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15 Expert-Approved Earth Day Tips for Going Green at Home
Going green starts at home, and while separating paper from plastic in your recycling bin is a great first start, there are more steps you can take to be less wasteful and reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, by making small lifestyle changes, you may end up saving time and money in the long run while also encouraging healthier habits.
While going green might seem complicated, small, manageable actions can make a significant impact to ensure a healthy planet for future generations. We reached out to eco-wise experts from Salem, OR, all the way to Chicago, IL, for their best Earth Day tips to help make your home more sustainable, so you can start living greener on Earth Day and beyond.
1) Reduce plastic waste in your kitchen
Swap plastic sponges for eco-friendly sponges made from Loofah, a natural fruit that comes from the cucumber family. This means they’re 100% compostable making them a greener cleaning alternative in your kitchen.
We have reduced a lot of plastic waste at our home by switching to refillable shampoo, conditioners, hand wash, and dishwashing liquids. There are several bulk food stores that sell these eco-friendly cleaning alternatives and you can either take your own bottle or these stores also sell the refillable bottle if it’s your first time. -Ekoroo
2) Be mindful of your cleaning products
What better way to disinfect your home than to use the natural germ-killing power of the sun? UV disinfection products can disinfect the air and surfaces in your home with the push of a button. Ditch the chemicals, plastic bottles, and disposable cleaning products for environmentally friendly disinfection with ultraviolet light. -Violet Defense
3) Get a home energy score
Home Energy Scores help homeowners and homebuyers better understand a home's energy use – shining a light (preferably LED) on possible energy efficiency improvements they can make to save money and support a more sustainable energy future. -Oregon Department of Energy
4) Circulate the air inside your home
The air inside your home can be up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside. Even during cooler times of the year, you'll want to open your windows for several minutes each day. Your heating and air conditioning systems will run more efficiently with clean, circulated air so don't ever fret over "letting all the cold air in" or "letting all the warm air out." -Just Naturals
5) “Greenify” your home office
The at-home worker can support their company's sustainability goals by making green improvements within their own home office. This includes reducing paper use, installing LED lighting, properly recycling office materials, and investing in energy-efficient office appliances. Working remotely is also a powerful way to lower your carbon footprint. Not only does this eliminate travel emissions but it leaves more time for productivity and tending to your family, home, and personal health. -Green Business Bureau
6) A tried-and-true Earth Day tip: conserve energy within your home by turning off lights
To reduce energy usage and a building’s carbon footprint, “OFF” is still the simplest solution. Begin by turning off lights in favor of natural lighting and by using HVAC equipment less in favor of natural ventilation to expand your range of comfortable temperatures so that equipment operates less frequently to maximize energy savings and cost reductions. And, because lights and equipment must be used at some point, try to tighten your building envelope and utilize energy-efficient equipment such as LED lights and high-efficiency, variable-speed heating, and cooling equipment. -Elara Engineering
7) Invest in energy-efficient appliances
If you replace your old gas range or cooktop, replace it with a newer eco-friendly electric induction model. Electric induction cooking uses magnetic currents to directly heat the cookware only, saving energy. As an added bonus, cleanup is a breeze because the cooktop never gets hot and food never burns on it. -EcoHappy Style
8) Give your bathroom habits an eco-friendly and healthy makeover
It's time to ditch the harsh chemical cleaners. A great Earth Day tip is switching to plant-powered cleaners kissed with essential oils for those non-porous surfaces. Plus, it’s safer for you, your family, and the planet. -Rebel Green
9) Divert landfill waste
Did you know that 60% of landfill waste is compostable? In addition, most green waste is enclosed in plastic bags and creates methane gas in the landfill. Start a worm composting bin and feed that green waste to your composting worms. You will divert landfill waste and your worms will create worm castings that you can use on your houseplants, landscapes, or gardens. -Iowa Worm Composting
10) Grow your own garden
Growing your own food is not as difficult as it sounds, and it can be done anywhere. Have a yard? Great, start there. No yard accessible to you? No problem, grow indoors- or better yet, create a community garden with your neighbors and friends.
Start small with something like a herb plant or two. Not only are you reducing food waste by growing your own food (as the majority of foods come packaged in the store), you are also allowing yourself to connect deeper to the earth. -Eco Goddess
11) Make sustainable swaps one step at a time
Where you can make a difference depends on your lifestyle. Some people love their to-go coffee, while others clean their ears often. Having a more eco-friendly lifestyle is really about taking a good look at the things you bring into your home and throw out, and just replacing or eliminating one thing at a time. An Earth Day tip to make these conscious choices a part of your lifestyle is to replace one thing a month, so you get 30 days to get used to this new habit. -LastObject
12) Incremental changes are key for a greener lifestyle
When converting your household over to healthy and environmentally conscious products, do so in small increments. Changing everything at one time can be overwhelming and costly. Consider changing products over in one area at a time, such as the kitchen, shower, or laundry. Think about all of the toxic products in your home and start replacing the ones that seem easiest, like hand soap versus your favorite shampoo. Allow yourself to run out of the prior product, then replace it with a healthier choice. This Earth Day tip will save you money and help you to adjust to new products a little at a time. -Edge Green Cleaning
13) Use reusable food and drink containers
Choose an earth-loving, reusable food or drink pouch with a built-in straw to avoid the 2.5 billion disposable food pouches that go into landfills every year (not to mention the 38 billion water bottles and 182.5 billion straws). These can be filled with applesauce, smoothies, yogurt, water, and much more to make on-the-go eating/drinking easy and eco-friendly. And, many are collapsible to save storage space. -k.o.ecolife
14) Reuse plastic bags or containers
Not everyone has access to bulk grocery stores or farmers’ markets. If you’re stuck buying groceries that come in a resealable plastic bag or container, an Earth Day tip to reduce plastic waste is to wash and reuse them for lunches or leftovers instead of buying more plastics bags. These bags are a waste of money and create more plastic waste. -Kimberly-Carr Home Designs
15) Go one step beyond and try to make changes in your local grocery store
A unique Earth Day tip is to start a green movement within your community. Ask your supermarket manager if they will look to carrying fewer products packaged in plastic. If we don't buy them (eggs in plastic crates, milk in plastic bottles, etc.), they will feel it. -Let's Talk About Food
Originally published by Redfin
Working from home and having school age children on virtual learning can feel overwhelming. So many interruptions in a day. It is hard to keep up with every deadline and project for work and help the children with their studies.
You may have to get creative with your ideas of how to reduce interruptions in your workday but still get the kids what they need as well. A few ideas that can help are looking at what is taking up your time. When are the key times or what are the key items that slow things down? Having the kids help appropriately for their age, is a great way to get them involved and learn responsibility. Your methods are going to be different for the ages of your children.
Elementary age children: Try to include them in the process of setting up a system that works. Some lite chores can work for this age but only if it is an inclusive approach, they get excited about helping. Let them have input on the dinner menu, putting away groceries and picking out a dirty/clean magnet for the dishwasher and put them in charge of flipping it. Let them set the table and fold napkins into cute objects.
Ask them what duties around the house they enjoy most and give them choices. Kids love choices. “Ok, for the next 15 minutes we are going to tidy up. Do you prefer to help me put dishes away or put shoes away? Would you prefer to organize toys or fold towels?” “I’ll take what you don’t pick but we all have to work for 15 minutes.”
For teens: They can handle a little more responsibility and functionality of the home. Still give them the opportunity to pick between items but also set the expectation that the dishes they use will be rinsed and placed in the dishwasher.
A shared e-calendar is a great idea for a family then everyone can see what is going on. A dry erase calendar for a central location can help with notes/questions. The “I need help with” board is the best thing we have found. My family uses a white board daily for whatever someone needs help with.
Whatever is on your kid’s minds they can note it on there. This can be used for younger children as well. This is a place they can note what is important without disrupting your workday. If it is something that can wait until later, write it on the board. Then set a time to review it together maybe lunch and after dinner. Come up with workable solutions for the items noted.
Some examples the kid’s write. “I need picked up from practice on Wed.” “My hair needs cut, need an appt.” “I need help with math.” Some of the items a parent could post with teens, “Please make a grooming appointment for the dog.” “I have a late meeting; I need someone to help with dinner on Tues.” “Reminder that grandma’s birthday is Thurs.”
There has never been a better time to pull kids and teens into the process of running a household. They are home more with less activities. Let them have the experience that they will need to build upon for their own homes later in life. Including them in the daily processes are a good way for them to understand everything that goes into running a household and maybe get a glimpse into what you do as an adult daily.
Feeling overwhelmed now that the whole family is functioning from home for school and work? Do the messes seem to pile up a little more quickly than before? “How can I keep the house organized when I have hours of work myself and I am trying to help the kids with school?” “My mind is running at full throttle!” Does this sound familiar?
Join the club! We are all feeling this weight on our shoulders. Every time the kitchen counter gets clean, the mess is back! The dishes pile up a little faster. Do any of us really get to the deep cleaning? There are many ways that you can begin to organize the chaos of daily living during COVID. It is a time of so much shuffling to make it all happen in the 24-hour day.
Cleaning has taken on new priority. Maybe the house did not feel quite as messy or dirty when everyone was at work and school. Do we really take note of the dirt in the corners when we are running to and from practices or activities? Not quite as much as when we are sitting at our desks on Zoom calls staring at said corner and feeling like the house is so dirty. It only takes that one prompt to propel us into noticing everything else that is dirty thus throwing us into a cycle of stress.
There is always more mess during breaks and holidays. Life now is practically one long holiday schedule all year. The difference is now, you are working longer hours and the evenings are filled with schoolwork if that is your scenario. Just a few changes can help alleviate the clutter and dirt.
- Set a daily cleaning schedule. This should allow for the daily items that need addressed for normal upkeep.
- Making the beds is one way to really make the room feel clean and organized even if it is not. A messy bed leaves you feeling not quite prepared for your day.
- Planning to dust one room every day. Then it is not a whole process to do the whole house. Vacuuming can be the same.
- Loading / unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up dinner
- Doing 1 load of laundry
- Tidy up messes such as coats, shoes and bags
- Wiping down touch points such as door and appliance handles, light switches, and remotes. Cleaning touch points is an easy way to keep germs to a minimum.
- A quick damp mop on the kitchen floor in the prep area can really make the house look better.
- Set a weekly cleaning schedule. Try to include the whole family in this schedule as much as possible. Set specific times and duties. Make it a family affair with some music. Everyone cleans at the same time for 15-30 minutes. Then everyone is helping, and no one feels they are the only one working.
- Work smarter.
- BATHS: Touch up your bathrooms 2 days a week. There is less mess and scrubbing if you do it a little more often. Pour the toilet bowl cleaner in then you are on the hook to scrub the bowl vs just flushing product without scrubbing.
- FRIDGE: Clean the fridge the night before the trash goes so that the food does not sit in the trash can.
- DUSTING: If you are dusting a piece of furniture and end at the bottom, it only takes one arm movement to swipe across the baseboard next to the furniture on the way back up.
A few small changes can make a huge difference on how you feel in your home. A clean home reduces stress and allows you to have some time to do the things that you enjoy. With COVID being so prevalent in society, knowing that you have cleaned and sanitized your home will help you rest well knowing that your family is safe in your environment.
Love the smell that your Plug-In air freshener delivers? Most people do and rightfully so, they smell so good!
However, are highly toxic and full of VOC’s including methoxychlor. It Is a pesticide that can coat the nasal passages and de-sensitize your sense of smell, thus giving you the allure that you have fresh air. They also contain Naphthalene and formaldehyde, known to cause cancer in the lungs. I know they are wonderful and make the house smell wonderful, but they can be overly toxic especially to children. Asthma rates are on the rise as well, due to such ingredients being exposed into the air. A very safe alternative are essential oils and a diffuser. We started using them when our son was diagnosed with asthma. It helps to have the nice scent but will have health benefits vs chemicals being released.
We started using essential oils for each season (lemon in Spring and Summer, Cinnamon in Autumn, Pine and Christmas) and it is nice to have a smell for the season. I even drip essential oils on my furnace filter so when it kicks on you get a wonderful, non-toxic scent throughout the whole house. Oils and diffusers are available in many places. Young Living, Do-terra and even Whole Foods carry them. I also found a new essential oil room freshener that we love at Target.
Here is a great test in your home, plug yours in right below a mirror. We had some plug-ins placed below a mirror in client’s homes. The clients will always say there is a film that never goes away on the mirror, it is the film of chemicals being released into the air. It is a great test so that you can physically see the results on the glass over time. That would mimic what could possibly happen in the lungs especially in children.