If you want to take steps to live in a more eco-friendly way, here are some of my favorite tips for living green at home:
- Cut down on the waste you produce. You know the saying “reduce, reuse, and recycle”? Living green means putting these words into daily practice. Use a service like 41Pounds.org to help you stop junk mail. Buy in bulk when possible to cut down on packaging. Learn how to compost. Eliminate the use of items such as paper towels (replace these with dish towels you can throw in the laundry and re-use). Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. If you are having company and you are more comfortable using disposable plates, look for those that are biodegradable and can be added to your compost.
- Use natural products instead of those that contain potentially toxic chemicals. A good place to get started with this live greener tip is in your kitchen and bathroom, with your household cleaners and body care products. It is easy to make the switch to eco-friendly cleaning products made from naturally-derived ingredients. A few of my favorite brands are Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, and Method, and there are many other excellent natural brands on the market- these products work just as well as those made with harsh synthetic chemicals, but they won’t damage your health or the planet. As an alternative to purchasing products like these, you can make your own homemade cleaners. Body care products can also be a source of toxins in the home. Please see healthy body care for more information.
- Reconsider your carpets. Carpets are manufactured with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), unhealthy chemicals which can “outgas” for years to come. This fact, combined with the reality that carpets trap dirt and allergens, means that avoiding them, if possible, is one of my tips for living green. If you really want carpet, look for one that is more environmentally friendly and is made with either recycled materials or from wool, and that uses a low-VOC adhesive. Low VOC carpet tiles such as FLOR by Interface are another good option.
- Use non-toxic paint. More and more companies are offering non or low-VOC alternatives. Benjamin Moore Aura offers excellent wall coverage in just one coat, has minimal odor, and is low in VOCs. We used it on many of our walls and found it to be a very good product. Milk paint is another option (see www.realmilkpaint.com and www.milkpaint.com.) Eco Safety Products also makes several types of non-toxic paint.
- Make sure you have clean air in your home. And make sure it circulates well. Open windows to allow fresh air in whenever possible (or if you are in the city and do not have access to clean air, you may want to consider an air purifier). Keeping houseplants is another one of the best tips for living green.