Last week, I offered some advice for taking your green on the go. So today, I am sharing suggestions for greening your space at home. It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or a shoebox-sized apartment; you can still make small changes that can ultimately have a larger impact. Here, five easy change-ups that you can implement this week.
Monday: Turn off the lights! Or, switch out your light bulbs. Turning a light off when you leave a room is the easiest thing you can do. It’s just the flick of a switch (or, if you live in an older apartment building like mine, the pull of a chain). The walls and furniture in the room you’ve vacated don’t need to enjoy the light if you’re not there. However, when you are turning on the lights, try out an eco-friendly light bulb. They use less energy to produce the same amount of light as the light bulbs you already own, and they last longer than regular light bulbs. Finally, candles are an aromatic, romantic alternative to lights at night if you are just relaxing or watching TV – you really can’t go wrong there.
Tuesday: Unplug all appliances that are not in use. Appliances use energy when they are turned off but plugged in. So, when you’re done with that microwave, unplug it! Bread is toasted? Unplug that toaster oven! Fan not in use? Unplug it! Start by turning off one appliance, then the appliances in one room, and go from there.
Wednesday: Switch out paper towels for cleanup and use dishrags instead. Old t-shirts work well. When you’re done, wash them by hand or throw them in with the laundry. Feel free to spill!
Thursday: Switch to reusable napkins. Cloth napkins are easy to wash, and look particularly classy displayed on your kitchen table. And forget the paper plates. Glass plates are much, much sturdier. The only real downside is that they need to be washed, but that’s such a miniscule issue that it shouldn’t be considered! Blast some music, and clean those dishes while grooving at the sink. Alternatively, if you have a dishwasher (sidenote: I am jealous!), you can use it. But more on that in a minute.
Friday: Think about saving water. Start taking shorter showers and turn off the water while you lather up. Rather than dump it out, take the last swig of water out of any cups. If you haven’t managed to polish off a full water bottle that you filled up for the day, use it to water plants. It’s a fact that we may not want to face up to, but the world is running out of fresh drinking water. It may not affect many of us in the United States on a daily basis, however other parts of the world are already struggling with water scarcity. Dishwasher folks, wait to run it until it is filled to the brim with dirty dishes and glasses. If you wash your kitchenware in a sink, turn off the water between scrubbing items, or fill up the sink or a basin with soapy water, and use that water to wash your dishes.
These are some small steps that will get you started on living a green lifestyle at home, and they’re simple enough that you can start today. Have some other ideas for greening at home? Share with me in the comments section below. Till next time!
Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.