'for a better York'
28aug99a: Pippa Langford: Introduction to greenfootprints.
Your greenfootprint is the size of land needed to supply you with all your needs, including absorbing the carbon dioxide you and your activities produce, and also including absorbing all your waste products. So your green foot print represents the area required to grow your food, wood for your furniture and paper, cotton and wool for your clothes and all the other many products you buy, use and throw away. It also includes the space you occupy for your house and garden.
How can I reduce the size of my footprint to a sustainable area?
A few simple steps can help you reduce your footprint, these steps should also make you healthier, fitter and save you money!
If you've got one, Use your car less. Car share, combine journeys, use a bus or train, or better still cycle or walk. Lots of journeys we make are quite short, and can be quicker by bike.
(It is also cheaper and quicker to go to London from York by GNER than it is by car)
Waste less, follow the "waste hierarchy": Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim, Dispose.
Reclaim – reclaiming the energy in products is best done by local authorities on a bigger scale, but you can save the nutrients in food waste by composting and using this on your garden.
Dispose – hopefully your bin should be emptier, so you won't
have to do much of this.
Take your old stuff to a car boot sale, sell it or even give it away. If someone else can use something you don't need anymore, then that is better than taking it to the tip.
Turn off lights and electrical appliances such as TVs, CD players, radios, computers and microwave ovens, when you are not using them. This especially includes turning off the TV, don't leave it on standby, it's using loads of electricity. If you've always left your TV on standby, and you start turning if off every time you are not watching it, you will notice the difference on your electricity bill at the end of the year.
Buy low energy light bulbs for the places where you have a light on all the time. For instance in your sitting room or lounge.
If you have a computer, install a computer screen saver that shuts off the screen completely when you are not using it ( and not a screen saver that makes patterns or pictures) – and get them to install them at work too! Computer screens use energy, and if you're not using it why leave it on?
Have a look at what's in your bin. Is there any food wasted? If so, why? buy less, cook less, waste less and save money.
Get a compost bin going – you'll never have to buy fertiliser again!
Buy organic food, or better still grow your own. Organic food may be better for you, it is a lot better for the environment. Artificial fertilisers use lots of energy in their manufacture, use manure instead.
If you have to buy a new washing machine, fridge or any other electrical appliances look for the energy saving model, it will save you money in the long run, and use less energy too.
Use less water, put a brick in your toilet cistern so that it uses less water every time you flush.
Take an ordinary shower, not a bath or a power shower, it uses less water.
Measure the amount of washing powder you use, and only use the minimum you need to get your clothes clean.
And a few don'ts
Don't buy furniture, wood or charcoal from unsustainable sources, look for the FSC logo.
Don't tip oil or white spirit down the drain, take it to your local tip for proper disposal
Don't wash out your bottles and tins with fresh water, use the dirty stuff at the end of the washing up bowl, using fresh clean hot water wastes energy.
Don't leave the tap running when you clean your teeth.
Don't fill your kettle to the brim every time, just boil the amount of water you need, it saves energy and your drinks taste better with fresh water.
How can the town plan make a difference to my footprint?
The Town Plan can make a difference by reducing the need to travel by car. If services and facilities are provided close to where people live and work, then there is less need to travel.
The local authority could provide more good cycleways and footpaths and pavements, with good lighting so that people feel safe cycling or walking.
There need to be safe (and preferably dry) places for bicycles, how many local shopping areas are there which have car parking facilities, but nowhere to leave your bike which is safe.
Roads through housing estates could be altered so that pedestrians and cyclists have priority over cars. Streets could be safe again for children to play in if cars had to travel at 5mph in "home zones". (It has been done in other countries, so we could do it here)
Keep green areas, especially allotments and encourage people to use them.
Set up community composting schemes where people don't have room for composing in their own garden.
Beware "greenwash" in your life!
Many people think they do their bit for the environment by buying organic food and taking their bottles, paper and cans for recycling but beware! Not buying the stuff in the first place is much more environmentally friendly. So drink water rather than a fizzy drink in a can, it's better for you and the environment. Don't have a car – it will probably save you money and your waistline. Grow your own food, it tastes better, and doesn't need transport to your home.Index