Sustainable ideas for homes

Making your home more sustainable can be achieved in various ways and can introduce some interesting and exciting new ideas. Below are some practical ideas as well as some experimental prototypes.

Sustainable heating systems: Switching from a gas boiler can improve the sustainability of your home and in some cases save you money. If you would like more detailed information then check the hyperlink above. Three alternative heating systems I found from the website were the electrical resistance heating, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps.

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Sustainable water systems: Again, for more in-depth information follow the hyperlink in the title. One important point I found from the website was that two central branches for sustainable water involve introducing water-efficient devices and/or using alternative water sources to supply the household.

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Tesla solar panel roofing: This involves replacing typical roof tiles with roof tiles that are also solar panels. Efficient as they maximise the space a roof can capture solar energy whilst demonstrating a modern style.

Solar panel windows: A new innovative design that replaces normal windows with clear solar panel windows. This idea is still in its infancy and being tested but could prove to be a valuable investment. Given time for transition, with enough buildings installing solar windows this could alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels for energy usage.

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Growing your own food: This is a fun and relatively easy way to reduce your dependence on supermarkets, all it takes is a little patience and saves a little money. Plastic used by supermarkets creates a lot of waste and vegetables tend to always be packaged in plastic wrapping. If you’re growing food indoors, growing near a window seal is beneficial or using artificial lights. Regardless of where you decide to grow your plants, there are sustainable techniques to growing food that are universal. Different techniques involve composting green waste, saving seeds from vegetables and mulching. Growing your own food whether in little pots by your window or in big planters in the garden is a simple solution toward being more sustainable.

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Hopefully this post offers some insight on how to make your home more sustainable, given you an activity to do during lockdown or at the very least been an interesting read.

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Why bees are integral to our ecosystems and how to restore their population

Whilst forests play an important part in maintaining habitats and provide carbon traps, bees help pollinate the food we eat as well as the trees and plants that make up forests. We rely on them to maintain a biodiverse landscape as well as pollinate 90% of food worldwide.

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We are experiencing a global decline in bee diversity and population which is a serious issue as they pollinate a large percentage of our food supply. The reasons for this loss can vary depending of geographical location. Generally, bee population decline is due to the use of pesticides, such as the ones recently allowed in the UK. Climate change also disrupts bee populations from unstable plant diversity and unpredictable weather patterns. Finally, monoculture such as palm oil plantations presents a lack of biodiversity and commercial development both impact bee populations and their chances of survival.

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There are many different ways the bee population can be restored. For example, the National Wildlife Federation has comprised a list of six different solutions:

  • Plant natives – These are accustom to your local ecosystem, provide bees with sustainable food and do not require fertilizer.
  • New garden areas – Add new garden beds and encourage others to plant more flowers.
  • Organic – Refrain from using insecticides and chemicals in your garden.
  • Water – Place shallow pools of water in your garden for bees and other pollinators to thrive.
  • Nesting places – Create nesting places in your garden to increase the likelihood of the bee population increasing.
  • Responsibility – Raise awareness of the issue and inspire others to follow the same list of resolutions.

Others suggest planting bee friendly plants to adhere more to their needs or even going further and advocating for bee protection at different levels of government.

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‘Slowing down and even reversing habitat destruction and land-conversion to intensive uses, implementation of environmentally friendly schemes in agricultural and urban settings, and programs to flower our world are urgently required. Bees cannot wait’ – Zattara, E. Aizen, M. (2021)

No matter what we decide to do in resolving this growing issue, it is undoubtedly vital that bees and other pollinators populations increase otherwise our food security and biodiversity of the planet will severely suffer.

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News: Urban gardens are crucial in conserving bees and butterflies

A recent study found that urban areas can offer hotspots of urban floral diversity. Stating further how the individual gardener has an important role to play in maintaining the population size of many different pollinators.

‘Urban nectar is supplied by a diverse community of flowering plants, heavily comprised of non‐native species. Residential gardens are the key land use underpinning nectar sugar production within urban landscapes, providing both an abundance and diversity of floral resources’ – Quantifying nectar production by flowering plants in urban and rural landscapes

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Sustainable forest management and adaptation to climate change

Sustainable forest management can be defined as ‘outcomes that are socially just, ecologically sound and economically viable – the three pillars of sustainability‘. Each pillar is needed in order for a forests to thrive, if one of these pillars is missing a forest cannot be protected.

Depending on the type of forest that is being managed, such as a rainforest or a boreal forest, the management of that forest will vary. Management needs to be specific to the type of ecosystem that the forest resides, tailor to the legal framework and socio-cultural aspects depending on what nation the forest is found in. Although, there are objective requirements that all forests should include.

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Climate change can present many uncertainties when managing forests, therefore a forest should be adapting to promote resilience against the threat of droughts, damage from pests, diseases and wild fire. One way this can be achieved is by practicing silviculture, which consists of controlling the structure and dynamics of a forest. In managing a forest one needs to take an adaptive approach as the climate is constantly changing. Additionally, aside from climate change other influences may include timber prices, land use change and recreational use. There are often extreme conditions one may have to plan for as well, such as extreme drought or rainfall, these are conditions that may need individual and adaptive plans for these issues.

‘Adaptive management is an iterative process in which it is important to test new systems and ideas and judge how these perform under extreme climatic conditions’ – Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands

It is important to focus on why and how a forest needs to be managed but also on the adaptive measures that need to be facilitated in order to prevent these issues from destroying forests.

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Current research suggest that the adaptation of forests must be tailored to local communities. This is important as adaptations strategies vary among geographical location and the type of forest present.

Some strategies involve planting drought-resistant trees to provide food security and reduce erosion. Other strategies invest in forest genetic research and breeding programmes. This improves forestry growth rates and resilience to disease. Alternatively, focusing on restoring biodiversity can increase the resilience of an ecosystem and restore habitat loss.

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Local adaptation methods may involve maintaining the quality of water surrounding a forest. In dry regions, sourcing scarce water sources can help maintain a forest by providing healthy sustenance. Another local strategy may be encouraging the increase of rare species of a certain tree to make the population more abundant. This can help particularly if that certain species is a valuable asset to the local community. However, local strategies has its limitations as local information is rarely documented and often preserved for a few members of the community. Also, a globalised market can impact the infrastructure of a local self-sufficient rural community.

In summary, adapting forests for climate change cannot be solved with one over-arching solution. Each forest, depending on region, will need to have specific adaptation strategies specific to that region. As climate change is a complex issue with unpredictable outcomes, adapting for a worst case scenario may be as complex as the issue itself. Therefore, in order to enable sustainable strategies which maintain the health of a forest, it is important to plan and put systems in place to better enable these adaptive strategies.

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News: Aquatic scientists call for urgency to protect marine life

Approximately 80,000 scientists from 7 continents have issued a statement urging world leaders to avoid further degradation of marine ecosystems.

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The societies which these scientists are a part of has call on world leaders and the public to act and protect aquatic ecosystems which we all depend on. Stating that these ecosystems are now under more threat than ever before in human history. In their statement. experts in the environmental, social and economic sectors have collectively realised that we are heading toward a drastic environmental and humanitarian crisis.

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Why climate change should be a core subject in schools

Society’s youngest generation has shown a strong concern for the environment in recent years, possibly owing its awareness to the vast information that can be found on the internet. This information is valuable in spreading awareness and educating people on the current state of our planet, however not everyone uses the internet in a productive way. Therefore, establishing a strong curriculum in schools to teach children about climate change and the environment may be more beneficial long term.


Teaching children about climate change may help set fundamental principles in most of the population as they grow older, such as the ways we need act in order to achieve sustainable goals. This can be seen in Japanese culture and the way they act at public events. These characteristics are what many aim to teach at an early age, not only can this benefit the individual but also the planet in becoming more sustainable.

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Educating children on climate change entails a multifaceted subject matter with potential to create sustainable lifestyle choices, ultimately creating a more sustainable planet long-term. One article by the UNCC states:

‘While the breadth and controversy of content related to climate change poses a challenge to educators, it is also one of the topic’s great strengths. The fact that climate change may be viewed on local, regional, and international levels — not to mention through scientific, civic, and cultural lenses — provides students with the opportunity to develop critical analysis skills and synthesize information’


‘Teaching on climate change means teaching on topics like environmental stewardship and collective responsibility — teaching students that they and those around them have a responsibility to something larger than themselves’


This helps the planet by spiking interest in children that may want to take a career focused on environmental stewardship but also teaches positive societal values at an early age.

Put more concisely:

‘Education and awareness-raising enable informed decision-making, play an essential role in increasing adaptation and mitigation capacities of communities, and empower women and men to adopt sustainable lifestyles’

UNESCO

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One scientific paper argued that schools will need to reflect sustainability as well as teaching sustainable development:

‘climate change education for sustainable development must be comprehensive and multidisciplinary; it must not only include relevant content knowledge on climate change, environmental and social issues, disaster risk reduction and sustainable consumption and lifestyles, but it should also focus on the institutional environment in which that content is learned to ensure that schools and education systems themselves are climate-proofed and resilient as well as sustainable and green’

Highlighting how climate change will need to be an in-depth part of a school’s curriculum which will encompass a range of topics and perspectives. Their evidence-based study focused on:

‘research based on scholarly methods and in-depth evidence published in scientific, peer-reviewed journals as well as monitoring reports, assessments and evaluations of climate change education projects’

‘evidence shows that educational interventions are most successful
when they focus on local, tangible, and actionable aspects of sustainable
development, climate change and environmental education, especially
those that can be addressed by individual behaviour’

Frequently focusing on climate change from a global perspective can seem overwhelming and leave one feeling powerless. However, as the findings suggest focusing locally on climate change and what one may be able to achieve in their immediate surroundings can better achieve an inspiration for change and sustainable lifestyle choices.

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