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Why Go Green at Home

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Are you thinking about “going green”? Do you know your “going green” facts?

Some people may worry that going green will be expensive, or that it will make life more complicated. However, going green can actually help you save money, and make life simpler.

Read more on why you should go green at home—and learn about ways to go green and save some green, too.

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Save Energy and Save Money

One of the easiest ways to go green—and save green—is to reduce your home’s utility bill by conserving energy and water. It’s as easy as remembering to turn off the lights or being smart about when you run your sprinklers. There are many tools that exist to help you reduce and save. Here are a few examples:

Energy and water-efficient appliances and plumbing are an upfront investment. But you can earn your investment back as you save money each month on your water and electric bills. You may want to consider upgrading your refrigerator, oven, washing machine, and dryer. If cost is a concern, you can potentially make some of the money back by selling your old appliances.

LED light bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs. They also last a lot longer. And smart light bulbs make it even easier to conserve energy. With smart light bulbs you can control and schedule your smart lights from your smartphone or smart device, and you can connect them to a home voice assistant, such as Amazon Alexa, to control your lights with voice commands.

Solar panels are another upfront investment than can pay off in the future as you save on your energy bills. Solar panels can add value to your home and may be a major selling point if you ever decide to put your house on the market. There may even be tax credits available to help defray the cost of installing a solar energy system, so it’s definitely something worth investigating.

Smart plugs are a great way to help you manage your energy usage through scheduling and the ability to manage your lights and small appliances from virtually anywhere. It’s as easy as plugging your light and the plug into a power outlet and managing the light from an app on your smartphone or smart device.

Simplify Your Life with “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

You may be familiar with the motto “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but have you tried putting it into practice?

Reduce:

Limiting new purchases equals more money in your wallet. And less clutter leads to a simpler life. Possessions are a responsibility—they require the time, money, and commitment of upkeep and cleaning. So, have you ever stopped to take a moment to think before you buy? Try asking yourself:

  • Is this something you need? (If yes, consider buying local goods that will support your local community and will help to reduce travel emissions.)
  • Will you actually use it?
  • Is it possible to borrow or rent instead of buying?
  • Is this something you can purchase secondhand?

Reducing plastic waste is a great way to go green and help the environment. Consider reducing plastic use by:

  • Eliminating plastic straw use (be sure to ask for “no straw” when you order a drink).
  • Eliminating plastic shopping bags in favor of personal reusable shopping bags or paper bags.
  • Eliminating disposable water bottles in favor of reusable water bottles or water cartons.
  • Reducing paper waste is one of the best (and easiest) ways to go green and save some trees. Have you tried reducing your paper use?

Consider reducing by:

  • Switching to a paperless billing system.
  • Purchasing eBooks instead of hard copies and subscribing to electronic versions of newspapers and magazines.
  • Canceling or unsubscribing from junk mail.

You may have heard about Marie Kondo’s popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo encourages people to reduce clutter and only keep belongings that “spark joy.” She also encourages people to donate (ahem, recycle) items they don’t wish to keep. 

Reuse:

Why buy something new if you can reuse something you already own? You may already have a great piece of furniture that only needs a new coat of paint. Or how about those old t-shirts that are just waiting to be repurposed? By repurposing you’ll save money—and you can save energy—because it takes more energy to produce a product from scratch (and transport it across the world) than to repurpose it. Consider reusing (and repurposing):

  • Furniture
  • Glass jars
  • Reusable mugs/utensils/lunch bags
  • Newspapers (these are great for cleaning or crafts projects)
  • Cloth (towels, bedding, and old shirts make great cleaning rags)
  • Plastic bags (can be reused as pet waste bags or trash can bags)

Recycle:

Earth Day doesn’t need to be the only day on the calendar that we support the environmental movement. We all know that recycling has a positive impact on the environment. Landfill sites take up space and can release harmful chemicals and pollution.

Depending on where you live, you may already have a recycling service that comes regularly to your home. But even if this service is not available at your home, you can still do your part and collect recyclables such as cans and plastics to take to a collection center. Some collection centers may even pay you a nominal amount for the items you bring in—which is almost “free money.” But best of all, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are doing the right thing for Mother Earth. Just don’t forget to rinse these items before recycling!

Consider recycling:

  • Plastic jugs, bottles, and containers
  • Glass bottles
  • Aluminum cans
  • Aluminum foil and disposable baking pans
  • Tin cans and coffee cans
  • Cardboard
  • Magazines, newspapers, junk mail, and other papers
  • Drink and food cartons

And, don’t forget: Donating is a form of recycling. Donate any clothing or goods that you no longer want or need to charitable organizations.

Increase Your Home’s Value

Many homeowners wait until they are ready to sell their home to start on home improvements or upgrades, including any “green” updates. This isn’t a bad idea, because buyers will appreciate the new features, lower bills, and health benefits that come with a green home—not to mention the positive impact on the environment.

But why shouldn’t you enjoy the fruits of your labor while you still live in your current home? An investment in your home is an investment in its future value, but it’s also an investment in your current quality-of-life. 

You may want to consider upgrading your home with:

  • Energy-efficient windows, such as double-pane windows
  • Efficient HVAC system
  • Smart thermostat
  • Solar Hot Water Heater
  • Eco-friendly countertops and flooring

And don’t forget to do your regular maintenance, such as sealing cracks and leaks. These small and cost-effective steps can help you save on your energy bill.

Improve Your Health

Products that aren’t good for the environment most likely aren’t good enough for you either. Do you really want to breathe harmful fumes? Or clean your home with toxic products? And we’ve all heard stories about chemicals that are tied to cancer, skin irritations, and allergies. With fewer pollutants in the air, you can enjoy better breathing. And improved conditions lead to better health, which means spending less money on healthcare and possibly reducing your health insurance cost.

You may want to consider:

  • Eco-friendly paints
  • Non-toxic cleaners
  • Pesticide-free foods
  • Natural self-care products

Preserve the Environment

If you’re wondering, “why go green?” maybe one of the best reasons to go green is to preserve our environment. The food we eat is grown in the earth. We breathe air and drink water. All of these needs are met by our environment. Besides the obvious health benefits…almost everyone enjoys a sunny day outdoors with clear, blue skies. Isn’t our environment worth preserving? The actions we take today, both negative and positive, will have an effect on the environment of tomorrow and of future generations.

You may want to consider:

  • Planting shrubs and trees that are local to your area. Non-native plants can have a negative impact on the environment.
  • Volunteering to plant trees in your community. One day these trees will help do their part to improve the local air quality.
  • Composting food and yard trimmings.

“Going green” isn’t just a different way of thinking. It’s also a different way of living. Yes, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is nothing new. But tackling just a few of these tips can have a positive impact on your home, the environment, and your life. You may even enjoy a sense of accomplishment, knowing that you are doing your part to “go green.” And you may feel a new connection to your home, your community, and even nature itself.

So, are you ready to “go green”?

Going Green Facts:

From the EPA’s Advancing Sustainable Materials Management 2015 Fact Sheet released in July 2018:

52% of U.S. trash goes to landfills.

25.8% of U.S. trash is recycled.

In 2015, 262 million tons of trash were generated in the U.S. A breakdown of the materials:

         
  • 25.9% paper
  • 15.1% food
  • 13.3% yard trimmings
  • 13.1% plastics
  • 9.3% rubber, leather, and textiles
  • 9.1% metals
  • 6.2% wood
  • 4.4 % glass
  • 3.6% other

In 2015, 68 million tons of trash were recycled. A breakdown of the materials:

  • 66.9% paper and cardboard
  • 12.1% metals
  • 5.9% rubber, leather, and textiles
  • 4.6% plastics
  • 4.5% glass
  • 3.9% wood
  • 2.1% other
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