New Year New You: Go Green or Go Home

The following posts are from our January 2014 series “New Year, a New You.”  One article will be posted each day in January to discuss building a better you.  Article topics will vary every day.  We will present various ways to improve your life physically, spiritually, financially and emotionally. Click here to view previous posts.

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The earth can always use a few superheroes to make eco-friendly changes. After all she’s the only one we’re getting so let’s take car of her!  Below are some simple, everyday alterations you can make in your home to improve the quality of mother earth.

• Swap Your Household Cleaners
Make the switch to green cleaners. They reduce air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers. Make sure to look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels. You can also try making you own cleaners by using natural ingredients like baking soda, white distilled vinegar and lemon juice. There are plenty of concoctions to be found on Pinterest.

• Shop for Sustainably-Raised Meat
While “sustainable” isn’t a term certified by the USDA like organic is, it generally means that the animal was given plenty of room to graze, and it wasn’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. Labels like free-range and organic as well as no-hormone and no-antibiotic are what you need to be looking for at the meat department.

• Update Your Insulation
Increasing insulation to prevent faulty ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent. If a redoing of your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades. They block the warmth of the summer’s sun and retain heat in the winter. You can even use something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.

• Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Removing your shoes when you enter your home is pretty much the equivalent of washing your hands. It prevents the outside gunk like car exhaust, chemicals, and pesticides from being tracked all over your home. And it’s something that is very simple to start.

• Choose Safe Pots and Pans
What you USE to cook with can have an impact on your food. Non-stick pans, while convenient, can be a problem if you scrape the coating and it gets into your food. The three best and safest options are cast iron, enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel.

• Purchase Fragrance-Free Products
Conventional fragrances often contain chemicals that are harmful to the ecosystem when washed down the drain. If you like perfumed cosmetics, soaps, or cleaning products, make sure you read the label to find those made with essential oils.

• Reduce Use of Bug Sprays and Pesticides
Prevention is the best key when it comes to keeping bugs away. Make sure your kitchen is crumb-free and seal any holes in the walls or cracks in the foundation. Doing that means you won’t have to use harmful chemicals in your home. If you do require pest-control, reach for greener alternatives or some homemade remedies first.

• Save Some for the Fishes
Toilets from before 1994 can use up to 3.5 gallons per flush, versus 1.6 gallons for newer models. If you don’t have the money currently to purchase a new toilet, adjust the float valve to admit less water into your toilet’s tank. This will help cut down on the 3.5 gallons your elderly toilet uses.

• Recycle Your Clothes
We know to recycle paper, plastic, and glass. But what about all those unwanted items in our closets? Donating unused clothes has an impact on the environment: “By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t have another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill,” states magazine Real Simple. Chatham County has some great places to drop off your old attire like The Chatham County PTA stores. Drop off boxes are located throughout the county.

These are all easy changes and updates that can be made with little or no effort for the planet. And who doesn’t like easy?

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