Looking for ways to make your home eco-friendly? Here are 10 simple ways to make eco-friendly changes at home.
Humans are massively impacted by their home environments. Studies have found that homes with fewer toxic products, less clutter and natural elements are connected to better physical and mental well-being1. Some studies have gone as far as to say that a home reflective of your values and personal commitment to sustainability boosts your mood and increases cognitive function. Not to mention, eco-switches in your home are real money savers.
Sustainable living requires tapping into the art of simple living, which is why we have created a list of 10 easy and effective ways to make your home more eco-friendly in the new year.
1. Start with a single room
The easiest way to make your home more eco-friendly is to start adopting household changes room-by-room. Rather than overhauling your entire house in one go, start by focusing on a single room and making sustainable changes bit-by-bit. It will make the overall task less overwhelming and give you the best opportunity to convert your home into a more conscious space.
2. Invest in energy-efficient light bulbs
You could save yourself hundreds of dollars, as well as reduce the environment's wasted energy, by switching the light bulbs in your home. LED light bulbs are up to 85 percent more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent household bulbs, and they give off the same level of light2. LED lights are also void of toxic elements like mercury, found in some incandescent bulbs, which means their disposal doesn't risk contaminating the environment.
3. Ditch paper towels (and other throwaway paper products)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper is the number one product sitting in landfills. It takes six to eight weeks to decompose fully, and that's if the paper products are made from virgin materials3. Cloth napkins and cotton towels are fantastic, reusable alternatives that eliminate paper waste. Reusable cloths are more durable than paper towels, and they're less costly in the long run.
4. End "phantom energy"
Devices that remain plugged into walls without being used continue to draw energy, which is sometimes referred to as "phantom energy" or "standby power." Some experts say that leaving devices plugged in and idle is as bad as leaving them running. Around eight percent of the electricity used in homes comes from appliances that have been left on standby4. Unplug appliances when they aren't being used, or use a single power strip and switch it off when devices connected to it are not in use.
5. Switch to reusable batteries
An estimated three billion batteries are thrown into the garbage every year. Batteries are made of potent toxins, including lithium, lead, and mercury, that, when tossed into a landfill, seep into the ground soil and damage ecosystems. Reusable batteries have a higher upfront cost, but the investment saves you money in the long run and reduces environmental pollution.
6. Opt to hang dry your laundry
Just because a switch is simple doesn't mean it isn't powerful. Take drying your clothes, for instance! Tumble dryers in the U.S. account for millions of CO2 every year4. By opting to hang dry clothing instead, you could save yourself a heap of money (air is free) and help reduce carbon emissions.
7. Wash your clothes in cold water
You can keep your clothes clean and reduce your carbon footprint by switching to the cold water setting on your washing machine. Families in the United States switching to cold water washing would eliminate millions of tons of carbon emissions. Over 90 percent of the energy consumed during a washing cycle is to heat the water.
8. Start composting
Uneaten leftovers and food that's expired typically gets thrown out and shipped off to landfills, where it decomposes into harmful methane gases. A compost bin will reduce the food waste your household contributes to landfills and, as a bonus, it makes an excellent fertilizer for your garden – it's a win-win!
9. Invest in a water filter
It seems ironic that people buy plastic bottled water to avoid drinking contaminated water when plastic is a significant waterway pollutant. For households that rely on plastic water bottles, try using a refillable countertop water filter instead. Affordable water filters for as little as $40 protect from lead, chlorine, and other pathogens. Investing in one will save you money over time and prevents unnecessary plastic waste.
10. Use green cleaning products
Green cleaning products are less hazardous to the planet because they don't contain harsh chemicals that cause water and air pollution5. Sourcing cleaning supplies that are phosphate-free, non-toxic, biodegradable, and chlorine-free might sound like an impossible task, but several natural cleaning brands offer eco-conscious products. There are also many natural products you might already have around your house, like vinegar and baking soda, that work as cleaning agents.
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