12 October 2015
5 min read

Making small changes to your lifestyle can add up to something great, but you might not have thought much beyond the obvious actions like switching your light globes or turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.

1. Don’t rinse the dishes

It's not being lazy – you are in fact an eco warrior! If you don’t rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher you could save up to 80 litres of water per load. Of course we’re not saying to chuck in grimy, crusty plates, but if there’s just a sprinkle of crumbs on the surface then it’ll be fine going in without a rinse. If you’re washing up in the sink, reduce your suds and forget the after-rinse.

2. Don't let your computer sleep

You can save 40-watt hours per day by turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode. If you’re worried about waiting for it to load when you have work to do, make turning it on the first thing you do in the morning, and then find another task to complete while it boots.

3. Adjust the fridge

Something you mightn’t know is that keeping your fridge a few centimetres away from the wall can mean it doesn’t have to work as hard. Temperature also has a part to play here, with an in-fridge temperature any lower than 1-3 degrees considered ‘wasteful’.

4. Be the litter fairy

Find some litter, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck! No matter where you go, you’ll be bound to find rubbish. And while we’re not suggesting that you go and round up all of it, picking up just one piece can make all the difference. If you find litter that is within reach, pick it up and put it in the bin – it’s too easy!

5. Give up meat at least one day a week

The meat industry has quadrupled over the last 50 years, and today is responsible for around 28% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to One Green Planet, beef eaters use 160% more land resources than people eating a plant based diet, and in the US alone, 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to create land for livestock feed. It’s also thought 80% of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is due to beef production.

Meat production also uses insane amounts of water. It’s estimated that 162,486 gallons of water can be saved per year for every person who gives up meat.

6. Get great legs by using them

Oil is a limited and increasingly costly resource, and using the car for everything comes at a price – noise, congestion, smog, greenhouse pollution, urban sprawl, and further dependency on nonrenewable oil supplies.

Walking, cycling, taking public transport, carpooling, or combining driving with other methods of transport all help to clear the air, save money, and improve global health.

7. Buy fair trade

Looking for the Fairtrade label ensures that the money you spend on goods goes towards providing a fair and just wage for the people who produced it. You could also download the Shop Ethical app, which gives you more information about major companies than you'd ever imagined you could hold in the palm of your hand.

8. Gain 2 minutes of time

You can conserve large amounts of water by reducing your shower times, by even just a minute. Every 2 minutes is 38 litres of water! If you have young kids, there's no good reason why they can't have a shower at the same time.

9. Smile at strangers

This one doesn’t cost a thing and takes no effort at all, yet the impact can be huge. Want a happier nation? Start the chain reaction, and just smile!

10. Hang your clothes

We know you’re really busy, but hanging your clothes up to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer will save an incredible amount of unnecessary energy expenditure. Your wardrobe will also keep its colour and shape much better. What other perks do you need?

11. Save your leftovers

Whether you’ve ordered too much at a restaurant, or you overestimated the amount of ingredients you’ll need – it really is worth using up your leftovers. Food waste is a global problem, and besides, leftovers are delicious and save you time in the kitchen. Which you can then spend on other energy-saving tasks, like hanging up your washing.

12. Bother to change your default settings

Companies throw away millions of tonnes of paper each day and a quick and easy way to halve this is to make sure you always use both sides of paper. To do this, set your printer’s defaults to print double sided (duplex printing), or create a pile of scrap paper for jotting down notes and scribbles.

13. Open the windows, or add/remove another layer

Duh, it might sound like common sense, but do you really put it into practice? Air conditioning and heating appliances are responsible for a massive part of today’s environmental issues, and reducing their usage could be a quick fix. Next time, before you complain about how hot or cold it is, adjust the thermostat by a few degrees, or refrain from using it at all by either opening your windows or throwing on a thicker/lighter top. So simple!

14. Shop second-hand

Whether it’s furniture, electronic goods, or clothing, look for second hand pieces before buying new. Buying used means fewer items end up in landfill and less energy and resources are used to make new things.

15. Switch your super!

You might not realise it, but one way you can have a big impact to reduce global carbon emissions is through switching your super. This is where you can have a huge amount of impact with little effort. In fact, if an individual shifts $50,000 to Australian Ethical, they’ll save 258 kg of CO2e/carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere for every month the money is kept in that fund.

That means that by the time you retire, you could stop over 77.5 tonnes* of carbon from entering the atmosphere – just by switching your super to Australian Ethical!

General information only – This information is general information only and does not take account of your individual investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on it, consider seeking independent financial advice.

  • *These figures are based on an average super fund holding of $50,000, and average years until retirement of 25, with a fixed account balance over that period – whereas actual savings are likely to be higher as the account grows.
  • Australian Ethical used an international carbon specialist to calculate the carbon footprint of all its share investments as at 31 December 2014.
  • The calculations are based on the carbon footprint of all of Australian Ethical's shareholdings combined. The results may differ for individual investment portfolios. Separate footprints for individual portfolios are not currently available.
  • The above savings are based on a comparison with mainstream market benchmarks: the S&P/ASX 200 Index for Australian shareholdings and MSCI World ex Australia Index for international shareholdings.
  • Australian Ethical believes its investments offer even higher potential carbon savings because the above comparison does not take account of significant emissions reductions for the wider economy from Australian Ethical's investment in companies which contribute to renewable energy production and reduction in energy consumption. For example, Australian Ethical invests in glass companies which, although they are heavy users of energy, also facilitate emissions reduction though the manufacture of high performance glass for solar power generation and energy conservation.
  • Australian Ethical is supporting development of new methodologies to measure investment carbon footprints more accurately.