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Keeping a Green Home


There are so many different facets to making your home more green-friendly, that there's no way we could cover them all here. This is meant to be a brief overview of some of the possibilities!


The Basics

You should already know the basics. Carpool and reduce automobile usage as much as you can. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Don't let the faucet run. Keep the fridge door shut. Turn your AC slightly warmer and your heater slightly cooler. yadda yadda yaddda.


It all Boils Down To This

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Start with Reduce. Can you reduce the amount of things coming into your house? Or the amount of things you buy new? Or the amount of packaging you consume? Or the amount of disposable goods you use? Reducing how much stuff comes into your home is your first step to reducing the number of things that leave your home via the garbage!

Another aspect of reducing is taking better care of our things, to make them last longer. Hang your clothes to air out after wearing them, then put them back in the closet, and you won't need to wash them as often. Fewer washings means your clothes last longer. Take the time to put your things away - and to help your children learn to clean up after themselves - and fewer things will get broken or lost.

A third aspect of reducing is repairing. How many of us repair our clothes? Fix small problems when they're small, and your clothes will last so much longer! Did your kid just break a toy? Get out the super glue before throwing it away. Has your printer - or your washing machine - stopped working? Get it repaired instead of replacing it.

Move on to Reuse. Before you throw something away, ask yourself if it can be reused. Junk mail envelopes make good scratch paper. Cardboard boxes make good toddler toys. Bottles can often be reused. If you're crafty, the garbage can is just a playground! If you can't reuse it, maybe some else can. I usually gift my fabric scraps to quilters, for example. Find your local Freecycle, make friends with your neighborhood thrift store, or see if your neighborhood has a dumpster diving day.

Last, Recycle. If you must get rid of something, find out if it can be recycled. Many communities offer curb-side pickup of recyclables along with garbage - there is no excuse for not utilizing this service! Even if you don't have curb-side pickup, chances are good that there is a recycling center in your community.


Disposable Goods

Our society is obsessed with disposable goods. Look around the next time you go to the store. It's insane. And thinking beyond the obvious - the disposable razors and disposable diapers - there's the gradual erosion of the idea of durability in products - any products. We are a disposable society. But YOU can make the choice to live a reusable lifestyle.

Every time you buy or use something disposable, consider whether there is a nondisposable replacement. That's of course what we specialize in here at WPLiving - cloth napkins, cloth hankies, family wipes, cloth pads. But you don't necessarily have to buy products to stop using disposable ones. It can be as simple as reaching for a terrycloth towel instead of a paper one next time you spill!


Something Else To Consider

Beyond the waste we produce, another aspect of keeping a Green home is to reduce the chemicals that your family is exposed to. The most common ways that we are exposed to chemicals in our homes is through cleaning products, pesticide, and fertilizer.

Before using a chemical in or around your home, consider:

  1. Is the problem severe enough to warrant intervention? Many people, for example, fertilize their lawns even when they show no signs of distress.
  2. Is there another solution? Can I pull weeds instead of spraying them, for example?
  3. Is there a natural solution? How about using natural pesticides and fertilizers instead of chemical versions?

Cleaning is almost a no-brainer once you learn the basics. There really is no reason to spend your money on all those cleaning chemicals. Most houses can be kept quite clean through the use of nontoxic alternatives such as baking soda, vinegar, soap, and tea tree oil. This link will get you off to a good start. There are many, many other great websites out there, and several great books, as well.


Resources for Green Living

Natural Living Des Moines and the Natural Living Des Moines Blog (search for the series called Simple Steps)
Live Lightly Tour
Walk Slowly, Live Wildly Blog - discusses various aspects of green living at length
Consumer Disobedience Blog
Green Living Tips Blog
The Going Green series at the Wallypop Blog



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