As I aim to live a more sustainable lifestyle, I’m always looking for new ways to make my home environmentally friendly. While there are many common tips for greening your home, some less mainstream ideas can make a surprisingly big impact. Here are 7 unusual tips for creating an eco-friendly home:
1. Install a Composting Toilet
Composting toilets are a revolutionary way to reduce water usage and recycle waste in your home. Unlike a traditional toilet which uses gallons of water per flush, composting toilets separate and compost human waste onsite. The composted humanure can then be used to fertilize non-edible plants. Installing a composting toilet eliminates the need to use precious drinking water to dispose of waste. It also avoids sending nutrients down the sewer, allowing them to be recycled in the garden instead. While the idea may seem unusual at first, composting toilets are odor-free and sustainable.
2. Harvest Rainwater
Collecting rainwater is one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental footprint. Rain barrels or cisterns capture rainwater runoff from roofs which can be used to water gardens, wash cars, or flush toilets. Depending on your rainfall, harvested rainwater could substantially cut your household water usage. Rainwater is also chemical-free and contains trace minerals beneficial for plants. You can install rain barrels yourself or invest in large cisterns for serious rainwater harvesting. Any amount of water you collect is less coming from municipal supplies.
3. Switch to a Natural Swimming Pool
Traditional swimming pools require a lot of chemicals like chlorine to keep water clean. Natural swimming pools offer the same benefits without chemicals using biological filtration and plants instead. A natural pool has sections with gravel and aquatic plants that clean and circulate the water naturally. Natural pools provide chemical-free swimming that is healthy for you and the environment. They can be designed to fit any landscape and provide a beautiful backyard oasis. Making the switch eliminates purchasing and handling hazardous pool chemicals.
4. Install Indoor Composting Toilets
Composting toilets aren’t just for off-grid living! Installing waterless composting toilets indoors can drastically cut household water consumption. High-end composting toilets like those from Envirolet operate without odor, noise, or mess. Separating and composting waste onsite means avoiding the energy-intensive municipal wastewater treatment process. Fertilizer from composted waste can be safely used in non-edible gardens. With many model options, composting toilets are an innovative waste management solution that saves thousands of gallons of water per year.
5. Grow Indoor Food
In addition to outdoor gardens, consider growing food inside your home. Indoor vegetable gardens are a unique way to produce food year-round without using additional land. With LED growing lights, hydroponics, and vertical gardening systems, it’s easy to grow tomatoes, herbs, lettuces, and more indoors. Home aquaponics systems can even produce vegetables and fish together in a mini ecosystem. Growing indoor crops cuts the energy and emissions needed to transport produce to your home. Plus, having an indoor garden ensures you can harvest the freshest ingredients possible for cooking.
6. Insulate with Natural Materials
To make heating and cooling your home more efficient, replace conventional insulation like fiberglass batts with sustainable alternatives. Options like cellulose, sheep’s wool, cork, hemp fiber, and denim insulation are durable, fire-resistant, and contain no harmful chemicals. Not only are these natural insulations better for indoor air quality, many are made from rapidly renewable or waste materials. For example, denim insulation is made from upcycled scrap denim. Choosing eco-insulation improves home energy efficiency in a more sustainable way.
7. Install Solar Shingles
Harness the sun’s power for your home with solar shingles and tiles. Rather than bulky panels, companies like Tesla offer sleek solar shingles that seamlessly replace your existing roofing material. The shingles have integrated solar cells that generate renewable electricity from sunlight. Solar roofing streamlines solar power by eliminating the look of cumbersome panels. This is solar energy in its most aesthetically pleasing form. While expensive upfront, you can power your home with clean energy for decades. A solar roof is an investment in energy independence and sustainability.
In summary, unusual options like composting toilets, indoor gardening, and solar roofs provide impactful ways to embrace sustainability at home. Thinking outside the box can drastically curb your energy and water consumption while also recycling waste onsite. Adopting new eco-habits takes effort but pays dividends for your home and the environment. With creativity and commitment, even unusual steps can become smart mainstream choices. What unconventional idea will you try next?