Here are some things you can do in your own home to be an eco-friendly citizen.
Keep your refrigerator and freezer at an ideal temperature
- To conserve and save energy, the ideal temperature for a refrigerator is 5°C and -18°C for a freezer.
- Defrost your freezer on a regular basis. A layer of ice 5 cm thick triples your energy consumption.
Run your dishwasher only when it is full
- By running your dishwasher only when it is full, you will save both water and the energy used to heat the water (80% of the machine's energy consumption).
- Follow the recommended dosage for dishwasher soap. Using more cleaning product does not yield better results, and pollutes the discharged water even more.
Put your rubbish bin on a diet
- So that your rubbish can be used for other purposes, follow your community’s recycling and sorting instructions.
- Do not use plastic bags that cannot be easily recycled.
Use tap water
- Drink tap water.
- Do not leave the water running when you shave, clean your hands, brush your teeth, etc.
- Take showers rather than baths.
- Use a shower head with an aeration system. The injection of air bubbles gives an impression of using the same quantity of water, but actually uses 30-40% less.
Use rechargeable batteries
- Get in the habit of plugging electronic equipment into an outlet, rather than relying on battery power.
- Keep used batteries and bring them to locations that collect batteries for recycling.
Return expired medication to the pharmacy
Never pour paint, solvents or other hazardous products onto the ground, into the sink or down the toilet.
Bring them to a waste collection centre.
Put a sticker on your mailbox to indicate that you do not want to receive advertising material and circulars to help minimise printed matter.
Lower the thermostat by 1°C in winter in your living room.
This can save up to 7% on your heating bill.
Unplug your electronic devices and do not leave them on standby (television, DVD player, computer, etc.) and use energy-saving light bulbs.
Depending on the home, this can reduce electricity consumption by 10%.
Reduce the volume of water used to flush your toilet to save up to 10,000 litres of water each year.
After cleaning vegetables, reuse the water on your plants.
Make donations to charity organisations, and give away clothes and objects that you don't use anymore.
IN THE GARDEN
Here are some things you can do in your garden to be an eco-friendly citizen.
In the summer, water your garden in the evening
- When temperatures are cool, there is less evaporation, making watering more effective. Conversely, in the autumn, it is best to water in the morning to avoid frost at night.
Use organic pesticides
- Certain plants act as natural insect repellents (French marigolds, dahlias, chives, onions, garlic, basil). Use organic liquid fertilizers and soapy water to kill unwanted insects.
- For aphids, introduce ladybirds, who will be more than happy to eat them.
- Not all garden insects are harmful. Feel free to learn more about this topic.
Be a clever lawn mower
- For a small lawn surface, use a mechanical lawnmower that doesn’t use petrol or electricity. It doesn't pollute, doesn’t make a lot of noise, and features a protective mat that encourages regrowth.
- For large lawns, practice “mulching.” Choose a petrol or electric lawn mower equipped with a “mulching” system that cuts the grass very finely and leaves it on the ground to act as a natural fertilizer. This saves time (no need to pick up the cut grass and take it to the dump) and money (by using less petrol). It also improves lawn quality by protecting against draught and disease and reducing moss.
Opt for steam weeding
- This method consists of destroying weeds by applying steam or pressurised hot water heated to 95°C. The plant dries out and stops growing. This method has real ecological, practical and financial advantages.
Compost biodegradable waste
- Deposit waste such as fruit and vegetable peels and parings from plants and flowers in a receptacle that ensures proper ventilation. After a few months, this waste can be used as top-quality organic fertiliser for your garden.
Hoe regularly to aerate the soil and reduce watering frequency.
Collect rain water from gutter run-offs in containers
- Use this rainwater to water flowers or the lawn, wash the car, etc.
Here are some things you can do in your workplace to be an eco-friendly citizen.
Print only when it’s absolutely necessary.
Reuse the backside of printed sheets as draft paper
- This means avoiding crumpling paper so you can reuse it.
Set your printer to print both sides and in black and white only.
Avoid using plastic cups and disposable items.
Opt for refillable and reusable office supplies
- Buy recycled products when possible.
Use heat and air conditioning in moderation.
Turn off the lights in empty rooms and use natural light when possible
- Position your desk or workstation near a window.
Remember to turn off and/or unplug machines and electronics after use (do not leave on standby).
Sort your rubbish for recycling whenever possible.
Conserve water and report any leaks.
Use email when possible and avoid sending correspondence by post
- You can add a signature line to your emails saying, “Respect the environment: print this email only if absolutely necessary.”
Consider using audio and videoconferencing to replace business travel
- These are good ways to save time and reduce business travel. Of course, try to keep relations warm and friendly nonetheless.
Offer to car share with workmates
- Car sharing not only reduces pollution, but also divides travel costs among the vehicle’s occupants
- When possible, take public transportation, walk, or bike.
ON THE ROAD
Here are some things you can do to be an eco-friendly driver.
Keep your tyres inflated
- Up to 3% over-consumption can result from tyres under-inflated by 0.3 bar. For motorway driving, increase the air pressure by 15%.
Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle
- Cars are responsible for 57% of carbon dioxide emissions from road transportation.
Adopt eco-friendly driving habits
- Driving safely and smoothly can help save up to 40% of petrol used. Avoiding unnecessary breaking and abrupt gear shits can lead to savings of up to 20%.
Have your car inspected
- A well-adjusted engine can produce 20% less pollution and use 10% less fuel.
Don’t drive over the speed limit
- If speed limits were consistently respected, approximately 3 million metric tonnes less carbon dioxide would be produced.
OUT AND ABOUT
Here are some things you can do when you are out and about to be an eco-friendly citizen.
When you travel
Never dump anything into a body of water
- Oceans and rivers are too often used as rubbish bins for our chemical waste. The toxic nature of certain products can result in damage to aquatic habitats and the death of thousands of animals.
Help keep public areas clean
- Don’t litter. Throw away your waste in bins and follow instructions for sorting recycling if available.
- As an example, a paper sweet wrapper takes five years to decompose, as opposed to 500 years for a plastic bottle.
- Don’t discard cigarette butts on the ground; dispose of them in a bin.
Think before you drive
- The distance travelled of 50% of all car trips is less than 2 kilometres. Such short trips are the most polluting.
When possible, buy in bulk and opt for concentrated products (laundry detergent, softener, etc.)
- Packaging represents one fourth of the weight and a large portion of the volume of all household waste.
- Choose cardboard packaging that can be recycled.
When possible, buy products that are more respectful of the environment, especially those certified by NF Environnement or European Ecolabel.
Choose produce grown organically or by integrated farming methods.
Avoid buying single-usage disposable products
Buy fair trade products
- Fair trade products are a way to ensure a better redistribution of wealth in developing countries. They allow small-scale local producers to enjoy a better standard of living and to educate their children.
- The modes of production for fair trade products are more respectful of the environment.
Prioritise locally-made products
- Reduce costs and the harmful consequences associated with transportation.
- Buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season.
Use cloth and reusable shopping bags
- Always carry a reusable bag to avoid using disposable bags.