How to Green Your Home
Protect the environment by being “green” in and around your home!
Find a location to recycle your waste here.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours.
- Recycling a stack of newspapers 10 feet tall saves a tree.
Using reusable cloth bags to carry groceries in instead of using the store's plastic bags saves 416 plastic bags per person per year.
Don't spray pesticides in your home.
If you do it yourself, use less toxic methods like soaps, baits and traps. If you hire someone, choose a certified specialist in Integrated Pest Management. Find one at greenshieldcertified.org.
Recycle your used motor oil.
A single quart of motor oil that seeps into groundwater can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water. Ask your local sanitation or public works department how to do it, or when you buy motor oil, ask if the store or service station has a program to buy back waste oil and dispose of it properly.
Replace household cleaners that are toxic to both you and the environment with natural products. Read labels for specific, eco-friendly ingredients that work:
- Grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent
- Coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents
- Plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant.
- Or, make your own green cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax.
Use healthier paint.
Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects. Instead use zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.
- Use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.
- Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.
- Focus on perennials. Gardening with plants that live for more than one year means you don't have to pay for new plants every year; it also saves the resources used commercially to grow annuals.
- Use organic pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and damage the environment. Try organic and physical pest control methods, such as using diatomaceous earth to kill insects, pouring boiling water on weeds or using beer to bait slugs.
One of the most important steps to take is to dispose of electronic waste (E-Waste) correctly.
Americans threw away more than 100 million cell phones in 2006. Recycling them could have saved enough energy to power approximately 194,000 U.S. households for one year.
- Some of the materials in personal electronics, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, are hazardous and can release dangerous toxins into our air and water when burned or deposited in landfills improperly.
- Throwing away metal components, like the copper, gold, silver and palladium in cell phones and other electronics, leads to needless mining for new metals.
Keep E-Waste out of Landfills
Consumers, manufacturers and retailers can all help ensure that older electronics find new homes or new uses.
Depending on where you live and the products you want to recycle, you can:
Find an e-waste collection event in your town
Send it back to the manufacturer
Head to a nearby retailer that accepts old electronics
Most of these services are free, but some charge a fee (around $10) to take back a computer or a box of old electronics. See the following list of manufacturers, retailers and databases of local recycling services to find the best option for you.
E-Waste Recycling Organizations.
Wireless...The New Recyclable (for used cell phones), Basel Action Network, National Recycling Coalition, E-Cycling Central
Manufacturer Take-Back Programs.
Apple (also provides free other-brand cell phone and battery recycling at retail stores), Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Gateway, Nokia, Motorola
Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy