Everyone can make a difference in making the Earth a healthier place to live. Implementing a policy of reducing, reusing, and recycling in your home or office is a great place to start.
Ready for some go-green ideas? Here are a few easy-to-implement steps to help you embrace the “3 Rs” around your home.
In order to be as environmentally friendly as possible, commit to using natural or homemade cleaners.
- Every few months, you can make batches of homemade cleaning products from ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and essential oils.
- These nontoxic cleaning products will keep your home, the Earth, and your family healthy.
- BONUS: They will also save you money!
Peek around your home and see what changes you can make in order to use less energy, and clean more effectively. For example, wash windows only during the spring or fall so you don’t allow heating or cooling to escape.
Running your dishwasher and (clothes) washing machine only when they are full will ensure you make good use of your water. Run both on cold cycles in order to save on energy used to heat the water. Most detergents are actually proven to work better in cold water.
You can also reduce clutter by going paperless at home and at the office. To start, be sure to think before you print. Do you really need a hard copy of that document or can you reference it from your laptop? Changing your printing habits also saves your company money.
Another suggestion is to minimize your junk mail. Do you really need all those catalogs??
- Catalogs not only clutter up your home and workspace but their production and delivery also leave a big carbon footprint.
- When you receive a catalog that you don’t read or purchase from, contact the company to be removed from their mailing list.
Consider shifting to paperless utility billing. Contact your bill providers to send you electronic bills as well. This saves you time, reduces clutter, and reduces your environmental impact.
Reducing what you own can also have a great impact on the environment. If you have less, you have to clean less. This means fewer cleaners used, less time spent, and less waste.
- Begin by donating anything you haven’t used within the last six months.
- Then incorporate a “donation bin” in your home so that you can add items you no longer use and make regular trips to drop off those seldom-used items to people in need.
Instead of purchasing disposable products like paper towels and napkins, think reusable. This DIY unpaper towels tutorial is great for those who might be intimidated by a sewing machine (or don’t even own one).
- A set of microfiber cloths or rags cut from old T-shirts will clean your space effectively and can be washed and reused over and over again.
- Keep a stack of cleaning cloths in a drawer or basket in the kitchen so you can grab them like paper towels.
Making environmentally friendly options easy to use is key to their success. Cloth napkins not only add sophistication to dinner but can be used for years. Reusing makes a positive environmental impact, and it saves you money.
The items that are cluttering up your home could make a huge difference to someone in need. Pass along extra coats, clothing, kitchen items, and toys to your local soup kitchen, shelter, or Goodwill donation facility. This reduces the clutter in your home, helps someone in need, and keeps these items out of a landfill.
- Tip: Buy items that you do use in bulk to not only save money but also cut down on packaging. For example, instead of five small plastic bottles of all-purpose cleaner to recycle, you only need to recycle one larger bottle. Some stores will even allow you to bring in your own packaging for dry goods sold in bulk, like rice and beans.
Most people don’t understand everything that can be recycled. Even if they know something can be recycled, they often don’t know where to drop it off, or how to do so. We’ve got a handy guide that will help you understand how and where to recycle just about anything, including old cleaning supplies.
Understanding what can be recycled is the first step to being completely sustainable. Once you have educated yourself on what can be recycled in your geographic area, you can make smarter purchasing decisions based on what you can and can’t recycle locally.
- Tip: Create a chart of how to sort and prepare items for recycling and place it near your recycling bins. This will help everyone in your household or office be as effective as possible. It’s important to take note of any item’s extra requirements for recycling.
Reducing your environmental impact is a series of small decisions and steps, taken every single day. Educating yourself, understanding your options then making purposeful decisions about the products you buy is the best way you can decrease your impact on our planet.
About the Author
Bonnie Joy Dewkett is a green cleaning expert and writer for Quill.com. For more cleaning and organizing tips, visit her website, The Joyful Organizer.
Feature image courtesy of Jenny Parkins (Flickr)