9 eco-friendly tech habits that can help you live more sustainably

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It’s time for the digital age to dial down the CO2 production. Here’s how you can do your part and engage in more sustainable behaviours

9 eco-friendly tech habits that can help you live more sustainably

How much time do you spend using tech each day? Whether it’s working from a screen or calling a client, checking in with a friend on Whatsapp, tracking your walk on a wearable device, playing music via Alexa, chilling out with some TV, or feeling safe with home security, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine a day without utilising the array of modern technology in our lives. But, how is this affecting our planet?

The environmental impact is the true cost of convenience that many of us overlook in our day-to-day lives. Every email sent, appliance charged, and image loaded contributes to carbon emissions. So how can we be more mindful about our tech habits? Here are nine simple, but effective, changes that you can incorporate into your digital day:

Device settings

Save power simply by adjusting the automatic settings on your screens – whether it’s your phone, laptop, TV, or tablet. By reducing the brightness of your screen and the volume down to 70%, Harvard University reports that you could save 20% of your energy consumption – costing you less, and meaning your battery should last longer too.

Inbox organisation

Did you know estimates suggest that every email produces between 0.03 and 26g of carbon – the longer messages, with more images or attachments, and recipients copied in, all adding to the total. It’s something we can easily overlook, but with overflowing inbox and spam folders, and 306 billion emails sent in 2021 alone (according to Statista), it can quickly add up. Rectify the situation by having a clear-out; unsubscribe from the sales emails, historic newsletters, or random junk you’ve accumulated over the years that you never open, and reserve space only for messages that actually have value to you.

9 eco-friendly tech habits that can help you live more sustainably

Minimise messaging

Carrying on the email thread, a place where over-sending is rife is at work, where we automatically ‘reply all’ or send that quick ‘OK thanks’ in a message of its own. But how necessary is that? Choosing to limit how many emails you actually send to only those that are absolutely essential, collating all info into one message, and reducing the thank you pleasantries (perhaps by saying ‘Thank you in advance’), will drastically cut back on waste – and probably save you a lot of time, on top of that.

Unplug those sockets

Our need to always be available means we’re almost conditioned to constantly have things ‘on charge’ – and our power sockets are working overtime, even when the devices aren’t attached. Save electricity, and probably a few pennies on those bills, by switching off sockets instead of leaving appliances on standby, and only charging devices when they need it.

Axe the autoplay

When you open a browser or start watching something on YouTube, you might find videos are playing straight away without the need for you to click on them, and this can b

5 surprising eco innovations you need to know about

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Find out how technology is being used to help restore our planet

5 surprising eco innovations you need to know about

To counter the effects of climate change takes a great deal of tenacity, and thinking outside the proverbial box. But, fortunately, there are some astounding people and companies demonstrating the creativity, brilliance, and ingenuity required to face this challenge.

Here, we’re marvelling at five eco innovations, looking to reduce or reverse human beings’ impact on the world around us. From stepping up our survival instincts to agricultural advances, feel inspired and get curious about what other possibilities might be on the horizon for green technology…

AirCarbon

Call it awe-inspiring, call it a ‘breath of fresh air’... AirCarbon is an award-winning invention, created by Newlight Technologies, that is a carbon-negative, renewable form of ‘plastic’. Not only does it not produce the typical emissions and waste that come with plastic production, but it actually cleans the air instead!

With an estimated 400 million tons of plastic waste produced annually around the world, the clever creation combats this by combining air with methane-based carbon. The end result is completely natural, meaning it can be broken down by microorganisms to provide nutrients, plus it’s been FDA-approved so it is safe to come into contact with food – offering a host of possibilities for replacing traditional plastic packaging and containers.

3D printing in construction

One of the largest polluting sectors worldwide is construction – with research by the US Green Building Council claiming the industry is responsible for 40% of worldwide energy usage, and another report suggesting it’s accountable for up to 50% of climate change.

5 surprising eco innovations you need to know about

Clearly, something needs to change. And offering the cornerstone to build a more environmentally friendly future is the possibilities of 3D printing. With several companies already exploring the potential of ‘additive manufacturing’, as it’s also known, the real advantage is the ability to use local materials in the printing, such as soil, clay, sand, and plant fibres, drastically cutting down the need to transport materials (potentially by 95%), and avoiding the use of cement. Having the printer on site also means constructors only need to print the exact materials required, encouraging less waste.

Partnering positivity for the environment, with doing good for people too, charity Habitat for Humanity utilised this technology to build a 3D printed home in Virginia in 2021, to house low-income families who volunteer with them. Incredibly, the two-bed bungalow was printed in just 12 hours, demonstrating the ability to produce eco-friendly, affordable homes in a much more time-effective manner.

Vertical farming

With the ever-increasing global population, as well as climate change impacting the success of a harvest, demand on agriculture is increasing in turn. But farmers are taking things to the next level, literally, by stacking crops in pillars, enabling them to radically increase their yield for the same square footage – potentially up to 10 times the normal amount for the same space.

What is so differe

7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

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If money is on your mind, but you still want to do your bit to help the planet, you might wonder what you can realistically afford to do. The good news is that there are plenty of green choices that don’t break the bank, and some that could actually save you money in the long run

7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

When it comes to sustainable living, it’s important to try to use whatever you have first. Reuse, repurpose, and repair wherever possible. But, when you do need to eventually replace something, the following eco-friendly swaps are not only better for the environment, some could also save you money over time!

So, what are you waiting for? Visit our sustainable swap shop…

Meat-free Mondays

Did you know that going veggie for one day a week could save the equivalent of 100kgs of CO2 each year? In fact, according to the Exeter City Council website, if you decided to do a meat-free week each month, that could save 153kgs of CO2 per year, and going vegan for a week each month would add up to around 230kgs of CO2 saved!

While supermarket prices vary, plant-based produce is typically cheaper than meat, with meatfreemondays.com suggesting that vegans can actually save about $1,280 a year on their food bills. Research also suggests that since plant-based foods are typically lower in saturated fats, this move could improve your heart health, even without full-time vegetarianism.

7 budget-friendly eco swaps (that could even save you money!)

Bamboo toothbrushes

Traditional plastic toothbrushes aren’t recyclable, which can result in as many as 23 billion toothbrushes going to landfill each year – with each one taking up to 1,000 years to decompose. As an alternative, bamboo toothbrushes have seen a starp rise in popularity, due to the handles being 100% biodegradable (typically taking around six months in compost), and created from sustainable materials. However, this comes with one strong caveat: check the bristle material. These are often made of nylon, which isn’t biodegradable and would need to be removed from the handle before composting.

From a cost perspective, this swap won’t necessarily save money, but prices are comparable to plastic options (lots of great products start at around £2.50), which means that doing your bit for the planet won’t take a hit on your wallet.

Reusable rags

From mopping up spills to drying your hands, many of us turn to paper towels without even thinking about the waste, or cost, involved. But the reality is that to make one ton of paper towels requires 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. And, with people in the UK paying anywhere from £1–£3 per 100 sheets of kitchen roll, it adds up.

A simple, eco and cost-friendly solution? Choose reusable rags instead. These could be made from old clothes that no longer fit for a cost-free repurpose. Or you could purchase absorbent, long-lasting cloths, such as the Jangneus Design Cloths which are 100% biodegradable (£9.95 for a pack of four).

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The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

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This growing trend sees people making the most of their, often limited, urban spaces, and proving that size doesn’t matter when it comes to the quality of your homegrown crops

The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

They say it’s the little things in life that make a big impact, and this certainly seems to be the case with micro-gardening. As we’re faced with the problem of ever-shrinking personal outdoor space, with more people moving to cities, or finding their time to tend to green-fingered pursuits is limited, this hobby offers a sustainable, creative solution.

What is micro gardening?

A rewarding, often cost-effective, and time-efficient endeavour, micro-gardening is an accessible outlet, encouraging anyone and everyone to embrace the wellbeing benefits of gardening and growing your own produce, regardless of your location or outdoor space. It doesn’t require a massive plot of land to commit to – you can create your own micro-garden using a small patch of earth, a balcony, or even a window box – and still reap the benefits of homegrown food.

This isn’t about spending a fortune on Instagram-worthy, perfect floral arrangements; it’s an inventive pursuit, focused on the end product, that asks you to craft pots and planters from anything to hand, whether that be upcycling a bucket, or an old stack of tyres, to maximise urban spaces and allow for efficient growth.

What are the benefits of urban gardening?

Studies have proven, time and time again, that being around greenery and gardening is beneficial to our wellbeing – including providing stress relief, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving mood, and even combating high blood pressure – and yet the Fields in Trust charity revealed that, in 2022, nearly 2.8 million people in the UK live without access to green spaces.

All too often, city dwellers, people living in apartments, and renters are excluded from enjoying the host of wellness perks that having a space of your own to cultivate can bring – but micro-gardening is here to reclaim those rewards. Even the act of being responsible for something other than yourself, such as a plant, can support those with mental illness, as it can help to establish a routine, reminds you of the importance of caring for yourself too, and provides that sense of achievement and recognition of progress.

Plus, as a budget-friendly activity, micro-gardening can aid you in becoming more self-reliant, as well as helping with the cost of living, providing you with fresh, home-grown produce to hand, that you could even gift to neighbours!

The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

What do you need to get started?

Good quality soil

Healthy, nutrient-rich soil will support the growth of your plantlife, even in a confined space. Rather than regular earth, it’s worth using potting mix, as this tends to have better drainage and is sterilised to help fight off diseases.

Careful potting

For the best chance of success, take your time with the initial planti

Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

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Allotments exist to offer everyone the opportunity to grow their own food, so, what do you need to know?

Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

If you’ve never stepped foot on an allotment before, at the very least you’ve probably passed one by. Squeezed in between housing estates in the centre of cities, on the outskirts of towns, and down spiralling pathways in villages, an estimated 330,000 allotments across the UK offer local residents their own plot of land where they can grow their own food, cultivating a ‘good life’ while they’re at it.

And, post-lockdown, interest in allotments is higher than ever, with the National Allotment Society revealing that 40% of English councils responding to a survey reported a ‘significant uplift’ in applications to join waiting lists, with one council – Hyndburn, in Lancashire – seeing an astounding 300% increase.

It’s easy to understand why this trend is happening. In lockdown, many of us slowed our pace of life right down and were forced to reconnect with the simple things in life. Add to that a desire to ‘eat local’, to understand more about where our food comes from and, importantly, the incredible wellbeing benefit of being out in nature that many of us have experienced first-hand, and you have the perfect conditions for the self-sufficient dream to blossom.

The good news is that, in theory, there’s enough to go around. While many may choose to grow food in their gardens – in 1908, the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, meaning that local authorities must provide sufficient allotment space for the public to grow food where there is a demand for it. Updated in 1925 to protect these spaces further, this legislation is still very much active today, and preserves citizens’ rights to grow their own food, holding the door open to anyone who wants to have a go.

While waiting lists can be rather lengthy, sometimes stretching up to 18 months, costs can be relatively low, ranging between £25–£125 per year depending on the location and facilities on site. Total newbies work side-by-side with expert old-timers, and the community spirit that flourishes on allotments is second to none, as knowledge is passed around without hesitation, plant swaps will have you tucking into new experiences, and annual shows will bring out a healthy dose of competition.

Allotments: the ultimate guide to growing your own food for beginners

Sounds appealing? Here’s a quick run-down of three key things to consider:

1. How much land are we talkin’?

Allotments are traditionally measured in ‘poles’ – also referred to as ‘perches’ or ‘rods’ – which is an ancient measurement that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. Generally speaking, the standard allotment size is 10 poles, which is the equivalent of 250 square metres – about the size of a doubles tennis court. It’s a fair bit of land, but if you feel intimidated by that, there are a number of options available. You could share the plot with someone you know, or you could reach out to others who are on the waiting list. Or, you can cover up some of your plot with weed-suppressant material, and work on it bit by bit until you get the hang of things. Be warn

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