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Happy Earth Day: Green Resolutions for the Home

Posted by Paige Thomas ~ April 22, 2009

It's Earth Day today, and in fact, it's the 40th Earth Day to be celebrated since its inception.

In the past forty years we've come a long way in changing our ways to protect the earth, but as much progress as we've made we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Remember Al Gore on the scissor lift pointing out the spike in data? We need to make sure he doesn't have to reach any higher than he already is to show our impact.

The inconvenient truth about getting on board with greener practices is just that, it can be slightly inconvenient to abandon our old routine and commit to a new one. It can be inconvenient to buy products that may cost more money. It can be inconvenient to actually think through all of our actions beforehand. But, in the end, if everyone took more time to consider their actions, maybe the end result would be a healthier planet for us and for our future.

Here are some of my resolutions for the coming year to help out the Earth, maybe you'll want to add these resolutions to your list too:

1. Avoid "hypernesting": Hypernesting is a term I recently read about from the Apartment Therapy book The 8 Step Home Cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. It's the perfect name for the increased interest homeowners have of buying more and more things to outfit their home. With all the buying going on, and not a lot of getting rid of anything we are faced with an overload of "stuff," hence, a constant need to "organize". But, as Gillingham-Ryan suggests, it's not so much that homeowners "are in need of more organizing; we need to manage our consumption, let go of our stuff, and learn how to restore life to our homes."

Managing our consumption is the key. Stop buying simply to buy. Just live simply. The less you consume, the less waste you'll produce and the less waste that will go to landfills. Every time I go to Target or Ikea, I'm going to re-think my impulse purchases to make sure they are actually things I really need.

2. Make My Home More Energy Efficient: While my home could do with a new set of windows, I'm not sure my budget is going to allow for it. But there are other smaller things I plan on doing like lessen my use of vampire power, run of all of my laundry on cold, turn of lights when I'm not using them, and researching other tricks for reducing my energy use little by little.

3. Start Composting : Ok, all I have to do for this one is get the appropriate receptacles and convince the people I live with that it won't smell. I grew up with a compost heap and have always felt guilty living life without one ever since. I think this year it's time to get back into the habit, especially since I've been working more on gardening than ever before.

Composting is a great way to keep bio-degradable waste such as fruit and veggie scarps out of the landfill and back into the earth. Here's a helpful government website to get you started.

4. Use Green Cleaning Products: I've already started purchasing greener products such as Seventh Generation cleaning supplies for my home. But, I really want to look into more options, Such as baking soda as an all purpose cleaner, and a lemon slice as an anti-bacterial agent for cleaning cutting boards. I'm sure there are so many more of these eco-cleaning tips that are just as easy and affordable.

5. Consider a Rain Catchment System: I would love to be able to set up a rain catchment system at my house to have a water source for gardening, or even washing my car. Check out my previous post on these cool systems.

6. When Doing Home Improvements Use Eco or Recycled Products: If you're going to be remodeling, think about the impact of your materials. While there is an array of beautiful, new recycled and sustainable materials, you may also want to consider re-using older materials. At the Rebuilding Center in Portland you can find hundreds of reusable windows, doors, and even sinks and bathtubs. Instead of adding to the landfill, why not re-purpose something so it never becomes junk in the first place.

For more about green building and an eco lifestyle check out our Green Living Section.

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