Choosing the Greenest Standards

Choose Green’s environmental standards encourage people to live a greener lifestyle in comparison to the average Brit. But, despite our standards being greener and more ambitious than those of the average Brit, they are not entirely ‘as green as they can be’. This is why we've developed this document that tells you which standards, certifications and behaviours to follow if you want to lead the greenest possible lifestyle!

Food
Transport
Electricity
Gas
Beauty
Electrical Goods
Gyms
Insulation
Travel
Baby
Household Cleaning Products
Carbon Off-setting


Food

The Soil Association maintains the highest standards in relation to animal welfare, conservation and GM compared to other organic certifiers and UK baseline standards.

Transport

At Choose Green, we aspire to carbon neutral travel wherever possible. This typically includes walking or riding a bike. If you must use motorised transport, we would encourage the use of public transport, buses, trains and other mass transit formats. If you must drive, we recommend the most fuel efficient vehicles, electric vehicles and, where possible, car sharing. Electric vehicles should be charged at charging points supplied by renewable energy providers.

Try to avoid travelling by plane unless you absolutely have to go long-haul, as there is nothing to compensate for the carbon emissions from these machines – not even offsetting schemes or any other kind of environmental programme that the airline might be involved in.


Electricity

Only have the lights switched on in the rooms you’re in and turn appliances off when you’re not using them. Renewable energy is without a doubt the favourable energy to use, meaning energy supplied or supplemented by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar thermal for hot water and wind turbines.

Some energy providers might offer green tariffs that involve renewable energy, but more often than not, their overall business will NOT be committed to investing in ‘green’ energy. If you want to be the greenest you can be, then only sign up to electricity companies that invest in, and source, their energy from renewable suppliers. We recommend using www.greenelectricity.org to search for appropriate energy providers.

However, in this day and age, we understand this might not be fully possible in all areas across Great Britain, and in those circumstances we would encourage people to sign up to electricity providers that invest in 100% renewable energy, even though these energy providers might not be supplied from 100% renewable energy sources.



Gas

Micro-CHP (combined heat and power) dual energy system boilers not only provide highly efficient heating and hot water, they also generate low-cost, low-carbon electricity in the process. Micro-CHP products should achieve Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certification, meaning they also become eligible for the Government's Feed-in Tariff, a system that provides financial assistance to lower your fuel bills even further.

Ground source heat pumps draw renewable, naturally replenished, energy from the earth to produce clean and efficient heating. They can provide an all-round heating and hot water solution and should also be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).


Beauty

Chemicals used in beauty products, such as phthalates, which were once considered safe, have, over recent years and through better research, been found to be harmful. So, to be completely green and safe, consumers should aim to purchase products that are made from 100% natural products. After all, these products are used on your body, your children and babies.

Packaging should also be made from 100% natural, biodegradable materials. Where this is not possible, consumers should consider products that are at least free of parabens and phthalates. These products can be found on the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) checklist. Think about things like packaging wherever possible, although this is not as important as avoiding actual chemicals in the products themselves.

All cosmetic products should be 100% free from animal testing and, although these products might be harder to find, we definitely think it’s worth spending a bit of time researching the market.

Electrical Goods

It goes without saying that at Choose Green we recommend that people only buy electrical goods with the highest energy label (A+++ or A3t).

If you need to use a dishwasher, only do so when it is absolutely full to maximise water and energy efficiency. Similarly, when boiling a kettle, use the minimum amount of water needed. Appliances should have an EU water label and they should be the greenest level possible (performance level of Max 6).

Watch TV as a family or group in one room, using one television set, instead of in separate rooms on multiple sets. And do you really need to use a dryer when the sun is shining brightly outside? A clothes line is a cheaper and friendlier way to dry clothes.

If you need to use a kettle, watch TV or browse the Internet, be considerate. Not everything can be powered by solar, like those pocket calculators we had, but where you can, do your best.

In these cases we recommend the most energy efficient products and appliances – recyclable products with very high water efficiency use. This is most important for appliances which are frequently used or require a lot of energy, including fridge freezers, computers, televisions, radios, washing machines and dishwashers.

We also recommend that products have minimum levels of toxicity when being assembled, avoiding things like lead and other highly toxic metals.

Use the most energy efficient light bulbs available. It is crime against common sense not to.

Sensor lights that come on only when someone is in the room are recommended; lights turned off is better.

Gyms

The best exercise can be found outdoors and it’s free, not to mention available all year round. It has the best scenery. Olympic athletes practice on tracks and at altitude, not on running machines under neon lights with 100 TV channels to watch as they run. Why not try using outdoor gyms or running outdoors?

Use gym clothes and shoes that are produced responsibly. And when using weights, have you not seen rocky V? The Russian, Drago, used the latest and most sophisticated gym technology available to man. Rocky lifted buckets of water and logs and ran up lots of steps, and we all know who won that fight…

Insulation

In our Choose Green standards we say: just insulate! But here, in order to attain the greenest possible standards, we say you must insulate but you must also avoid conventional insulation materials made from petrochemicals, including fibreglass, mineral wool, polystyrene, polyurethane foam, and multi-foils. These materials are widely used because, not only are they inexpensive to buy and install, but there is an assumption from the building industry that their performance ability is higher than the natural alternatives. On the downside, almost all conventional insulation materials contain a wide range of chemical fire retardants, adhesives and other additives, and the embodied energy in the manufacturing process is very high.

We recommend using the following natural insulation materials:

-       Sheep's Wool – This material usually needs to be treated with chemicals to prevent mite infestation and reduce fire risk, although some natural builders use it untreated with great success. It has very low embodied energy (unless it is imported) and performs exceptionally well as an insulation material. Thermafleece is the most common commercial brand available.

 

- Flax and Hemp – These are natural plant fibres that are available in batts and rolls, and typically contain borates that act as a fungicide, insecticide and fire retardant. Potato starch is added to flax as a binder. Both materials have low embodied energy and are often combined in the same product. Examples of commercial brands include Isonat and Flax 100.

 

- Cellulose – A product made from recycled newsprint and other cellulose fibre, cellulose is one of the most favoured materials of natural builders because it can be blown into cavity walls, floors and roofs, used as a loose fill, and it is also available in quilts, boards and batts. Like hemp and flax it contains borate as an additive. Available products include Warmcell and Ecocel.

 

- Wood Fibre – Made from wood chips that have been compressed into boards or batts using water or natural resins as a binder, wood fibre has very low embodied energy and uses by- products from the forestry industry. Commercial examples include Pavatex, Thermowall and Homatherm.

Travel

Almost everyone is going to travel. Holidays are a time to relax and not worry about things, and that includes environmental impacts. However, travelling green can be both fun and cost effective. In most cases, getting to your destination means travelling by plane. When doing this, we hope you will offset the carbon emission through a recommended scheme. However, consider going by train. Travelling by train can be a holiday in itself, and one that has a view.

When choosing accommodation, hotels all vary in quality regarding environmental credentials, just as a room would vary from a 1 star to a 5 star. Why not avoid hotels altogether and try a homestay, living with local people and getting the genuine local experience?

If you want to stay in a hotel, we would highly recommend staying at eco resorts, hostels and B&Bs where the ethos of the venue is to give you the greenest experience possible, from the food they serve being organic and locally sourced to the venue itself being made of natural products. Again, if a hotel is necessary then we suggest those that are supported by green tourism regulatory bodies. through which member hotels are required to deliver a minimum level of quality.

Baby

In order to be labelled organic, products must be made from at least 95% organic components according to the Non Food Certification Company (NFCC), but we aim for, and recommend that you use, 100% naturally organic products. The Soil Association standard is too low; they will certify a product if it uses between 70-95% organic agro-ingredients.

Natural preservatives to safeguard from bacteria and moulds are additionally recommended.

Food, skincare products, clothes, toys and surfaces – These are the five things your baby will be in direct contact with the most. All five should be natural, chemical free, fertiliser free and organic.

Cleaning products used around the house must be chemical free, pesticide free, i.e. effective, but having no effect on your baby.

Household and Cleaning Products

Chemicals found in cleaning products can be some of the most harmful and toxic things present in your home and harmful chemicals that should be avoided entirely include acetone and aerosol products. We recommend flowers or pot-pourri instead of aerosol air fresheners.

You can replace chemical cleaner with natural cleaning products, such as Ecover, and cleaning the healthy way can be achieved with natural products, not just with bleaches or ammonia.

Carbon Off-setting
We do not encourage people to get involved with companies that do their greening via offsetting schemes, as we believe that if they genuinely wanted to be green then they should reflect it in their core products and services, instead of getting external organisations to do offsetting for them.

In the very rare event that you choose to purchase from companies that are offsetting, then, as a rule of thumb, use companies that are not commercially dependent on their customers.

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