Experts Share 21 Ways to Incorporate Eco-Conscious Swaps for a Greener Home

Jun 10, 21
Experts Share 21 Ways to Incorporate Eco-Conscious Swaps for a Greener Home

Check out the recent Redfin article we were featured in: 

Practicing greener habits at home isn’t just better for the environment; it can help your energy savings in the long run as well. Not only will you be generating less waste, but you’ll also be doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint. So whether you’re a beginner looking to make more eco-conscious choices or want more ideas to up your sustainability game, we’ve got you covered. We asked environmental experts from Salt Lake City, UT to Toronto, ON for their number one tip to make smarter, eco-conscious choices at home - here’s what they had to say.

 

1) Commit to one new idea at a time

Whether it's avoiding single-use plastics, using only organic products, or going vegan, start with eco-conscious swaps that you (and your family) can sustain. What matters is for all of us to take action ASAP, no matter how small, and start from there. Progress now, perfection later. -Ecotero

2) Know your recycling numbers

Not all plastics can be recycled equally. Try learning what each of the recycling numbers means on the bottom of plastic bottles and containers to know how easily they can be recycled. Generally, the higher the number (from 1-7), the harder it is to recycle. Keep in mind that most recycling centers can recycle #1 & #2 plastics easily. -Recyclops

3) Ditch the detergent and switch to natural laundry-washing soapnut shells

Soapnut shells will leave your clothes clean and soft, and because they are 100% natural, they are perfect for sensitive skin. They are excellent value for money and will biodegrade in your garden when you're done. -Eco Passion

4) Compost your organic kitchen waste

Not only does it keep wet waste from messing up your garbage bin, but it provides your plants with some sweet nutrition on the regular. You can compost indoors if you don't have sufficient space for outdoor composting. -Kindhumans 

5) Reduce your food waste to easily reduce your personal footprint 

Instead of throwing out the stems, leaves, or other unattractive parts of your produce, reuse and repurpose them as ingredients for other dishes you want to make. Some great, easy examples are turning carrot tops into pesto, melon rinds into pickles, sauteing kale stems, or veggie scraps into stock. Then, any of your remaining food scraps can be turned into compost for your garden or plants. -Brown Girl Green

6) Create your own compost tower 

Instead of sending food scraps to landfills, turn them into nutrient-rich soil. Try making a simple compost tower-  get a 3 ft. piece of 4" PVC pipe, drill some holes in the first 10 inches, then bury it to cover the holes directly in your garden bed or anywhere in your yard. Then you’ll want to throw in some worms to speed up the process and start feeding it your vegan food scraps ( no onion, garlic, papaya, pineapple, or citrus) and the worms will take care of the rest. -Mesa Lifestyle

7) Conserve heating energy

According to research, the average household energy bill could rise by almost 20% due to working from home over autumn and winter. However, you can take action to reduce the impact on your bank account and the planet. Throw on an extra layer and reduce the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees. You probably won't notice the difference, but we can save vast amounts of energy if enough people do the same. Even better, upgrade to a smart thermostat, and you'll save even more. -The Jolly Turtle

8) Make the switch to LED lightbulbs

Still not comfortable traveling? Make your home look like a Hawaiian sunrise or a Moroccan sunset with an internet-capable LED light bulb. LEDs are one way to make your home more energy-efficient, eco-conscious, and healthy. On average, LEDs consume 80% less energy when compared to incandescent light bulbs, and they don't contain mercury like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Most of all, you can connect the bulbs to your phone or your smart speakers so you can switch the mood at the swipe of a screen. -Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection

9) Skip the dryer and hang dry your clothes

The dryer is the number three energy user, behind the refrigerator and washer. According to Green America, air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household's carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year while saving you money. The new outdoor umbrellas air dry efficiently and fold easily after use. -Simply Living

10) Invest in smarter home appliances whenever possible

If you own your own home, consider making the eco-conscious switch from electric to natural gas. Gas has been linked to methane emissions, and leaks from appliances have been likened to having a smoker in the house 24 hours a day. Also, installing solar panels lets us assure our energy is eco-friendly. Even without rebates, the investment can pay for itself in 5-7 years. -The OneEarth Project

11) Make sure your home is properly insulated

Insulating your home can lead to significant energy savings through reduced heating and cooling needs. Keep in mind that heat always moves from warmer to cooler areas until a temperature equilibrium is reached. During the hotter months, hot air infiltrates indoor spaces, which can cause AC units to be overworked. And in winter, warm air seeps out through gaps in doors and unheated basements, making heating systems work harder. Ideally, a home should be insulated on all sides - bottom floor, exterior walls, and roof. Sealing gaps and cracks are critical to creating a more airtight home. If you're looking for a project this summer, consider sealing your gaps and cracks and re-doing your insulation. -Sustridge Sustainability Consulting

12) Consider doing a life cycle assessment (LCA) on your home

A life cycle assessment (LCA) will look at all materials, energy, and water used inside your home during its construction, throughout its 80-100 years operation, and until it's demolished. An LCA tool will help you understand what drives your home's carbon so you can pick the right technology for your home to drive that carbon down. It's important to look at all of the house's components together: energy, water, and materials used by the building and estimate their contribution to the total CO2 over the life of a home. -eTool

13) Reuse and repurpose glass bottles

When grocery shopping, opt for foods stored in glass containers instead of plastic or tin cans. Besides the lower environmental impact, glass containers are also safer for your health. Unlike plastic, glass has natural non-porous properties. This means no chemicals will migrate into your food during microwave heating. Also, don't throw the jars in the recycling bin once you run out of whatever came inside. Wash it properly and repurpose it. You can use these to store soup, leftovers, get your shopping done at the bulk store, take your salad on the go, organize your makeup brushes, etc. Just like a fancy mason jar, but for a fraction of the price. -The Sustainablist

14) Keep your kitchen plastic and toxin-free with reusable items

Try a dish block vs. liquid soap to avoid plastic packaging and ditch the single-use paper towels. Make the swap to reusable Swedish dishcloths and trade sponges and brushes made from plastic for EcoCoconut products, which are made from sustainably farmed coconut husks. -Kindhumans 

15) Try the “bottle brick” trick

We removed the trash can in our kitchen and replaced it with a plastic bottle that sits on our counter. Basically, you put anything that can't be recycled or composted and stuff it into a plastic bottle (water bottle, orange juice bottle, etc.) using a stick or wooden spoon to pack it down. Items like broken rubber bands, plastic pieces from food packaging, chip bags, etc., can go in a bottle brick. Just make sure the trash has been rinsed and dried of any food or liquid so moisture doesn’t form in the bottle. Once it's filled, you have diverted weeks' worth of trash into a small bottle, and you have free building material. You can use the full bottles for insulation by lining up the bottles you collect, put a cob around it, and you have the base for a wall for a shed, chicken coop, or park bench. The ideas are endless, the building material is free, and you can work toward helping your family to go zero waste by lessening your footprint in a big way.  -Eco Womb

16) Swap any unnatural fabrics (like polyester) to natural fabrics (like cotton)

Every time you put synthetic fabrics on a wash, microplastics will filter out of your washing machine and into the ocean. One wash from one person doesn't seem like much, but with 7 billion people on Earth, every wash contributes to ocean decline. -One Planet Mind

17) Make the eco-conscious swap from single-use food bags and packaging to reusables

Instead of using single-use grocery bags, you can make and take your own to the store. Bulk buy as much as you can on your list and roll your cart up to the zero waste aisle in style. We love to make our drawstring bags from our favorite scraps of material or kitchen towels. They can be stylish, eco-conscious, and so much nicer to look at when you get your groceries home. -Loam & Lore

18) Choose sustainable alternatives whenever possible 

Don't go out and buy brand-new kitchen items for a more sustainable alternative. Using what you already have is always the most sustainable and eco-conscious option. Next time you need to replace a cooking spoon or spatula, purchase one that is made out of wood instead of plastic. Plastic spoons often warp when exposed to too much heat and cannot be recycled in your blue bin when they break. The great thing about wooden spoons is that they aren't made from petroleum which contains toxic chemicals. But the best part is, you can compost your wooden spoons at the end of their life. -Zero Waste Company 

19) Rehome old furniture 

Moving can create a lot of waste. Reach out to the current tenants of where you're moving to (through the landlord) and ask them if there is any furniture they're trying to ditch. The most sustainable furniture you can get for your new home is the furniture that is already inside. You might even get a great piece that already suits the layout of the home too. Likewise, if there's a piece of your furniture that only fits with your old home, sell or give it to the next tenants. -Lily Hanig

20) Repurpose what you can and recycle the rest

In nature, there's no such thing as waste; materials are just converted from one state to another. Tin cans of non-perishable foods can become the heating panel for a passive solar food dehydrator or your food scraps become rich compost for your garden. Always think about what the next stage is for the things you use. If you can't find any useful solutions, it's best to pass on it. -Red Diamond Compost

21) Incorporate more greenery into your home

There's magic in a houseplant. Psychologists agree that exposure to nature, even just the greenery we see on a window sill or a potted fern, improves mood, increases energy, and makes us more likely to want to go outside and be in nature - all of which has a slew of positive effects on our emotional and mental state. Swap out a tchotchke for a chia pet and reward yourself with a touch more happiness in your day-to-day life. -Who's Saving the Planet

Originally published by Redfin

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