Welcome to the second part of my series on sustainability! While Part I focused on the different ways you can take to sustainability with the food that you eat and use, this post is going to help you “green up” your approach to your home. All of these suggestions should be application to any home, be it house, hut, apartment, or houseboat (if you’re really fancy, and brave quite frankly), and they will all save you money! Fast and easy, it’s the perfect way to go green…
I’m going to quickly jump to bigger suggestions before I stick in! These are less applicable, but if you are looking to replace your heating system in your house, consider a geothermal system. They are more expensive than a traditional furnace but you use the heat in the ground to heat and cool your house, cutting down on your utilities considerably. Also, low flow toilets and showers are a great option when you need to re-do your bathrooms. Now, onto the goods for everyone…
Obviously we are now at a point where everyone knows that you should compost but I see a surprisingly large number of people who don’t understand what you can and cannot recycle. If you aren’t sure, contact your municipal office; they should be able to tell you what can and cannot be recycled, and if it needs to be sorted a specific way. It might sound a little ridiculous, but I’ve set a goal for our house to have more recycling than garbage for the week. While it doesn’t always happen, it has really made me stop and think if something could be recycled. Some cities require composting also, but even if they don’t it is a good practice to get into.
Something to note, I know that a lot of people will reuse different plastic things, like waterbottles and containers that food has come in. Check that that form of plastic can continually reused (you can see by the number paired with the recycling symbol on the bottom)- many plastics are not meant to be continually used.
Ah, cleaning supplies. You need them for a clean and sanitary house but they can sometimes leave quite the chemical footprint behind them. I can often end up with hives after inadvertently walking into a room that has been cleaned with industrial cleaners, so I try to avoid them. I will say that I use traditional chemical cleaners for the toilet bowl but other than that, you can typically find a green solution to your cleaning. If you want to buy it and be done with it, Walmart has a Green Solutions line that works well! There are some very easy make-at-home options for cleaning, though. Lemon, vinegar, green liquid soap, and baking soda with water can be combined in various combinations to make cleaners to use in the kitchen and home! I use vinegar particularly in the kitchen, as it is a natural disinfectant. If you are looking for an easy bathroom cleaner, try this cleaner from Reader’s Digest:
-1 2/3 cups baking soda
-1/2 cup liquid soap
-1/2 cup water
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
Mix baking soda and soap, add water, then add vinegar.
Lights and Heating
I used to be terrible for leaving lights on, I just wouldn’t think about it before leaving. I am proud to say that I have improved- I start at the furthest point of the house and turn off all of the lights on the way out. I also specifically turn the lights off if there is natural light to be had or if I am not in the room. Are you keeping it lit for ghosts? No? Turn them off!
Now, as someone who lives in Winnipeg where it routinely will fall below -40°C and above 30°C for days on end, I understand the need for heating and cooling your house. We cannot ever turn our heat off, as the pipes can freeze and burst in your home, flooding it in the dead of winter. However, you can be smart about your heating and cooling. If you are going away for the weekend, set your thermostat at a temperature that will keep your house functioning but doesn’t require much energy to maintain. Yes, you may come home to a hot or cold house, but you can fix that when you get home!
How are you staying green at home?