10 Ways to a Greener Home
There are tons of other ways to make your home more environmentally friendly:
1. Install an EZ Water Saver Kit in your bathroom. This involves replacing the showerhead, toilet flapper and faucet aerator, and the manufacturer says it can cut down on water use by 50 percent.
2. Replace bug spray with natural products. Ants can be deterred with dried peppermint, borax or chili pepper. For cockroaches, sprinkle borax behind light switches, under sinks and in the back of cabinets. Use cedar chips to drive away moths.
3. Convert to energy-efficient light bulbs, available in most home improvement stores. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs use less energy and have much longer shelf lives than incandescent bulbs. CFLs can often be used anywhere incandescent bulbs are used (as in overhead lighting and in lamps). LEDs are often used for more directional lighting (spotlights, reading lights, etc.). One note on CFLs: they do contain a small amount of mercury, so careful handling should be a priority. CFLs should also be properly recycled, not simply thrown away.
4. Teach your children (and in some cases, spouses!) to turn off the lights when they leave a room. By cutting back on electricity, you reduce the harmful byproducts like sulfur dioxide, carbon and mercury emissions and save money, too!
5. Install a programmable thermostat. As summer approaches, air conditioning usage will rise with the thermometer. A programmable thermostat can help reduce some of that usage by automatically cutting back on the a/c when we need it least, such as at night.
6. Clean the house with natural products. Baking soda cleans, deodorizes and scours. White vinegar can cut grease and remove mildew. Borax is said to deodorize and get rid of stains. Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits, as well as for shining brass and copper. Don't like the smell of vinegar? Use tea tree or citrus oils to freshen up the air.
7. Consider Energy Star appliances. They will guide you in making your home more energy efficient. If you have five minutes and 12 months of utility bills, go online (www.energystar.gov) to compare your home's energy efficiency and get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements.
8. Sleep soundly and organically. Organic sheets and blankets, made from dye-free and pesticide-free cotton (and even bamboo!) help make the bedrooms green. After all, we spend an estimated third of our life sleeping!
9. Renovating your kitchen? Even countertops can be more environmentally friendly when they incorporate solid-paper composites. PaperStone and Richlite are two companies that offer these products. Richlite uses pulp from managed forests and PaperStone uses up to 100 percent of recycled paper pulp. And Origins countertops are made of 100 percent recycled plastics.
10. Use Eco-Friendly Tissue: Green Forest unscented bathroom tissue is made from 100 percent recycled paper, whitened without harmful chlorine. They produce several environmentally-friendly household paper products that are available in grocery stores throughout the United States.
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Erika Edwards is a Charlotte freelance writer and mom.