Thursday, May 22, 2008

Everyday Green Living
By Marissa Ponikowski

There are many ways to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle, and the best place to start is your very own home. Read on for easy eco tips to share with the whole family.

Conserving water is important – but so is protecting it from contamination. Purifying contaminated water can be difficult and very often results in wasted water. To keep the water supply clean:

Cut down on the amount of household chemicals you use and dispose of the ones you do use at local drop-off centres.
Use biodegradable products whenever possible. Especially avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers outdoors.
Store garbage properly and clean up paint or other chemical spills right away.
Keep your vehicles in good working order, so leaking oil or gas doesn’t make its way into the water supply.
To save water:

Shorten your shower time to about six minutes, and, if you choose to have a bath, only fill the tub halfway.
Never leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving or lathering up during hand washing.
Never throw garbage, such as tissues, paper towels or cigarette butts, in the toilet and flush. This wastes several gallons of water.
Saving energy also means saving money, which is just another good reason to be kind to the environment. To save energy in your home:

If planning on purchasing new appliances look for Energy Star models. These are high quality, widely available and some municipalities even offer a rebate incentive if you buy them.
Only run your dishwasher when it’s full, and use the air dry setting rather than drying them with heat.
Most of the energy used to wash clothes is wasted on heating the water. When possible, use cold water. Try a cold water detergent for best results.
Install a programmable thermostat and lower your thermostat a few degrees at night or when you’re not home during the day.
Apply sealant or caulking around doorframes and windows to prevent warm air from leaking out in the winter and hot air from getting in during the summer.
Air Quality
The quality of your air is directly related to the products you use. Synthetically scented products are rarely environmentally friendly and could even contribute to asthma and other respiratory disorders. To improve the air quality in your home:

Use detergent and water instead of harsh disinfectants which tend to give off noxious fumes.
Select unscented cleaning products, or go natural and clean with baking soda, vinegar and castile soap. These products often work better than commercial cleaning products!
Avoid the use of aerosol sprays of any kind.
Don’t use air fresheners. These products often contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and phthalates. Recent studies have also found that air fresheners release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air - especially plug-in air fresheners containing pinene and d-limonene.
Eliminate the need for deodorizers in your home by taking the garbage out daily. Rinse packaging and wrappers before throwing them in the garbage and freeze perishable wastes such as meat and fish scraps until garbage collection day.
As an air freshener alternative, try burning a few drops of natural essential oil in a clay infuser.
In the age of recycling and ‘green’ bins, it just doesn’t make sense to produce a lot of waste. Here’s how to cut your garbage output down:

Find out which plastics are accepted in your city’s recycling bins and don’t purchase plastic products that aren’t (for example, in Toronto, only recycling types 1 and 2 are accepted in the blue box).
Head to the grocery store with a handful of reusable cloth grocery bags.
Buy in bulk when possible. Store bulk food in reusable containers.
Buy high quality, durable items. Don’t make unnecessary purchases.
If your municipality has a composting program, participate by using your green bin or bag daily. You can also compost and use your own organic matter – and your garden will look gorgeous!

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