How your lifestyle helps ruin planet

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 January, 1997, 12:00am

All of us can make small, simple changes to the way we live that could make a big difference to the environment.

Save energy and slow down the greenhouse effect Turn off lights and heating when leaving a room and switch off all electrical equipment - televisions, stereos, computers - when not in use.

Insulate hot water boilers and turn them off when you go away.

Put a timer on your boiler to ensure you only heat water when you need to.

Remember that air-conditioning units not only use a lot of energy, they also contain harmful chemicals known as CFCs.

If you can find compact fluorescent light bulbs, use them instead of ordinary incandescent bulbs.

Although they are relatively expensive, they use a fraction of the energy normal bulbs do, which means your electricity bills will fall. They also last eight times longer than ordinary bulbs.

Don't fill kettles and pans to the brim, only boil as much as you need.

Help stop the world turning into a giant rubbish tip Instead of storing food in foil and plastic wrap, put it in air-tight containers.

If possible, buy bottled drinks in glass containers that you can take back to be reused.

If there are recycling facilities in your area, use them. If there are not, ask for them. It is technically possible to recycle glass, paper, aluminium, steel, batteries and some kinds of plastic.

Buy products made from recycled materials (bottles, toilet paper, stationery and so on) whenever you can.

Avoid buying disposable items including razors, lighters and paper cups, plates and napkins.

Take your own shopping bag to the shops: billions of non-recyclable or non-biodegradable carrier bags are given away free and only used once.

Avoid throwing waste down sinks and toilets. Millions of tonnes of sewage (much of it untreated) are dumped in the sea each year, and it kills wildlife.

Save water. Take showers rather than baths - this saves up to a third of the water used - and turn the tap off while cleaning your teeth.

Cut down on toxics Use aerosol sprays sparingly. Only buy those which state they are 'ozone friendly', that is, they do not contain CFCs - but remember that even these produce low-level ozone, a greenhouse gas.

Look out for organically produced food. It is better for the environment and your body.

Try to buy 'green' - phosphate-free detergents.

Remember: bicycles, public transport and your own two feet are far kinder to the environment. WWF HK is a local charity environmental organisation set up in 1981 to help people live in harmony with nature. For more information, call 2526 1011