I know that green living isn’t always easy. It can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. That’s why I’m sharing 10 ways we #LiveBrighter and green our home.
1. Get glass or stainless steel food containers.
Plastic for storing food is definitely a no-no for me nowadays. Plastic codes on the bottoms of containers can be really confusing, and even BPA-free plastic still contains toxins that can leach into your food. It’s definitely worth investing in some good quality glass and stainless steel containers for storing your food – it’s a change that will make a big impact on your health. I took all of our plastic containers and repurposed them for organizing toys and craft supplies.
2. Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
It seems like a silly thing to have as a “tip”, but it’s one of those things that is either a habit or not. I have been working to encourage my 4-year-old daughter to do this now that she can reach the light switches, so that it becomes an easy habit early on. How many times do you leave a room to grab something in another room, but don’t make it back to the first room for 20 minutes? That’s 20 minutes of the light being on when it didn’t need to be! All of that time adds up on your electricity bill, and on your carbon footprint.
3. Switch to LED lightbulbs.
For awhile, everyone was saying that CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) were the way to go. CFLs are 70% more efficient than incandescents, but they can’t be used on a dimmer switch, and they take a second to fully light up when you flip a switch. Plus, the contents of CFLs are toxic with mercury, so you never want to have one break in your home, and it’s a real problem if they are thrown into landfills instead of being disposed of properly. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) light up immediately and don’t heat up, so they’re always cool to the touch. They also last up to 5 times longer than CFLs, which means you hardly ever need to replace them. Example comparison: incandescent lasts 1,200 hours, CFL lasts 8,000 hours, LED lasts 25,000 hours. LEDs used to be a lot more costly than CFLs, but are now very affordable, so the next time you need to replace a lightbulb, do it with a LED bulb!
4. Get some indoor plants.
Along the lines of improving air quality, some indoor plants are actually proven to help detox the air in your home. Not only that, but the greenery can really help brighten your mood! If you really feel like you don’t have a green thumb, try a spider plant, or some succulents that are very difficult to kill off. 😛
5. Ditch the air fresheners.
I know, I know. Nobody wants a stinky house. You want your home to smell happy and inviting. Unfortunately, air fresheners aren’t just full of scents, they’re also full of toxic chemicals that are hazardous to your health. If you want something to dispel odors in your home, try non-toxic candles or essential oils instead.
6. Grow some food in your garden.
Even though it’s later in the growing season in Edmonton, there are still things you can plant now that you will benefit from for the rest of the summer and fall. Planting lettuce from seeds now will give you several weeks that you don’t need to buy it! And many garden centres have their plants marked down to ridiculous prices to clear them out, so you could even get tomato plants going now. You don’t necessarily need a lot of space to grow some food – you can even do it in pots! A little gardening and time with green things will definitely help you #LiveBrighter, AND save you some money on groceries.
7. Open the windows.
If it’s not stinking hot, I love summer because I can open the windows and air out the house. Indoor air quality is always much worse than outdoor air quality (which you can try to improve with these tips), so opening the windows is the best way to combat that! While we’re on the topic of windows, replacing windows and doors can help you retain both warm and cool air, depending on the season, therefore allowing you to cut down on your heating and air-con usage.
8. Re-think your laundry routine.
Laundry detergents also can be a source of toxic chemicals, and dryer sheets are, well, gross. There are a lot of different ways you can green your laundry routine, by changing your detergent, using soap nuts, ditching dryer sheets and using wool dryer balls. You’ll probably notice that your lint try doesn’t fill up anymore, and you might notice your skin thanking you for making these changes.
9. Try to replace one disposable product with a reusable one.
We live in a society that is used to one-time use products, and our homes are full of them – that go in the garbage, contributing to landfill waste, or the recycling bin – and while that’s better, it still takes a lot of resources to recycle something. There are a lot of great reusable options for things out there these days! For example, replace paper towels with un-paper towels, replace ziplock bags with reusable fabric snack bags or sandwich wraps, replace plastic wrap with reusable wax or cloth wraps, or replace one-time use straws with stainless steel, glass, or bamboo ones. These are all great ways to reduce waste in your home.
10. Get a programmable or smart thermostat.
I got a programmable thermostat many years ago and was really excited about being able to program when we’d be away from the house to reduce heating costs. Technology has certainly changed in the last few years – now you can get a Nest Thermostat that actually programs itself according to your preferences and actions. Once installed, it will remember what temperatures you like, create a custom schedule for your home, and adjust temperature settings automatically to save energy when you’re away from home. It can show you how much energy you’ve saved, recommend more energy-efficient settings, and give you tips on how to save even more. And you can control it remotely with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It’s kind of mind-blowing.