Help the environment and save money
The Carbon Trust (new window) Standard is a mark of excellence that has been awarded to West Lothian Council in recognition of measuring, managing and reducing our carbon emissions.
Global warming is caused by an increase in levels of greenhouse gases attributable to human activities.
The Carbon Trust explains: "The basic mechanics of climate change are well understood; the world is warming, much of the warming is due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the changes are set to accelerate in the future, bringing many and varied impacts around the world."
Carbon dioxide is the main contributor responsible for 80 per cent of emissions from industrialised countries. The gas is released into the atmosphere primarily from burning fossil fuels: oil, petrol and natural gas. A growing population coupled with increasing demands on transport and energy, has led to emissions increasing at dramatic rates.
By making small changes to your everyday life it is possible to reduce your carbon footprint. Use the carbon footprint calculator on this page to work out how much you are saving. Here are a few easy steps to get you started.
Weekly wash - wait until you have a full load. Whenever you can use the 30 degree cycle. Hang your clothes out to dry rather than switching on your tumble dryer. Use concentrated washing detergents as this saves on packaging and transport costs.
Turn off - almost £800 million worth of energy is wasted every year in the UK by leaving appliances plugged in and switched on at the socket - while leaving lights on in empty rooms accounts for around £140 million. Save energy by switching to energy saving lightbulbs.
Car sense - driving smarter could save up to one month's worth of fuel a year. Pump up your tyres, declutter your boot and don't over-rev your engine then count the savings. Try car sharing, or if you can walk or cycle to work - you will save money and get fit.
Hot water - paying to heat water and then watching it drain down the plug hole makes no sense. Fill a basin and then turn the tap off. Take a shower it uses around a third of the water of a bath. The thermostat on your hot water cylinder should be set at 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit - turn down and save. Only boil as much water as you need in saucepans and kettles and use lids to save.
Central heating - if you are living in a hot house reduce your room temperature by one degree and it could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent, representing a saving of around £50 each year.
Stop heat from escaping - close your curtains when it starts to get dark to stop heat escaping through the windows. Check your house is insulated - advice and grants are available.
Food shopping - buy local produce West Lothian has local food co-ops which sell fresh locally grown vegetables, if you are using your car when possible shop once a week to reduce journeys and, if you can support your local shop. Reduce food waste by only purchasing what your need (multi-packs are only bargains if you use them), meat production creates more carbon so reduce the amount of meat you eat. Reuse plastic bags.
Recycle - use your blue and brown bins to divert your household waste from landfill. Larger items such as fridges can be collected. Every household in West Lothian has three free bulky uplifts per year. Unwanted household furniture can also be donated to Home Aid. While local charity shops accept clothes and bric-a-brac. Alternatively change your clutter into cash at your local car boot sale.
For advice on becoming environmentally friendly contact the Business Environment Partnership's Business Environmental Advisers on 01506 777921. Information is also available at: Energy Saving Trust (new window) , the Business Enterprise Partnership (new window) and the Carbon Trust.
Free Support from Green Communities to help you act on climate change: Green Communities is a programme from the Energy Saving Trust in Scotland. Membership of the programme can help voluntary organisations and local communities cut carbon emissions, tackle climate change and save money.
Services are free and include: advice and support, training courses, expert consultation for energy projects and help with finding and applying for funding. Sign up today, telephone 0800 512 012 or visit the Energy Saving Trust (new window) .