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For my day job, I get to educate museums about sustainability. If that term is confusing, my favorite definition is ‘to live on the earth like we intend to stay’. Basically, sustainability is about finding ways to promote economic prosperity and social justice while also ensuring environmental resilience. We need to take care of our planet so future generations can enjoy the same (or better) quality of life we do. Because I think about these topics on a daily basis, I figured it was about time to share some of the things I’ve learned. With earth month just around the corner, I wanted to introduce some simple things you can do this weekend to create a more eco friendly house. Here are 12 easy-to-do things to be more green at home.
12 Ways to Create an Eco Friendly House
1. Start Composting
What do you do with all your food scraps, onion peels, carrot tops, and egg shells? I’m sure you throw them in the trash. It is actually super easy to start a compost pile in your backyard or buy a compost bin. Here is a great resource for how to compost and the different types of bins. The benefits of composting include: less trash in the landfill, and creating excellent soil right in your own back yard.
2. Stop the Energy Vampires
Even though your computer is asleep and your microwave is not heating up yesterday’s leftovers, they are still using energy. We call these ‘energy vampires’. You can save a lot of energy by unplugging appliances that aren’t in use. You can also switch to Energy Star-qualified appliances when you need to buy a new appliance. Even if they cost more now, they will still save you money in the long run on your energy bill. For more energy savings, check out energy.gov.
3. Buy Eco-Friendly Beauty and Personal Care Products
There are a lot of benefits to using eco-friendly beauty and personal care products. First, many of them are chemical free. Conventionally produced ingredients can be bad for the environment, whereas natural health and beauty products means fewer chemicals are entering the air and water. Also, eco-friendly products are better for your skin and health. You’re less likely to have skin or allergic reactions to natural products because they are free of chemicals, artificial colors, and fillers.
If you’re interested in finding the environmental and health impacts of products, you should check out the EWG, which rates products. I’m quite new to buying products that are eco-friendly, but now that I have kids, it’s become more of a priority for me. Not only do I want to ensure the products are good for our health, I want them to have the least environmental impact possible.
I’ve always bought my kids organic soaps and body washes to ensure they aren’t ingesting extra chemicals, but I never thought much about what toothpaste I purchased, until I learned about Tom’s of Maine. I was excited about this product because it is made up of biodegradable and mineral-derived ingredients that are free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. It is safe for everyday use and is safe on enamel. You can purchase Tom’s of Maine new Luminous White™ whitening toothpaste in the toothpaste aisle at your local Walmart store. Plus, you can save 75 cents off the Tom’s of Maine® Luminous White Toothpaste with this Ibotta offer.
4. Don’t Heat/Cool an Empty House
If no one is home, turn the heat/air down/up. You do not need to heat and cool your home if no one is there. To make it even easier, you can upgrade to a programmable thermostat. In the summer, we try to keep our air conditioning in the high 70s to 80. In the winter, we hardly have to turn our heat on, but if we do, we keep it around 68.
5. Recycle (duh)
If you’re not recycling, please start. It’s a good habit to instill in your kids and you’re also helping to keep our planet from being taken over by trash. Seriously, I’ve visited countries with poor (or no) recycling and it is frightening the amount of trash I’ve seen. You can make it easy for yourself by buying a dedicated bin or bins for recycling. In my own house, once I bought two cans, one for recycling and one for trash, I was amazed how quickly I adapted and just how much I didn’t have to throw in the trash anymore.
6. Use Cloth or Canvas Shopping Bags
I have to admit, I’m not great at remembering to bring the bags with me to the store. A great tip is to put them in your trunk or back seat, so you can grab them any time you run to the store. I also carry a small, packable reusable bag in my purse (it’s really small!), so I always have one with me.
7. Buy Houseplants
Did you know houseplants are good for you? They reduce carbon dioxide levels, increase humidity, reduce some air pollutants and dust levels and also help to keep the air temperature down. Plus, seeing green plants even brings us joy, so get some! If you kill every plant that enters your house like I do, you should look at plants that are hard to kill. Here’s a list of 12.
9. Install Water Savers
You can save a lot of water by installing low-flow toilets and shower heads. Plus, they aren’t nearly as expensive as you might think and you’ll save a ton of water.
10. Repair Leaks
If you have a leaky faucet or any plumbing leaks, you could be causing damage to your home and wasting water, which costs you more money. Make sure to fix leaks as soon as you find them.
11. Only Wash Full Loads
Another way to save water is to run the clothes washer or dishwasher with full loads.
12. Stop Buying Plastic Bottles
It takes 24 gallons of water to make 1 pound of plastic! That’s insane. We all need to use less plastic and an easy way to do that is by carrying around a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. If you hate the taste of your water at home, buy one of those filter attachments for your faucet or buy a water pitcher with a filter.
13. Invest in CFL Bulbs (LED is even better!)
CFL bulbs might seem expensive, but they last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. In the long-run, they will actually save you money.
14. Use Chemical-Free Cleaning Products
We are exposed to a lot of chemicals every day, so why not try to cut back? Plus, it’s good for the environment not to dump more chemicals down the drain or into the landfill. There are lots of homemade cleaning agents like vinegar, baking soda, and borax. Here’s a list of 27 DIY recipes for home cleaning.
15. Use Less Paper
There are tons of ways you can save paper. You can pay your bills online, buy e-books instead of purchasing paper books, cancel your newspaper subscription and read it online, use cloth napkins instead of paper ones, file your taxes online instead of printing them out. All of these little changes will save a ton of paper in the long run.
16. Plant Drought-Tolerant Vegetation
Planting drought-tolerant plants instead of grass saves a ton of water. Plus, then you don’t have to water and cut your grass. If you’re looking for other ways to save water, here’s a list of 25 ways to save water at home.
I hope you will try some (or all!) of these simple ways to create an eco friendly house. What tips did I miss that you’re already doing?