With new year resolutions flying about, Victoria Carter, Chief Executive and co-founder of New Zealand’s first car share, Cityhop suggests there are 5 easy ways to make a ‘green new start to the year.’ “Not only will you be reducing your emission output but many of these ideas will also save you money,” says Victoria .
“It does not matter whether you believe in global warming or not,” says Victoria, “in this age of consumerism it won’t do us any harm at all to use less, recycle more and conserve a little bit.
“We live in the age of waste so some economy is a good habit to instill in our children and it certainly won’t harm them to know ways that they can contribute to a more sustainable planet.”
The number one thing action that Victora says that will not only impact on your pocket but help reduce congestion is to use your car less. Victoria suggests signing up for a Cityhop annual membership for only $50.00. Then whenever you need a car you can go on-line and book one for only $12 an hour including petrol and insurance. “Car sharing is taking modern cities by storm as more families choose not to buy second and third cars and singles decide they can’t justify the investment in such a large depreciating asset.
“Joining car share schemes like Cityhop can also reduce your waist line,” says Carter, referring to the fact that overseas research into the behaviour of car share members shows that they drive around 7000 kilometres less than when before they were car share members.
“Every trip a car share member takes makes them think what is the best mode of transport for where I need to go, ferry, bus or train, walk or bike. As a result they walk more so they are fitter and exercising more. This is what we call one of the hidden benefits of joining car share, laughs Victoria.
The second green step she suggests which is relatively easy is to buy locally produced food. It’s not hard and it’s also healthier, adds Victoria, because one tends to buy produce grown locally which hasn’t been refrigerated and shipped for long haul travel.
One of the things we don’t realize is the amount of energy we waste on a daily basis. The third easy way to be more ‘green’ suggests Victoria , is to look to the humble heated towel rail. “One of the luxury things to have after every shower is a hot towel but if like me you only shower once a day you don’t actually need the towel rail on 24/7.
“I got the idea from the website, bepartofthechange. So now I turn the towel rail off after my shower so the left over heat can dry the towel out and then when I go to bed I turn it on again so I have a hot towel in the morning. A simple idea but if more of us did lots of little things like this we would reduce the amount of energy we consume and save money too, adds Victoria . Using the towel rail for 4 hours instead of 24 saves $100 per annum and saves 315 kg of CO 2.
If you don’t have a heated towel rail other energy saving measures are to switch off all plugs especially those like the cellphone charger that we tend to leave plugged in for the next time we need it. They keep on draining energy even if they are plugged into an appliance.
The fourth suggestion from Victoria is to look at the office. Most of us are getting well-practised at recycling our bottles, cans and papers at home. But how many of our workplaces practice the same stuff. I’ve heard office managers moan that people are a bit lazy about cleaning their bottles before they put them in the bins so for a confined office kitchen the mess and stickiness is a disincentive. Auckland City used to give out large plastic bags for apartment dwellers to recycle their bottles. If the mess bothers your office manager maybe this is a solution.
Recycling is a huge way we can all contribute to reducing emissions. Recycling cans cuts down the energy needed to make new cans by 95%.
The last tip from Victoria is to buy in bulk! While it may sound contradictory to the conservation message Victoria has a point. If you buy larger quantities and store them in appropriate containers it stops you buying little packets of plastic which are so bad for landfills. If you buy goods in bulk, dry or concentrated form you are helping reduce energy emissions in the form of reduced transportation and packaging costs.
Try and use refillable or reusable items. Pick flexible packaging materials instead of rigid packaging since flexible often takes less energy to make and transport and can often be recycled. Confused – buy tuna in a foil pack rather than a metal can.
If you get really excited about reducing, conserving and recycling Victoria says have a look at the new Government website Sustainability.govt.nz. It is a great looking site with some really practical tips on making a difference.
Another New Zealand site is Ecobob,a web site, developed to make eco friendly living easy. The web site provides users with an easy way of accessing information on environmentally friendly living such as profiles of eco houses, a listing of businesses providing eco living products and services, a range of information articles on eco living and an online community for people to share ideas and connect on eco living topics.
Get serious about a green start to the year. There’s no shortage of places to start.