ByLisa Beres

Nov 6, 2015
bike on fence

Ask not what your home can do for you; ask what you can do for your home (and your wallet). Heeding the (albeit, modified) words of John F. Kennedy, we can all improve our country — and our planet — with an at-home recycling strategy and by choosing energy-efficient appliances. In addition, there are a plethora of things you can reuse at home right now to save boatloads of cash while reducing your eco-footprint. Here are seven ways to get started.

1. Compost, Don’t Mulch

Once limited to Birkenstock-clad hippies, composting is now — hip! Composting enables you to reduce the amount of garbage your family produces while simultaneously improving landscaping. Once your food scraps and yard trimmings decompose, you’ll spread the compost around your plants just like you would mulch. The compost helps keep the moisture in and protect the plants. The nutrients from your compost will feed your plants and improve your soil. Plus, you’ll save money, resources, and packaging by not buying new bags of mulch each year.

2. Use Glass Straws

Glass Dharma Glass Straws
Ready to give glass straws a try? Image courtesy of Glass Dharma

Ban non-biodegradable, disposable plastic straws and give glass straws from Strawsome or Glass Dharma a try. You’ll prevent hundreds of wasteful straws each year from entering the landfill. Plus, glass straws don’t leach toxic plastic chemicals from hot or cold liquids into your beverage making drinks taste so much better. Worried about breakage? They come with a lifetime guarantee. Sip on that!

3. Party With Plants

The U.S. throws out enough disposal dinnerware every year to circle the equator 300 times. According to the EPA, 75% of Americans’ trash could be recycled, but only about 30% actually is (yikes). But, what if your event or outing requires disposable tableware and cutlery?

Fear not, party people. At your next picnic, camping trip or party, reduce your environmental impact by opting for single-use items made from sustainable and recycled content. Repurpose’s line of cups, bowls, plates, forks, spoons and knives are made from corn, sugar and bamboo; all annually renewable resources. And, unlike traditional plastic or even paper items, all Repurpose products are 100% compostable, BPA-free, chlorine-free, petroleum-free and use only soy-based inks.

Need a splash of color? Try Susty Party Supplies’ disposable, but oh-so-stylish, tableware. The line is compostable, yet whimsical and uses renewable or sustainably harvested materials. Isn’t it time we change the world —one cup, fork and plate at a time?

4. Ditch the Dryer Sheets

Wool dryer balls
Looking to go “green” with your laundry? Wool dryer balls are a money- and time-saving alternative to chemical-laden dryer sheets.

In addition to emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, dryer sheets are coated with synthetic fragrance chemicals that coat your clothing and ultimately your skin. These chemicals can be allergenic and toxic. Toxic-free wool dryer balls not only soften your fabric, but they reduce environmental waste since they can be reused. Or, try reusable static eliminator cloths; they’re hypoallergenic and chemical-free.

5. Use Reusable Coffee Mugs

Americans alone consume 400 million cups of coffee per day—that’s 146 billion cups of joe per year. In 2006, 6.5 million trees were cut to produce 16 billion paper coffee cups!

If you frequent Starbucks, you can save 10¢ and a paper cup each time you use a reusable tumbler! By choosing reusable ceramic or glass cups over disposable cups, you help prevent approximately 86 to 88 tons of solid waste from entering the landfill over a ceramic or glass cup’s lifetime, according to Joint Task Force report by the Starbucks Coffee Company.

6. Recharge Your Batteries

Rechargeable batteries have long been a favorite of eco enthusiasts; however, newer pre-charged and ultra-low self-charge batteries are even more efficient and cost-effective than their predecessors. The sleek eneloop batteries by Panasonic, for example, can be used right out of the package and recharged up to 2,100 times. At around $18 for a four-pack of AA batteries (including the charger), you’re looking at roughly a quarter a cent per battery use, compared to around $.75 to $1 for a brand-name AA alkaline battery.

7. Kick the Bottled Water Habit

As the great peeps at Natural Resources Defense Council revealed from a four-year study, high-priced bottled water isn’t necessarily safer than tap water, but we’re spending $4 billion dollars a year for it. If you’re concerned about contaminants in your tap water (and you should be), invest in a water filtration system for your home. You’ll not only drink healthier water and reduce plastic landfill waste – you’ll save money, too. Bottled water costs approx $1.22 per gallon while distillation systems and reverse osmosis systems typically cost between .35-.65 cents per gallon. Even better? A Berkey portable water filtration system costs a mere 1.6 cents per gallon. Now you can sip back and relax.

By Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home authority, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."