10 Easy & Inexpensive Tips for an Eco-Friendly Home

Simple yet effective ways to green your home.

Outfitting your home with the latest and greatest environmentally friendly appliances and accessories may make you super trendy, but it can also stress your budget and actually end up being bad for the environment. How can that be? Throwing out one appliance or accessory to replace it with another can be an expensive habit, and the more you throw away, the more stuff ends up in a landfill.

Rather than diving in headfirst, start adding eco-friendly touches to your home in small but meaningful ways. The following 10 tips are a good start for those who want to go green.

1. Replace only when needed

Unfortunately, many people think part of going green means getting all new stuff — not true. One great thing you can do for the environment is to learn to not be so disposable and to use everything until it’s worn out.

2. Second-hand stores

Anything that gets thrown away is bad for the environment. Become a frequent contributor to second-hand stores, and shop them often. You’ll be surprised at the little treasures you’ll find, and you can request receipts for tax-deductible donations.

3. Antiques

Taking the used furniture idea a step further, antiques are a wonderful way to go green and to add aesthetic interest to your home. You don’t need to fill every nook and cranny with antique furnishings; a few pieces here and there fit in every home and are great conversation starters.

4. Rethink art

Look for artists who specialize in reclaimed or recycled pieces. Artwork doesn’t tend to be a huge environmental hazard, but by adding artwork with an environmental spin, you inspire your family and others. Who knows, you may be so inspired that you actually take up a new hobby and become an artist yourself!

5. Study materials

Learn what material items are made from and the environmental impact of those materials. Look for natural and organic materials (like 100 percent organic cotton sheets), fair-trade products, recycled plastics, reclaimed wood and bamboo products. This takes a little time and effort, but you’ll be a more educated consumer overall, and that’s a good thing.

6. Government programs

If you need to replace an appliance, check to see if there are any government programs that offer tax rebates for new energy-efficient appliances and fixtures. This is a win-win situation: You get a more efficient appliance and a tax break, and the environment isn’t taxed with still more carbon dioxide emissions or energy overuse. Turn it into an even bigger win by donating functioning older appliances to a charitable organization and help other families in need.

7. Plants

Literally going green in your home is great for the environment, as plants express your desire to be environmentally sound and help process and clean the air inside your home.

8. The right paint

Older paints release volatile organic compounds, meaning they have toxic fumes that remain long after the fresh paint smell goes away. Look for low- or no-VOC paints, so your home’s air stays as clean as possible.

9. Light bulbs

You’ve heard it for years, but compact fluorescent lights really are a more energy-efficient solution, and they’ll last longer than traditional light bulbs. By buying CFL bulbs, you’ll save money in the long run, and lighten your impact on the environment. Just remember that CFL bulbs contain mercury and must be disposed of properly – you can’t just toss them in the trash when they need replacing. Most communities offer free hazardous waste disposal at select sites and times during the year. You can bypass the whole issue by investing in energy-efficient and non-toxic LED bulbs. They are more expensive initially, but prices are getting more reasonable, and they will literally last almost a lifetime which makes them less expensive in the long run.

10. Learn DIY 

Learn how to do some things yourself, and you’ll find you don’t need to replace everything — you can fix it, re-cover it, decorate it or give it new life in a variety of ways. Your DIY skills may actually become a hobby or even a potential income maker as you hone your skills. Take it a step further: Learn to build and repair things in an eco-friendly way, and you’ll not only see your items as things you can breathe new life into, but you’ll start seeing everything that way.

Less is more

These ideas are by no means the only ways you can begin adding environmentally friendly touches to your home — they’re just a few tips to get you started. You’ll find that as you learn more about what is good for the environment and what harms it, you’ll uncover new and innovative ways to bring eco-friendly touches to your home.

One key to remember is that being environmentally conscious is not necessarily about buying new, more expensive items. It’s about wisely choosing which items to keep, which to replace, what to repair or refinish, or what to repurpose entirely. The most eco-conscious homeowners are not looking for the biggest house filled with the newest, most environmental products. They’re going the opposite route entirely and thinking smaller, used, antique and “less is more.”

[via GAIAM Life]