As much as we look after our insides, we also should take care of our homes' insides. If nothing else, that's where we live, and if we're to stay healthy, we should live in a clean and healthy environment. When the indoor environment where we live becomes toxic, it's only a matter of time before these sick buildings impact our well-being.
Best Ways to "Go Green" Inside Your Home
The tips listed below focus on quick, easy, and cheap things you can do to save money on your electricity bill while helping the environment at the same time.
1. Start Recycling
I would like to believe that everybody is recycling by now, but I know it's not true. Recycling is an easy thing to do, and it helps reduce the use of unsustainable fossil fuels and other limited resources. Save your plastic, aluminum, and steel, and put it out by the curb in a separate container once a week — if you have curbside — or drop it off at the closest recycling facility. Every city has different regulations as to what they will pick up for recycling. Be sure to call and find out what exactly you're allowed to recycle to avoid confusion.
Don't just limit your recycling to your home, but expand to your workplace as well. Buy recycled products. Look for the labels that indicate a carton is made from recycled materials. Buy your children recycled paper notepads for their schoolwork. Learn what the recycling symbols on plastic mean, and only buy recyclable products.
2. Use Environmentally-Friendly Detergents
The laundry detergent you use is essential. Over 95 percent of all detergents contain toxic chemicals or by-products. Though the variety of toxic detergents (for dishes, clothes, etc.) has always been many, with the green craze, we now have companies developing environmentally safe, organic laundry detergents and organic dishwashing liquids.
Using organic products, the water that gets away will still do the least possible harm to the environment. And while we're on the subject of washing clothes, think about using cold water for your washing cycle. More often than not, your clothes will get nice and clean even if you don't have the water heated. Using cool water saves electricity (or gas, if you use a gas heating element for your hot water) and money at the same time.
3. Turn Off Electricity When Not In Use
Some of these tips are redundant, but here are some energy-saving tips in the interest of being comprehensive.
- Turn off your computer when you are not using it. Those fans that keep it from overheating take up a lot of energy.
- Turn off the lights when you're leaving a room. Do you need a light on in your bedroom when you're in the kitchen or living room?
- Want to keep warm during winter? Put on socks or a sweater instead of turning up the heater.
- When possible, avoid using the clothes dryer. Hang clothes up, either outside or inside. Either way, you won't be using electricity to dry your clothes.
- If you're in the market for new appliances, make sure you get one with the Energy Star sticker on it. They're more efficient, and they will last longer. Therefore, they stay out of landfills and save you from having to buy another one in a few years.
4. Start Saving Water
One of the biggest concerns in certain dry climates is the need to save water. As the temperature heats up around the globe, droughts occur in various locations, dams and reservoirs drop during the summer, and other consequences. They are now saving water in whatever way possible. But regardless of where you are, saving water is an excellent way to do your part for the environment.
Saving water can be accessible as well. One of the easiest and cheapest ways involves lots of buckets. Place buckets in the shower, by the sink, and outside to catch the rain. These buckets can then go to water the garden or fill up your toilet tank.
5. Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
Many homes and offices have now made the switch to energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). While CFLs are more efficient and "greener" than a traditional incandescent light bulb, I am still cautious of the use of fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting is linked to a wide range of symptoms and illnesses.
Researchers have found that exposure to fluorescent lights at night can disrupt the body's circadian rhythm. Another study found that fluorescent lighting can increase the likelihood of developing certain skin cancers. This study is especially troubling for anyone who has to work for extended periods every day under this lighting type. Exposure to fluorescent lights is also linked to an increase in stress hormones. Instead of CFLs, I recommend either full spectrum or LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) as a safe and energy-efficient alternative.
- Daniel F. Kripke, Jeffrey A. Elliott, Shawn D. Youngstedt, Katharine M. Rex. Circadian phase response curves to light in older and young women and men. Journal of Circadian Rhythms. 2007 May 8. 5:4 doi:10.1186/1740-3391-5-4.
- A. Wiskemann, E. Sturm, N. W. Klehr. Fluorescent lighting enhances chemically induced papilloma formation and increases susceptibility to tumor challenge in mice. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. 1986 October. vol. 12(2), pp 141-143.
- Clyde W. Hodge, Jacob Raber, Thomas McMahon, Helen Walter, Ana Maria Sanchez-Perez, M. Foster Olive, Kridtin Mehmert, A. Leslie Morrow, Robert O. Messing. Decreased anxiety-like behavior, reduced stress hormones, and neurosteroid supersensitivity in mice lacking protein kinase Ce. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2002 October 1. 110(7):1003–1010. doi:10.1172/JCI15903.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.