In this day and age of global warming and climate change, an eco-friendly lifestyle goes a big way toward protecting our environment and creating ‘green’ homes. By conserving natural resources within our homes we can turn them ‘clean & green’ and help reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. Contrary to popular belief, going ‘green’ does not mean spending huge amounts of money or time. There are simple, easy ways in which we can make our homes eco-friendly and do our bit toward saving the planet. Begin with small steps.
Green Strategies for Everyday Life
- Switch to CFL bulbs. These use just a quarter of the electricity of regular bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.
- Turn off the lights – Every time you leave a room turn off the lights. Involve the kids – reward them every time they switch off a light.
- Set the temperatures on your refrigerator correctly and open the doors only when needed. Leaving them open even for just a few extra seconds wastes a lot of energy.
- Unplug electronic appliances like TVs, computers, and CD players when not in use. They can consume almost as much energy in the standby mode as they do when in use.
- Use Sunlight. It is free, abundant and an eco-friendly source of heat and light. Let the sun warm and brighten your home naturally.
- Where money is no object – installation of solar panels is an excellent way to harness solar energy for residential use.
- Start the washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load. Since every washing cycle uses almost 90 litres of water, make sure every drop counts.
- Showers use less water than a tub-bath. Using a bucket and mug is even more economical and prevents wastage.
- Remember to turn off the taps while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes.
- Maintain the plumbing by fixing leaks to minimise water wastage.
- Recycle water wherever possible. Water from AC’s and water filters can be used to water plants and wash cars.
- On a larger scale – Rain-water harvesting is an up and coming way of water conservation.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Purge your home regularly to reduce clutter that accumulates over the years.
- Substitute reusable goods for disposable ones when you can – e.g. use glassware for food storage and eating instead of plastic; use rechargeable batteries wherever possible.
- Donate used toys, books and clothes to charity regularly. Involve your children in the process. It sets a great example and teaches them to live responsibly from a young age! For example – tell children that every new toy they buy must be balanced by donating an old one!
Clean the Air
- Ban smoking in the home. It is the number one way to combat indoor air pollution.
- Grow your own fresh air placing plants around your home. They act natural air filters, and some plants are particularly effective absorbers of harmful pollutants like organic solvents, moulds, fungi etc. that are found in and around the home. Palms, Boston ferns, snake plants, spider plants, rubber plants and many other species are excellent natural air-purifiers.
Detoxify the Home
- Choose eco-friendly household cleaners instead of harsh, polluting chemical fluids. Non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products are now available in large supermarkets, organic shops and online. These can be pricey so make your own all-purpose cleaner instead, using natural ingredients. There are many recipes available online. Here is one simple recipe.
- Tea-tree oil or citrus oils make great natural disinfectants. Boric acid and white vinegar can be used as toilet cleaners.
- Use micro-fibre cloths for cleaning instead of paper. Micro-fibre cloths can be used dry or damp to clean glass, metal, wood and ceramic surfaces. They can be washed and re-used.
- Minimise the use of chemical insecticides and bug sprays. Natural insect repellents are now available online and in stores. Plants like Citronella, and essential oils like eucalyptus, cinnamon and lavender act as natural mosquito repellents.
Grow a Green Garden
- If space is available grow your own veggies and herbs in a garden. But these can be effectively grown in pots in flats where space is at premium.
- Give composting a go. It is a very effective way of turning kitchen & food waste into a nutritious soil enhancer, and reducing the trash in landfills.
- Water your garden in the early mornings or evenings when it’s cooler, as water evaporates more slowly when it’s cool.
- Use recycled water from sinks, bathtubs, showers or the washing machine to water the garden.