“How do I make my home green?” we may wonder. Well, range of “greening” process is very wide, but the good news is we can start with something simple, easy and mostly inexpensive.
The first thing we can do to make our home “greener” is to change some of our habits in our daily living. This includes turning off the lights in rooms that are not occupied, switching off the computers at night including the power strips, and turning off any other appliances like TV when not being used. These are things that would reduce our power consumption. Also, be mindful about using the water: turning off the faucet while brushing teeth and/or shaving; turning the shower off while lathering; running the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. These are definitely simple, easy and inexpensive, but I admit it takes me quite a bit of conscious behavior a.k.a. “mindfulness.” [Since I am a mindfulness meditation teacher, I would dare mention that having a meditation practice helps to change these habits!] And obviously, we can carry this habit outside of our home to anywhere we go.
The next easiest way for greening our home is to use the “green” cleaning products. The commonly used cleaning products we buy from grocery stores contains harsh chemicals that are quite toxic. If the container have any kind of “hazard warning,” that verifies the toxicity and we definitely want to stay away from them as we, the inhabitants of the home including ourselves and our pets, end up inhaling such chemicals. These days there are many products with “green labels” on the shelves of the stores. They may be slightly more expensive, but considering the ramification on our health, we may be saving significantly in medical bills. Then we can always go back to the basic cleaning tools that our grandmother used to use: baking soda for abrasives, vinegar for disinfectant, and citrus fruits for deodorizer!
As long as we’re talking about the changes we can make in our behaviors to make our home greener, I must mention the “3Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Our households produces trash every day. Again, I will mention the word, “mindfulness” here to encourage us to be very conscious about what we’re consuming in our household. We have become so spoiled with disposable products, especially single-use items, from floor cleaning pads (like Swifters), razors blades, plastic containers that food delivery comes in. I know they’re all so convenient for our busy life, but is there any of those items that we can go without? May be we can choose just one of those things we consciously not to use? If we do that every day, the amount of trash we’re reducing from our home probably gets to be significant. Also, this may sound rather counter-cultural, but “reusing” items also reduces the waste we collectively produce. Just like how “reusable” shopping bags have become so ubiquitous in our life, we’re now seeing many other “reusable” items. Instead of grabbing a cup of coffee in a paper cup at the office kitchen, use a ceramic cup or thermos cup we carry. Now I see “reusable straws” becoming popular. Instead of using a plastic straw, which gets tossed in trash after we finish our drink, carry a metal straw in our purse to use when we need it. Whenever we’re acquiring something for our home be it furniture or other household items, we can find quality items from used furniture stores, thrift stores, and estate sales. I know it’s not necessarily convenient and calls for change of habits.
Lastly, recycling is something that most people are already doing. Make sure we buy recycled paper products when available, and recycle them again when we’re done using. I do want to remind we, however, that the plastic bottles are becoming a huge issue. It’s definitely a good idea to place those bottles in recycle bins, but it’s far better if we don’t buy the bottled water to begin with and reduce the amount of plastic bottle we’re using.
So, this may not sound like anything to do with “greening” our home, but really, this is really where it begins – us, humans, in our actions in our daily living. Most importantly, though, nobody is perfect. I’m not by far. But it is the intention that counts!
Check Earth911.com websites for information for all kinds of ways we can be green!