Going green at home isn't just good for the earth, it's good for your health and your budget! Going green doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as using vinegar as a cleaning agent or buying food at the farmer's market. Most of us are aware of the popular ways to be more eco-friendly at home, including investing in energy-efficient appliances and LED lights. But there are plenty of small and significant changes you can make before you buy a new refrigerator. Here are ten unexpected ways you can go green at home.
1. Invest in Reusable Containers
Today, it seems like everything we buy comes in a plastic container. Shampoo, ketchup, laundry detergent—you name it. Switching to reusable containers is easy and inexpensive. First, use what containers you already have. Glass food containers for things like salsa can be reused to store leftovers, while plastic containers can be repurposed into flower pots, among other innovative purposes.
2. Buy in Bulk
Now that you have some reusable containers in stock, it's time to buy in bulk. Many grocery stores now offer the option to buy in bulk, which actually saves you money in addition to using less plastic. Many products, such as rice and oats, are actually cheaper when purchased in bulk than in individual packages. This is also true for spices, coffee and snacks such as almonds and raisins. You can even buy bulk pet supplies online, making it easy to provide for your whole furry family. It's important to remember that the cost of a food product also includes the cost of the packaging, making buying in bulk a sustainable and financially-conscious choice.
3. Upgrade Cleaning Products
You want your home to be clean and green, but so many of the cleaning products you find on the market are full of toxic chemicals! Fortunately, there are several DIY options when it comes to making your cleaning more eco-friendly. Just make sure to do your research first, and avoid combining certain ingredients that may have adverse effects. If you are not interested in making your own, look for chemical-free cleaners that are effective for your home and better for the planet.
4. Build a Clothesline
Did you know that a clothes dryer is one of the most wasteful appliances in your house? Not only does it require large amounts of electricity, but toxic chemicals released through your drier vent can also contribute to air pollution. Whether you have a small patio in an urban area or a wide-open backyard to build a clothesline, you may want to consider skipping the dryer. Building a clothesline can be simple, and all you need is some rope and clothespins. While drying may take a bit longer than you're accustomed to, drying your clothes outside makes clothes last longer and smell better!
5. Buy Local
Most of us get our food at a grocery store. It's easy to pay little attention to where our food comes from, especially when it's already shiny and packed neatly for us to place in our grocery cart. However, most food products, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, travel thousands of miles before arriving at our store. Not only does this decrease their nutrient value and taste, but it also comes with a hefty environmental impact. While this may make dinner time convenient, it's not a very green option. If you're looking for ways to green your kitchen, start by buying local.
6. Get New Light Bulbs
It sounds simple, and we all are well associated with the benefits of LED lights. But did you know that changing our lights inside and outside our homes makes a huge difference in our electricity bill? If you have older ceiling lights, consider finding greener alternatives that are long-lasting. It's easy to change the light bulb in your desk lamp, but what about the lights in your hallway or ceiling fan? Consider upgrading more permanent lights as well, including lights on your front porch and any security lights in your garage.
7. Mend Old Clothes
Back in the day, everyone knew how to darn a sock. It's so tempting today to discard items as soon as they start showing any sign of wear. But most clothing items can be easily repaired with a bit of fabric and some time. If your favorite jeans have a rip, find a denim fabric of a similar color and patch them up! Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and it's time we take up a needle and thread to take care of the clothes we already own.
8. Go Thrifting
Shopping at thrift stores and antique shops is much greener than heading to the big-box store down the street. Depending on your location, you may be able to find thrift stores that have essentials like appliances, furniture and clothes, or second-hand shops that specialize in kitchenware or textiles. Do your research and bring a friend, thrifting is a fun way to make your home more eco-friendly, and maybe a bit more stylish too!
9. Plant Perennials
If you have an outdoor space at home, think about planting more perennials. Many flowers and shrubs that are available for pick-up at home improvement stores are sprayed with nasty chemicals, and often don't have a long life in your yard. If you're looking for a simple way to make your backyard a bit greener, buy native plants that can provide habitat for pollinators and local creatures. Not only are perennials beautiful, but they are also easier to care for than annuals.
10. Use Rain Barrels
Imagine how much water falls on your roof every single time it rains. Now imagine all that water running down the drain. We have the ability to capture so much rainwater, especially in areas with regular precipitation. This water can be used to irrigate plants outside, water our grass and indoor succulents. Investing in a rain barrel is a great way to use this resource. Rain barrels come in various sizes and styles, so you can easily customize them to fit your home.
Eco-Living Can Be Easy
Going green at home can be as simple as turning off the dryer. If you are looking for some unexpected ways to go green at home, try out some of these tips. Incorporating eco-friendly living into your house doesn't need to be pricey. Plant some perennials, go to the farmer's market and try fixing that hole in your favorite jacket before tossing it out. You may be surprised how painless it is to go green.