Sep 2, 2010

Ten tips for a cleaner, greener home!

I have heard many people refer to becoming green as a "hippie new trend" and I don't believe that's true.  We don't have to do everything green!  Though if we take some small steps around our home to reduce, reuse and recycle, we can be helping ourselves, the health and future of our families as well as helping the environment around us.  All it takes is a few small steps in our every day routine!  What can we do?

1. Paper towels are frequently used among households and used in many rooms of our houses.  U.S. households spend a lot of money on these super absorbent miracle cloths and we really don't need to.  They may seem necessary to us, but trees are being cut down at an alarming rate to provide us with paper products.  There are many other substitutes such as old torn up clothing for cleaning or purchasing a low cost set of super absorbent washable cloths for your home.  You can get sets of 4 or 5 for under $6 and help save trees by cutting down paper towel usage. 

2. Make your own cleaning supplies!  Ever wish you knew what went into your cleaners?  Well, now you can!  Making your own cleaning supplies is a great way to make your home greener.  Believe it or not, natural cleaners were used when our parents or grandparents were young.  Some of the "recipe" are tried and true.  They also don't pollute & save a lot of money!  You can make anything from Window Cleaner to Oven Cleaner to Laundry Detergent!

3. Reduce energy costs.  It's very common knowledge that appliances use a small amount of power even when they're plugged in and turned off.  However, if you have quite a few plugged in, as many americans do, you can save yourself 30% on your electric bill every month.  A great solution to this is to use power strips.  Plug appliances into the power strips and just switch them off when you aren't using them.  It may take some time and getting used to, but it can save you $300 a year. 

4. Use green bulbs.  Using energy efficient light bulbs has many advantages as well as being good for the environment.  You can cut out using a substantial amount of energy to light your home this way and can save yourself $20 a month on energy bills.  That's a few hundred a year!  Listening now?  Another advantage of these bulbs is that they last longer.  Meaning?  Well, meaning less and less end up in landfills.  They last 10x longer.

5. Recycle!  Hasn't everyone heard this one for years?  Well, it's true! Recycling has many benefits for the environment.  It saves wildlife, reduces water pollution, saves natural resources, saves energy and saves space in landfills.  If all the landfills get filled up, where do you think they'll make another??  Do you want it to be near you?  Just doing a small bit to recycle does a lot to help the environment.

6. Use disposable bags.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable therefore they can stay in landfills for years as well as cause harm to animals on land and sea.  Plastic bags are also pesky and don't hold enough!   

- Paper bags come from trees.  A lot of trees.  It makes a large negative impact on the planet to cut down the trees required to make these bags!

- Most disposable bags are made from recycled material.  They also hold more and at some stores, you can get a discount for using them!

Reason enough?

7. Compost.  Anyone can do this even if they live in an apartment.  Why do this? Again, less space in landfills, less methane that food waste produces and a better way to plant.  Composting can very much help your grass, plants and garden grow.  You'll be helping yourself, helping the environment and spending less money.

8. Reuse.  Use glass jars left over from grocery food items, plastic containers from butter, cottage cheese, yogurt or use bowls with plastic wrap or a plate over it!  You can also reuse kids paper scraps for future art projects or your own grocery lists.  Take a look around your house and see what you can reuse for other reasons.

9. If possible, sell the items you don't need.  You reduce clutter, find beloved items new homes as well as makes some extra household cash.  Don't just throw things away so they sit in landfills.

10. Wash clothes in cold water!  You don't necessarily NEED to use hot water to wash clothes unless you want to disinfect them and fight germs. (Which is only occasionally necessary.)  Using cold water saves a lot of energy and money.  The only exception is that I wash sheets, pillow cases and comforters in warm water.  They really do need germ fighting!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.