Living Green for Beginners

light bulb

Taking small steps around the home to “go green” not only helps the planet, but can do much to simplify and enhance life at home. Greening the home can be economically rewarding, and can even help to protect the health of the entire household.

With more and more products entering the market that promise to help consumers go green, the first adage to remember is that buying nothing at all is usually better for the earth than buying green. Manufacturing and transporting all products – even recycled goods – takes resources. There are, of course, exceptions. Replacing energy-wasteful appliances can save money and energy in the long term.

Investing in compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) saves both energy and money. CFLs last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use about 75% less electricity. Check around the house to spot places where a little light will do. Replacing a 75-watt incandescent bulb with a 25-watt CFL can save up to $83 over the life of the bulb.

Other worthwhile purchases are power strips for all electronics with LEDs (light emitting diode). Those blinking LEDs are a sign that the electronics are using power even when turned off. Plug them into power strips, plug the power strip into a socket linked to a light switch, and flip the switch when the electronics are not in use – and save about $200 in energy costs each year.

The motto “recycle, reduce, reuse” is useful to keep in mind when shopping for the home. Buying recycled goods whenever possible reduces the drain on resources it takes to produce something new. Buying products made or grown close to home reduces the energy costs it takes to transport them. Buying secondhand products extends the life of existing goods.

Reusing products around the home can be the most creative and fun part about greening the home. Simple ideas include:

Glass food jars. These jars are useful for all sorts of storage. Single flowers in an assortment of small jars make a striking display.

Plastic containers. Cut the top off of a plastic milk jug to use as a scoop for kitty litter or birdseed. Plastic tubs are useful for nuts, bolts, etc.

Shower curtains. Save old shower curtains for messy projects: painting, bike repairs, and lining the trunk of the car.

Mesh produce bags. Ball them up for a disposable scrubber for pots and pans.

Coffee grounds. Used coffee grounds make great plant food for acid-loving plants such as azaleas. Coffee grounds can deactivate odors, too. Place some in the freezer to dispel smells.

Coffee cans. Remove the packaging from coffee cans for storage with classic, simple lines..

Consider going green with greens. Planting trees outside on the south and west sides of the home can save up to $250 a year on air conditioning costs. Landscaping with native plants will cut down on watering, as well as reducing the need for excessive fertilizer and pesticides. Growing plants inside can help rid the home of indoor air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde, while giving off oxygen. Pothos is an easy-to-grow choice for warmer climates. Ivies will grow easily in colder locations.

A few simple steps towards living greener at home can lead to a more rewarding, more enjoyable and a healthier life.

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