Global warming, soaring energy costs, and other environmental concerns are front-page news, and eco-friendly living means conserving natural resources whenever and however we can. It also means making some lifestyle changes to help save the planet. But the good news is that these changes will help keep your family healthy, and they don’t need to cost a lot - in either money or time. Experts say that simple changes in your everyday life are all it takes to make your home a healthier, safer, and greener place to be.
Simple Step #1: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Compost kitchen scraps:
Eggshells, tea leaves, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings… any organic matter can find a home in a compost pile or bin. Mix with yard trimmings and add water to produce a nutritious soil enhancer, and do your part to reduce landfill waste.
Use durable goods:
Ditch disposable razors for reusable ones. Swap plastic cups and paper plates for ceramic ones. Choose glass food containers over plastic ones. Choose rechargeable batteries over the conventional single-use kind.
Buy recycled products:
Look on labels for products - like writing paper and toilet tissue - with the greatest percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Choose food items like cereals and crackers packaged in recycled cardboard.
Recycle household goods:
Donate used toys to a worthy organization, or start a toy library in your community, rather than tossing them in the trash. Host a clothing swap for grown-ups, and set up a kids’ clothing exchange. Do the same with books.
Simple Step #2: Save Energy
Switch to energy-saving light bulbs:
These bulbs use just a quarter of the electricity of regular incandescent bulbs, and last up to 10 times longer.
Set cooling and heating temperatures correctly:
Your refrigerator and freezer are probably the biggest electrical energy consumers in your house. Take steps to make sure they’re not working harder than necessary. Fridges do their job at around 37 °F (2 °C). Freezers set at -3 °F (-19.44 °C) keep things nice and frosty. Be sure to close the fridge and freezer doors. Leaving them open for just a few extra seconds wastes a lot of energy.
Electronic appliances, including TVs, computers, and CD players can consume almost as much energy when in standby mode as they do during the small amount of time they’re being used. Turn off electronics when not in use
Use appliances efficiently:
Wait for a full load before turning on the washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher. Air-dry clothes when weather allows. Preheat your oven only when necessary.
Let the sun shine:
The cheapest and most environmentally sound heat and light source is just outside your window. Open blinds, drapes, and shutters to let solar energy warm and brighten your home naturally.
Save water: Plug, insulate, replace, repair, caulk, or seal to make your home as leakproof as possible - and watch your utility bills drop. Taking a quick shower uses about half as much water as a full average bath.
Simple Step #3: Avoid Toxin Exposure
Choose non-toxic cleaners:
Find eco-friendly alternatives to harsh chemical cleaners, which can cause health problems and pollute the environment as well.
Use cloths instead of cleaners:
Skip the cleaning products altogether and switch to micro fiber cloths designed to attract dirt on their own. Used damp, the cloths clean most surfaces like glass, stainless steel, brass, wood, and ceramics. When dry, they give off a natural positive charge, which attracts dust.
Throw out the bug spray:
Instead of using insect repellents or pesticides, keep insects out by sealing cracks and holes around doors, windowsills, and baseboards. Keep food stored away, with kitchen and eating areas as clean as possible.
Dispose chemicals properly:
Inside nearly every household lurks harmful substances like old paint cans, used motor oil, garden pesticides, used batteries, old computers or electronics, or harsh cleaning chemicals. If you dump this noxious stuff down the drain, you’ll pollute the water supply. And if you dispose of it in landfills, they’ll leak dangerous chemicals. Instead, do some research to find the best way to dispose of the toxic waste in your home.
Simple Step #4: Clear the Air
The number one way to combat indoor air pollution is to never let anyone smoke in your home. Cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals, and secondhand smoke exposure can cause cancer.
Grow plants indoors:
Live plants around your home act as natural air filters, and some plants are particularly effective absorbers of harmful pollutants emitted from carpets, furniture, and electronic equipment. So clean your indoor air and “green” your living space by filling your home with plants.