win.
6. Recycle soft plastics
The REDcycle program allows for straightforward recycling of soft plastics (they describe these as anything plastix you are able to scrunch into a ball). Separate soft plastics from the rest of your recycling and general waste, and take them to a participating supermarket to deposit in the REDcycle bin - find your closest one at https://www.redcycle.net.au/where-to-redcycle/
If you can put some or all of these tips in place, you’ll be well on your way to reducing your waste output and carbon footprint, saving yourself some money, and having a greener new home.