Recycling is a concept that many people are aware is an eco-friendly practice. Often, they do not realize that there are simple steps that can play a part in preserving the natural landscape, cleaning the water, and reducing landfill waste. The tips cost little or no money to put into practice. ‘Going green’ does not have to be daunting, expensive, and challenging. Think more about having living an eco-friendly lifestyle–do simple chores like using eco-friendly products, doing eco-friendly cleaning, and reducing our energy consumption. These can all help immensely. Here are our top 10 tips for an eco-friendly home.
- Turn appliances and devices down or off. The easiest way to save on monthly bills and make the home greener is to make sure utilities are not used more than needed. As you leave a room, turn off the light. Open blinds and curtains as you rely on the sunlight to reduce electricity use.
Run washing machines and dishwashers only when there is a full load. The computer should be shut down and turned off at night. Small changes in air conditioning and heating can make a significant difference.
Savings quickly add up by increasing the thermostat setting three or four degrees in the winter and reducing it three or four degrees in the summer. Your body will adjust if you change the setting by one degree each day for three or four days. Adjust the temperature even more when not at home for additional energy efficiency.
- Change light bulbs. As well as making the most of natural light that floods through the windows, you should change incandescent bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs). They are available in many sizes, shapes, and colors. There is no white glare. The curly bulbs are no longer the only option.
Incandescent bulbs will soon be obsolete. Because they contain mercury, they must be disposed of properly at a recycling center. Educating kids of this fact is important. Switch a few bulbs at a time. Eventually, all bulbs in the home will be switched over. CFLs use approximately 75 percent less energy. They last ten times larger than incandescent bulbs.
- Have an energy audit for your home. Independent contractors and most utility companies offer energy audits. The inspection tells how and where energy is being wasted. Areas that lack insulation are pointed out. Following the suggestions may lead to a state or federal tax credit or rebate from the utility company.
Energy Star provides a do-it-yourself audit that takes five minutes if you have the last 12 utility bills. It will compare the energy efficiency of your home to similar homes throughout the country and make energy-saving home improvement recommendations.
- Shop locally, buy in bulk, and use cloth shopping bags. Eating habits and grocery shopping also use energy. The journey from farm to fork can be as much as 1500 miles. If possible, purchase food that is not transported from far away. Some stores carry produce from local farms.
The labels on vegetables and fruits tell where they were grown. Avoid foods that require a lot of packaging and buy in bulk. Buy from community supported agriculture, co-ops, or farmers markets whenever possible. Take cloth bags to the store. Plastic is a product of petroleum.
- Save water. Water is another energy source. A shut-off valve can be put on the shower that turns it off while shaving, shampooing, and showering. Equip all faucets and showerheads with water-saving nozzles. When brushing your teeth, turn off the water and teach kids to do likewise.
Wash clothes in cold water to reduce energy use and dry clothes on a clothesline or rack. Rea Gonzalez from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works says the majority of residential water consumption is done outdoors. The best means of saving water at your residence is to water lawns between ten o’clock at night and six o’clock in the morning at short intervals.
- Repurpose, recycle, and reuse items around the house. Things that can be repurposed, recycled, or reused include wreaths, refrigerators, shoes, cans, jars, and more. Buy everyone in the family a water bottle to refill instead of buying small bottled water.
An easy means of repurposing furniture is to give it a second career that serves a new purpose. Designers use the concept to add uniqueness and surprise to a room. Old broken glass dishes can be used to create an art mosaic or old doors can be turned into tables.
- Buy items that were used and donate items no longer wanted. Everything from building materials to clothing can be found at consignment shops and reuse centers. The used items are often just as good and are less expensive than new things.
Buy items that are reusable instead of disposable. Costs and waste are reduced. Little things add up. Take a cup and silverware to work instead of using disposable items. Repair and maintain products such as appliances, tires, and clothing so that they don’t have to be replaced or thrown out as often.
Share, rent, or borrow items that are not frequently used such as furniture, tools, and decorations. Your trash may be a treasure to someone else. Try donating or selling clothes, tools, or appliances you no longer want. Donated goods prevent usable goods going into landfills. They help those in need and the community. Tax benefits are sometimes available.
- Clear the air. Ban smoking in your home. Combat indoor air pollution by not allowing anyone to smoke in your house. Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals. Second-hand smoke can cause cancer.
Live plants in the house act as natural filters of the air. Some plants effectively absorb harmful pollutants that are emitted from electronic equipment, furniture, and carpets. Some of the best choices include palm trees, rubber plants, Boston ferns, and spider plants.
- Find harsh chemical alternatives. Harsh cleaners can pollute the environment and cause health problems. Chain stores and natural grocery stores have several brands of cleaning products that are biodegradable and non-toxic.
You can also make your own. Baking soda is a useful and cheap fungicide, polisher, scourer, and all-purpose cleaner. Citrus oils and tea tree oil are natural disinfectants. White vinegar and borax are excellent bowl cleaners.
Microfiber cloths attract dirt and allow you to skip using cleaning products. Damp cloths clean most ceramic, wood, brass, stainless steel, and glass surfaces. The cloths can be washed and reused.