october 18, 2014
presented by Missouri Organic
Start with a double or triple bin that allows you to divide rubbish into food waste and recyclable materials for paper, plastic, cardboard and glass. You can then put them in a bigger container and take to a recycling center in your area. For other household items such as batteries, mobile phones and electronic equipment, visit our local recycling web site, www.recyclespot.org, to find where they can be recycled.
Avoid household cleaning products containing harmful chemicals, such as petroleum or petroleum by-products, and always check labels for ingredients. Some products may be marketed as “green” but really aren’t. Try old-fashioned natural cleaners such as vinegar, baking soda, olive oil and lemon juice, and avoid fragranced products as they might cause irritation. Indoor plants can improve air quality. Always open a door or window before using an air freshener. Pure essential oils or a pure beeswax candle could also help clear the air.
Composting kitchen and backyard scraps can substantially reduce household waste. It’s a great way to return nutrients to the soil and it can be basic or very comprehensive. Beginners can start simple by building a backyard bin or purchasing a compost tumbler. Keep items such as fruit and vegetable leftovers, eggshells, leaves, grass clippings and tea and coffee grounds, but avoid meat, bones and fish scraps as they can attract pests. For more tips refer to our February piece on backyard composting.
4. Heating and cooling
The easiest way to cool your home and reduce the need for air-conditioning is by shading. This can be through landscaping with trees and shrubs, tinted windows, shade screens or layered drapes and blinds. Roof vents and ceiling fans are more efficient cooling systems than air-conditioning. Other options include: draught-proofing and ceiling insulation to keep your home warm because there’s no point running a heater if the hot air is going to escape.
When selecting appliances, look for the energy-rating and water-efficiency labels — the more stars, the more efficient the product. The most common mistake made by consumers is comparing products based only on their efficiency rating. Ensure you compare apples for apples, such as same size and capacity. In addition, front-loader washing machines are more water efficient than top loaders and heat-pump dryers are an efficient option with a 5-star energy rating.
Most reputable electrical stores have booklets and tables to explain appliance ratings.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient types such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), light-emitting diodes (LEDs), dimmers and fluorescent lights. The benefits of LED lighting include a longer life span, zero mercury content, better brightness and less power consumption, plus they run a lot cooler than other types of lighting (which is particularly beneficial in warm weather). Take advantage of natural light with strategically placed windows (if building or renovating), use skylights or light tubes to capture daylight.
A way to save water is to use waterwise appliances and tapware, such as low-flow showerheads and dual-flush toilets. Rainwater offers many benefits including being chemical free, unmodified and a cheaper alternative to bottled water.
Standby power consumption significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the biggest users of electricity. To reduce the amount of electricity being used to sustain these appliances, use a power board or switch with modes for off, standby and active. Turn off power points and room lights when not in use.
Environmentally friendly flooring options are readily available and popular options include bamboo and cork. Bamboo is a strong, fast-growing renewable resource and comparably priced with traditional hardwood floors. While cork is also a sustainable option because it doesn’t require trees to be cut down. Try recycled timber. It’s chemical free, carbon neutral and thermally efficient.
Search for recycled housewares in charity thrift stores. You can often find bric-a-brac, kitchen items, books and decor, while helping people in need.