Think you need a lot of time or money to have a meaningful impact on greening your home? Think again! Whether you’re already living green, or just starting to make some changes, here are 10 quick tips you can implement now for a greener, healthier home.
- Buy bulk. Buying from the bulk section saves on packaging, and is often cheaper than the packaged version. Skip the plastic baggie and bring your own reusable container (i.e. Tupperware or glass jars) – have the cashier weigh it before the first filling, and write it on a sticker on the jar lid to save time on future shops.
- Eat local, eat organic. Eating local reduces how much your food has to travel to get to your plate, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also means getting fresh, in-season food while supporting your local farmer. Organic food is usually more expensive than conventional, but is better for you and the environment. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce to prioritize which fruits and vegetables to buy organic.
- Avoid single-serve products. Snack packs, portion control packs, single-serve yogurts… all of these add significant excess waste. Separate into single-serving sizes at home in reusable containers instead. For coffee lovers, pick up reusable pods or filter basket instead of disposables.
- Say no to junkmail. Add a “no junk mail” sign to your mailbox (in Canada Post community boxes too) or call specific companies and request you be removed from their mailing lists. Worried about missing out on deals and sales? Check out the Flipp app and get your favourite flyers to your smartphone!
- Ditch the paper towel. Before reaching for the paper towel, grab a rag or cloth instead. Keep extra cloths under your sink to mop up spills and use cloth napkins – wash them only when needed to save on water, they likely don’t need to be washed after each use.
- Add cloth to your dry mop. Single use cleaning pads and dusters are wasteful. Look for reusable microfiber versions instead to reduce waste and save money without giving up on performance.
- Wash in cold water. Most laundry will clean up just fine in cold water, without needing special detergent (though liquid will likely work better than powder). Save warm water washing for tough stains only, and save on heating energy.
- Skip the fabric softeners. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets not only add pollutants to the water and waste to landfills, but they also contain chemicals known to be allergens, cause asthma, and even carcinogens. Try adding ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle if static is a concern, or use wool dryer balls. Even better – hang your clothes to dry.
- Check your cosmetics with Think Dirty or Skin Deep. Find out how natural your products really are, and get recommendations for alternatives. You can also search the Skin Deep website for details on specific ingredients. thinkdirtyapp.com. www.ewg.org/skindeep/.
- Power off. Since electronics still consume power when they’re turned off, programmable power bars are great for electronics you typically don’t use during certain periods (i.e. overnight for computers, monitors, printers, etc.). For fixtures like bathroom fans and exterior porch lights that can easily be left on by mistake, install a timer switch in place of the wall switch.
Implementing small changes in your home can really add up. You’ll not only save money, but you can feel great knowing you’re doing your part in reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution.
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This article originally appeared in So Fresh Mag.