How To: ECO YOUR FLAT

CANTA Issue #5, 2017

How to Eco Your Flat 2

Want more $$$ in you and your flatmates’ pockets? And/or concerned about climate change? Follow these super-easy eco-tips to help save money and feel virtuous while doing it.

The kitchen:

  • Cook as a flat at rather than all cooking separate meals: you’ll save lots on power
  • Make more food from scratch rather than buying food with lots of packaging
  • Shop where you can refill your containers with bulk ingredients like oil, honey, sugar, flour etc.
  • Try growing more of your own food at home, or in a local community garden
  • Buy locally grown fruit and veg when you can – it’s fresher and has a lower carbon footprint than food that’s travelled across the world
  • Meat and dairy products can have a large environmental footprint: try eating less of them
  • Go for organic and fair trade where you can. This will mean your food is chemical-free and ethically produced.
  • Use eco-friendly detergents and cleaners – they might be more expensive but they’re usually way more powerful so you can use less of it. Either that, or make them yourself (see below!)

The lounge:

  • Change all light bulbs to eco-bulbs (or even LED) and turn them off when not in use
  • Have designated tech-free nights each week – break out the cards, board games, Twister, or alternatively just start playing drinking games
  • Use thermal-backed curtains (you can often get them cheap-as from an op shop) and close them once it gets dark Ensure they’re open during the day for maximum heating by the sun!
  • Get second hand woolen rugs for the floor
  • Light some beeswax candles instead of using lights – environmentally friendly, provide ambiance, but also possibly a fire hazard

The bedroom:

  • Eco your wardrobe – buy second-hand clothing (OpSoc can help). There’s all sorts of op-shops out there from the massive industrial warehouses, to the upmarket boutiques
  • Turn off the electric blanket and use hot water bottles instead – they use way less power! (Or sleep with someone else…)
  • As mentioned, draw your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in, and make sure you get decent quality thermal ones (cheap at op-shops)
  • Wool blankets from second hand stores are cheap and warm.
  • Next time one of your clothing items tears, why not trying repairing it? Plenty of info on the web on how to do it.

The bathroom:

  • Use eco-friendly products, or alternatively make your own ones.
  • If you’ve got an older-style toilet, put a brick (or half-brick) in the cistern to reduce the water used
  • When you’re running the shower waiting for it to warm up, collect the water in a bucket to use on the garden.
  • Buy a spider plant – they soak up odours and moisture, look cool/retro, and greenery is proven to improve your mood – just ask a geographer #biophilic

DIY: Clean your flat!

For those of you who choose to clean your flat (or the things in your flat),  you can make many of your own cleaning products. Most of them simply use combinations of soap, an acid or a base to do the work. (Also, despite the smell of vinegar, it doesn’t actually hang around!) It helps if you have someone in your flat who likes baking, as that means you’ll have most of the ingredients already!

Glass cleaner: Simple mix white vinegar and warm water!

Crème cleaner (i.e. Jif™): Simply make a thin paste of baking soda and water!

Toilet cleaning: Put one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl. Leave for 15 mins, then scrub.

Floor cleaning: Add a squirt of liquid soap, a cup of vinegar and 10 drops of an essential oil (if you have some – lavender’s pretty dece) into 4 litres of hot water. Then use a mop.

Fridge: If your fridge smells of weeks-old leftovers someone forgot about, simply mix some vanilla extract, half a cup of hot water and 1tsp of baking soda – leave in the fridge for a day.

Scuff marks: Flat inspection coming up? Floor full of scuff marks? Tennis player in the flat? Simply rub a tennis ball over the scuff marks and BAM the dirt is gone.

Washing Machine: Did you know cleaning your washing machine occasionally results in cleaner clothes? Simply run the machine empty on a hot wash, but instead of using washing powder just throw in 2 cups of apple cider vinegar (or some other kind).

Adapted by George Moon
Thanks to Puck, Matt and the team at the UC Sustainability Office who developed the original ‘Eco my Flat’ content.
Check out the great work they do on campus at: http://www.sustain.canterbury.ac.nz/
Additionally, thanks to past CANTA contributor Sarah Turnbull for some of the cleaning tips.

Issue Two: The Greasy Wok 4