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Most of us understand – and wholeheartedly endorse – the broad goals of going green: preserving the earth’s natural resources, reducing climate-changing pollution, and ultimately ensuring that our planet is sustainable now and in the future. Yet, we are often confused about what we as individuals can do to help in this paramount mission.
There are many environmentally meaningful ways in which we can contribute to the great goal of keeping our planet in ecological harmony and sustainable for our children and beyond, just by making small changes in our homes and our lifestyles.
Here are some small-but-mighty ways to go green at home:
Switch out your light bulbs
CFL bulbs save on energy over time, and last nearly 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs, reducing your trash footprint. And if you replace one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent one, it’s been estimated you will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide being dumped into the atmosphere per year.
Compost your food scraps and garden debris
Food scraps make up about 30 per cent of municipal garbage, so don’t throw it in a bin, compost it along with your backyard compostable waste, and turn your trash into an organic fertilizer for your garden.
Clean with vinegar
Vinegar is an effective killer of bacteria, mold and viruses. It also cleans well (was likely the cleaner of choice for your mother and grandmothers), costs little and is a great environmental choice over synthetic chemicals used in traditional cleaners.
Clamp down on your heating/cooling energy consumption
If you have a water heater that is less than 13 years old, you can make it more efficient by insulating it with a water heater insulating jacket (available at Rona or Home Depot). To save energy (and electricity costs), consider turning down the temperature by 5 C, and use a cold water setting when laundering. If you are about to replace your water heater, stay with gas or electric power to avoid a retrofit, which can be costly, and look for Energy Star-certified water heaters.
You’d be surprised how much energy and cost you can save by doing these things: only heating and cooling systems beat water heaters for the most energy consumed in a typical home. If you install a low-flow showerhead you will save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere per year. Lower your thermostat by just 2 C in winter and raise it by 2 C in summer to save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. And simply by turning off your electronic devices (TV, computer, DVD) when not in use will also save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
Plant a tree
Did you know that a single tree will absorb one tonne of carbon dioxide in its lifetime? Plant one in your backyard or donate time/money to your community’s tree-planting program.
Recycling is one of the easiest and greenest things you can do. Recycling reduces dumping, greenhouse gas emissions, and improves air quality. You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.
Going green in your home basically amounts to conserving energy, opting for natural products, and managing your waste. You don’t have to change all of your “non-green” habits overnight; go at it one step at a time. For instance, you can begin your “greening” by getting rid of your excess junk and trash and start with a clean slate. If you have a lot of it, think about hiring a full service junk removal company – it will save you much time and effort, and more importantly, these professionals will dispose of the waste in an environmentally friendly way.