Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash

Your Lockdown Climate Action Checklist

What you can do to make a positive environmental impact at home and save money too.

Let’s face it, it’s hard to see many positives of the current situation; the UK and most of the world are still in lockdown, which looks set to continue for a good while yet. Of course, there are essential workers out on the frontlines, but for a lot of us, we find ourselves at home.

Yesterday was the 50th Earth Day, so at this major milestone and during this incredibly strange time, it is a great opportunity for us all to take positive steps to avoid the biggest impending disaster of all, the climate crisis.

In the following article are 12 examples of how to make your own positive impact at home with some really easy changes. Treat it as a lockdown checklist; there are some things you can do today and some things you can get done over the coming weeks.

Let’s make a start…

1. Make the switch to renewable energy.

We are all inside making the most of wi-fi, streaming services and most importantly, the kettle, so it makes sense for this to be first on the list. In recent years green energy has become easier than ever to switch to, with prices becoming more and more competitive, it's now often cheaper than a gas supplier. It’s as simple as taking a meter reading, so go and get a quote and make the change; Octopus, Bulb and Ecotricity are all great providers offering competitive pricing and referral bonuses.

2. Check your appliances

Our modern appliances and devices work just as well in their eco-settings. Turn the dial down to 30 degrees on your dishwasher and washing machine* and switch your laptop and phone to battery saving mode. These little changes will save a lot of energy and also save you money.

*The Energy Saving Trust states that washing at 30 degrees uses around 40% less electricity over the year.

3. (Seeing as we’re on the subject…) Please fill responsibly.

Our modern appliances are huge time-savers (I don’t fancy going back to using a mangle to wash my clothes, do you?!) but, for them to be energy-efficient it's really important we use them correctly. Here are 3 tips for using your whites:

  • Feel the breeze — When filling your fridge, make sure to leave space in between food to let cool air circulate. This will stop your fridge from using more power to cool its contents. Incidentally, freezers work in exactly the opposite way, so if you have gaps… fill them!
  • Don’t half-arse it — It’s well worth waiting until you have a full load of clothes that need washing. If you don’t fill up the machine, you waste a lot of electricity and water - the same applies for a dishwasher. Wait until you can wash on a full load or take advantage of your machine’s half load setting if it has one.
  • Step away from the marigolds… with a slight caveat — Dishwashers are widely recognised as being far more efficient than washing by hand, but for that to be true, the dishwasher needs to be full, so if you're in a small household or living on your own, it might be worth just a quick splash under the tap or use every last plate to fill it up - I hereby encourage laziness in the name of the planet!

4. Clean Up Your Act

Yet another quick win! Amazing eco-brands like OceanSaver and Smol provide eco alternatives to chemical cleaning products and washing detergents, Smol offer a free trial and OceanSaver tend to have really good bundle deals for their dissolving pods (all you need to do is save your old spray bottles). It’s one of the quickest changes you can make after reading this and a really easy way to do your bit.

5. Have a lightbulb moment

Replace any older lightbulbs you have with LED bulbs, you’ll save money right away on your bills because (based on 4 hours use per day) you won’t have to worry about replacing them until 2037, that's not bad at all!

6. Check your home for draughts

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest but most effective ways of saving energy. Take a quick tour around your home and check for draughts from any doors and windows, or identify any visible gaps and cracks around pipes and fittings. The Energy Saving Trust provides lots of tips to draught-proof, found here.

7. Digital Clean Up

Spring is in full flow and, through sheer boredom alone, you may have already swept through each room doing a cleanout of cupboards and drawers, you should absolutely do the same virtually.

Everything we do digitally is powered by giant servers and with most things stored on the cloud, it’s easy to forget that every single like and every random and bizarre google search we do uses energy. The ‘cloud’ is a catchy name for huge physical data centres all over the world which use masses of energy, and are sadly not powered renewably. Its CO2 emissions are roughly the same as all air travel… I know.

So, this is a great time to de-clutter your digital footprint, here are some tips:

Attack that overflowing postbox — Take 10 minutes a day to sweep through your email inboxes and delete then clear any unneeded items. Move anything important into sub-folders and then delete everything else over 3 months old- come on, you’re never going to read them again. Why not go through and unsubscribe from any unwanted newsletters and chain emails as well, you’ll be so happy when it’s all done!

Tackle your phone — Take some time to go through and delete old text messages and Whatsapp conversations, remove any unused apps. Both use up valuable storage. Remember, storage means energy. As mentioned earlier, you’ll find your phone works just as well on battery saver mode too.

Sort your photos — This is a mammoth task, I’ll admit it. But we all have some extra time each day that we can spend to steadily go through and delete any duplicates or unwanted photos you have stored on devices, USB sticks and the ominous cloud. You could even take it a step further and make yearly albums- you know this is definitely something you’ve been saying ‘I’ll get around to’ for a long, long time now.

While de-cluttering, try switching to eco-friendly search engine Ecosia, to limit your online impact even further.

8. Fix the drips

This is a really easy one. Check the taps for any drips. Simple right? You may need to tighten some nuts and bolts, or if it’s not fixable there and then, take note of any leaking taps so they can be fixed when we can finally leave the house again.

Another great way to find out if you have any leaks at this time is to take a water meter reading before you head out on your daily hour of walk and exercise. When you come back, if the reading has gone up, it's a sure sign there may be a leak somewhere. Head to your water supplier’s website for more advice on leaks.

9. Free Stuff!

Need I say more…? OK, I will.

An incredibly easy way to save water and energy consumption at home is to install water-saving products. Many of the UK’s water suppliers* will provide and deliver water and energy (and money!!) saving gadgets such as showerheads, save-a-flush toilet bags and inserts for taps, totally and completely free of charge!

*Due to COVID-19, some suppliers have suspended this service, so it may be one to keep in your back pocket for the future.

10. Get Ready for Winter

While we’re out of the dark woods of winter, think about cold-proofing now before it returns. Installing radiator reflector foil is a great way to stop heat escaping through your outer walls, just as heat is pumped out from the front of a radiator, it is from the back too, so this is a really effective and cheap way to boost the heating in your home - when you turn it back on that is!

Photo of 3 Vampires from What We Do In The Shadows
Not all vampires suck blood… (cast of What We Do In The Shadows, FX)

11. Find Your Vampires

Nearly 5% of our total residential electricity use comes from devices that stay plugged in, switched on, or on standby when not in use. So do a once round of your place — this quick little audit takes a couple of minutes but can save you £30 a year on your bills. Go on, flick those switches now and kill those energy-sucking vampires!

12. Become an armchair activist!

April was due to kick-off a huge year of climate activism leading up to COP26 in Glasgow in November, and then along came Coronavirus.

Luckily, the action still continues digitally with climate strikes and mass online mobilisation all over the world, and here’s the good news, there are really easy ways you can also do your bit:

  • Write to your MP — You can write to or email your MP about any subject, so why not make it the climate crisis. Possible is a climate action organisation running a project called #savepeoplenotplanes, you can send an email to your MP to ensure stricter environmental legislation is enforced upon the aviation industry as well ensuring a fair share of taxes is paid in the future following any COVID-19 bailout. For more on the great work Possible is doing, click here.
  • Find out your bank’s score — Earth Day Switch allows you to search your bank provider and provide a score based on their investment in fossil fuels, you can then demand action and switch through alternatives given to you.
  • Sign a petition — There are lots of petitions you can sign online, most only need your name, postcode and email address. Greenpeace is currently running a petition to ensure government rebuilds the economy post-virus in a way that works for everyone and the planet. You can sign the petition here to demand our future is protected.
  • Self-educate — Another easy and effective way to spend your additional time at home is to read articles like Hubbub’s Greenprint for a sustainable UK after COVID-19, look into environmental campaigns being run by organisations like City to Sea and follow engaging content on social media from places such as Less Plastic UK, Earth Minutes, Surfers Against Sewage, Low Impact Movement and Friends of the Earth.

While the coronavirus has been spreading around the world, rightly dominating our thoughts, attention and news headlines, the need to take urgent climate action remains as vital as before.

This checklist provides just a small number of easy and accessible changes you can make while housebound in the hope that once we do come through this global pandemic we will be in better shape to tackle and fight climate issues for generations to come.

Earth Day 2020 was Wednesday 22nd April, but you can still find videos and take action on their website and join in with Earth Day Live’s content until 24th April 2020 and long after.

For even more ways to green your home during lockdown head to Greenpeace here.

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Fledgeling writer providing social commentary on the environment, conservation, sustainability and climate emergency. You’ll find me currently working for TNLCF

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Andy Chappel

Andy Chappel

Fledgeling writer providing social commentary on the environment, conservation, sustainability and climate emergency. You’ll find me currently working for TNLCF

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