Information Unlimited: No. 12 Going Green

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Saving water

On average we use 220 litres of water for domestic purposes each day, but we could comfortably get by on 80 litres per day.

Take a shower rather than a bath. The average bath uses 80 litres of water compared to a shower which only uses 35.

The average toilet flush uses 9.5 litres of water but can flush with a lot less. You can decrease the amount of water per flush by leaving a sealed plastic bottle full of water in your cistern. Some water companies supply a special bag for this purpose called a "hippo".

When buying domestic appliances, consider water and energy consumption ratings as well as price and performance.

Saving energy

Competition in the domestic energy market has increased choice and we can now opt for the most environmentally responsible supplier. For a free copy of "The Green Energy Guide", call Friends of the Earth (0171- 490 1555). The Renewable Energy Company (01453 756111) and Eastern Electricity (0181-366 1112) are both highly recommended.

Turn down your thermostat by one degree.

Place aluminium foil behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room

Use low-energy light bulbs; they use around one fifth of the energy of a normal bulb and can last eight times longer.

Insulate and draughtproof your home.

Call the Energy Savings Efficiency hotline for a free information pack: 0345 277 200.

Call your local energy advice centre: 0800 512012.

Products in the home

Detergents, bleaches, and disinfectants contain toxic ingredients so choose environmentally friendly alternatives. These products clean just as effectively but they use vegetable-based, biodegradable ingredients which break the detergent down naturally.

Natural alternatives for cleaning: Use bicarbonate of soda as a scouring powder on sinks and bathrooms and as a polish for chrome; use vinegar for cleaning bathroom tiles and shower doors (wipe it on, leave a few minutes and rinse.) Vinegar can also be used to descale kettles or remove stains from teapots. Clean drains with a handful of salt and boiling water.

Call the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) for information on recycling and refilling: 0171-247 3327

Buy locally produced food and use seasonal vegetables.

The organic food market is worth pounds 260 million a year and is growing rapidly. The Soil Association publication Where to buy Organic food, pounds 5, can be ordered (credit card/Switch) on 0117-914 2446

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Reducing waste is more efficient than recycling.

Look for reusable and durable alternatives. Some shops also operate refill schemes.

Avoid overpackaged products, or remove packaging and leave it with the shop.

Contact your local authority to find out about recycling facilities; many supermarkets also have them.

Compost organic waste to reduce your bin contents by up to 20 per cent.

The Furniture Recycling Network collects and renovates domestic furniture for cheap resale. They can be contacted on 0116-233 7007

Call Waste Watch Wasteline: 0870 243 0136 and send an SAE for a free factsheet, "Recycling for Householders" to Europa House, 13-17 Ironmonger Row, London EC1V 3QN.

Further information

The Alternative Centre for Technology: 01654 702 400, has general information and an extensive booklist.

Highly recommended: `The Green Guide' series (six regional editions 1998/99, pounds 5); available from most major bookshops or call 0171-354 2709 to order direct.

`Women Unlimited, The Directory for Life' is published by Penguin at pounds 9.99.