Green Living Tips

Green living is a way of life. It’s about making choices that conserve and preserve our Earth’s natural resources and habitats. The choices we have to make may not be the most convenient choices for you.

They’re the best environmentally ethical, eco-friendly choices we have, to incorporate into our everyday lives to do our part to protect our world.

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Green Cleaners

There are many benefits to green cleaners. You probably have most of the ingredients in your home. Save money by not buying a bunch of expensive products, each to clean only one type of surface in your home. And, in most cases, green cleaners work just as well as store-bought.

A great reason to use green cleaners is to keep toxins out of your home. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and harsh acids.

“Some [VOCs] can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans,” the agency says. Most modern chemical cleaners are overkill. We can use milder, natural chemicals … to do the same jobs.”

Keep these ten products in your cabinet and you can whip up a batch to clean just about anything

  1. White vinegar: An antifungal that also kills germs and bacteria.
  2. Baking soda: Eliminates odors and works as a gentle scouring powder.
  3. Borax: this is the common name for the natural mineral compound sodium borate, which eliminates odors, removes dirt, and acts as an antifungal and possible disinfectant. Use with care around children and pets, as it can be toxic if swallowed.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration): A great nontoxic bleach and stain remover, as well as a proven disinfectant.
  5. Club soda (fresh): A stain remover and polisher.
  6. Lemon juice: A pleasant-smelling nontoxic bleach, grease-cutter, and stain remover.
  7. Liquid castile soap: An all-purpose cleaner, grease-cutter, and disinfectant. “Castile” means the soap is vegetable-based, not animal-fat-based.
  8. Corn meal: Great at absorbing carpet spills.
  9. Olive oil: Makes a wonderful furniture polish.
  10. Pure essential oils: Adding all-natural, organic essential oils to your cleaning concoctions can add wonderful scents to your housekeeping endeavors. Some—such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and tea tree oils—also may have antibacterial, antifungal, or insect-repelling properties. To find pure, organic essential oils, visit your local health food store. Remember to use care with essential oils, as they can cause harmful reactions when ingested or put directly on the skin. Some are considered dangerous for pregnant women If you’re unsure about an oil, consult a reliable source on its proper usage.

Whip up some Green Cleaners

Green living tips

Now grab a few clean, empty spray bottles; some rags and sponges; and a bucket of water, and you’re ready to clean your house the green way.

  • Make General All-purpose cleaners: An all-purpose cleaner is just that—something you can use for just about every surface. Spray cleaner: Put ½ tsp. washing soda and a dab of liquid soap (castile soap works) into a spray bottle with 2 cups of very hot tap water. Shake to dissolve.
  • Make Hard floor cleaner: Mix 1/4 liquid castile soap, up to 1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice, and 2 gallons of warm water in a large plastic bucket. Use a mop or sponge.
  • Make Carpet cleaner: To clean and disinfect your carpet, try blending 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup cornmeal. Sprinkle the mixture over the rug and rub it with a cloth. Be sure to sprinkle, rather than dump, the mixture on your carpet. Large clumps of cornmeal could clog your vacuum. Let sit for several hours or overnight, then vacuum. To remove stains from your carpet, Logan advises mixing 1/4 cup liquid castile soap and 1/3 cup water in a blender until foamy. Spread the mixture on the carpet and let sit for a few minutes, then scrub the stain with a brush or clean rag. Also, club soda will remove many acidic stains, like coffee, wine, or juice. To deal with big carpet spills, pour cornmeal on the spill, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  • Make Glass cleaner: To make your windows shine, you can simply use club soda in a spray bottle. Add 1 tsp. of lemon juice to increase your window cleaner’s degreasing power. Use a terry-cloth cotton rag for best results.
  • Make Bathroom surface cleaners: You can use the all-purpose cleaners recommended above or, for even simpler bathroom cleaning, use baking soda or borax as a scouring powder. For a softer scrub combine 1/2 cup baking soda with enough liquid soap to achieve a frosting-like consistency. You can add 5-10 drops of essential oil for fragrance. Club soda works wonders on plumbing fixtures.
  • Make Toilet cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda or borax, or pour white vinegar into the toilet, and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a good toilet brush.
  • Make Oven cleaner: Cover the oven floor with baking soda, spray with water until very damp, and let set overnight. Spray with water every few hours before you go to bed to keep it damp. In the morning, clean out the baking soda, and the stuck-on gunk will be loosened and ready to scrub off.
  • Make Mold remover: Mix 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar with 1 cup water. Spray on mold and do not rinse. Treat mold with a spray mixture of 2 tsp. tea tree oil and 2 cups water.
  • Make Wood polish: To polish wood furniture, dab olive oil onto a soft cloth and rub.

Washing your hands frequently is the best way to prevent the spread of harmful microorganisms. Also, disinfect any sponges you’re using weekly by boiling them in water for three minutes and then microwaving them for a minute or two. Wash dish rags every week.

Ways That You Can Go Green at Home

Green Living Tips

It’s actually cheaper to go green, but these eco-friendly habits can also create a healthier home for you and your family. Try some of these ideas, or better yet, try as many as you can!

Recycling At Home

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Recycling more at home does not require much effort if you spend some time creating a comprehensive recycling system. This system starts with having places to store your recycled materials in the house, whether this is a box, bin, or bag. Keep the recycling container next to the trash can and will remind everyone to recycle as much as possible.

Here are some simple tips to recycle more effectively at home:

  1. Flatten cardboard boxes so that you can fit more recyclables into your bin.
  2. All plastic bottles can be recycled, from water bottles to salad dressing, so put all of them in your recycling container.
  3. It is not just newspapers that you can recycle at home. Also, recycle wrapping paper, envelopes, birthday cards, and phone books. All sorts of cardboard can be recycled, too, even toilet and paper towel tubes.
  4. Most metallic items in the home can be recycled, such as empty spray cans and tin foil, and of course, all empty soda, fruit, vegetable, and other food cans.
  5. Keep a space in your cupboard so that you can recycle as you are cooking or cleaning. It will make it easier for you to put the recyclables in their proper place.
  6. When going out, stop at your local recycling center and drop off anything that was not picked up by your curbside service. This lets you fit your recycling into your life, and will also teach your children about the importance of recycling.
  7. If you are ever unsure about what you can recycle, check with your refuse provider’s website. There should be comprehensive information about what is or is not suitable for your recycling container or containers. Most refuse providers also have apps for your smartphone where you can check what to and what not to recycle.
  8. Glass can be recycled endlessly; it does not wear out after several recyclings, so be sure to always recycle your glass bottles and containers.
  9. To help your recycling center and to keep down foul odors, make sure you wash food waste off of any plastic or glass food containers before putting them in the recycle bin.

Get Energy Star Appliances

Energy Star Green Living
Energy Star

Replacing stovetops, ovens, and refrigerators with ENERGY STAR appliances is one way to go green without altering your lifestyle, and can reduce your energy usage by 10%-50%. These money-saving products can be used in rooms other than your eco-friendly kitchen, too! Switch to an energy-efficient washing machine and ENERGY STAR dryer combo to use less water and electricity. Or consider upgrading your TV to an energy-efficient LED flatscreen.

Change To a Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostat

Leaving the air conditioner or heater on during the day can drastically increase heating and cooling costs. Go green at home with a smart thermostat. These energy-saving devices save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs while maintaining a comfortable temperature while you’re not at home.

Install LED Light Bulbs & Fixtures

Green living tips

Another way to reduce the amount of energy used in your home is by switching out standard bulbs for LED lights. Change ceiling light fixtures to led fixtures. These energy-efficient bulbs last longer and use between 80-90% less energy than conventional bulbs, saving about $55 in electricity costs over their lifetime. Another energy-efficient solution is to keep the lights off when you’re not in the room, or open curtains and blinds to use natural light.

Reduce Your Water Heater Temperature

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The water heater is one of the most energy-draining appliances in a home, accounting for 20% of your home’s energy use. In fact, using water a few degrees cooler than usual can cut your hot water heater costs by over $400 annually. For even more energy savings, consider installing an eco-conscious tankless water heater.

Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them to be set at 120ºF, which also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a safety hazard—scalding.

Savings resulting from turning down your water heater temperature are based on reducing standby losses (heat lost from the water heater into the surrounding area). Set too high, or at 140ºF, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses. Additional savings will be realized by the lower temperature for consumption (from water demand or use in your home, such as clothes washing, showers, and dishwashing). These may amount to more than $400.

Clear Heating & Cooling Vents

An inefficient HVAC system can waste around 25-40% of the energy used to heat and cool your home. Live eco-friendly by unblocking air vents and regularly cleaning your HVAC system. Doing this can help ensure your heating and cooling system isn’t draining extra electricity or overworking. You’re also improving indoor air quality, meaning going green at home can have long-term health benefits for you and your family.

Choose Green Friendly Cleaning Products

Green Living Tips

Conventional cleaners can be toxic to your health and the environment. Even disposing of these products causes water and air pollution, and contributes to plastic waste. The benefits of using green cleaning products include fewer chemical-related health risks, better air quality, and less water pollution. Before your next spring cleaning, swap your products for eco-friendly cleaners or homemade cleaning solutions!

Cut Down on Your Waste

Identify areas in your life where you can be more minimalistic or cut down on waste. For example, instead of buying power or yard tools that you’ll rarely use, rent specialty equipment. Invest in longer-lasting rechargeable batteries so fewer batteries end up in landfills. Go paperless with bills and bank statements. Or collect scrap paper to reuse for notes or to-do lists. Not only does cutting down on waste help you maintain a sustainable home, but it also lets you make room for what matters most.

Reduce Your Water Usage

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Create an eco-friendly bathroom and install low-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads to save water. Eco-friendly toilets can save you $110 on your water bill per year, while a high-efficiency showerhead can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per person annually. Replace your conventional faucets with a low-flow appliance as well, which can lower water usage by 700 gallons a year! Fix leaky sinks, pipes, or toilet tanks as soon as possible to prevent water loss, sky-high utility bills, and potential damage to your home. Try taking shorter showers—around five minutes is best! Or start small by turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth to save water.

Unplug Your Devices When Not in Use

Even if appliances are turned off, leaving them plugged in uses “vampire energy,” which can increase your energy bills. Unplug any electronics, small kitchen appliances, or devices with a standby mode, remote control, display screen, or chargers. Or consider installing smart plugs, which can help you better moderate how much energy your home is using.

Insulate Your Windows & Doors

Leaking windows can account for up to 30% of heating and cooling energy use in a home. Remedy drafty windows by replacing them with energy-efficient windows or add weather stripping to stop air leaks and reduce electricity bills. In places with seasonal weather, cover windows with plastic for extra insulation. Seal fractures in the garage floor and walls, and insulate your garage door to prevent air from escaping your home. An additional green living tip is to apply weather stripping along your entry door to prevent air loss.

Use Kitchen Appliances Smarter

When you’re cooking, avoid preheating your stove too far in advance and keep the oven door closed while cooking. Up to 25 degrees of heat can escape if opened, wasting energy and raising utility costs. Did you know the automatic ice maker increases your energy bill by $10-20 each month? Use ice trays to reduce your cost. Looking for ways to conserve water? Stop pre-rinsing and hand washing dishes and skip the automatic heated dry cycle on your dishwasher. Or save up to 11% on energy by cleaning your refrigerator coils every month, so your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard. Vacuum the coils and get all the crud off and it will actually run less if they were dusty to start with.

Don’t Run The Washer So Much!

Tired washer

Want to cut back on water waste? Rewear jeans, sweaters, and jackets, and wait to wash your clothes until you have a full load to wash. Then, use cold water. Washers use 75-90% of their energy to heat water, so using the coldest cycle possible is an easy way to live green in your home. Another eco-friendly laundry tip is to air dry your clothing.

Plant a Nice Garden

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A really great green-friendly idea for the backyard is to plant your own garden! Growing a garden minimizes your carbon footprint, saves money on food, and helps your family enjoy the healthy benefits of going green. Do you live in an apartment? Create an urban garden out of recycled containers and planter boxes, so you can grow your own vegetables from scraps, and harvest rainwater for plants! It might take some time and investment in materials like grow lights, but your effort will be well worth it.

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