Decreasing your environmental footprint is not only the “cool” thing to do these days, but it is also extremely smart. Going green can be simple and quick! If you would like to save some money and make a better impact on our planet (and who doesn’t want to do that?), follow these tips for “greening” your home and garden.
- Make your own household cleaners. It takes basic ingredients — baking soda, distilled white vinegar, lemons, etc. — and little time. “According to a study at Virginia Tech, spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar right after one another is just as effective at killing germs as lung-irritating, stream-polluting chlorine bleach” (The Green Guide). Another effective green tip: use old rags and toothbrushes for wiping and scrubbing!
- Turn off the lights. Save some energy and lower your electric bill by turning the lights off in rooms that you aren’t in. Those under-cabinet lights can rack up dollars and cents on your electric bill, so if you aren’t in the kitchen, turn them off. And why not light candles for your evening meal instead of dining by overhead lighting? It will provide relaxation and mood lighting, which is great for the end of the day.
- Change your laundry habits. A great way to save our planet is to change our routines around how we do our laundry. Wash your clothes in cold water rather than hot (so you aren’t kicking your hot water heater into gear). Washing machines use 500 pounds of CO2 a year when run on hot water. Save your dryer’s energy, too, by hanging your clothes out to dry. Dryers produce 1,450 pounds of CO2 a year. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to hang your clothes outside. There are indoor drying racks available at big box stores everywhere. Hint: When you do use your clothes dryer, use your dryer sheets a couple of times. They work great the second time around, too!
- Start a compost pile. If you have a yard, you have space for compost. It doesn’t take a huge area to start one up. To contain it and keep it small, simply get some boards from the local hardware store and nail them together in a square or rectangle (whichever suits your yard best). What you put in your compost pile can range from lawn clippings to banana peels to watermelon rinds to weeds… anything that comes from the Earth can go right back to it while also providing you with great fertilizer!
- Clean or replace your furnace filter. This takes little time and can provide your home with better air quality. Plus, a dirty filter makes the furnace work a lot harder, which uses up more energy. For instructions on cleaning or replacing your furnace filter, click here.
- Try to avoid using plastics. Plastic is everywhere, but it is also made of a non-renewable resource, which is harmful to the environment. Use fabric totes at the grocery store rather than opting for those white plastic grocery bags. You’ll save clutter in your home, too! Choose refillable containers throughout your home that are made of glass, paper, or metal. Wrap foods in wax paper rather than plastic wrap. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. Many companies are trying to reduce their packaging materials, so we should support them for making the same decisions that we are!
Remember to think about the impact you will make on our planet when you make everyday choices. How we treat the environment now will determine the state of the environment for the next generation. When it comes to larger purchases, like appliances or renovations, keep in mind that spending more up front for energy-efficient materials will save you money in the long run.
What have you done in your home and garden to go green? Please comment and share!