14 Ways to Green Your Home
Turn your household into an eco-oasis-and save money-with simple modifications.
Go Natural in the Kitchen
Toss those chemical cleaners (responsibly-take them to your local hazardous-waste drop-off centre) and make your own general-purpose cleaner. Mix ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and 2 litres water. Pour into a spray bottle and tackle household grime.
Try a Veggie Night
Animal agriculture accounts for up to 18 per cent of global warming. Adding a single meatless meal to your weekly planner will help you save money-and the planet.
Grow it Yourself
Grow your own sprouts in a Mason jar. Pop a few holes in the lid, rinse ¼ cup organic lentil sprouts and soak them overnight. Drain the water through the holes and rinse twice a day. Leave the jar in a warm, sunny spot, and you’ll have healthy salad fixings in a couple of days.
Did you know your appliances consume electricity even when shut down? Five to 10 per cent of the energy used in your home is siphoned for standby power. Unplug TVs, chargers, computers, coffee makers and stereos, or use power bars with built-in timers to turn off electronics you don’t mind being reset.
Vent it Out
That “new carpet smell” is actually an airborne cocktail of nasty chemicals. Talk to your installer about how to properly vent your home in the first 72 hours after installation and give the carpet a good vacuuming. To be seriously green, consider fire-resistant, biodegradable and non-toxic natural-fibre carpets like wool, sisal, coir and seagrass.
Your daily car commute contributes to climate change, so get the family walking or biking at least once a week. If self-powered travel isn’t possible, use public transit (it can save a Canadian family a monthly average of $586, according to the David Suzuki Foundation) or consider ride sharing. High-occupancy vehicle lanes help speed up your commute; check online to find carpooling sites that offer rides to your local transit station.
Create a Moss Wall
Create word art without having to inhale noxious paint fumes. Combine a handful of moss, 2 cups yogourt, 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon sugar in a blender, and mix until smooth. Dip a paintbrush in the mixture and paint words onto any rough surface (a garage’s outdoor wall is ideal). Spray with water regularly, and you’ll soon have inspirational moss graffiti.
Switch Up Your Lawn
Every year your old gas mower produces as many greenhouse gas emissions as a car driven 3,300 kilometres. Unless you’re the proud owner of a family of sheep, there’s no need for all that grass. For a complete revamp, consider lawn alternatives like micro-clover, verbena, sweet woodruff, cotoneaster, thyme and camomile; perennial ground covers take work to install but don’t require much water, and you won’t have to spend weekends cutting the grass.
Use Natural Pesticides
To keep pesky pests at bay, use natural pesticides such as marigold flowers, coffee grounds or an easy-to-make all-purpose spray consisting of 1½ tablespoons liquid soap, 1 litre water and 5 drops lemon essential oil.
Save Water in the Garden
Reduce water usage by installing downspout extensions from your eavestroughs to direct rain to your flower beds.
Make Your Own Makeup
Ditch your mercury-, formaldehyde- and lead-laden cosmetics for homemade mascara and eyeliner. Mix 1 teaspoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon shea butter, 1½ teaspoons beeswax, 4 teaspoons aloe vera gel and 2 capsules activated charcoal (available at health-food stores). Use a brush to apply as eyeliner or a comb for mascara.
Make Your Own Toothpaste
Concerned about harmful substances in your toothpaste? Pop 2 tablespoons dried lemon rind, ¼ cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons sea salt in your blender, and mix until it forms a fine powder. Dip your wet toothbrush in and brush as usual.
Donate Unused Clothing
Textiles and clothing account for four per cent of materials in Canadian landfills. Repair old clothes, organize a clothing swap with friends or donate to a local charity.
Make Your Own Air Freshener
Make a calming lavender air freshener to encourage relaxation and restfulness. Mix 8 drops lavender oil, 4 drops clove oil, ½ cup vodka (a natural deodorizer) and ½ cup water, and place in a spray bottle. The vodka will kill germs, while the soothing lavender sends you to sleep soundly.