An environmental tip for every month

You can do a lot to protect nature with just a few tips and tricks – Topsy shows you how.

Fields, trees and meadows – Topsy and his friends love nature. That's why they always take care of the environment. And this year they're going to show you how you can help protect nature too. Because nobody’s too young to be a conservationist. You'll receive an environmental tip here every month.

Don't want to miss any environmental tips?

How you can use fewer lights without being left in the dark.

How short the days are getting – and how dark! When you enter a room you switch on the light without a second thought.

This was not possible 200 years ago. In houses in those days, it used to be as dark as Barry Badger's burrow. Children could only dream of snuggling up in bed with a book. You had to light an oil lamp to illuminate a room back then. Because electric lighting is part of our everyday lives, we often don’t think about the power it uses up. Overall, it uses a lot and The Swiss Federal Office of Energy believes that a great amount of electricity could be saved in our country by using LED lights. LEDs are so-called “light-emitting diodes” that convert electricity into light. This type of light lasts longer than that produced by normal light bulbs.

Topsy has some tips for this: Open your curtains and blinds every day to let more daylight into your room.  Consider whether you really need to have the main lights on as well as your desk lamp when you're doing your homework. Make sure you switch the light off before leaving a room. Ask your parents to replace old light bulbs with LED light bulbs – this could reduce your electricity consumption by 80 percent. And with that, you'd save money too.

You can save liters of water every day – starting in the bathroom.

Do you know what we call blue gold? Drinking water! This is because only three percent of the world’s water is drinkable fresh water.

It is all the more surprising, then, that one person in Switzerland uses up to 140 liters of the highest quality water – just in one day. That equates to approximately 16 watering cans. Just by flushing the toilet we use 42 liters of water every day. Showers and baths use up the second largest amount of water, a whole 37 liters going down the drain. All the water we use has to be cleaned again at the sewage plant.

Luckily, Topsy has lots of tips to help you save water and protect the environment: Most toilets have a flush button you can press that only rinses the toilet for a short time. Or it’s even possible to control the flushing time with a stop button. When you take a shower, turn off the water between lathering and rinsing. And choose to take a shower more often than a bath – a shower doesn’t waste as much water as a full bathtub does. Who knows, you might be able to convince your parents to buy some water aerators for the sinks and the shower. This can often reduce your water consumption by half.

Topsy has even more good news: You don’t have to wash up by hand! Using the right settings, a modern dishwasher uses less water, i.e. make sure it's well-filled before you use it.

Get cooking and help your family save energy – and money.

Brrr, it's getting a little chilly outside again! What better reason than to help Mom and Dad out in the warmth of the kitchen? And maybe you’ll learn how to make your favorite food.

By making small changes while you cook, you can save lots of energy – and not only help to protect the environment but also your parents’ wallets. For example, by putting the lid on a pan you can reduce energy consumption by nearly a half (40 percent). Another trick: turn the stove off before your food is ready. It’ll stay warm for a while after you switch it off. You’ll save even more energy if you boil up your water in the kettle first before cooking. By doing so, you’ll be reducing your energy consumption again by half.

However, in the kitchen there is another appliance that uses up more energy than the stove: the oven. Of course, nobody wants to go without their favorite cakes and cookies. The good news is that you can even save energy when you bake. You can do this by not preheating your oven or only preheating it for a little while beforehand. And if you choose the fan function, you can reduce the oven temperature – and reduce your energy consumption by 15 percent.

How you can ensure cleanliness and safety with an old tin can.

When you dig in a sandbox, you’ll always make a discovery. Unfortunately, you mostly find litter and cigarette stubs, discarded there by parents and young people while the kids play in the playground.

When these stubs are dropped on the ground, they are not only dangerous for the little adventurers who could perhaps pick them up. When it rains, the toxins even seep out of the cigarette butts into the groundwater. And a filter cigarette contains a whole cocktail of poisons. Researchers have proven that it only takes a few cigarette butts in the water to harm the fish. One cigarette contaminates up to 60 liters of water!

Fear not, Topsy has a solution for this problem: Take two empty tin cans and write “Litter” on one and “Ashtray” on the other. You can even decorate the cans if you like. Place them in an obvious place at the playground and you’ll be helping the other kids stay safe and clean while they play.

Can you manage to fit all your washing on the drying rack?

“Put it in the wash!” is something you’ll hear almost every day in the height of summer. T-shirt after t-shirt is added to the pile of washing. To dry washing quicker, more and more families are using a dryer. This saves them time but uses up electricity.

To avoid this, Topsy suggests hanging your washing outside on the washing line in summer. Just like they did back in the day. This preserves the material of your clothing and saves an enormous amount of energy. How about helping your parents put the washing outside in the sunshine?

In cooler periods of the year, you can put your washing on a drying rack in your apartment – or even outside. It is thus important to spin your clothes in the washing machine so that they come out as dry as possible.

Prevent your flowers from withering – without wasting water.

The hotter the temperature, the thirstier we get – and so do our plants. Want to quench their thirst?

Many people spray them for hours with their garden hose. After a period of hot summer days, this can even cause the groundwater level to sink.

Topsy has a handy tip for those hot summer days. He always puts a large bucket in the garden. If it rains, the bucket fills up with water, which the clever little fox can then use to water his flowers, fruit and vegetables – without wasting fresh water. Yet more effective at collecting water is a water barrel.

But when should you water the plants? Take note: never at midday. At this time of day, the sun shines so strongly that you’ll essentially be scalding the leaves by spraying them with water. If you want to give your plants a real treat, get up early and water them when the ground is still cold – and the water will hardly evaporate. Watering them in the evening is also not ideal because it could lure the snails out.

A train journey is much more environmentally friendly than hopping in the car.

“Those with a brain, travel by train!” Is that just a slogan?

No it’s not, seeing as our streets are getting more and more crowded. Where in one place cars zoom around the streets, there’ll be a traffic jam somewhere else. Perhaps worst of all, the exhaust gases from the cars pollute the air.

A car that travels 100 kilometers – for example, from Lucerne to Zurich and back again – uses up nine liters of fuel. The same distance traveled by train only uses up one liter of fuel. As well as this, train travel causes less dust and emits significantly less CO2, the gas responsible for climate change.

The SBB states that Swiss trains only take up four percent of the energy used by traffic on the roads. Therefore, Topsy recommends you to take the train more often than the car.

Support the bees – because honey makes the world go 'round.

Bees delight all sweet tooths with their honey. And these busy little critters tirelessly pollinate the plants to allow them to flower. Without bees, the majority of fruit and vegetables would never reach your plate.

However, in recent years, more and more of our black and yellow-striped friends have perished. For example, because of insecticide used in farming and even in gardens to combat pests. On top of this, it’s also becoming increasingly difficult for bees to find food in the wild because of the dwindling number of flowering meadows and hedges.

Even if Topsy doesn’t like getting stung by a bee, he sure loves honey!  Do as Topsy does: Put food jars in your garden, on the balcony or on the window ledge for the bees. Plant a variety of wild flowers in buckets or flower boxes because bees love variety. They particularly love big pots of poppies, herbs and raspberry plants. By this simple action, you can help nature blossom!

And help prevent our planet from being littered with plastic.

Have you heard of the newest continent on planet Earth? So much plastic waste floats around in our largest oceans that it builds up into huge islands of garbage. Scientists estimate that the biggest of these islands could exceed the surface area of the whole of Europe.

These islands of plastic are far, far away but even our waste manages to find its way there through our streams and rivers, which ultimately lead to the sea. That’s why you should always sort your waste properly and not just throw it on the floor when you're out and about. Plastic waste is poisonous and life-threatening for animals and plants both on land and under water. And if fish eat the tiny pieces of plastic floating around the ocean, this rubbish can even end up on our dinner plates. So plastic waste is not just a problem – it is our problem.

To help you avoid using plastic bags for your mid-morning snack and having to throw them away afterwards, Topsy has a gift for all you young environmentalists out there. For transferring money into your account, you can get a lunch box made of natural bamboo. Subject to availability.

Why turning a device off sometimes isn't enough to save electricity.

Gaming consoles, TVs, computers – electronic devices are with us everywhere. They are great for playing on and having fun. But they also consume huge amounts of electricity. Unfortunately, this is still true when they're left on in stand-by mode. Did you know that almost 10 percent of a family's electricity consumption is due to gaming consoles, TVs and computers?

Good advice comes cheap: always make sure that your device is fully turned off and that there are no more lights showing anywhere. After switching off your TV using the remote control, you should press the main power switch as well, for example. For some devices, the easiest thing to do is to pull out the plug completely. Topsy has one more tip for you: he likes spending entire afternoons without using any electricity at all, playing outside with his friends instead.

You can help your parents to save energy and money with your bedroom window.

If you like having a nice warm and cozy bedroom – but want fresh air at the same time, it's best to air your room briefly three times a day. Leave the window wide open for approximately five minutes, then close it again. This will replace all the air in your room. That's exactly what Topsy does in his tree house.

But it's not a good idea to leave windows half open in winter. This causes a lot of warmth, in other words energy, to be lost. Airing your room properly is a small step for you. But if everyone does the same, it will be a big help to the environment. Buildings are the highest energy consumers in Switzerland. And the greatest amount of energy is wasted in heating systems.

myclimate is your partner for effective climate protection – locally and globally. We help shape the future of our world with consulting services, education and climate protection projects. myclimate has established a successful, long-term partnership with UBS which is now being expanded and strengthened with a new component. As a provider of prize-winning training projects, myclimate will accompany Topsy and his friends throughout the environment year with commitment and expertise.