If you want to get your home looking great while reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll have to think well beyond tossing a few things in the recycling bin from time to time. Getting serious about getting green means that you have to re-think every part of your home life. You can start with these tips:
1) Look for alternative cleaning products.
Experts agree that indoor air quality in homes is often several times worse than outdoor air quality in even very polluted cities. The culprits often come down to harsh cleaning chemicals, toxic air fresheners, and mold. To find out the facts, check out this site. If you want to make changes in your home, start by letting in some fresh air – literally. Airing out your apartment or house, even in winter, can improve your air quality. Switching to more natural cleaning products is a big help, too (and it will save you money). This site has a number of recipes for making your own home cleaning products.
2) Watch what you consume.
What you buy and eat has a huge impact on the world around you. Before you bring something into your home, consider what impact it has on the environment – and on you. Is that paint you plan to use on the dining room going to emit VOCs? Is the rug you are thinking about for the bedroom made from synthetic materials in a toxic process? Do your research before you buy and consider natural fibers and products for your home.
3) Recycle last – focus on reducing and reusing.
Recycling’s great, but it also uses a lot of energy. Taking your recyclables to the depot means big gas-guzzling trucks and the recycling process itself can mean more emissions. When you can, re-use products and switch from disposable to re-usable products. Using cloths rather than paper towels to wipe your counters, for example, is a great choice. To get more tips, visit the EPA website here. The site has a number of useful tips for reducing, re-using, composing, and recycling.
4) Consider downsizing.
A smaller home means less space to heat and that means less energy used. If moving is not in the cards, at least make sure that you use your space efficiently. This blog has an interesting story about one family that tried downsizing their home to reduce their carbon footprint.
5) Look at alternative energy.
Solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy options can be a way to power and heat your home with less stress on the environment. Depending on where you live, switching to greener energy options can also mean tax credits or other benefits. If you want a more detailed break-down of various options, the TechCrunch site here has a great post about the subject. Changing to an alternative energy option is an investment, so you may want to try getting rid of fossil-fuel-burning furnaces first and focus on reducing the energy you do use while you save up for a bigger change. Using a timer on your thermostat or dialing down your thermostat a few degrees (and maybe wearing sweaters indoors) can make a big impact.
6) Grow a garden.
What you eat has a big impact on the environment. All the food you eat has to be transported on trucks and planes – and that means lots of emissions. Meat production can have an even more dire impact on the environment, according to some experts. Growing some of your own vegetables and herbs can make your home life greener, and focusing more on plant-based foods can also be beneficial for the environment. Actress Alicia Silverstone has an interesting blog about green topics and healthy eating. You can check it out here. Keep in mind, too, that growing plants in your home is beneficial for indoor air quality because plants produce oxygen. You might want to take some plants into your home – not only does it make great décor sense, it can actually make your home healthier and greener.
7) Make your home efficient.
If heat is escaping through your windows and doors or your appliances are using extra electricity, it doesn’t matter how much you try to reduce and re-use and recycle. Go through your home and check to see whether there are any drafts. Call in a professional inspector who can tell you whether your roof needs work. If new windows and doors are too much of an investment, use window foil and other means to trap heat inside. Don’t forget to check out your appliances. Replacing older appliances with Energy Star appliances can mean you use less energy and make your home more eco-friendly. To find out more about the Energy Star program and possible tax credits, visit the Energy Star site here.
Even if you’re not an eco-warrior, making your home greener just makes sense. The changes you need to make to make your home more environmentally-conscious also tend to make your home safer and tend to save you money, so it really is a win-win situation all around. A green home is always a stylish home.