Earth Day is less than 24 hours away and it’s a great time to get your house in shape and figure out ways to make your little corner of the world a little greener. Whether your new to low-impact living, or could write your own book on the subject, take a look at this list of home-greening tips and see if there’s a project you might want to tackle.
1. Dial down energy consumption
Keeping your thermostat in check is pretty common advice when it comes to lowering your energy consumption. For instance, setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees during the summer can save you 3 to 5 percent more energy than keeping the temp lower. Now is also a great time to put all your home electronics on power strips so you can shut your computer or stereo down completely when your not using it. Electronics plugged directly into a wall continue to draw trickles of power even when turned off, which wastes energy and cash. Curious about how much overall energy you use in your home? WatzzOn is a cool little web-based application that can help you figure it out.
2. What about our furry friends?
Don’t leave Fifi out of your Earth Day shape-up. The pet care industry is filled with eco-friendly products like organic dog biscuits and natural kitty litter. Of course, the number one earth-friendly thing you can do for the planet is to get your pet spayed or neutered. I know it’s tough to resist the urge to have mini versions of your beloved cat running around, but the responsible thing to do is not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. Make that appointment today, Fifi will understand.
3. Clean the house without holding your breath
If you’ve got a dozen bottle of harsh household cleaners under your kitchen sink, make a pledge to replace them with environmentally safe cleansers as they run out. You can buy them commercially from most big name grocery or retail stores, but if you really want to know what goes into the cleaners your using, just make your own.
4. Don’t forget the laundry room
Green blog Low Impact Living says a home’s washer and dryer can produce as much as 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year of use, so get in your laundry room and figure out how to cut that figure down. If you’re able to, start by drying your clothes on a clothesline. If that’s just too much of a time commitment, then see what you can do about your washing machine. Whenever possible, wash clothes in cold water. They’ll get just as clean, but without using extra energy to heat your wash water. If you’re really ambitious, you can even collect the grey water from your washing machine and use it to water plants and grass.
5. Waste not, want not – water, that is
Speaking of water, grab a two liter soda bottle, fill it with tap water and sink it into your toilet’s water tank. You’ll use less water in the bowl with every flush. Spend a few minutes installing low-flow shower heads and faucets for an even bigger water savings.
6. Funny-shaped light bulbs are no laughing matter
Replace all the light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs for a huge energy savings of up to 75 percent. The corkscrew bulb may look goofy and 23rd century, but who really sees them beneath a lampshade anyway, right?
7. Ditch the paper towels
It’s habit to grab a wad of paper towels to mop up kitchen spills, but maybe it’s time to cease and desist. Frugal living blogger Maya over at SimpleMom took the plunge and says she loves her completely paper-free kitchen. She relies exclusively on cloth towels and napkins that she washes regularly, so check out her system if you want to know more. Our own Susan Johnston took SKOY cleaning cloths for a test drive and says they work “just as well as – if not better than – a regular paper towel.” That’s all the convincing I need to give it a try.
8. Compost is your friend
After dinner, you’ve got to discard piles of vegetable peelings and other food-related detritus anyway, so why not drop it into a compost pile and use it on your garden or lawn? Composting drums are widely available, but if you want to show off your DIY chops, make your own bin instead.
9. How does your garden grow?
Use Earth Day as a nudge to start your own garden. Nothing beats fresh tomatoes and crunchy radishes in a salad and in fact, they’re on the list of the 10 easiest vegetables to grow at home. If you’re already rocking a great garden patch or don’t have the space to get your garden groove on, how about a little vertical planting instead? The setup requires little to no soil and will make just about any bare wall look really awesome.
10. Green up your home office
If you work from home, you’re already making great strides toward a more positive impact on the planet – no air-polluting commutes, for instance – but are there ways you can improve your home office even further? Probably. The same power strips you used for your home electronics are perfect for your home office. Add your computer, monitor, router, printer, even your electric pencil sharpener to one and shut everything off at the end of your workday. Look around for eco-friendly accessories for your must have gadgets and cell phone. For instance, Hypercel makes a line of smartphone cases designed to extend the battery life of your favorite devices so fewer used batteries end up in our landfills (plus the company has great in-house recycling policies). For a comprehensive look at all the ways you can green your home office, don’t miss Planet Green’s Work From Home Guide.
How will you get your house into shape for Earth Day? Share your tips in the comments below.