By Mike Fitzgerald
With less than a week to go until Christmas, it’s time to quickly spruce up your place before family and friends come to visit. It can be stressful getting all the small details taken care of, like cleaning, fluffing up furniture and tidying common spaces. Fortunately, there are ways to be mindful of the environment with all this and more. Here are some last-minute tips on sprucing up your home, the eco-friendly way, just in time for the holidays!
You might not have the time to completely replace furniture, but you can update a few smaller items such as coffee tables or chairs with certified sustainably harvested options. Using reclaimed or vintage woods are a great option here for eco-friendly upgrades. Their use is earth-friendly because the process involved reuses wood that was made into something else before. Vintage furniture is usually durable, well-made and also has an interesting history to it. You can also easily find some last-minute holiday deals on items like these or go to your local flea market.
With relatives traveling from this way and that, you want to make sure that you’re on top of any seasonal germs that might waltz through your home — but you don’t want to use harmful chemicals to do it. Double-check the ingredients used in your cleaning solutions, or make your own supplies.
Painting your walls
A little paint make the room really shine again. Just be aware of what the paint contains — especially if there are children in the vicinity. Most paints for walls have volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that help the paint spread evenly as you put it on your walls. While it’s drying, the VOCs combine with other molecules in the air and create compounds that aren’t good to breathe in. This is why you get a headache if you fail to ventilate the room properly.
So that this doesn’t happen to you in your home, though, make sure to use no-VOC paint, which is becoming easier to find. Check your local hardware and paint stores for it.
You want your guests to be comfortable, but you probably also don’t want to crank up your thermostat. One quick fix is to stop extra drafts from coming in. You can do this by installing clear window insulation film and getting a draft stopper or two for under doors.
You can also hang thermal curtains in your windows — some of them are light-blocking as a bonus for you in the bedroom. When you combine curtains and shades, then the cold air is trapped against the window and doesn’t chill the room.
Taking off your shoes
Once you’ve given your home a deep cleaning before your guests arrive, you’ll want to avoid getting stains or smudges on the floors and carpets by taking off wet or snow-soaked shoes. It can also reduce pollutants and toxins that come into your home on the soles of your shoes. Your shoes can pick up all kinds of toxins and allergens from fertilizers, oil and other substances. When they get tracked into your home, they become airborne and can cause problems, especially for people who suffer from allergies or asthma.
If you are counting pennies, you can either buy an inexpensive shoe rack for about $10 or just line your shoes up in the entranceway. That way, the toxins won’t get past the doorway.
One of the more well-known tricks for eco-friendly fixes is to replace light bulbs. If you change your standard incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs, they use 75 percent less energy. They also will last 10 to 25 times longer than the incandescent bulbs. Because they last longer, fewer will end up in a landfill.
Aside from replacing, why not add additional holiday glitz here and there! Clean up any old or burnt-out holiday lights and use LED lights, which will be the most efficient choice when doing any additional holiday decorating. Oftentimes you can recycle old lights at local holiday light displays — they’ll repurpose or recycle them properly for you!
If you live in a home that’s older, you probably have gaps around your doors and windows. It’s almost the same as leaving a window cracked all year. Your hot and cold air is going out the window, and you’re paying for it. When you put weather stripping around your windows and doors, you can save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling bill. Weather stripping can be bought at any hardware store, and it’s easy to install yourself in a couple of hours.
As the holiday weekend gets closer, the anticipation for being a successful party host gets heavier. Using these last-minute tips for sprucing up your home and still staying eco-friendly, you’ll have an efficient and worry-free holiday!
Mike Fitzgerald is a green living expert, outdoor explorer and marketing guru at LawnStarter. When he’s not traveling to nature’s most well-known spots, he tends to the greenery surrounding his home.