Individuals are increasingly seeking “greener” lifestyles by broadening their awareness and adopting more environmentally-conscious habits. A 2017 study showed that one in five Americans actively try to live by means that help the environment on a day to day basis. However, the vast majority of those who seek to lead more sustainable lives aren’t sure how to implement such changes. The most impactful ways to start going “green” can be found right in your own home! Optimizing the space that you and your family are centered upon will bring you great strides closer to leading a more sustainable life. A house-wide revamp can be daunting, which is why we’re sharing the following tips to make the process that much more comfortable, effective, and – if I must say so myself, exciting!
On average, Americans discard 40% of their grocery store purchases! This is most often due to miscalculation or misinterpretation of expiration/label dates. “Best before” labels are a great example of a common deterrent that is intended as a point of reference for grocery stores monitoring how soon their products are sold. If a perishable food isn’t showing signs of mold or decay, it’s usually still good and healthy well after the sell date. A sure fire indicator is the smell, any foul or vinegary odors clearly indicate when a food is ready to compost or discard.
If food waste seems to be a common problem in your kitchen, try to keep a closer eye on produce and pop it into the freezer (raw or precooked) to extend its shelf life. You can also set up an in-kitchen compost bin! Composting will not only cut down on your organic landfill contributions, but also provide great fertilizer for your garden too!
Another way to go “green” in the kitchen is to use cleaning products that are naturally-derived and nontoxic for the environment. Hundreds of chemicals are found in cleaning supplies, leaving harmful chemical residues that can affect your family and pets by leaching into our water and persisting in the atmosphere. Envirox is a great resource that identifies and explains different green certifications on cleaning products so you can purchase the safest products. If local to Miami, check out our friends at Verde Market for all your bulk cleaning supply needs!
While baths may seem like a better way to conserve water than the constant flow of a shower; taking a spa-like soak can use up to double the amount of water that a traditional shower would. Taking short showers is always better, and installing a low-flow shower-head can reduce the amount of water you’re using by half within the same span of time.
The most energy-demanding household appliance is your water-heater! Upgrading to a more efficient unit and limiting your use of hot water can substantially reduce your home’s energy demand and, in turn, reduce costs too.
Adding a small recycling bin to your bathroom may help you remember to properly dispose of plastic bottles and cardboard rolls. If you have access to bulk/self-service soap in your area that can be an excellent way to reuse the packaging you already own and reduce yuor waste footprint. Otherwise, buying bathroom products that have no plastic packaging such as shampoo bars is a great alternative to single-use bottles. When protected from excess moisture, they usually last longer too!
The average American throws away over eighty pounds of clothing every year! With the influx of fast-fashion, consumer textile waste rose by 40% just between 1999 to 2009. Retailers use cheaper materials to expedite releases and lower consumer costs, in effect producing lower-quality garments with a shorter lifespan. One big way to “go green” in your bedroom is to regularly clean out your closet and recycle or donate things you don’t wear. It’s a great way to declutter while combating textile waste!
DFO’s Director of Eco-Fashion at TheFullEdit is our go-to for closet editing and second hand clothes styling. To date, TheFullEdit has removed 6,026lbs from the waste stream and co-organizies Miami’s annual eco-fashion show with us!
Donation centers and thrift stores will also take unwanted clothes off your plate and you can even make some money off the stuff you don’t use anymore. Online thrift stores like thredUP accept gently used clothing from over 35,000 brands. This is a quick and easy way to make some income on the side while extending the lifespan of your no-longer-needed clothing!
If you’re looking to add some new furniture to your room, buy used! Every new piece of furniture puts a strain on the environment with the materials used to create it. Scoping out a vintage chair will not only save you money, but also provide a unique addition to your space. Reupholstering furniture is also a great way to extend the life of a quality made piece of furniture. Sharron Lewis Design Center in Miami has a factory right here in Little River that does just that!
Commercial fertilizers and pesticides contain unnecessary chemicals that can be harmful to your health and also pollute the soil in your yard and groundwater. Instead, use composted waste to enrich the soil of your backyard garden, and protect your plants with natural pest repellents such as lavender and thyme! There are few things as rewarding as preparing a home-cooked meal from fresh, home-grown produce that you can be confident was grown sustainably. Notably, growing plants native to your home environment will also attract native fauna – birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife!
When it comes to exterior lighting fixtures, solar-powered alternatives have a lower operating cost and overall are more energy efficient than traditional home energy sources. Installing solar powered outdoor lighting is virtually maintenance free, meaning you won’t have to put in new batteries every month. You can find solar powered lights at most home and hardware stores, which will make your backyard area feel cozy and that much more inviting to enjoy in the evening hours!
Take it one step at a time! Whether you chose one of the tips mentioned above, or use this resource for inspiration to implement another change in your daily routine; adopting “greener” habits in a small way can cultivate big progress. There will always be additional ways for each of us to lead more earth-conscious lives, but taking on the tactics and embracing the alternatives that resonate with you most will be starting point in awakening the inner eco-warrior in all those around you!