Interested in making your home more eco-friendly? There are so many items in your house that may not be sustainable – and that’s okay! No one is perfect so it’s important to learn and make better choices down the line.
To me, having an eco-friendly home means being mindful of the items you bring into it. It also means knowing what powers your home – fossil fuels or renewables – and learning ways to save energy.
The good news is there’s no one way to have a sustainable home (even with a cat). The tips on this list don’t have to happen overnight – you can pick and choose which are most feasible for you at this point in time. Here are 8 ways to make your home more eco-friendly.
Table of Contents for 8 Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
- Switch to renewable energy
- Purchase energy star appliances
- Start composting
- Grow your own food
- Green your laundry routine
- Make sure you’re recycling correctly
- Ditch plastic wrap in the kitchen
- Assess the plastic in your bathroom
1. Switch to Renewable Energy
One of the best things you can do for your home is to stop getting your electricity from fossil fuel powered sources. Instead, switch over to renewable energy.
Even if you live in an apartment, you can do this nowadays. You don’t even have to install a thing or switch providers. Just call your utility company and ask about sourcing electricity from renewable sources – they should be able to help you.
I recommend checking out Inspire Clean Energy because they make switching to renewables easy from an apartment. Or a home that cannot have solar panels on their roof. You just pay one flat fee every month and the transition is almost instantaneous. Cause why shouldn’t clean energy be accessible?
2. Purchase energy star appliances
Energy Star appliances are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy. They use anywhere from 10 to 50 percent less energy than other appliances. That makes a huge difference on your electric bill, and it helps reduce power consumption overall.
Lots of items can be energy star appliances – everything from laptops to air conditioners can have this certification. When I needed a new laptop, I made sure it ticked off the energy star checkbox and I suggest you do the same.
Also, just a quick note on energy consumption as a whole: Be mindful of it.
Even with energy star products, you don’t want to overexert them.
- Be sure to power things down when you leave or aren’t in a room.
- Take out plugs (they suck energy even when something is off), and turn off switches.
This will help you save on your energy bills too.
3. Start Composting
Instead of dumping your food scraps in the trash, start composting them.
You can do this by saving your food scraps in a container (I personally have a stainless steel compost pail, but even an upcycle takeout container will do), then dropping them off at a farmers market or community garden.
Often times, these places have food scrap collection sites, but be sure to double check.
If you have enough room in your home, consider vermicomposting, or making your own compost bin. Just make sure you have a balance of both browns and greens no matter what.
Composting helps make sure your food scraps actually break down (which they don’t do in a landfill, FYI). In a landfill, food scraps produce methane gas which is approximately 30 times more potent than CO2.
Getting into the habit of composting can help you prepare of throwing zero waste parties at your home!
If there’s one thing you do on this list, let it be composting.
4. Grow Your Own Food
Most of the food in the grocery store was grown overseas and unsustainably – probably using pesticides and in monocultures that don’t exactly promote biodiversity.
There are several problems with this – for starters, the farther away our food is grown, the longer it takes to get to us, resulting in more carbon emissions and considerably less fresh food.
Secondly, conventional farming practices deplete the soil of vital nutrients through overuse of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. And these often enter waterways and wind up killing soil, turning it to useless dirt.
At the pace we’re going, we have an estimated 60 years of farmable topsoil left on earth.
Not to mention, most of us don’t even know what grows in which season, nor what a plant looks like. For example, my own father didn’t even know how a cucumber plant looked until he visited my community garden where I grow it myself.
If you have the space to, please consider growing your own food.
And please don’t use chemicals to maintain it – instead opt for using compost and natural methods of pest control (if needed).
Homegrown food tastes the best and doesn’t come wrapped in plastic either – so it’s a double bonus. Plus, it’s loaded with extra nutrients because you pick it when it’s at its peak!
5. Green Your Laundry Routine
A lot of laundry products are packaged in plastic and contain questionable ingredients that actually pollute waterways.
For example, let’s focus on the ingredients in laundry detergent: Phosphates are one of the problematic ones which can lead to eutrophication in waterways.
This causes big algae blooms that harm marine life and deplete the water of oxygen.
Other ingredients like dyes and fragrances, are also harmful to waterways and can actually lead to dead zones, or even cause reproduction issues in marine life.
I recommend switching over to eco-friendly laundry detergent like Tru Earth, Dropps, and Blueland – these all come delivered right to your door plastic-free and waterway safe.
I really love just add water products for laundry detergents too, like ultra-concentrated sheets (Tru Earth sells these), because it helps reduce packaging waste and save water. The liquid detergents require water to be made after all – and it also wastes water to make the bulky plastic jugs.
Mind you, 1 billion laundry jugs get discarded in the US every year and only 30% get recycled. The other 70% ends up in landfills or find their way into our waterways. For this reason, it’s best we switch to low waste laundry detergent whenever possible.
You can also switch to wool dryer balls in place of dryer sheets, try washing in cold water to reduce energy costs, and hang dry your clothes for a greener laundry routine overall.
We have an entire guide to making your laundry routine more eco-friendly!
6. Make Sure You’re Recycling Correctly
Recycling is confusing – every state has different laws in place, so it can get tricky determining what goes in the bin. You’ll want to check your state’s recycling laws to see what’s accepted.
For example, in most places, plastic film and bags are not recyclable with regular recycling. You have to find a drop off collection site for those items, which is usually located in grocery stores.
Check and see if your local recycling facility will allow you to call and ask questions, or even schedule a tour. You can ask questions in person and learn more about the process, that way you know exactly what to put in the blue bin.
Also, in terms of plastic, just because it has a recycling symbol on it doesn’t mean it’s actually recyclable. The number inside those symbols typically indicates what kind of plastic it is. There are seven major kinds and they’re not all created equal.
Generally speaking, glass and aluminum are infinitely recyclable which is great. But there are some locations that don’t recycle glass – if that’s the case, try to reuse any glass you get a hold of through upcycling.
I recommend making sure you wash all your recyclables out before putting them in the bin. They don’t have to be spotless, but there shouldn’t be any food inside. A quick rinse should do the trick. Otherwise, it may contaminate the entire bin!
7. Ditch Plastic Wrap in the Kitchen
Plastic cling wrap is a nuisance to recycle, as mentioned above. You’re better off just ditching it for reusable and compostable beeswax wrap. If you’re vegan, you can find vegan wax wraps too. Beeswrap is my personal favorite – they make both. Plus, they have such pretty designs and patterns!
Not all beeswax wraps are made equal, so I’d suggest going with brands that get it right every time. I adore Beeswrap and Abeego – they always get it right. To use these wraps, you just need the warmth of your hands – they’ll secure the wrap in place. You can use it to store cut produce, spare berries, cover a plate, or wrap a sandwich.
Other eco alternatives to plastic wrap include silicone bags (like Stasher Bags), glassware, silicone lids, and cloth bowl covers. Or, if you’re on a budget, just use a dish to cover something in a bowl!
8. Assess the plastic in your bathroom
Lots of plastic lurks inside the bathroom – you’ll find it in your shampoo bottles, shower gel bottles, toothbrushes, floss, and other hygiene products. Even toilet paper comes wrapped in it.
I recommend using up what you have, then switching over to more zero waste alternatives. Only 9% of plastic is actually recycled, so it’s important we limit how much actually makes it into our homes.
Our toothbrushes are made from bamboo and can be composted at the end of their lives, making it a perfect first swap. There’s also compostable silk floss you can pair it with. Also, here are my favorite zero waste mouthwash and toothpaste recipes.
For the shower, I recommend switching to shampoo bars and conditioner bars. The same applies to shower gel – grab soap bars instead.
For toilet paper, try getting individually wrapped ones because these won’t be packaged in plastic wrap. You could also try out some eco-friendly toilet paper companies like Who Gives a Crap, Naturolly, Cloud Paper and Reel Paper. They deliver right to your door, are tree-free and never come wrapped in plastic.
What are some ways you’re keeping your home eco-friendly and sustainable? Share in the comments below!
About the Author:
Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on Going Zero Waste, Mother Earth Living, Green Matters and several other publications. Get her free e-book “10 Ways to Reduce Trash” by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.
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