Eco-commitments

Any one of us has an influence on the natural environment in which we live. Many individual, seemingly small and inconspicuous choices we make every day can make a difference and help slow down the rate of climate change on our planet.

This is why it’s worth turning your habits into being more “eco”!

Make a New Year’s commitment with us! From the list below, please choose one that you would be eager and willing to fulfill in the coming months. Decide what you would do to reduce your negative impact on the environment.

I WILL MAKE SURE MY HOME ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES ARE ENTIRELY SWITCHED OFF
I will make sure my home electronic appliances are entirely switched off (not just left in stand-by mode) when not in use.

Appliances left in the stand-by mode allegedly need little electricity but during many hours of futile “I’m ready” surprisingly large amount of electric energy is being wasted. For example, a television being watched – on average – for 3 hours a day and “being ready” for the remaining 21 hours wastes as much as 40% of the total electric energy it consumes. It is estimated that all appliances left in the stand-by mode around the world are responsible for greenhouse emissions equal to emissions generated by the whole aviation industry (approx. 1% of global emissions).
I WILL REDUCE TEMPERATURE IN MY APARTMENT/HOUSE BY 1oC
I will reduce temperature in my apartment/house by 1°C in the cold season.

Reducing temperature in an apartment or house by a mere 1oC will help lower one’s electricity bill by 5-10% and diminish CO2 emission by 300 kg per year. One degree is barely noticeable and does not make much difference in comfort of the inhabitants – even if they have grown accustomed to overly heated rooms, which is not too good for health anyway.
I WILL SWITCH TO ENERGY-SAVING LIGHT BULBS
I will switch to energy-saving light bulbs in at least five light fixtures which I use most often.

An energy-saving light bulb provides light with characteristics similar to a classical light bulb with a several-fold higher Watt rating. Moreover, its life-span is much longer. Saving energy (and money) and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases is of course proportional to the frequency a given light fixture is being used. Energy-saving bulbs should preferably be installed in places in which we need light for extended periods during the day/night (so they don’t have to be constantly switched off and on).
I WILL UNPLUG MY CHARGERS
After charging a cell phone or any other appliance requiring charging, I will disconnect the charger from the power outlet.

A charger that is constantly plugged – even if they don’t charge anything at the moment – still consumes, and thus can waste up to 90% of energy.
I WILL REMEMBER TO SWITCH OFF THE LIGHTS AND ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES
Leaving for a longer time (for example leaving a living room when going to the kitchen for a meal) I will remember to switch off the light and electrical appliances (e.g. a television) which I don’t intend to use.

Leaving behind light and a TV being switched off we basically make all the energy they need to work while we don’t need them going to waste.
I WILL COLLECT RAINWATER
I will collect rainwater as “household water”, e.g. to clean the floor, watering the plants in my garden or pots, etc.

Using rainwater collected by e.g. placing a container below a rainwater drainpipe translates into big saving of water coming to us through the water supply network. Such rainwater – though it will probably not be crystal clear in our conditions – is perfectly useable for many household chores.
I WILL TAKE A SHOWER, NOT BATHE IN THE BATH TUB
To wash myself, I will take a shower – leaving lying around in a bath tub full of water only for special occasions.

Water use when taking a shower (esp. equipped with a special regulating outlet) is many times smaller than when bathing in a bath tub full of water. By showering you also save a lot of energy needed for heating the water.
I WILL TURN OFF THE FAUCET WHEN I DON’T NEED THE WATER RUNNING
Brushing my teeth, shaving, taking a shower or doing the dishes by hand I will diligently turn off the faucet during moments I don’t need the water running.

Water constantly pouring from the faucet when brushing teeth, shaving or hand-washing dishes may mean wasting even over 10 litres per minute! Using a cup to rinse your teeth means using about 180 litres of water... during a year!
I WILL MAKE SURE WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM IN MY HOME IS WATERTIGHT
I will make sure water supply system in my apartment or house (pipes, toilet flush tanks, etc.) is watertight.

Water escaping from a leaky faucet or toilet flush tank can translate into several or even a few dozen litres daily... or many thousand litres per year!
I WILL COOK IN COVERED POTS
When cooking I will cover the pots and – when possible – use pressure or steam cookers.

Pressure and steam cookers reduce energy use by as much as 70% compared with an ordinary pot – particularly if it’s uncovered. Using pot lids helps save as much as 50% energy needed for cooking.
I WILL PROPERLY USE, AND DISPOSE OF, BATTERIES
When using batteries, I will do my best to exploit them until they’re completely dead (e.g. transferring – when weak – to another, less power-hungry appliance) and then leave them in special used battery deposit sites in my vicinity (if I still don’t know where is such a site near my place, I will find out).

Used batteries must not be disposed of among other regular garbage since they contain a range of very environmentally harmful substances. It’s worth to think of using – in lieu of regular batteries – rechargeable batteries charged from the normal power line (they also come in popular sizes such as AA cells).
I WILL DISPOSE OF ELECTRO-TRASH PROPERLY
I will deposit used electrical and electronic appliances (the so-called “electro-trash”) at specially designated collection sites (if I still don’t know where is such a site near my place, I will find out)

Used electric and electronic appliances must not be disposed of among other regular garbage since they contain a range of very environmentally harmful substances.
I WILL NOT DRIVE MY CAR AT ANY OCCASION
I will not drive my car at any occasion – especially when I just need to cover small distances and run small errands that don’t require e.g. transporting heavy loads.

Using own legs or some more eco-friendly modes of transportation, e.g. a bicycle or public transport, is not only beneficial for the wallet but also for Earth.
I WILL FOLLOW RULES OF ECO-DRIVING
I will familiarize myself with the rules of ecological driving style (the so-called eco-driving), which I will practice and regularly use.

Ecological driving style brings significant savings through reduced fuel consumption – up to 20-25% - as well as reduced wear and tear of many vehicle parts (e.g. brakes or tires). Carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere is also reduced proportionally. At the current intensity of traffic, emissions associated with vehicles make a significant contribution to the overall greenhouse gas emissions expelled to the atmosphere as a result of human activity. Eco-driving also significantly reduces risks of being involved in a car accident.
I WILL SEGREGATE HOUSEHOLD WASTE
I will segregate household waste according to new rules formulated by my local authorities, in line with the “third R” (recycle) principle.

Diligent segregation of waste at its source (i.e. in a household) to a large extent contributes to their effective further utilization as recycled materials. Each kilogram of recycled plastic, aluminum or paper means a significant saving of natural resources, energy, water... and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In Poland, the level of recycling is at a mere 4 kg per capita, while in the Czech Republic it is 19 kg and in Germany as much as 76 kg per capita.
WHEN BUYING ELECTRONIC AND ELECTRICAL HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES, I WILL PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR ENERGY RATING
Buying electricity-powered appliances (e.g. home electronics, household appliances) I will pay attention to their energy rating depicted by appropriate symbols.

Using energy-efficient appliances significantly lowers electricity bills and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
BUYING FOOD, I WILL PAY ATTENTION TO ITS ORIGIN AND MEANS OF PROCESSING
Buying various food producst, I will pay attention that they, if possible: (a) originate from a nearby place (e.g. produced or grown locally, regionally, or at least in my own country); (b) seasonal; (c) not too much processed.

Buying local/regional/domestic products is supporting local economy and producers. Also, what’s important with respect to climate, it means reducing the necessity to transport goods over long distances, which is associated with big losses of energy and fuel and greenhouse gas emissions – especially if these are products requiring e.g. refrigeration. Transporting goods from a distant corner of the world by an airplane yields an emission of the amount of CO2 being 1700 times higher compared to their transporting by a van at a distance of about 50 km.

Seasonal products (e.g. vegetables) that are field-grown are much more climate-friendly than those grown in greenhouses which has to be heated and illuminated.

Food that is not processed too much and not “soaked with chemistry” is not only healthier but also more environment-friendly. Complicated food processing is associated with big energy and water consumption, requires infrastructure, logistics.... In general, leaves a marked ecological and climate “footprint” on our planet.
I WILL NOT WASTE FOOD
I will not waste food, buying only products that are needed and in amounts that can – and will – indeed be consumed.

Wasting food – in view of the still increasing demand across the world and intensification of agriculture that has a great impact on the environment – is one of more grave “sins” against Earth, climate and people facing shortage of food and/or poor access to food of appropriate quality.
I WILL RESIST FALLING UNDER THE SPELL OF EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION
I will follow the “first R” (reduce) principle – that is, not fall under the spell of excessive, unneeded consumption. I will differentiate between genuine needs and impulsive whims.

Cutting down on excessive consumption is one the most important decisions we can make for the sake of our planet. Growing demand for products, services or energy is the cause of intensive exploitation of Earth’s natural resources and puts a heavy burden on climate. It is not that we should not strive to satisfy our needs – it is about distinguishing them from plain greed.
I WILL REUSE, REPAIR, PASS ON TO SOMEONE ELSE
I will follow the “second R” (re-use) principle: putting used things to another use, repairing them, or passing them on to other people – instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

A lot of things that have “fulfilled their duties” at the first owner/user are perfectly suited to be further used or re-used. There are many examples:
  • clothes, household items, pieces of furniture etc. that are not needed any more but are still in good condition can be passed on to the needy ones at various collection actions or through local announcements – or even sold at an Internet auction or garage sale;
  • baby clothing or toys that have been “outgrown” by our child/ren can be given away to our friends or other family members who have younger kids;
  • disposable shopping bag (if we really had to use it) can be re-used as garbage bags or to wrap/pack many things at home;
  • our old set of table dishes can be still used at our summer place;
  • and many more....
  • WHEN SHOPPING, I WILL PAY ATTENTION TO PACKAGING
    When shopping, I will pay attention to how the products are packed and will choose these products whose packaging is reduced to a minimum and can be easily recycled.

    Packaging is one of main categories of communal waste. Unnecessary, excessive packaging is a waste of materials and energy and also, frequently, increased costs of transport.
    I WILL PLANT TREES
    I will take part in a local tree planting action (event), or I will myself plant at least one tree in my garden or around the house.

    One mid-size tree is capable of absorbing about 6 kg of CO2 annually – so, during 40 years it can remove approximately 250 kg of this gas from the atmosphere. Gradual deforestation of our planet strongly reduces its CO2 sequestration potential. Trees are also little “harbours” of biological diversity and make our surroundings more beatiful.
    I WILL USE “ECO” FUNCTIONS IN MY HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES
    When using household appliances such as the washing machine or dishwasher, I will use – if available – their ECO functions. I will start the appliances only with the full load (of clothes, dishes). I will limit the use of the clothes dryer.

    Various ECO programmes and functions available in modern household appliances enable e.g. lowering laundry/dish washing temperature, using partial loads ( “half load” or “weight automation” functions) etc. This can save a lot of water and energy. Drying laundry in a special dryer instead of using simple hangers or racks is one of the most over-estimated whims and a very climate-unfriendly habit.
    I WILL BE AN “ECO-SHOPPER”
    Buying clothes, everyday items, elements of house/interior furnishing etc. I will go with the “eco-style” and choose products created from natural, environment-friendly materials, with little processing, coming from credible, sustainable sources.

    It’s really worth succumbing to the “eco” trend and become a responsible eco-consumer, carefully scrutinizing tags and descriptions of products found in stores. Choosing goods and services it’s worth paying attention to e.g. whether clothing has been manufactured from natural fibres, whether furniture and other wooden items have the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate confirming that the timber has come from sustainably managed forests, etc. Knowledge and vigilance of the eco-consumer are evidence of his/her positive climate and environmental attitude and awareness.
    Wyrażam zgodę na przetwarzanie moich danych osobowych przez Centrum UNEP/GRID-Warszawa, Zakład NFOŚ z siedzibą przy ul. Sobieszyńskiej 8, 00-764 Warszawa w celu wysyłki newslettera. Zostałem poinformowany o dobrowolności podania danych oraz o przysługującym mi prawie dostępu do treści swoich danych, ich poprawiania oraz żądania ich usunięcia.

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    Niniejszy materiał został opublikowany dzięki dofinansowaniu Narodowego Funduszu Ochrony Środowiska i Gospodarki Wodnej. Za jego treść odpowiada wyłącznie Narodowa Fundacja Ochrony Środowiska, Centrum UNEP/GRID-Warszawa.
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