‘Carbon footprint’ is the buzzword when it comes to living a greener life. We all have one we shouldn’t, and the fastest way to reduce it is to make your home a greener place.
Your home is probably your main source of pollution. Hard to accept, isn’t it? But once you turn eco-spy, you’ll find ways of making it green.
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘think global, act local.’ Well, your own home is about as local as it gets. And the way you live at home can have worldwide implications.
Let’s start with the all-important carbon footprint that everyone’s talking about at the moment. The main thing about it is, we don’t want one! Or at least, we want a small one, so in this case, size does matter.
Your carbon footprint is the imprint your activities leave on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Everything you do at home, from the way you dispose of waste to the temperature on your thermostat, has an impact on the size of your carbon footprint.
And man-made CO2 is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. The net result of this climate change is sadly not going to be lovely hot summers and pleasant, mild winters. Instead, glaciers and sea ice would melt, sea levels would rise, and coastal areas would flood. Inland areas would become hotter and drier, and lakes and rivers could dry up. There would be more droughts, making it hard to grow crops, and some plants and animals might become extinct because of the heat. Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms may get more common.
Overall, the cost to society, the environment, our health and the economy is likely to far outweigh any benefits.
But we can all help contain global warming, starting with minimising your footprint – and there’s no time like the present. We’ll be looking at ways of reducing your carbon footprint throughout this book, but there are things you can do today, in your home, to reduce your contribution to global warming. Best of all, they should not cost you a penny, and in the long term will save you cash.
- Sign up to a green energy supplier.
- Turn down the central and water heating slightly.
- Use dishwashers, washing machines and driers to full capacity, or use half-load programmes.
- Don’t leave appliances on standby.
- Hang out the washing to dry rather than tumble-drying.
- Fit energy-saving light bulbs.
- Insulate your hot water tank, your loft and your walls.
- Recycle and reuse.
- Save water by harvesting rainwater, reusing ‘grey’ water and cutting down on hosing.
Apart from global warming, general pollution threatens our health, crops and wildlife. You can help reduce pollution with all of the above steps. As a bonus, you could also switch to organic food, and use fewer chemicals around the home.
Once you’ve got the ball rolling, make sure your whole household is involved. Get teenagers to switch off gadgets and lights when not in use; explain to the kids how recycling works and ask them to help you sort your waste into the right bins; persuade Granny to share her make-do-and-mend tips and Grandad his compost recipe. Encourage the whole family to cut back on water usage, for instance by not leaving taps running; and get everyone used to having the house slightly cooler. And just watch your carbon footprint shrink!
Everyone knows someone who is an incredible flirt, whose social diary always seems to need extra fold-out sections and who seems to be adored by all men, from infants to grandfathers.
Rather than make a voodoo doll of her, watch and learn: the good and the bad.
But she’s so obvious!
Most women with these skills often seem transparent to other women; they seem to turn on the charm unashamedly and suck up to a man’s ego without a second thought. Well: newsflash – men don’t care. And more often than not, they usually don’t even notice that she does it to every other guy in the office unless she is known as the ‘praying mantis’ and eats her partners after sex. This is because most people could do with a little extra attention in their lives. Face it, even if you know the guy in accounts flirts with every woman he meets on the stairs, it still makes your day less dreary – and that’s because flirting makes life more fun.
Flirting also doesn’t have to be about sex. It can just be about remembering to look up, crack a smile and not take everything so seriously. You may not have just made a connection with the love of your life but it’s good to remember to keep things light; it’s a great way to stop every date you do have from seeming like a full-scale interview.
Most good flirts have a few skills in common. Firstly, they smile a lot. That is not to say that they could be extras in The Stepford Wives. They just keep things upbeat, a quality that draws people whether they are friends or colleagues. Secondly, they ask questions and remember details; any good networker will tell you that this is an essential tool in making good contacts. It makes people feel appreciated, understood and special, so try and make a mental rule to ask more questions than you answer. Again, this will not turn you into some 50s housewife; it’s as useful a skill in big business as it is in personal relationships. And thirdly, they often use physical contact, sometimes with themselves, and sometimes with others. Touching your hair or face gives the other person a clear signal that you are interested in them. Touching their arm or hand as you chat, taking their elbow as you go through a door – these are all ways of making people know that you are comfortable with the idea of being in their body space: or of having them in yours.
Getting flirting right for you
That isn’t to say these are all right for you. If every time you see the arch-flirt you want to lock her in the stationary cupboard for pretending she can’t work the photocopier when she used to work for Xerox, then you know you need to modify her tactics when you use them yourself. Maybe you can emulate the way she remembers everyone’s name or gets involved with after-work activities (you might not fancy Bob in IT, but his brother could be pretty hot). It’s about knowing that you might need to sharpen up your skills consciously without coming into work the next day with a completely different personality. You can use what she does wrong to help guide you: maybe her whole conversation is about the other person, which is a great way to get attention but isn’t going to help move things on to the next stage. Maybe the neckline of her blouse ends around her waistband; also not a winner with every guy in town. The wise girl looks for lessons everywhere.
What comes naturally
This is why you also need to think about how you already put yourself out there. Are you always coming up with wisecracks or reminding men you meet how smart you are? Do you find yourself joking about, like you did with your male friends at college or your ex-boyfriend? Whilst this might be a great place to get to with a partner, it’s not necessarily ideal when you first meet someone. Most people have a limit to how much they can take in during one sitting and definitely to how much they want to know. You may think chatting about your ex, your eating disorder and your PhD just shows your openness, but is it possible that you might be scaring people off by showing what a handful you are? Revealing yourself as you get to know one another is a much better way of allowing space for both of you to get comfortable.