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20 pledges for 2020: I'm embarking on a year of making my home more eco-friendly

Our house will never be environmentally or architecturally perfect – but hopefully we can just make it a little better for the planet

Andrew Griffin
Friday 03 January 2020 10:14 GMT
A guest takes a photo inside an ecological living module, a 22 square meter 'tiny house,' at the United Nations Plaza, July 16, 2018 in New York City
A guest takes a photo inside an ecological living module, a 22 square meter 'tiny house,' at the United Nations Plaza, July 16, 2018 in New York City (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Picture an eco-friendly, sustainable house. No doubt your imagination is filled with a fantasy out of Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs: all efficient insulation and recycled materials, wooden walls and a green roof.

That vision in your mind is the opposite of our house. For one, it is not green but literally yellow: a bizarre choice made by a previous owner whose unusual decisions extend through the rest of the house too, but one fitting for a place that is far from the fresh, clean image that comes with sustainable housing.

We hope to repaint the house this year. And we hope to make it a little more green throughout, too: my pledge for 2020 is to find the ways that our somewhat behind-the-times building can be pulled into the 21st century and do its bit to avoid any further damage to the environment.

My partner and I lack both the means and the ability to undertake any grand plans like the installation of solar panels on the roof or gutting the walls. Instead, I will be looking for the easy wins that we can do ourselves or with minimal cost and input from the outside.

We already try to achieve little gains in this respect – for example, I am a dogmatic avoider of leaving the big light on. But there is undoubtedly more we can do, both in terms of the house itself and the way we live in it.

I'm looking forward to exploring more environmentally friendly ways of dealing with waste, of considering the appliances in our house and the way we use them, of looking into the energy our house uses and how it can be minimised. I'm hopeful too that we can do that without taking ourselves off the grid or avoiding the 21st century, not least because my job as technology editor means using the latest kit.

Hopefully, what we will learn will not only help educate us and you the reader about how we can all make improvements, but also help show companies how they can better enable their customers to do so.

There are plenty of people, like me, living in old and often rented accommodation where they have limited scope to make improvements. Those people are of course concerned about living without damaging the Earth, too, and so I hope to find ways we can all make our homes a little more sustainable together.

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