April is earth month! The eco-home movement is growing steadily and greater numbers of homeowners are curious about what “green” means, how they can lower their home’s footprint and how they can start down a green path in a manner that will not significantly impact their daily lives.
What does “Green” mean?
The term “green” is typically used to encompass any initiative aimed at reducing waste of any kind and to lowering one’s footprint. Whether it is a reduction in consumer waste, energy expenditure or the use of toxic products in your daily routine, green covers it all.
Where to start
If you aren’t already immersed in green living, from the outside looking in it can seem daunting. A newbie to the eco-movement might wonder where to start when it comes to reducing their waste and energy consumption and to ridding their home of toxic chemicals. Baby steps is really the best way to start. If you begin by changing small things in your routine, then it will be easier to slowly move to the larger items.
The three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The old adage every schoolchild is taught is entirely applicable in this context. Begin your green home makeover by reducing your consumption, reusing what you do have for as long as possible and recycling all the items that can be recycled.
To Reduce Consumption
One of the best ways to reduce your consumption footprint is to buy in bulk or to buy products that are unbundled, thereby reducing the amount of packaging going into your recycling bin or garbage. Making large quantity purchases also cuts down on the number of times you have to drive to the store, further reducing your emissions footprint.
The word is really self-explanatory – reuse everything that can be reused. From clothing, to shoes, to plastic bags, to water – if you can reuse then do so! Here are some ideas:
Use rain barrels to capture rainwater to use when watering the garden or your house plants
Wash, dry and reuse plastic baggies for lunches, snacks or storing items. Better yet, use glass, tin or plastic containers instead.
Buy classic cuts of clothing that won’t go out of style and wear them out – then turn them into something else or give them to the thrift store so that they go on to live some more!
Again here, the sky’s the limit with what you can do to recycle items. Old tires can be turned into attractive flower containers, tin cans make great bird feeders and empty laundry detergent bottles can be turned in sturdy scoopers to use in the garden. Do a simple internet search for “recycling ideas” and you’ll get a plethora of easy and awesome ideas to follow.
On a simpler note, merely getting a large recycling bin and putting all recyclable materials into it for city pick up is the easiest way to recycle. Composting kitchen waste is another great recycling idea.
Ensuring that your home is energy efficient is another way to make a big eco-impact. Here are some ideas for reducing your energy consumption.
– Install programmable thermostats
– Cut down on dishwasher and dryer use by letting dishes and clothes air dry
– Turn lights and small appliances off when not in use
– Shower instead of soaking in a tub
– Stop any leaks around windows and doors – changing them if necessary
– Increase the insulation in your attic
– Open blinds in the winter to warm up your home passively and close blinds in the summer to cool your home passively
Reduce Your Toxic Footprint
Reducing the number of toxins in your home can be as simple as replacing all of your cleaning products with natural products that are chemical free. In fact, making your own using simple vinegar and baking soda is the easiest way to go!
Being green doesn’t mean having to install solar panels on your roof or switching to an electric car – although you can certainly do that as well! As long as you take small steps in the right direction, you will be able to make a positive reduction in your home’s eco-footprint.
To read more about the incentives offered by the Ontario Ministry of Energy click here