How to Care for Your Home Without Harming the Planet
Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment. Switching to eco-friendly cleaners is an easy way to avoid those chemicals. Some good options include:
- Baking soda – A mild abrasive that works well for scrubbing.
- White vinegar – Cuts grease and kills bacteria without harsh fumes.
- Lemon juice – A natural acid that cuts through grime.
- Castile soap – A plant-based soap made from vegetable oils.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Disinfects and whitens without toxic chemicals.
When buying commercial green cleaners, look for plant-based ingredients like citrus extracts and essential oils. Avoid products with ammonia, bleach, or petrochemicals. DIY cleaners made from simple kitchen ingredients work well for most household cleaning tasks.
The average home wastes a massive amount of water every day. Be mindful of water usage to protect this precious resource:
- Take short showers instead of baths. Aim for 5 minutes or less.
- Turn off water while brushing teeth, shaving, washing dishes, etc.
- Fix leaks immediately. A small drip can waste dozens of gallons per day.
- Install low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads. Look for a flow rate under 2.5 gallons per minute.
- Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine.
- Water outdoors in early morning to reduce evaporation.
Installing rain barrels to capture water from downspouts is a great way to reuse water in the garden. Native plants that don’t need extra watering are another smart option.
Use Green Power
Fossil fuels harm the environment in many ways. Reduce reliance on coal and natural gas at home:
- Switch to an eco-friendly energy provider that uses solar, wind, or hydropower.
- Install solar panels to generate your own clean electricity.
- Buy Energy Star appliances to reduce energy use for lighting, heating, and cooling.
- Seal air leaks and add insulation to make heating and cooling more efficient.
- Switch to LED light bulbs which use 75% less energy than incandescents.
- Unplug devices when not in use to eliminate phantom loads.
- Wash clothes in cold water, hang dry when possible, and avoid overfilling machines.
Even small changes add up. Doing an energy audit and making upgrades where needed goes a long way.
Buy Sustainable Products
Every purchasing decision makes an impact. When shopping, consider:
- Local and organic food supports small farms and avoids chemical pesticides.
- Fair trade and eco-friendly clothing reduces pollution from mass manufacturing.
- Secondhand furniture and household goods gives existing items new life.
- Recycled materials like bamboo flooring and recycled plastic cutting boards are earth-friendly options.
- Reusable products – glass bottles, silicone bags, metal straws – create less waste than disposables.
- Non-toxic paints and stains keep VOCs out of the indoor air.
Supporting green and ethical companies boosts sustainability across industries. Buying less overall reduces consumption.
Compost Food Waste
Organic waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting keeps food scraps out of landfills.
- Collect vegetable and fruit peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and more in a countertop caddy.
- Use compostable bags or sheets to line small bins for easy transport.
- Backyard compost bins allow waste to break down naturally into rich fertilizer over months.
- Vermicomposting uses worms to speed up composting right in the house.
- Community compost programs offer drop-off sites for local organic waste.
Compost improves soil health and plant growth in gardens. Less trash pickup also conserves resources.
Choose Sustainable Transportation
Transportation causes almost 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Make green choices to get around:
- Walk, bike, or take public transit as much as possible.
- Organize a carpool for your commute or errands.
- Maintain vehicles well and drive efficiently to maximize fuel economy.
- When buying a car, choose a fuel efficient or hybrid model.
- Telecommute when possible to avoid driving altogether.
- Fly less and try trains or buses for long distance trips.
- Offset air travel carbon emissions by purchasing credits.
Ride sharing, trip planning, and combining errands also helps. Going car-free entirely is ideal for some.
Have a Green Lawn and Garden
Lawns often require lots of water, fertilizer, pesticides, gas for mowing, and more. Make yards greener with:
- Native plants adapted to the local climate and soil. They require less work to thrive.
- Organic fertilizer like compost, manure, and grass clippings instead of synthetic.
- Electric or manual lawn tools rather than gas-powered.
- Rainwater irrigation using barrels and cisterns instead of tap water.
- Xeriscaping, with drought-tolerant plants to reduce watering.
- Clover lawns stay green with less mowing and need less fertilizer.
Organic lawn care, Bioswales, and green roofs can also be part of an eco-friendly landscape.
Be Mindful of Plastics
Plastic never fully biodegrades, harming wildlife and environments. Cut down plastic use with:
- Reusable bags, straws, bottles, and food containers instead of disposable plastic versions.
- Seek plastic-free alternatives like bamboo toothbrushes, glass Tupperware, etc.
- Avoid microbeads in health and beauty products, which get into waterways.
- Reject single-use items like plastic silverware, cups, and straws when dining out.
- Seek products with minimal plastic packaging. Buy in bulk when possible.
- Recycle properly and participate in clean-up efforts.
Making your own personal care and cleaning items is an option. Support plastic bag bans and taxes.
Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly
Many common household items like paints, cleaners, oils, and batteries contain dangerous chemicals. Safely disposing of them prevents pollution.
- Bring hazardous waste to your community’s household hazardous waste collection facility. Many accept items for free.
- Utilize free take-back programs offered by some retailers and manufacturers.
- Buy the least toxic products possible and use up products completely before disposal.
- Allow latex paint to dry out completely before discarding normally.
- Properly recycle items like used motor oil, batteries, and electronics when possible.
Storing hazardous items correctly in a ventilated area also helps. Never dump down drains or in the trash.
Get Involved in Sustainability Efforts
Going green takes community-wide effort. Contribute by:
- Voting for environment-friendly legislation and leaders.
- Contacting government representatives to support sustainability policies.
- Volunteering for tree planting, park cleanups, community gardens, etc.
- Educating others and discussing solutions for living more sustainably.
- Joining or donating to eco-groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace.
- Speaking up against excessive packaging in stores, excess energy use, etc.
- Organizing neighborhood projects like green spaces and waste reduction.
Getting involved sets an example and makes the movement stronger. Support greener schools, businesses, and institutions as well.