Sustainable Home Makeover, Part I

Source: Laura Klein, - organic food, organic living.

This is the first installment in our series on How To Gradually Makeover a Conventional Home into a Sustainable Home. If you follow our simple tips, over time you can begin to reap the rewards of simple living and reduce your impact on the environment by making easy changes in your everyday life.

I have gradually made effortless modifications in my daily routine. One doesn’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater and commit a lot of time and money when moving toward a more sustainable and organic lifestyle. You can start by simply replacing the items you run out of with products that are people and environmentally friendly. This is how I’ve done it; it’s extremely easy and it’s also saved me money. Here are five effortless tips and it couldn’t be easier to get started.

The first move I made was to buy as many organic fruits, vegetables and meats from my local farmers market. Not only do I know where my produce comes from, I know the farmers personally. Additionally, I’m supporting a sustainable society by choosing to buy from local farmers. When I can’t make it to the local farmers market, I buy as much organic produce and foods as I can at an eco conscious grocery store like Whole Foods Market.

Second, as I ran out of all my toxic household cleaners, I gradually replaced them with products that are biodegradable and people and environmentally friendly. Conventional household cleaners contain toxic chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are harmful to the air we breathe. Toxic chemicals and VOCs can be found in dish detergents, floor and multipurpose cleaners, hand soaps, cleansers, scrubs etc.

Seventh Generation and LifeTree products are two environmentally safe product lines that I recommend and use. Not only do they work great, but most of them contain essential oils which make your house smell fantastic. These products can be found at a variety of stores like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joes and Wild Oats. If you go to Seventh Generation’s website you can even download coupons for their products.

Third, as I ran out of personal products, such as face creams, body lotions, soaps, shampoos, conditioners and deodorants etc., I began replacing those products with products that contain organic ingredients and are free or low in chemical additives and preservatives. (See article on organic and natural beauty products).

100% Chemical free products can be tough to find but they are out there. Avoid synthetic additives such as parabens found in personal products. Recently, parabens have been found in breast cancer tumors. Also don’t be fooled by "anti-bacterial" soaps. Look for "pure soap." This is the only label that means a product is naturally anti-bacterial. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies. If you don’t want chemicals running through your body, don’t put them on your body.

Fourth, recycle. This is one of the easiest things you can do; corporations large and small are catching on (see "Corporate America Catches Recycling Fever"). Almost every major city has recycling programs.

Finally, if you are looking to save some money on your heating bill, go with an energy efficient tankless water heater system. Traditional water heaters not only waste energy but cost you dollars. Traditional water heaters experience standby heat loss which is the energy your heater uses to keep the tank warm while you sleep and are away. With a tankless water heater, it’s likely you’ll never run out of hot water and with the higher end models, you can even run two hot showers simultaneously and sustain hot water for both. Click here for more information on tankless water heaters.

Read Sustainable Home Makeover, Part II
Read Sustainable Home Makeover, Part III

Laura Lynn Klein is the Publisher and Editor of makes it easy to add a little green to your life, covering everything from organic food, living, gardening, health, beauty and sustainable living.