rethink sustainability

    Five easy ways to become more eco-friendly at home

    Our homes are where most of us spend most of our time1. They may also be where we put the most demands on the world’s resources. Food, furniture, cooking, clothing, laptops, laundry; the decisions we make about each element of our daily lives make a difference. Residential properties generate around a fifth of energy-related carbon emissions2. They are also responsible for more than 60% of all food waste3 and are full of materials that may have been mined, manufactured and moved around the world in ways that harm the planet. Things don’t have to be this way.

    Awareness about the impact our daily habits have is a starting point for change. Surveys show that sustainable lifestyles are what people around the world aspire to4, but research also reveals that they need support and guidance in making this a reality.

    Our new immersive experience, Home Truths, created in collaboration with the Financial Times, shows how making simple changes around your home can create significant reductions in your environmental impact. The many facts you will find in the game are mainly rooted in Lombard Odier’s rigorous, science-based research and expertise. Below are just five ways the appliances and products we choose can benefit the environment.

    Eliminate your e-waste

    Our homes are full of electronic devices, and they are only getting fuller. Smart appliances are surging in popularity5 and Internet-of-Things-enabled items are expected to become far more widespread by 20306. These products do not last forever – many of them last two years less than they are expected to7. This has inevitable implications for levels of electronic waste.

    Around the world we throw away around 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste every year8, the same weight as 4,500 Eiffel Towers9. Much of this contains valuable materials such as precious metals10 that can play an essential role in building renewable energy technologies and a more sustainable world. E-waste recycling rates are far below 30% in many regions11, meaning that cities are effectively throwing away millions of dollars every year12. Legislation is beginning to emerge to change this13, and it will help accelerate a shift towards a circular economy that we see creating clear environmental benefits and investment opportunities.

    Residential properties generate around a fifth of energy-related carbon emissions14. They are also full of materials that may have been mined, manufactured and moved around the world in ways that harm the planet

    Up to 80% of the environmental damage a laptop creates happens during manufacturing and distribution.15 Choosing to replace yours only when necessary can greatly reduce your impact. Every new laptop you don’t buy saves 300kg of CO₂, 1,200kg of toxic mining waste and 190,000 litres of water.16 If you must replace, consider refurbished or second-hand options. And when you do replace, find a way to recycle your e-waste.

    Read also: Is a sustainable electronics industry possible?


    An induction hob to boost energy efficiency

    Some chefs insist that the best way to cook is using a gas hob. They say this offers more heat, more quickly, and provides more even heat distribution.17 This may have been true in the early days of induction hobs, but it’s not necessarily the case today. More modern induction stoves can compete with traditional cooktops on all these fronts, and offer a more than adequate array of cooking options for the average home chef.18

    Induction stoves are about three times more efficient than gas stoves, and more and more people in Europe are opting to switch

    The environmental benefits are also undeniable. Induction stoves are 5-10% more energy-efficient than conventional electric stoves and about three times more efficient than gas stoves. They can be more expensive in terms of upfront costs, and may require people to buy a whole new set of pans with magnetic bases, because of the way induction hobs work19. But more and more people in Europe are opting for induction, especially in Switzerland, Germany, Iceland and Norway.20 The US market is also expected to grow by around 10% a year over the next decade.21

    Soap bars to save on carbon

    The environmental impact of the beauty industry stretches from production and distribution to end-user waste. Elaborate packaging is part of the problem, and numerous cosmetics companies are already exploring more eco-friendly alternatives22 and encouraging the use of refills23. But it’s the products themselves as well as the packaging that need considering.

    Take soap. The carbon footprint of liquid soap is 25% higher than that of bar soap, in part because of the chemicals and processing involved.24 Bar soaps also do away with the need for plastic bottles, and are easier to store and transport. There are also benefits for water conservation for users and producers – studies show that people use almost a third more water when washing their hands with liquid soap, while recycling liquid soap also requires additional wastewater treatment systems because of the chemicals involved. These chemicals are far less common in bar soaps, meaning they tend to degrade faster than liquid soaps after being washed away.25

    Read also: How sustainable cosmetics brand Beauty Disrupted is reinventing the humble bar of soap

    Heat pumps for more proficient power supplies

    Policymakers and businesses have a part to play in helping make our homes greener. It is their interventions and innovations that will make more sustainable lifestyles not just easier, but potentially inevitable. Technologies such as heat pumps are just one example of this. They are already becoming more widely available and more affordable26, although questions remain over whether they are suitable for older properties, given the high levels of home insulation that heat pumps need to operate effectively.27 The size of heat pumps could also make it difficult to add them to smaller properties.28

    Air source heat pumps offer staggering improvements on the efficiency of a traditional boiler, with ratings as high as 400% compared with 90% from a good gas alternative

    Scandinavia has been leading the way on installations29 thanks to generous government support schemes and tax relief30. Energy companies are playing a part too by creating models that are more attractive aesthetically31, as well as economically. Other companies and countries are learning from these approaches, and the emissions profiles of our homes could be pared back dramatically as a result. Air source heat pumps offer staggering improvements on the efficiency of a traditional boiler, with ratings as high as 400% compared with 90% from a good gas alternative, although the higher cost of electric heating compared with gas32 remains a concern among the public for now33.

    At Lombard Odier, we believe the world’s energy system is changing after more than 200 years of fossil fuel dominance. The transition to an electrified energy system effectively constitutes a new industrial revolution, and as we move from 20% economy-wide electrification today to 70% in 2050, this will change the way that businesses do business and consumers consume.

    Take note of natural materials

    The fashion industry accounts for an estimated 10% of global carbon emissions.34 Its water use is also higher than most other sectors35, and its dyeing processes are often linked to water pollution36. At the other end of the lifecycle there’s a growing problem with clothes ending up in landfill. The average American throws away 37kg of clothes a year37, while excessive production means that up to 40% of clothes produced are never even sold38.

    Recycling is also difficult because of the variety of materials that go into each garment; clothing made with recycled polyester mostly relies on old plastic bottles rather than discarded T-shirts.39 Polyester, nylon and other plastic-based textiles don’t just create challenges for recycling; they also shed microfibres when washed40, releasing 500,000 tonnes of microplastics a year that could be heading towards our oceans – that’s the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles41.

    Read also: ‘Trashion’ trends: Kenyan artisans lead clothing’s sustainability drive

    Natural materials such as silk and linen also produce microfibres, but these tend to biodegrade far more quickly than synthetic ones.42 Clothing made from sustainable materials such as hemp can even be carbon-negative43 if it is grown on regenerative farms. Growing hemp also requires far less water than crops such as cotton, and hemp has very limited need for harmful insecticides and herbicides as it is not susceptible to pests.44

    Cotton has been dubbed “the thirsty crop” because of its high water needs. Production also relies on pesticides, because of cotton’s vulnerability to fungi and insects.45 Organic cotton is far better for the environment on both of these fronts. It also helps improve soil quality, enabling our planet to store more carbon.46 The organic cotton industry is predicted to grow by an average of 40% a year until 2028.47 Switching to organic cotton in clothes and towels can reduce your impact on the environment not just at the production stage, but every time you use your washing machine.

    Find out your personal sustainability score

    Home Truths highlights many other examples of how to become more eco-friendly. It leads you around your kitchen, lounge, bedroom and bathroom at different times of day and invites you to click on various elements in each room. Each click creates a question, and each answer unveils a short analysis of your habits and how they may be impacting the environment. At the end, you will receive a personalised sustainability score and suggestions for ways to hone your home habits. The game may only take 10 minutes to play, but we hope it has a long-lasting impact on those who play it, as well as on the world around us.

    1 IPA TouchPoints: consumers spend an hour more at home compared to pre-pandemic - The Media Leader (
    2 How your house will go carbon free | BBC Future
    3 Food Waste | European Commission (
    4 Survey shows households are willing to shift to greener lifestyles but that cost and convenience are key | OECD
    5 Smart home devices to boom over the next 5 years - Statista | World Economic Forum (
    6 IoT connected devices worldwide 2019-2030 | Statista
    7 Lifespan of electronics 2.3 years shorter than intended by design (
    8 Electronic waste (e-waste) (
    9 15 essential things to know about the Eiffel Tower (
    10 E-waste: chemical processing without heat may offer efficient method of recovering metals from end-of-life products (
    11 Electronic waste recycling rate, 2010 to 2019 (
    12 E-waste recycling: How can it be increased and improved? | World Economic Forum (
    13 Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) - European Commission (
    14 How your house will go carbon free | BBC Future
    15 Eco-Friendly Laptop Use: Tips for Greener Computing (
    16 Eco-Friendly Laptop Use: Tips for Greener Computing (
    17 Why do chefs love cooking with gas? - Rockgas
    18 Seven Myths About Induction Cooktops (
    19 Use a magnet to find out if a pan will work with your induction stove - CNET
    20 Europe Induction Hobs Market Size & Share Analysis - Industry Research Report - Growth Trends (
    21 Induction Hob Market Size, Industry Share & Trends – 2033 (
    22 Beauty Brands Tackle Greener Packaging (
    23 Plastic-free, Compostable, Refillable Beauty Driving Growth: NielsenIQ | Global Cosmetic Industry (
    24 Embracing the Power of Hard Soap Bars for Your Accommodation – Soap Aid
    25 Is Bar Soap Better for the Environment? - The Earthling Co.
    26 Octopus Energy announces £3,000 heat pump | Inside Housing
    27 Bosch tells homeowners heat pumps don’t work in old homes | Homebuilding
    28 Bosch tells homeowners heat pumps don’t work in old homes | Homebuilding
    29 Executive Summary – The Future of Heat Pumps – Analysis | IEA
    30 What is the status of air source heat pump subsidies in Europe? | Zealux
    31 Blond designs "attractive and desirable" heat pump system for Electric air |
    32 Electric Heating or Gas Heating | Which Is Best? | EDF (
    33 Heat pumps shown to be three times more efficient than gas boilers - Energy Systems Catapult
    34 How Much Do Our Wardrobes Cost to the Environment? (
    35 World Water Day – Which industries consume the most water and why should we care? - 2030.Builders
    36 Out Of Fashion - The Hidden Cost Of Clothing Is A Water Pollution Crisis (
    37 Why clothes are so hard to recycle - BBC Future
    38 ‘It’s the industry’s dirty secret’: why fashion’s oversupply problem is an environmental disaster | Fashion industry | The Guardian
    39 Why 'recycled' clothes are so hard to recycle (
    40 Your Laundry Sheds Harmful Microfibers. Here’s What You Can Do About It. | Wirecutter (
    41 Fast Fashion and Its Environmental Impact in 2024 | Earth.Org
    42 What happens to our clothes at the end of their lives? – The Slow Label
    43 From eco benefits to legal status: everything you need to know about wearing hemp | Fashion | The Guardian
    44 Hemp - European Commission (
    45 Cotton pests - Farm Biosecurity
    46 Organic Cotton | Fashion & Textiles | Soil Association
    47 Organic cotton market to grow at 40% CAGR from 2021-2028 (

    Important information

    This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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