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How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact at Home

More people are recognizing the importance of saving the planet, and companies are stepping up with creative ways to reduce our collective environmental impact. From products that promote a sustainable home to electric cars, it’s not hard to find ways to promote greener living while preserving the world’s resources for future generations. Reducing your environmental impact can also save you money, particularly if you choose to seek sustainable home ideas.

Recycling is Still Important

Experts claim that the United States produces well over 250 million tons of trash each year. Much of this finds its way to incinerators and landfills, and recycling can redirect waste to better places. Paper, tin and steel cans can still be recycled. Check with your municipality or state to see what kinds of plastic can be recycled in your area. You can also recycle broken electronics, dry cell batteries and car batteries as long as it is done properly.

Recycling also applies to clothing, and there are many organizations that accept gently used goods. Real Simple advises donating to The Vietnam Veterans of America, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Shelters, hospitals, synagogues and churches can also accept clothing and other goods. When buying new clothes, check out brick-and-mortar and online thrift and consignment shops. These are also great sources for finding children’s toys and other household items.

Sustainable Eating

One of the best ways to have a sustainable home is to start the habit of composting. Gardeners like Martha Stewart refer to it as “black gold,” and for good reason. It turns everyday food scraps and other organic materials into soil treatments loaded with nutrients and moisture that boost plant health. You can buy a compost bin or use another large container, and toss in food waste, branches and dry leaves.

Planting a garden is another way to reduce your environment footprint, and it can also save you money. Best of all, nothing tastes better than a freshly-picked tomato or strawberry. You also don’t need to fertilize the plants with chemicals if you use compost. When you do go food shopping, buy fresh, whole foods that are not treated with chemicals.

Shop local, too, as this supports local economies. Also remember to bring  your own bags, rather than accumulating plastic ones in your pantry. You can take them back to the store for recycling if you have to, but many states have already or will be eliminating plastic bags altogether.

Eco-Friendly Appliances

Old-fashioned appliances use a lot of energy, are inefficient and can waste a good deal of money. Energy Star-rated appliances save consumers money and protect the environment, so replacing old and inefficient appliances with new and efficient alternatives is a smart idea. There are some high-tech, high-performing refrigerators and dishwashers on the market, and they can use up to 40 percent less energy than other models.

Induction cooktops are also energy-efficient. They use electrical induction rather than thermal conduction from an electric heating element or a flame. This allows them to heat up quicker, reducing energy usage and cooking time for you. Other cooktops have fast-boiling features, which may also be worth looking into.

You can also cut back on water and energy usage by purchasing an Energy Star washer and dryer. Look for the bright yellow stickers and tags while you are shopping. Try running fewer loads with more clothing instead of a lot of small loads, and dry clothing outside on a clothesline when the weather is sunny.

Other Sustainable Home Ideas

In many parts of the country, homeowners can choose their own energy suppliers. If you fall into this category, choose one that uses solar, geothermal or other kinds of renewable power resources. Some minor renovations can also help make your home more sustainable. Utility providers often provide free energy audits, and this can be a good place to start before doing any work.

Experts may recommend filling in the gaps around your doors and windows with weather stripping, window putty or caulk. You might also want to replace old insulation, which can keep cold air in and warmer air out. Also add insulation around your water heater and cover up bare floors with rugs. Here are a few more ideas to make your home more sustainable:

  • Use LED light bulbs, which use 85 percent less energy
  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full

·       Turn off all electronics (light switches, computers or televisions) when not in use.