sustainable living
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sustainable living: how to green your home, part one

When I was home in Texas over Christmas, I visited Barnes & Noble a couple times looking for wedding magazines and such. I ended up finding a $3 bargain book about how to “green” your life, particularly your home (The Green Family Book of Household Solutions by Doug Donaldson). I want to share some of the tips and tricks, as a few of these are things I never considered before reading this!
In the Bathroom: 
Adjust how much water sits in your toilet bowl (used per flush) with a simple trick – fill a plastic water bowl or two with small stones so it sinks; place it in the tank of toilet. Now every time you flush, your toilet uses less water to fill the bowl, thereby reducing the amount of water you need.
Purchase a low flow showerhead to reduce the amount of water, but still get the sensation of a full force showerhead. In America alone, more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water goes down the drain in our showers each year. These fixtures are not expensive and can be easily installed by you.
In the Laundry Room:
Save energy by switching the machine temp to cold – did you know that your clothes get just as clean? It will also prolong the life of your clothes
Turn down your drying time – many loads spin and grow extra hot after they’re already dry. This just wastes energy. Look for newer machines that sense the level of dryness and automatically shut off.
Remove the chemicals from your laundry. Try green alternatives instead. For example, instead of chlorine bleach, try a lemon juice, vinegar or oxygen based brighteners without chlorine. For drying, nix the dryer sheets and try dryer balls with essential oils. See my review of those here! And other alternatives for your laundry in this post here.
In the Kitchen:
Did you know that using a dishwasher can actually save more water than hand washing? Newer appliances use less water, have no heating elements and are better for your wallet in the long run. Did you know that retrofitting 1 in every 100 homes with water efficient appliances is equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 15,000 cars?! wow
Install a solar water heater and save a ton of money on electricity. Hot water heaters are one of the worst energy suckers, because they have to maintain water at a set temperature, even when not in use. Solar heaters use natural sunlight, are installed on your roof out of sight, and are definitely a green alternative.
Everywhere in the Home:
Did you know that incandescent light bulbs are no longer manufactured in the US? That’s a huge step in the right direction for environmental awareness! Now it’s time to make the switch to energy efficient bulbs, which can be found everywhere.
Unplug appliances, lamps and chargers when not in use. This is called “ghost energy”, because those plugs are still drawing power from the house even when not turned on, or charging your phone. Get in the habit of unplugging the mixer or toaster after each use.
Those are some helpful hints and tips, all of which I read from my little bargain book of green ideas (still available online, for 4.99 + shipping at B&N).  Which of these do you already do? Or how many of these things were new ideas for you? Do you practice other household green techniques that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear your ideas!
[Image here]

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This entry was posted in: sustainable living


Chelsea is a marine scientist in Puerto Rico. Her interests include invasive species ecology, fish biology and ecology and marine protected area management. She is a co-founder of the only field course coordination company in Puerto Rico - Isla Mar Research Expeditions.

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