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Five Obvious Ways to Make Your Home Greener

Sometimes, I tend to forget that all of you haven’t been reading Green Your Decor since the beginning. I assume that you’re all pretty far along on your journeys toward a greener home, and I write with that underlying assumption in mind. Well, this post is for the people who may not be so far along. Who may be just starting out and wondering what to do first.

Here are five of the most obvious ways to green your home — some pricier than others.

Do Away with Toxic Cleaning Products

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You know that noxious smell that you have to contend with when using traditional cleaning products like bleach, ammonia and even some of your favorite brands? Well, consider that smell — and the accompanying dizziness or headache — to be a warning. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are not only toxic to the environment, but more importantly, your health.

Luckily, there are more and more non-toxic alternatives becoming available every day. For example, greener window and carpet cleaners tend to substitute grain alcohol in place of the toxic butyl cellosolve solvent.

The biggest advice? Read ingredient labels. If you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients, chances are you don’t want to use it in your home. Look for products that are Greenguard certified for indoor air quality, and look for specific brands, like Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronner’s, or Seventh Generation. Or invest in basic ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, lemons and borax, and make your own cleaners.

Update Your Appliances

When compared to the latest technology, older appliances typically consume more energy. Considering that appliances account for about 18% of your energy bill, it makes sense to upgrade to more efficient options if you can afford it.

The refrigerator, for example, uses a huge amount of energy day-to-day, and if yours is older than 10 years, it could be wasting tons of energy. If you can’t afford to replace your refrigerator, consider whether you could move it. If it’s in a spot in your kitchen that gets full sun throughout the day, it is forced to work harder to maintain cool temperatures inside.

Also, consider your dishwasher. Compared to past decades when dishwashers were considered a luxury appliance, technology has come a long way. Modern dishwashers consume much less water and energy than their predecessors, so it pays to upgrade. The same is true of your washer and dryer.

As expensive as this prospect may sound, understand that you’ll save more in the long run by doing away with old appliances that consume more power/water and going with more energy-efficient ones. Look for Energy Star certified appliances and the labels that show how much energy they will use.

Reduce Plastic Waste

Recycling these days is pretty commonplace, but here’s the thing: A lot of the plastic that your local recycling company collects actually never gets recycled. It gets shipped overseas to become someone else’s problem. Plus, not everyone makes the effort to recycle in the first place.

Your first step in this area should be to reduce your usage of plastic. Invest in reusable shopping bags and reusable water bottles. Stop buying disposable plastic plates, cups, and utensils and actually use those fancy ceramic dishes, glasses, and silverware that are stored away in your kitchen.

If you must use plastic — meaning you can’t find a viable alternative — double-check which types of plastic your recycling company will take. Some will take only bottles, but not other types of plastic containers. Once you know the rules, recycle everything that you can and try to reuse the rest.

Time to go Solar

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I fully acknowledge that this is a big, upfront investment. But if you can afford it, it’s an amazing green choice to make. Having solar panels installed for your home will undoubtedly save you money on electricity, and perhaps eliminate your bill altogether. In a few years, you’ll recoup your investment. Plus, there are two bonuses. Depending on your municipality, you may actually be able to make money for any extra electricity you send back into the grid. And you also may be able to qualify for tax breaks for making your home more energy-efficient.

Make Small Household Changes

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The changes you make don’t have to be huge, expensive, sweeping ones. There are small changes you can implement around the house and into your lifestyle that together will add up to a significant reduction of your impact on the environment:

  • Replace high-usage light bulbs with LED bulbs, which last a lot longer and use up to 80% less energy.
  • Turn off electronics that are not in use, perhaps by investing in smart power strips that will switch off your peripherals when you turn off your TV or computer
  • Ditch disposables in general. This includes paper towels. Use kitchen towels and even rags made from old clothes instead.
  • Consider every purchase. Do you really need something, or is it just a want? Do you already have something similar? What will happen to it when it’s no longer of use? Can it be reused, recycled or donated?
  • Shop secondhand. Yes, you can get modern, energy-efficient appliances from Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or a consignment store.

This is a small and by no means comprehensive list. This is just meant to get you thinking about what you can do to make your life greener.

Leave your questions in the comments below, and keep reading Green Your Decor for more tips and products to help you on your journey.

About Author

I am a graphic designer by trade who has a strong passion for interior design and doing what we can to protect the environment. This blog and my other site, Green & Gorgeous, are my ways of giving back to the Earth.

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