Being environmentally friendly and disabled, the more positive post

This is the more positive half of being disabled and environmentally friendly and the suggestions will be applicable more broadly as well.  Again, I’m going to (mostly) use the framework from 2011 just because it does give a structure and I’m sure you’d rather have that than me rambling…

I apologise for any strange formatting, wordpress have changed their editor and it seems to have a mind of it’s own…

Eco-improving your home (retrofitting)

  • Insulating your home
  • Upgrading your heating and hot water systems
  • Fitting and using water saving devices
  • Generating own energy by installing renewables

Whether you rent or own your home will affect how well you can implement these suggestions but as a starting point, you can look at whether grants are available in your area.  I did a quick search for my area and found one for private home owners as well as one for private landlords.  Both were focused on improving the energy efficiency of the property and seemed to cover insulation as well as heating upgrades.

Simple Energy Advice also offers suggestions and can do so on personalised basis by asking you a few questions about your home.  As I am a council tenant, it wasn’t especially helpful for me but it might be more useful if you own your home.

There is something called the Renewable Heat Incentive which offers finance to help with the upfront costs of installing renewable energy sources.  I did try reading it to find out who would be eligible but I got bogged down in it and couldn’t face carrying on… Sorry.. But it does exist!

Using energy and water wisely

  • Managing temperature
  • Washing and drying laundry using minimum energy and water

There are all the usual tips of turn the heating down by 1 degree and put on a jumper but these are both common sense and talked about too much.  I get frustrated every time I see that turning down my heating by a degree won’t affect me because it does.  My flat does cold or hot and the degree in question moves us from one to the other.

I have my heating on a timer so that I’m trying to maximise the hotness at appropriate times and if I need it at other times I boost it…  But after a few years of trying, I have found no other way to comfortably live in my flat.  Even with having blankets all over the place, heated blankets, electric hot water bottles and so on. 

I have a combined washer dryer and this may seem an obvious way to save space in a small flat but I wanted to mention it as I was talking to someone recently who had her mind blown by the idea – she had never come across one.  I don’t get my clothes dirty so tend only to do 30min wash cycles at 30 degrees, with eco friendly washing powder, no softener and I throw everything in together.  Admittedly, I don’t own much that’s white but I have never bothered with delicate washes, cotton washes and so on.  This helps me to cut down on the number of wash cycles I’d be doing over the course of a week.  Occasionally we will use the dryer function –mainly for towels – but we don’t use it to entirely dry them, we get a lot of the water out so that they dry quicker on my radiators and clothes airer.

Essentially, I think my advice here is to think about how you’re using your washing machine and/or dryer.  As humans, we get into habits and washing machines have improved considerably and so you might be able to change those habits and utilise their technology in a more efficient way.

Yorkshire Water also have a free water saving kit and other areas may have similar schemes.

Extending the life of things (to minimise waste)

  • Maintaining and repairing (instead of replacing)
  • Giving new life to unwanted items eg furniture
  • Making the most of kerbside and local recycling services
Look into repair cafes to see if you can get help maintaining and repairing your existing items.  To find second hand options instead of brand new can take a bit longer so isn’t always an option but there’s an array of places to check out: • FreecycleEbay (you can set your search to bring back second hand items) • Facebook • Car boot fairs • GumtreePreloved • Charity shops • Reuse network And don’t forget to donate as well. In terms of recycling… despite what I said in the first post, see if your local council can help you.  If you have friendly neighbours, they might also be willing to lend a hand once a week to pop the recycling out. Also, think beyond the regular recycling.  A lot of councils don’t recycle the lids from plastic bottles but you can collect them and take them into Lush. Batteries can be recycled in a lot of supermarkets – we pop them into the bags we take shopping otherwise I know we’d forget them.  Plastic bags, bubble wrap and other plastic film can be recycled at some supermarkets. You can even recycle your vibrator!

Cooking and managing a sustainable and healthier diet

  • Choosing foods grown in season (in country of origin)
  • Increasing proportion of vegetables, fruit, and grains in diet (eating a balanced diet)
  • Cooking sustainable and healthier food
  • Wasting less food
  • Growing your own food

Veg boxes are a way of buying local food and some include things like eggs and meat.  Some online supermarkets offer “green” slots meaning they are already in your area at that point so you can reduce the fuel they use by choosing one of those.  Meal planning can help to reduce waste and buying frozen vegetables is one way of reducing the prep involved and also reducing waste.

Choosing eco-products and services

  • Using labelling to choose most energy and water efficient products
  • Choosing fairly traded, eco-labelled and independently certified food, clothing etc
  • Borrowing, hiring or sourcing second-hand or recycled
  • Buying ethically when travelling

If you can, financially, think about purchases as investment and buy things to last and which will be more cost effective over time.  For example an A+++ rated fridge will use less energy and hence money.

As a result of my numerous allergies, I often buy eco-friendly products.  This might mean using hankies instead of tissues, using eco cleaning products for you and your house and thinking about whether you need fabric softener, air fresheners etc.

Using and future proofing outdoor spaces

  • Gardening for biodiversity and environment
  • Enjoying the outdoors
If growing plants interests you but you don’t have much space, think about pot plants, window boxes and even herbs in your kitchen.  The latter even saves you buying herbs, means less packaging and might inspire you later to garden if you find yourself with one.  There are also community gardening schemes cropping up which often have herbs, fruit and veg so has the benefit of free food too! If you find somewhere outdoors that is accessible for you, share the information on Euan’s Guide to help other disabled people find it. Please share your own ideas and tips in the comments below!

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