What comes to mind when you hear the words, “Going green” – St. Patrick’s Day, spring, being eco-friendly, money? Going green is about being good stewards of what we are given, and there’s certainly more to going green than just recycling. Let’s talk about going green at home and how we can be good stewards of what we have in and around Brooklyn.
What is a Green Home?
A green home is a structure built from recycled, sustainable, natural materials which do not emit toxins into the air inside your home. It also uses energy efficiently. But it can mean living a green lifestyle, too.
How to Be Green to Save Green
In order to achieve energy-efficiency status at home, you must:
Use Energy Efficiently in your Home
- Use energy-efficient appliances
- Seal your home well
- Properly insulate your home
- Control the use of electricity, water, and fuel in your home
Live a Green Lifestyle
- Reduce the number of items you purchase each month
- Reuse items for the same or different purpose
- Recycle everything that can be or at least try to purchase items built with recycled stuff
- Refuse excess. Start saying no and skip the need to reuse or recycle altogether.
Going Green at Home without Blowing Your Budget
You can save quite a bit of green by using less energy and water in your home. And over time, this adds up to huge savings. There are lots of doable suggestions, and I mean lots, for going green at home. I recommend choosing just three for starters and building from there. Here are some going green at home tips that won’t blow your budget:
- Walk, bike, carpool, and use public transportation whenever you can. It will save you money, reduce pollution, keep you fit, and save energy.
- Get your car serviced regularly. A car in need of a tune-up is a gas guzzler.
- Drive the speed limit.
- Run all your errands for one week in one trip.
- Use Reusable Containers and Stainless Steel Straws
- Commit to using reusable containers and stainless steel straws instead of drinking bottled water and using plastic straws. Refilling a safe stainless steel water bottle with your own filtered tap water saves money and resources.
- Bring your own reusable coffee mug to your favorite coffee shop.
- When getting take out, bring your own food containers. You can even bring your own food containers to a restaurant to put your leftovers in.
Cut Back on Water Usage
- Take shorter showers
- Install low-flow showerheads
- Buy and use an energy-efficient dishwasher. They use less water than traditional dishwashing. Hallelujah! If you don’t have an energy-efficient dishwasher to use, switch up the way you wash your dishes so that the faucet runs for less time.
- Only run your washer or dryer with a full load. And only wash truly dirty clothes.
- If you have a lawn, ditch it. Grass demands a great deal of water and time to maintain.
- Plant plants that are native to your soil. They require less care and water.
- Collect rainwater. This conserves water because you can use the water from the rain barrel to water your garden, lawn, and houseplants or wash your bike or car.
- Fix leaky toilets, faucets, and tanks. This could save up to 600 gallons of water in a month.
- Put a bag or bottle filled with pebbles and water inside your toilet tank. Displacing the water in your toilet tank uses less water every time you flush. It saves about 5 to 10 gallons of water per day.
- Always turn off the water in the sink when brushing your teeth or shaving. You could save up to 4 gallons of water per minute.
Use Less Electricity
- Don’t leave fans or lights on when you leave a room or leave home. Turn them off when not in use.
- Always use free sunshine during the day. Don’t turn on your lights for as long as you can. Pull back the curtains or blinds and let the sun shine in.
- If you’re going out of town, consider turning off your refrigerator.
- Turn off all electronic gadgets at night. Many electronics consume energy even when they’re not actively “on.” This is called phantom energy because when they’re on standby mode, they are still using electricity. Always unplug chargers, microwaves, and computers, etc when not in use, or invest in “smart” surge protectors. They disable power when electronics aren’t in use.
- Replace CFL and incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. It’s hard to beat the value offered by modern LEDs. Their prices get more affordable every day, and they last decades longer.
- Buy properly sized appliances that fit your needs and save energy. Large appliances guzzle energy and require more space for installation.
- Switch one appliance to an energy-efficient model. Look for the “energy star” label. If you’re buying a refrigerator, don’t buy one below 4 Energy Stars.
- Line dry your laundry, inside or outside instead of using a dryer.
- Consider using renewable energy sources such as a small solar power plant on your roof or a small wind turbine in your backyard.
Responsibly Recycle E-Waste
- Recycle your e-waste through a verified recycler. E-waste can contain all kinds of pollutants, including lead, mercury, beryllium, polyvinyl chloride, and flame-retardants. A verified recycler can break down an item into reusable or recyclable pieces. Toxic materials are appropriately handled. Look for recyclers on the EPA’s website.
Eat Less Meat
- Believe it or not, meat has a big impact on the environment. A study led by Gidon Eshel of Bard College suggests that meat has a bigger impact on our carbon footprint than cars do! Being a vegetarian isn’t for everyone, but you could try eating one meatless day each week. You’d save a little on your grocery bill by doing so.
Buy Secondhand and Repurpose Items
- Donate to and shop at thrift stores. You’ll support your local economy, save money, and prolong the life of a perfectly usable item that may have otherwise gone to the landfill.
- Before buying anything new, check your local Craigslist or Freecycle. Repurposing can be fun.
- Invest in your own backyard compost or see if Brooklyn has a compost program in your neighborhood. Many are cheap or even free to join. Composting reduces waste that is sent to landfills and transforms organic wastes into nutrient-dense soil for your garden beds.
Streamline Your Mailbox
- Ask to be removed from junk mail databases and stop junk mail from being sent to your home. Click here to stop receiving junk mail.
- Go paperless wherever possible. Pay your bills and subscriptions online. And switch your bills and bank statements to paperless.
- If you’re a big online shopper, try to order everything in one purchase. This cuts down on the number of boxes you receive.
- Sign up to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. And if you’re in the U.S., make sure you’re on the “do not call” list while you’re at it.
Reduce Your Paper Towel Consumption
- Use dishtowels for drying hands while cooking or washing up.
- Consider using cloth napkins at dinnertime.
- Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen. Make rags out of old towels and t-shirts.
Other Green Choices
- Invest in home items like natural-fill and organic cotton bedding.
- Cook with pans covered with lids. This saves energy and money and emits fewer gases into the air.
- Buy non-chlorine-based bleach and detergents in your home.
- Replace chemical cleaners, most of your bathroom cabinet, air fresheners, and even some personal care items with essential oils. Make your own household cleaners.
- Avoid plastic bags. Instead, carry your groceries in reusable bags.
- Reuse jars in your kitchen. Store bulk items in them. Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage.
- Stop using disposable bags. Order reusable bags such as Flip & Tumble or make your own.
- Paint with no-VOC paint. VOC paint emits harmful gases into the air and affects your health and surroundings negatively.
- Reuse scrap paper for drawing, coloring, or calculating math.
- Reuse toilet paper rolls to grow seedlings or stuff with dryer lint to make fire starters.
- Plant an herb garden.
- Eat local, organic Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market. Support local restaurants that use food derived less than 100 miles away. Learn more about the benefits of eating locally.
- Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.
- Conduct a quick energy audit of your home.
- Lower the temperature on your hot water heater.
- Wash your laundry in cold water instead of hot.
- Switch to cloth diapers or at least do a combination with disposables. Using one cloth diaper per day means 365 fewer disposables in the landfill each year.
- Switch to shade-grown coffee with the “Fair Trade” label.
Going Green at Home Intentionally
Going green at home is just good economics. But it takes thought and effort. You must commit to being eco-wise to reap the benefits of good stewardship – saving money, energy, and passing on these important values to the next generation.
Contact Charles D’Alessandro, your Brooklyn Real Estate Agent with Fillmore Real Estate at (718) 253-9600 ext.206. Or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with going green in Brooklyn.
718-253-9600 ext. 206
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