Being eco-friendly isn’t just another buzz phrase for the 21st century. Planet Earth depends on us to make good choices for keeping it clean and sustainable for future generations. When you upgrade appliances and decor in your home or want to get it ready for sale, choose ecologically sound products that save energy and promote nature.
Build an outdoor deck with recycled clay tiles or wood — solid woods such as maple, oak, walnut, and teak are long-lasting and durable. Sustainable recycled materials are good for remodels, especially when they’re locally sourced. Stone, wood, thatch and clay are suitable building materials that help to reduce construction’s carbon footprint.
Antique emporiums and resale stores are great places to shop for your home, and you can choose styles to suit your personal tastes. Many older pieces of furniture were built without using staining chemicals and adhesive products. Buying from thrift, vintage and antique stores lets you show off a bit of the past while saving trees and other natural resources. Glassware, dishes, utensils, linens, textiles, tools, art and decor, and kitchen gadgets … they’re all reusable.
Build a coffee table with scrap wood. Turn glass jars into light fixtures. Find some red bricks to dress up the front flower beds. The possibilities are endless!
Energy-efficient lighting can reduce your electric bills by about $45 per year. It also reduces energy usage by about 5%. In the kitchen and bathrooms, replace traditional heat-producing incandescent bulbs with Energy Star bulbs. Because LEDs are easily available now, they’re more cost-effective than a few years ago.
There’s nothing like natural sunlight to brighten up your day. Open the shades and windows as often as possible for sunshine and fresh air. If you’re building onto the house, consider adding a skylight to let the sun and its heat stream in. Catching daylight instead of using electrical lighting lets you save on utility bills and reduce the use of generated power.
Volatile organic compounds are gasses that can negatively affect your health. Paints, furniture, carpet, household products, and other materials emit VOCs, so it’s best to choose items with low or no content. Many of today’s products come VOC-free.
- Aerosol sprays.
- Wood preservatives.
- Paints, thinners, and solvents.
- Disinfectants, cleansers, air fresheners, pesticides, and moth repellents.
- Hobby supplies, building materials, glues, markers, adhesives.
- Office equipment, toners, etc.
Water is a precious resource, especially during periods of drought. Fixing drain pipes, hose leaks and replacing leaky toilets is a given. But you can also install rain barrels outside to catch excess water for irrigating the lawn and garden. Although you should never drink rain barrel water … it’s full of chemicals and debris from roofing materials … you can cut your summer utility bills and reduce demand for non-potable water.
Lawn and Garden
Organic fertilizing products, such as compost, manure, grass, wood chips, and leaves break down naturally. With organic fertilizers, chemicals won’t seep into the soil and runoff into streams and rivers. Natural products are typically labeled with words like “slow-release” or “natural organic.”
Add some plants that repel mosquitos to your home’s flower beds. Marigolds, citronella, lemon balm, lavender, and catnip will keep the little buggers at bay. Add hardscaping and drought-resistant plants to reduce the amount of water your yard needs. Large shade trees improve air quality and keep your home cooler in the summer. Incorporating nature’s bounties into house decor is easy, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The best part is, you’ll be doing your part to reduce that carbon footprint, one step at a time.
Article by: Rose Stanford
Rose Stanford is a former real estate agent who enjoys fixing up and staging older homes. Her specialty is renovating backyards and patios.