Tips for creating a sustainable home

Aviva Home Insurance

Have you ever looked back on a situation and thought “I wish I’d had someone with experience to chat to about that”? That’s exactly what you can do with our podcast, Life’s Journeys.

Life’s Journeys by Aviva brings together the experienced and the newbie, or those looking to become experts; the pro and those searching for guidance on the important choices and changes in life.

This episode features Pat Kane, founder of reuzi, with local business owner Val Reid. Episode four of the series offers advice for creating a more sustainable home without needing to make drastic changes, while debunking some common myths around sustainability.

All episodes of our podcast are available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Pat and Val’s chat:

Household habits and hacks 

  • Practicing positive habits will help you when trying to create a more sustainable home. One simple, positive habit is unplugging appliances you’re not using, rather than leaving them on standby, which still uses energy. This is great for saving energy in your home.
  • Avoid using disposable kitchen items like napkins, kitchen towels or paper plates and use tea towels and glass or ceramic dishware.
  • Store-bought cleaning products can easily be swapped out with a homemade cleaning solution of white vinegar, orange peels and water mixed in a spray bottle. This will save you from buying new cleaning products in plastic bottles every few weeks, plus it’s better for your health to avoid the chemicals found in commercial cleaning products.

Sustainable shopping

  • Refill shops are a favourite for both Pat and Val. Refill shops allow you to bring your jars, containers or bags and fill them up with organic dried food, pasta, nuts, lentils, oil, vinegars, tea and coffee, chocolate, flour, eggs, cheese and lots more. You can also refill on eco-friendly household and personal products such as shampoos and soaps, washing liquids, face washes and creams.

    There are various places around Ireland where you can refill your food and find great local, eco-friendly produce at the same time.
  • Pat advises choosing local shops over supermarket chains where possible, especially during these times. It’s a good way to support your community and also reduce your environmental impact - the carbon footprint of locally sourced produce is smaller than that of imported goods.
  • It’s a good idea to plan your food shop; this way you’re far less likely to buy food you don’t need that will end up going into the bin. We’re big believers in this one, check out our top tips to make savings on your weekly shop

Home appliances

When it comes to new technology and appliances, Pat recommends buying what you need, not what’s currently trendy. Try to think long-term of what is practical and good value for your home:

  • Fridges and Freezers
    When it comes to purchasing a new fridge or freezer, only buy as big as your family needs.  Try to buy models that have high energy ratings, because they’re far more energy efficient. Chest freezers are more energy efficient than upright models; this is because the cold air doesn’t escape as fast every time you open the door.
  • Washing clothes
    We’ll happily admit that doing a clothes wash are a total pain. So we loved Pat’s advice on this one – try doing one full load once or twice a week (those of you with big families, we know this isn’t always possible and we feel your pain!), rather than four or five smaller loads. If you can’t do this, try to use economy cycle and a lower temperature for your washes, and that in itself will make a big difference!
  • Dryers
    Invest in a clothesline for the garden or a clothes horse that can be used indoors rather than forking out on a dryer, or the bills it costs to run them. If you do opt for a dryer, a heat pump dryer will help save your energy bills in the long-term.
  • Heated towel rails
    Heated towel rails account for a whopping 5% of your total energy bills each year, so try to use these sparingly!

Sustainable gardens

One of the benefits of living in a wet and rainy country like Ireland is the fact that we can collect and repurpose rainwater to nourish our plants or clean the floors. If you don’t have any plants to water, then why not start? Build a herb garden and grow your own herbs and veg.

Refuse, reduce, reuse, and then recycle

People commonly believe recycling and sustainability are the same, but this isn’t true. Ireland is the EU’s number one plastic waste producer (in fact, only ⅓ of the plastic waste we produce is recycled), which is why Pat warns us that recycling is the very last resort when it comes to sustainability – Ireland does not have the capacity or resources to recycle all of the plastic waste we produce.

Pat encourages people to refuse to buy single-use plastics when we can, plan head so we don’t fall victim to impulse buying, reduce the amount we actually purchase, and reuse through repairing the item or repurposing it. Only if these three R’s can’t be done, then you should recycle the ‘waste’ you now have.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our other podcasts here.

At Aviva, we understand that a sustainable lifestyle not only betters our environment, it betters our homes - and looking after Irish homes is what we’re all about. That’s why we offer 15% off when you buy home insurance online. Get your quote today.1

We encourage our customers, where possible, to make use of our online options to access any help you need. If you have a query you can reach us via our contact forms. MyAviva is an online self-service portal available to all our home and car insurance customers.

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