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17 Ways To a Green Home

17 Ways To a Green Home

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. You’re wearing green — but is your house “green” too? Here are 17 simple ways to go green on the homefront (which will be good for the environment as well as your conscience). Go ahead, throw Mother Earth a little Luck o’ the Irish!

  1. Get with the program. A programmable thermostat will help you gain greater control of your home’s indoor climate — and greatly improve energy efficiency. “Don’t set too high in winter, or too low in summer,” advises clean-energy consultant Michael A. Nardi, Ph.D, president of Greentech Consulting.
  2. Enlighten yourself. “Switch your lightbulbs to CFLs,” suggests Michael Marx, Ph.D, a board-certified naturopathic immunologist. CFLs — aka compact fluorescent lamps — use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and curb carbon emissions.
  3. Have a paint party. “Use healthier interior paint with zero or low volatile organic compounds,” says Nardi. Reducing VOCs will improve indoor air quality — and therefore your health.
  4. Buy produce from the local farmer’s market. Eating local means you’ll help maintain farmland and open space in your community. Plus, you’ll reduce global warming, since the average fresh food item on an American dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. “Try to buy food derived less than 100 miles away, and learn more about the benefits of eating locally,” suggests Marx.
  5. Strip down. Weather-stripping doors will make your home feel warmer — and save you 10 to 15 percent on your energy bills, according to Nardi.
  6. Open the windows! “Unless you live in a very highly contaminated area, opening the windows will help in improving the indoor air quality,” says Luz Claudio, professor of preventive medicine and environmental health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. “Generally, pollutants released by paints, plastics, glues and other items inside the home tend to concentrate in the indoor air. Letting fresh air in by opening the windows can help reduce this problem.”
  7. Stop using disposable bags. The Sierra Club estimates that almost 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. each year, and only 1 to 3 percent are recycled. “Order some reusable bags and use them to help save the environment,” says Marx. “Or, make your own — they’re insanely easy.” Find more recycling tips here.
  8. Get insulated. Insulate your home, attic and walls to reduce the amount of energy you use, and invest in energy-efficient windows. “Rebates are often offered by government agencies and utilities for home insulation to support energy efficiency,” says Nardi.
  9. Plant an indoor herb garden.“It’s good to have a reminder around of where our food originates, and this one is super easy,” says Marx. Plus, most store-bought herbs are packaged in manmade materials such as plastic and cardboard, so you’ll be cutting that out of the equation. You’ll also be reducing the carbon emissions and waste created by shipping and packaging herbs.
  10. Get thrifty. “Decorate with repurposed goods bought at secondhand shops instead of buying retail,” suggests Nardi.This will reduce your carbon footprint, since the majority of home goods on department-store shelves traveled thousands of miles to get to the store, using up energy and polluting the environment with coal and natural gas along the way.
  11. Purchase energy-efficient appliances. “These are a bit more expensive, but often rebates and tax credits are offered which can offset the cost,” Nardi says. Buying ENERGY STAR appliances saves up to 30 percent on electricity bills. Bonus!
  12. Go with the flow. “Install an aerator on faucets, and [look for] low-flow plumbing fixtures such as faucets, showerheads and toilets,” suggests Nardi. This can significantly reduce water use — as well as the energy needed to heat it.
  13. Drink non-bottled water. According to the Ocean Conservatory, plastic bottles are one of the most prevalent forms of pollution found in our oceans — so buy an inexpensive reusable water bottle, and stop buying disposable bottles. Need more inspiration? “Watch The Story of Bottled Water, a short movie about the bottled water phenomena,” Marx suggests.
  14. Get floored. According to EPA studies, pollutant levels can be two to five times higher indoorsthan they are outside. Sustainable flooring options can minimize indoor pollution and mitigate health problems caused by toxic flooring. “Invest in carpets made from recycled materials and/or flooring made from bamboo,” says Nardi.
  15. Switch to cloth diapers. Or at least do a combination with disposables. “Even one cloth diaper per day means 365 fewer disposables in the landfill each year,” notes Marx.
  16. Make a good counterpoint. “Consider [getting] eco-friendly countertops made from recycled glass such as Vetrazzo,” Nardi suggests. This reduces energy use because making a product from recycled material typically requires less energy than fabricating one from raw materials.
  17. Buy “green” cleaning products. Standard household cleaners often contain toxic chemicals that are bad for you and the environment, so look for products that are tough on dirt but kind to the climate. Or use natural cleaning productssuch as lemons, baking soda and vinegar.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.