What is low-impact living?
For most people, low-impact living might simply mean swapping their incandescent light bulbs for LED or turning their washing machine down to a 30 degree cycle. For others, it's a lifestyle and an ethos that informs every choice. The ambition behind low-impact living is to live lightly on the planet, to ensure that human activities can be sustained in harmony with nature.
What can be achieved by taking low-impact actions?
The answer to this question depends on the actions taken. Sometimes, the result simply lessens the demand on global resources. If every UK household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an LED for example, the carbon saved would equate to 200,000 cars being taken off the road for a year. Other low-impact choices lead to specific results - so opting for palm oil free products for instance, helps to prevent rainforests being cut down to meet Western demand for palm oil-heavy toothpastes, chocolates and crisps, amongst other items. Deciding not to buy particular brands can therefore protect the habitat of various rainforest creatures.
How can low-impact living be achieved indoors?
There's so much we can do indoors to lessen our impact. The main areas to focus on are cleaning products and energy usage. When it comes to energy usage, switching electrical items off rather than leaving them on standby helps to reduce usage. It also helps to look at the bigger picture, to ensure that your house is well insulated. Loft and wall insulation doesn't have to be costly - you can use natural materials such as straw, or even things you were going to throw away such as old duvets and pillows.
Limited the use of harsh chemicals can also helps to bring down your level of environmental impact. Natural cleaning agents such as white vinegar and lemon juice are enjoying a renaissance as they are just as effective as shop-bought products, but far less damaging to people and the planet.
How can I achieve low impact living in the garden?
Having a low environmental impact in the garden is all about making the space useful to wildlife and humans. Large expanses of lawns or concrete are detrimental to resource use, CO2 production and to the natural habitat. It's better to cultivate a varied garden that offers shelter to animals, spaces for food production and wild areas for insects to thrive.
Decking areas frequently use wood sourced from the rainforest, so when building these it is better to opt for alternatives such as Millboard decking. Millboard decking provides the natural beauty of timber and is the only premium outdoor flooring produced by a company that has had its carbon footprint verified to ISO 14064-1 standard.
Elsewhere in the garden, it makes sense to reduce the use of paints, stains and preservatives that harm the environment. Natural alternatives can be found for almost anything and present much less of a negative impact.