We all want to do our part for the environment these days but it can be tricky to know where to start.
The truth is, making your home greener doesn't take heroics or any kind of major disruptions to your usual routine. All it takes is a little more awareness about how we use our homes, the kind of waste we produce, and maybe adopting a few new habits. You don't need to turn into Captain Planet overnight to do your part for the environment!
The good news is that going green isn't all about responsibility and personal sacrifice. It's also about saving money and making your home a more relaxing place to live. Once you go green, it feels less like taking on some extra burden and more like a savvy way to save money and live a better life.
Here are a few tips to help you get started with going green!
Be smart about your sinks
A lot of the water we use at the sink is wasted, mostly due to distraction. When you brush your teeth or have your morning shave, how often do you just let the sink run while scrubbing your gums or trimming your beard? Adopting a few good habits like turning off the tap while you brush or bringing a cup of water to rinse off your razor can make a big difference in the long-term.
Speaking of shaving, it might be time to rethink the way you care for your face guys. Between disposable razors, electric shavers, and aerosol shaving creams, your morning shave is the source of an embarrassing amount of energy and waste (that likely isn't being recycled since many centers won't recycle potentially pressurized cans).
But you can cut down on that waste (and your shaving budget) by switching from disposables, electric razors, and canned creams to an old fashion safety razor and a bar & brush set, just like grandpa used to use. Safety razors offer a smoother shave with less waste (you're only tossing used blades, not an entire unit) while the soap and brush alternative to canned gels and foams give your face a more luxurious lather, without all the ozone depleting aerosol and garbage.
Keep things clean with vinegar
We all like to keep a tidy and healthy home but the overuse of commercial cleaners is one of the biggest threats to our water table right now. Remember, everything you flush down a drain ends up back in our water rotation sooner or later, including harsh chemical solvents and cleaners. While our tap water is filtered of course, the build up and accumulation of potentially harmful chemicals is a major source of concern.
You can cut back on your home's use of these chemicals by simply switching to vinegar for many of your cleaning needs! This humble kitchen condiment can be used to scrub pots, wash down counters, and make bath tubs sparkle again. It's a cheap and very environmentally conscious substitute for expensive solvents and bottles with "corrosive” warnings and grim pictures of skulls on them. Just make sure to avoid using it on natural stone (the slight acidity of vinegar doesn't play nice with granite or marble but you can find an eco-friendly cleaner for that!)
Throw some rugs down
You might not think about it but the materials you use in your home have a huge effect on what it takes to heat or cool it. Bare wood floors for example are very cool and difficult to keep warm, resulting in a harder working furnace guzzling down more energy during the winter.
You can mitigate this chilly phenomenon simply by tossing down some rugs. Covering wooden floors with a few throw rugs can save up to 6% on your energy bill. That's worth it for the savings alone, but think about how much nicer it will be when you just wake up and put your toes in cushy carpeting instead of an ice cold floor!
Keep your fridge in the shade
I know, this one sounds weird but it's true! Keeping your fridge in direct sunlight means it has to work harder to keep your milk and eggs cold. Like a lot of other green tips, this might not seem like a huge deal but it adds up over time - a difference of a few degrees can mean a hefty chunk of change on your monthly energy bill when you count up all the hours. If possible, wheel your fridge to a shady part of the kitchen where nature won't be working against it. Failing that, consider picking up some heavy blinds and just pull them down when you leave for work for the day.
Coming to you live and unplugged
Many electronic devices still draw power while not in use. Everything from computers to TVs and stereos continue to suck back the juice throughout the day, even when left completely off. In fact, many electronics use almost as much power in standby mode as they do when fully turned on. Think about all that waste!
Unplug your electronics when your not using them. It might add a few extra seconds of effort when you're ready to watch a show or check your email, but you'll see a difference on your hydro bill. Better yet, if you don't love the idea of reaching behind an appliance or entertainment set every time you're done with an item, place them on an accessible power bar that can be turned off with the flick of a finger or toe.
Again, going green is all about making small, easy to implement changes that make a difference over time. You don't need to radically change your lifestyle to be environmentally friendly – a little change here and there can make a big difference!