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Green Tips for Every Room in the House
Posted on 04/07/2015 | 0 Comments

Green Tips for Every Room in the House

As it turns out, it can be easy being green. There’s an eco alternative for almost every toxic or energy-inefficient element in your home, and in many instances, creating a greener home will add some extra green to your wallet. Follow these floor-to-ceiling tips for creating an environmentally friendly living space.

The Design

Consider bamboo. If you have the option to do some serious redecorating and you like the look of hardwood flooring, bamboo is a great option. Bamboo grows at a faster rate than other trees used for wooden flooring and the trees are easily replaceable. It comes in a variety of colors and finishes and may actually increase the value of your home as buyers increasingly look for green features. Bamboo blinds are also a great replacement for the flimsy vertical variety for the same reasons.

If you prefer a carpeted floor, modular carpet tiles are the way to go. These self-contained, interchangeable pieces are often made of recyclable materials (those with Green Label Plus certification are best). The squares are easy to lay down, don’t require toxic padding, and can be easily pulled up and shipped back to the manufacturer for recycling, or taken to a new home after a move. Better yet, if you stain a square, there’s no need to scrap the entire floor covering. Simply replace the damaged tile and forget it ever happened.

For your walls, choose Certified Green paints or natural paints. Conventional paints contain harmful plasticizers, adhesives, hardeners, pigments, biocides and solvents called “Volatile Organic Compounds.” These VOCs escape into then air when paint is applied to the walls (that’s that fresh paint smell most of us are familiar with) and can continue to do so for more than a year after application. Paints with an environmental certification seal on the label use VOC-free colorants, are free of vinyl and plasticizers, and contain no toxic biocides. Natural Casein paints, on the other hand, come in powder form and are made from milk proteins, lime and non-toxic pigments. Commonly used in homes in the 18th and 19th centuries, these paints come in fewer colors and are not as durable as modern varieties.

Big windows are the best ways to save on lighting costs, but if your home is suffering from a dearth of natural light, LED bulbs are a great, green option. They last longer and operate on an efficiency of 80-90% (compared to 20% for incandescent bulbs), making them a much more cost-effective choice.

Invest in energy-efficient appliances. They’re both better for the environment and will save money in the long run.

The Kitchen

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store. It’s a simple way to cut down on plastic, and some stores have even begun to embrace the trend by charging for bags at checkout.

Buy grains, beans, tea and similar items in bulk to eliminate the excessive packaging that usually comes with so many of these foods. You can even consider bringing your own reusable containers to the grocery store. Have a cashier weigh the container on its own first so you can subtract this weight from the price of the item. And often, saving on packaging also means you’ll save some cash.

Consider buying the largest sizes of other staples, such as olive oil and vinegar. Again, buying in bulk means you’ll contribute less packaging to landfills.

For lunchtime, ditch the brown paper bags and plastic baggies. Instead, pack your lunch and your children’s lunches in reusable containers.

Compost. Carrot trimmings, apple cores, eggshells and the like actually decompose faster in a compost pile than they would in a landfill. Composting cuts down on kitchen trash, and completed compost can fertilize houseplants, flower or vegetable gardens.

Buy organic and eat local. Aside from being better for you (both richer in nutrients and chemical-free), choosing to eat organic reduces the pesticide burden on the earth. Locally grown food is more ecologically sustainable and benefits the local economy. Seasonal food can also be more affordable as you’re not paying for it to be shipped across the world, but to have the local fruits and vegetables you crave all year round, buy large quantities and freeze or dry them.

Drink filtered—not bottled—water. Buying a reusable water bottle and affixing a filter to your tap is the greener option.

If you have a newer dishwasher with a built-in garbage disposal, skip pre-rinsing your dishes to conserve water.

The Laundry Room and Closet

Hang your laundry to dry. Consider installing a clothesline in the back yard—it’s good for your clothes and for the environment.

Give the unused items in your closet a second life. Donate wearable items to charity and cut up the un-wearable ones for your rag collection.

Living Spaces

Use organic fabrics for everything from your bed sheets to your curtains. The cotton used to make the fabrics sold by Harmony Art was grown with untreated seeds in healthy soil and is bleached with safe peroxide.

Place houseplants in every room to act as natural air filters. The best air-cleaning houseplants include spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants and peace lilies. The average house needs 15 to 18 plants for the air purification to take effect.

If you have a fireplace in your home, try using Fire Glass Crystals as an alternative to wood. These glass rocks are reusable, don’t discolor or burn, and give off no carbon dioxide.

Don’t buy new furniture. While you may think Ikea prices can’t be beat, flea markets and auctions are a great way to find quality pieces for low prices that can always be refurbished with green finishes and fabrics.

Keeping it all Clean

Swapping paper towels for cloth rags is a simple way to cut down on waste. Using old clothes as mentioned above makes this swap even greener.

Though Swiffer may be easier, try buying a reusable mop. Certain mop heads can be washed in the washing machine and hung to dry.

There are a number of green brands of cleaners, but you can also make your own using natural ingredients. These recipes from SparkPeople.com are a great place to start:

  • Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with a lint-free cloth or old newspaper.
  • Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away.
  • Floors: Mix 4 cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil to scent the solution. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind your chosen fragrance.
  • Wood furniture: Mix equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto furniture in long, even strokes.
  • Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub. Occasionally, disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax. Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar.
  • Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 cups hot water, and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with a dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean.
  • Mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar.
  • Air freshener: Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball, and place it in a corner of the room. Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms. Cinnamon, clove, and citrus oils are good options for the rest of the house, while peppermint oil can keep you alert in the car or in an office.

The Décor:

It’s easy to get creative with upcycling when decorating your home. The possibilities are practically endless—from turning old boots into planters to creating throw pillows from tote bags. You can find inspiration and upcycled pieces you could never dream of creating yourself on ArtfullyReimagined.com.


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