Green Your Home
Weather-stripping. A 1/8 inch gap between the front door’s threshold is the draft equivalent of having a two-inch hole in the wall. Home sealing (weather-stripping windows and doors) can reduce your energy bill by 10 percent, according to US Dept of Energy.
Let Clippings Lie. Yard waste, including bagged grass and clippings, eats up a full 20 percent of our diminishing landfill space. After you mow your lawn, leave the clippings behind. They nourish the soil and help keep moisture from evaporating, reducing waste, water use and the need for fertilizer.
Compost. Food and garden scraps make up 24 percent of the municipal solid waste system. Put these and other biodegradable materials – newspapers, paper bags, autumn leaves – to better use in the compost bin. See What is Compostable? later on this page.
Say yes to Convection. Because it continually circulates heated air, thereby reducing cooking time, a convection oven uses 20 percent less energy on average than a conventional oven.
Choose the Right Pan. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, using a six inch pan on an eight inch burner can waste more than 40% of the burner’s heat. Choose the correct size pan for the task at hand.
Maintain the Fridge. For maximum efficiency, clean the refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets to prevent cold air from escaping. (If you can slip a dollar bill out of the door’s seals when it’s closed, its time for new gaskets). If you purchased your fridge before 1993, consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model.
Use Glass Containers. Heated plastic containers can break down and leach chemicals into food. Reusable glass ones with lids are safer for you and the planet.
Compost. Put your scraps to good use. Composting not only reduces trash, but also provides nutrient rich material to feed your garden and houseplants.
Try Reusable Towels. Paper towels create waste… even if you stick to the recycled brands.
Dish Diligence. Turn your dishwasher on at night to avoid peak energy rates.
Use Greener Cleaners. Many chemicals in kitchen products – especially those with ammonia or chlorine bleach – have come under scrutiny for contributing to health problems. Consider nontoxic alternatives.
Heat Water with less Energy. Save energy by turning the thermostat on your water heater down five degrees.
Websites: www.energystar.gov explore energy efficient appliances options to update your refrigerator or dishwasher
www.cleanairgardening.com – for handy composting equipment
www.methodhome.com – for non-toxic cleaning products.
Trim your TV. The energy it takes to run your cable setup amounts to 410 pounds of carbon a year, whereas a satellite hookup cuts that number in half.
Opt for LCD. LCDs use 77 kilowatt hours per year compared with plasmas 441kwh. LCD will save 624 pounds of carbon each year and about $40 annually.
Set the Thermostat. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable when home. By resetting your programmable thermostat from 72 degrees to 65 degrees for eight hours a day (for instance, while no one is home or while everyone is tucked in bed) you can cut your heating bill by up to 10 percent.
Work the Drapes. Open them to let in heat and warmth. Close them to preserve cool and warmth.
Put your Ducts in Order. If your home has a heating and cooling duct system….Have it cleaned and then sprayed internally with a nontoxic polymer to seal leaks. Untreated duct systems typically waste 25 to 40 percent of the energy emitted by your furnace or air conditioner.
Use Sustainable Wood. If you need wood floors, make sure your lumber has the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. Wood certified by this independent nonprofit encourages ecologically and socially responsible forestry. In addition to preserving biodiversity, certification requires foresters to respect the rights of workers and indigenous communities.
Organic furniture – www.furniture.com
Home accents – www.bigdipperwaxworks.com
Stop leaks. If your tap drips at the rate of one drop per second, you might be wasting as much as 2,700 gallons of water a year. Simply replace the faucet’s washer.
Avoid PVC Shower curtains. Most shower curtains are made from polyvinyl-chloride or PVS, a plastic that release hormone-disrupting phthalates into the air. Look for non-vinyl; curtains instead.
Go Low Flow – replace pre 1992 showerheads with low flow models, which deliver 2.5 gallons or less per minute. If you’re not sure whether your showerhead is a low-flow type place a one gallon bucket under the shower, if it fills in 24 seconds or less, you need a new model. Aerated ones give the feeling of high pressure. To save even more water, shave a few minutes off your usual shower time.
Keep Air Fresh. A recent Natural Resources Defense Council investigation found that 12 of 14 common air fresheners, including those marked “all natural” or “unscented” contained hormone-disrupting chemicals – though you wouldn’t know it by reading the labels. Make your own natural spray using 30 to 40 drops of as many as three herbal oils – a lemon-lavender combo for example – – with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix the oils and spritz as needed.
Switch to Low flow or Dual flush Toilets. Whereas conventional toilets consumer 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, dual flush models use .8 to .9 gallons for fluids, and 1.25 to 1.6 gallons for solid waste. Purchase a new one at www.caromausa.com or convert your current toilet. www.dualflushtoilet.net
Find EcoTowels. Typical towels use conventional cotton, a crop that accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s insecticide use, including some of the planet’s most hazardous chemicals. Manufacturers also use dyes derived from petroleum in a highly polluting process that leaves chemicals gushing into waterways. Look for eco-friendlier organic cotton and bamboo towels made with plant-based or low impact dyes.
Use Recycled TP. If every family in the United States replaced one roll of conventional toilet paper with a roll of 100 percent recycled material, we’d save 423,900 trees.
Change Your Light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) burn cool and bright with one third of the power of incandescent bulbs. Start by replacing at least 5 high use bulbs such as those in the bathroom, for a meaningful environmental impact. If every American household made the change, we could prevent greenhouse emissions equivalent to taking 4 million cars off the road for a year. These bulbs cost more, but they last 10 times longer, saving money in the long run.
Sustainable towels. www.indikaorganics.com
Bathroom products. www.seventhgenertation.com
Low flow showerheads www.greendepot.com
Carpet Consciously. Fibers such as coir, jute and sisal offer biodegradable, nontoxic and renewable alternatives to chemical laden synthetic carpeting,
Install Better Windows. Single and even double pane clear glass windows can force heating and cooling systems to work overtime. Energy star qualified windows within insulating glazes and gall fills deliver the best results – as much as 2,200 pounds of emissions saved.
Turn off Lights. Two-thirds of all electricity used in the residential sector in the US powers lights and appliances. The annual carbon production amounts to 2.4 billion metric tons. A simple flick of the switch can make a huge difference.
Unplug Electronics. Computers, cell-phone chargers and other electronics continue to use power event when you turn them off. Nationally this creates the annual emissions equivalent to 17 power plants. Plug into a master power strip that you can turn off when appliances are not in use.
Wash more Efficiently. About 90 percent of the energy we use for a load of dirty clothes goes to heating the water. Doing a load of laundry in cold water saves energy and gets your clothes just as clean. To conserve water run the machine only when it is full.
Natural bedding – www.amenityhome.com
Laundry products – www.ecos.com
3 More Things You Can Do!
Get a Battery Charger. Americans buy about three billion dry cell (AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt) batteries a year, the majority for one time use. Use a rechargeable battery and you can prevent hundreds of single use ones from entering landfills.
Avoid Excess Packaging. Product packaging accounts for one-third of trash thrown away, and 15 percent of that comes from consumer items. Buy items in bulk (as opposed to individually wrapped), whenever possible, since bulk items often use less packaging. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “is the product I’m about to buy worth the eco costs of the packaging it comes in?”
Reject Junk Mail. Those catalogs, pre-approved credit card letters, and sales announcements that arrive in your mailbox create four million tons of waste each year. Just a day’s worth of our collective junk mail could heat 250,000 homes. Take your name off junk mail lists at: www.mailstopper.tonic.com.
What is Compostable? ( Source: SustainableBizness.com)
All Food: Fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, pasta, bread, cereal, cheese, eggshells, dairy products. Also: some meat, poultry, seafood and bones (it is best practice for meat scraps to be recycled through a renderer)
Wood Scraps and Food-soiled paper: Waxed cardboard, napkins, paper towels, paper plates and cups, paper milk cartons, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters, small wooden crates, sawdust, wood scraps, fiberboard, egg cartons. (Cardboard itself needs to be baled; wet paper, though, can be composted).
Plants: Floral trimmings, tree trimmings, leaves, grass, brush, weeds.
Green Plastics: Any green plastic that has been certified “COMPOSTABLE”.
(Beware: some green plastics which claim “Biodegradable” ARE NOT compostable)
Please go to any of the four certifiers listed below to identify which green plastics are COMPOSTABLE.
Any hydrocarbon plastic (#1-#6), Styrofoam, plastic straws, plastic wrap or bags or gloves; aluminum foil; glass; any metal: cans, bottle tops; any paper lined with plastic including “drink boxes” or aseptic packaging; liquids; any chemical, or hazardous waste, or container that once held chemicals.