Whether it’s out of concern for the environment or for a desire to live a more natural lifestyle, more people are making green decisions for their homes. In Gallup’s annual Environmental Poll (2008), 28 percent of Americans said they’ve made major changes to their lives to protect the environment, while 55 percent said they have made minor changes. The most common changes involve recycling, conserving fuel, using less electricity and making homes more energy efficient.
Another step people are taking is to buy eco-friendly or more natural products for their homes. A recent Yahoo “green living” survey found that 57 percent of respondents have made green purchases within the last six months.
There are simple and affordable steps you can take around the house that will help improve the environment of your home as well as the earth.
Step One: Understanding “Natural”
A growing number of companies have come out with “green” or “natural” products. But because these terms do not have regulated definitions or standards, it’s important to know what label claims mean when making buying decisions. For example, when The Clorox Company introduced its line of Green Works natural cleaners, it listed all ingredients on the label and defined what it means by natural: ingredients that are plant-based, biodegradable and not tested on animals. Check a company’s website and look for product reviews for more information about the products you want to buy to see if they live up to their claims.
Step Two: Take Simple Steps
You don’t have to give your home a top-to-bottom instant makeover. Take small steps to make your home more energy efficient and natural. Each one you take makes the next one easier. Here are some simple steps to get you started:
No running on empty. Load the dishwasher after every meal, but only turn it on when it’s totally full. Running several smaller loads instead of a full load wastes both water and energy.
Foil spills. Line the oven, broiler and burners with aluminum foil for easier (and less harsh) clean up.
Green cleaning. Use natural cleaning products made from plant-based ingredients.
Think” reuse!” Recycling is great, but it still consumes a lot of energy. Before you toss, ask yourself: “Is there anything else I can use this for?” (Storing toys, sorting change, craft projects, etc.)
Buy recycled. For paper product must-haves, purchase recycled, unbleached paper towels or napkins. Kitchen trash bags made from recycled materials are becoming more widely available as well.
Car smarts. Save water by cutting the number of times you wash the car each month, and make sure to turn off the faucet between rinses. And think twice before hopping in the car for a ride to the store. Try shopping once every one or two weeks instead of making multiple trips for just a few items. Limiting the number of trips helps save gas and money.
Step Three: Get the Family Involved
It’s easier to make changes in the household routines if everyone is on board. Talk about why you want to make these changes. Get feedback from the kids on what steps you can take together to make your home healthier and greener. Everyone can pitch in: have the kids help with online research and decisions about new products. Even the littlest ones can help sort the recycling.
Making your home a little greener will not just make you feel better about your home, it will make your home a better place to live.