Last month, we talked about easy ways to improve the quality of the air in your home. This month, we follow up with easy ways you can go green in your own everyday environment. Read on for ways you can be environmentally responsible in your own home and yard as well as some natural home cleaning recipes.
Most people are aware that solar panels save on electrical usage but installing them is a huge project – and you may not be prepared to retrofit your home or build a new house with panels at this time. But you can still do your part on a smaller scale by switching to newer LED light bulbs. Offering better light output, LEDs also win hands-down for using less electricity as compared to traditional bulbs.
Outdoor motion-detector lighting is yet another way; by eliminating all-night-long (active) lighting and replacing with lights that only turn on when motion is detected, you use less electricity in the long-run. Although your power is on while in the stand-by mode, this status uses less electricity than when the lights are actively lit.
Have you ever thought about harvesting rainwater? Using water that literally falls from the sky is a great way not only to save money on your water consumption, but it also helps maintain the earth’s water supply. Rain collection barrels can be connected to gutter downspouts which are outfitted with leaf guards to keep the spigots clear. If you water a garden, wash your vehicles or even bathe your pets outdoors, consider installing rain barrels to collect your own.
Another way to use less water is in your bathroom. Smart flush toilets use different amounts of water sensing whether solids or liquids are to be flushed while other models allow you to choose the option. Used consistently, these toilets use far less water than traditional ones, saving you money. The down side, however, is that smart toilets either require wired electric from your home or batteries, so it actually uses electricity while saving water.
Do you have old showerheads in your bathrooms? If so, replace with all new ones to slow the flow. You’ll get used to it in no time but, more importantly, you’ll be saving water – and realize savings up to $40 or more per month on your water bill (depending on the size of your family).
A bidet either retrofitted to your current toilet or purchased already as part of a new toilet, uses water to clean and cuts down greatly on toilet paper usage. It also may extend the life of your septic system, certainly reducing the frequency of pumping the tank.
By the way, Mike of D4 Construction in Kamloops can renovate or build your new home for you. Whether you choose to replace all your toilets and showerheads or have a new energy-efficient home custom built from the ground up, Mike is experienced, honest and fair – and he’ll get the job done right. Why not call him today? You can reach Mike and his crew at 250-572-4812.
Do you compost? Trimmings left over from vegetables, egg shells and coffee grinds are but a few examples of the many non-meat natural foods that are nutrient-dense and add tremendous value to the dirt in your garden. And it’s free since you’ve paid for it already as food. Don’t like the idea of a can of waste foods sitting on your kitchen counter? Use a larger coffee can with lid and contain the smell by keeping it in the freezer. Once it’s full, empty into your garden bed and start again. It’s a wonderful way to take full advantage of this valuable natural resource. Used in conjunction with your rainwater, it’s truly a win-win for you and the world we live in.
Most of us are aware of the incredible amount of paper waste we generate. There are different ways to alleviate the drain on our forests caused by manufacturing products such as paper towels. Back in our grandparents’ era and earlier, households were stocked with rags for cleaning which were simply washed alongside other laundry. A purchase of some microfiber cleaning cloths is a smart investment. But you can always start with cloth diapers no longer needed for your child, kitchen towels that have seen better days or you can make them if you enjoy sewing and have fabric scraps lying around.
Recycling might seem like a given for many of us, but there are still so many who don’t recycle. Create a recycling center in your garage or wherever is convenient. Depending on where you live, you may be required to clean and separate items into plastics, clear and colored glass, aluminum and metal. When you make it easy for family members to separate their recyclables, they not only contribute but develop these good habits.
Bags, bags and more bags! With an eye on a possible carry-out plastic bag ban in Kamloops as soon as this spring, and with other cities like Victoria already on board, there’s more reason than ever to adjust to means other than plastic bags for product take-out. Many homes have an overabundance of plastic grocery store bags. Use the plastic ones you already have accumulated to clean up after your pets. Use whatever totes you have at home to bring home your groceries and other purchases when out shopping. And while we’re on the topic of bags, if you’ve always depended on single-use lunch bags, invest in a lunch box or insulated lunch bag to save a great deal of paper. In the long run, it will save you money, too.
One additional way to be mindful of our environment is by ditching single-use plastics, such as cling wrap and single-use sandwich bags. With just a piece of fabric, some scissors, beeswax and an iron, you can make your own beeswax food wraps. You’ll also realize big savings. Do a search online for any of the many (super easy!) tutorials to do this if you prefer to DIY. However, you can easily purchase them online if you so choose.
Read labels when food shopping. Look for certification designations; these indicate that the item was harvested or produced using sustainable practices.
Natural cleaners are an easy way to go green at home if you aren’t already using them. Here are a few easy recipes you can make today without any of the chemical ingredients found commercially. In fact, most of the ingredients required are probably sitting in your pantry right now.
- All-Purpose cleaner: Make your own by mixing 1 cup white vinegar into 1L warm water. Add 1 tsp. liquid castile soap and shake gently to mix well. Another version is equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. Spray onto hard surfaces and allow to sit 10 minutes before wiping clean.
- Countertops, sinks and tubs: Mix ¼ cup baking soda into 1L. warm water. Mix well and then spray and wipe. This is perfect to keep in the kitchen as well as in bathrooms.
- Mirrors and glass: Mix 1 cup white vinegar and ½ cup rubbing alcohol into 1L. warm water. Mix well and then spray and wipe. Again, keep wherever you have mirrors nearby.
- Degreaser/Heavy-Duty Cleaner: Equal parts vinegar and liquid castile soap. After spraying, let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping.
- Wood floor cleaner: 3-4 tablespoons liquid castile soap mixed into 1L warm water. Double or triple the recipe depending upon the size of your wooden floor. Vacuum or sweep floor first, then wash with the mixture and a microfiber mop. Following that, use a clean microfiber mop head and fresh water to mop the floor once more as a rinse.
- Hand soap: Fill a foaming liquid soap dispenser (recycle an old one, of course) ¾ of the way with water and optionally add 1 tsp. of glycerin. Mix well. Optionally also, add 1-2 drops lavender or grapefruit essential oil. Fill the remainder of the container with liquid castile soap, allowing room for the pump to be inserted. Insert the pump top and then gently rock to mix the ingredients. Note – be sure to add ingredients in the order listed. Glycerin and water need to be mixed first to dissolve the glycerin before the other ingredients are added. Always add the water first; you’ll end up with a mass of bubbles if you add soap and then the water!
These are just a few examples of easy DIY cleaning products. There are countless recipes online for just about any type of cleaner you might look for. Regardless of the recipes you use, when transferring your handmade cleaners to spray bottles (or any containers), you must label appropriately and clearly. It’s dangerous to assume others will know what’s contained inside. A great way to label it, and remember how to prepare refills, is to use a permanent marker to write out the recipe right on the container itself (or on paper attached to the bottle). Completely cover the recipe with clear packing tape well-adhered to the dry bottle.
These suggestions are truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to going green at home. Hopefully you’ll incorporate a few of them now and continue to implement more each year. Let us know if you have an innovative way of going green at your home that you’d like to share with us. And if you need any work done in your home – or even have a new home built – Mike at D4 Construction is the contractor you want. Call Mike at D4 Construction in Kamloops today at 250-572-4812.