Five ways to be more environmentally friendly in our product choices
The natural environment is our most precious asset. A lot of us see our responsibility to do our bit to protect and restore our natural environment, leaving it in a better state for future generations. But how do we do this? Below we explore 5 practical ways to be more environmentally friendly in the modern world.
1. New isn’t always better. Choose remanufactured and reconditioned products where available
As responsible consumers who care about the planet, purchasing remanufactured or reconditioned products over brand new items should be an obvious choice to help to reduce waste and make the most of the planet’s finite resources, shouldn’t it? Maybe, however, it can be challenging to have confidence that products that aren’t brand new will meet the level of quality, performance, and reliability that we expect from our purchases. Are we willing to take the risk with big ticket items like laptops and other high value goods?
To assure customer confidence in remanufactured goods, the BSI Kitemark™ for remanufactured and reconditioned products has been developed to verify the processes used by manufacturers, ensuring a high standard is maintained, so that customers can trust a brand’s claims about their product. Remanufacturing is the process of returning a used product to at least its original specification and performance, using a combination of new and refurbished parts, with a warranty that is equivalent or better than that of the equivalent newly manufactured product. As a result, consumers are offered a sustainable alternative to buying new without having to compromise on quality.
Circular Computing has demonstrated its commitment to sustainable technology by becoming the world’s first company to achieve BSI Kitemark certification for laptop remanufacturing. When a new laptop is produced, on average just over a third of a tonne of CO2 is produced. By remanufacturing laptops, Circular Computing is reducing this CO2 production, delivering a more circular economy through a reduction in primary materials’ use, and protecting the future of our environment.
2. It’s not just the product, it’s the packaging too
There are some products that can’t be remanufactured/re-used– the world’s supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), consisting largely of food and beverages, is a prime example of these. Whilst it may be great to reduce packaging, for reasons of food safety and quality it’s impractical to think that we might remove packaging altogether. In fact, by being smart about the packaging chosen (sometimes increasing the amount of packaging used or using controversial materials such as plastic) can often be the most sustainable way of preserving and distributing food overall. In certain circumstances, this as approach can extend the shelf-life of the product, protect the product in transit, or assure that the packaging can be easily recycled after use.
The interaction between packaging and food quality and food waste reduction can often complicate choices for consumers that are trying to act more sustainably when wishing to buy products with less of an environmental impact. That’s why BSI is working with industry on the sustainable packaging framework, and the BSI Kitemark™ for sustainable packaging.
Practical tips to help in this area include:
- Only buy what you need in the first place
- Where possible buy from local producers frequently to reduce the need for a longer use-by date (often packaging is a key contributor to longer use-by dates)
- Consider shopping with refillable containers
- When you are buying packaged items, look for recycled material content/sustainable certifications such as the BSI Kitemark for Sustainable Packaging
- Keep an open mind about the balance between packaging and food waste
- Clean out containers before adding to your recycling bin (if soiled then items often go to landfill and can contaminate the recycling stream.)
3. Saving energy makes an impact on more than just your carbon footprint
Reducing energy usage is good news for the planet, as this means less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollution. Reducing energy usage can also be one of the most effective ways of reducing the cost of your bills. As the global economy and the energy market fluctuate, reducing usage and therefore the cost of living is a continually rising priority for many households.
One of the most effective ways to reduce excessive energy usage is to ensure that we are being efficient. Smart choices in home improvement can make a huge difference to your overall energy and cost-savings – for example, by choosing to insulate your home to a high standard, installing energy-efficient windows and doors and selecting high quality Kitemark certified construction materials that have been tested to be durable and reliable.
When taking on a home improvement project, don’t forget to check building regulation requirements for what standards your materials need to meet, for example window energy rating requirements.
4. Technology – the little devices making a difference
The average household across UK1 and USA2 markets owns 20+ connected/smart devices. With so many devices requiring power, it’s easy to see how energy consumption creeps up, even when we try to be mindful about how much we are using.
Home security cameras and smart doorbells are common devices that need charging if they’re not directly plugged into our energy sources. Taking these devices down to charge them can be inconvenient and charging draws power and increases your energy consumption. However, there are often ways to link micro solar panels to these smart devices to keep them charged for longer, reducing their draw on power and keeping your energy bills lower than if you plugged them into your main grid supply.
With devices like these, people are concerned about security as well as sustainability. Read more about security and smart devices here.
5. Take public transport, walk or cycle
It’s not just the planet that we can keep happy by reducing our emissions from transportation – according to The People and Nature Survey3, led by Natural England, over 80% of adults in England said that being in nature made them ‘very happy’. Walking can give us the time and perspective to reflect, allowing our minds to wander in a way that wouldn’t be safe if we were concentrating on driving. For those looking for a faster pace, cycling can provide great health benefits, and has even been proven to boost the production of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.
Using public transport isn’t always the most realistic option in less connected/underdeveloped areas. Walking or cycling can also be impractical over long distances, or even at shorter distances for those with variable activity ability levels and underlying conditions. If a car is a must for your transport needs, why not consider an electric vehicle (EV)? People often have concerns about the range of electric vehicles, and EV charging in general. The BSI Kitemark™ provides trust and reassurance in EV chargers to alleviate these concerns. Find out more about electric vehicle charging certification and watch our video here.