5 ways to live a greener life

After a year that started with bushfires and ended with floods, a lot of people are thinking about how to combat climate change.

Here at the Haberfield Rowers Club & Restaurant, we’ve recently installed solar panels on our roof as part of our commitment to sustainability. Haberfield Rowers is making great strides towards a more sustainable future. Late last year we installed 233 solar panels on the club roof that will produce more than 40 per cent of the power we use – a total of 133.8 megawatt hours a year. As well as shaving $20,000 off our annual energy bill, these panels will save 107 tonnes of C02 emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 23 cars off the road every year.

But solar panels are just part of the story – we’ve also got a bottle crusher on site so we can properly recycle glass items, and we’ve moved to fully compostable water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, takeaway packaging and straws. We’re currently on the hunt to switch out our current recyclable coffee cup lids for compostable versions as well. So if you’re looking for a great weekend brunch at a restaurant that’s kind to the planet, book now at Haberfield Rowers.

Need some ideas to kickstart a sustainability revolution at your house? Here are five easy ways to live a greener life.   

  • Ditch the plastic pods

Single-use coffee pods are a major source of problem waste. With more than 39,000 generated every minute, most of which make their way to landfill, it’s no surprise that they’re destroying the planet. But if you can’t quit your addiction to convenience, you can make better choices about the pods you use. Switch to reusable pods (preferred), or use compostable, biodegradable or recyclable versions instead. However, just buying the green option isn’t enough – you’ll also need to take some extra steps to ensure your choice actually benefits the environment. For example, some compostable products still need to be transported to industrial composting facilities, while recyclable pods can’t just go in your domestic recycling bin (they’ll need to be dropped off to a recycling service like Nestle’s).

  • Feed the worms

Turn your food waste into something meaningful with a squiggly, wiggly worm farm. A worm farm is essentially a sort of drum filled with dirt (and worms) that you keep in your backyard or on your balcony – chuck in all your fruit and veg odds, eggshells, plastic-free teabags and – according to worm farm producer Tumbleweed – even less appetising odds and ends like dust and bits of hair from your vacuum cleaner. By devouring your scraps, the worms produce plant-rich food and fertiliser that can help your garden thrive. Lots of local councils offer free or heavily discounted worm farms for local residents, as well as tutorials to help you get set up.

  • Flip the switch (to cold, that is)

There’s something about washing clothes in hot water that just makes them feel clean, right? But did you know that 90 per cent of the energy use required to do laundry comes from heating the water? That’s according to Harvard University, who also point out that cold water is just as effective at cleaning clothes as hot (some sources suggest that warm water performs marginally better, but the difference is so small it’s not worth the extra energy cost). What’s more, cold water is gentler on the fabric, which means your clothes will last longer.

  • Clean out your … inbox?

Sigh. Apparently going digital isn’t enough to save the planet – now your overloaded inbox is wreaking havoc on the climate as well. Apparently storing 15 years of email exchanges with your husband about whose turn it is to pick up milk on the way home from work is an energy suck. In fact, the founder of something called Digital Cleanup Day, says that ‘if each British adult would abstain from sending out a “Thank you” email, we would conserve more than 16 000 tons of CO2 per year – equal to 81 000 flights from London to Madrid.’ Time for a weekend of digital decluttering – or make the ultimate boss move and delete all your emails in one go.

  • Stop drinking plastic

Settling in for a cosy cuppa? Here’s some disturbing news: along with your English Breakfast tea, you’re potentially ingesting billions of micro- and nano-plastic particles. How can this be? Well, apparently lots of teabag producers (including a lot of the big names you see on supermarket shelve) use plastic to construct or seal their bags, which shed tiny plastic particles when they come into contact with hot water. They’re also a source of plastic waste. Not your cup of tea? Move to a plastic-free brand instead. Start by checking out I’m Plastic Free or the 1 Million Women blog for tips or avoid bags entirely by switching to loose-leaf tea instead. Your insides – and the planet – will thank you.