The best way to go green, specifically to make your entire house green, is to limit what you consume, and recycle as much as possible.

According to the National Institutes of Health, North America generates tons of municipal solid waste year after year. In fact, about 208 million tons per year. That's exceeding 4 pounds per person per day. Allow me to share you an insight: every little bit of positive action helps; recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

1. Make your appliances green. Giving up that old refrigerator in your garage would save you around $150 a year. That's based on the records of the Environmental Protection Agency. Appliance energy consumption in a typical house reaches about 18% of the total energy bill, with the ref being one of the biggest energy eater. In case some of your appliances are more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests that you replace them with "Energy Star" logo bearing energy-efficient models. They use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. Isn't this fact just wow?

2. Use only recycled paper in your house. Less paper will save trees. You can buy 100% post-consumer recycled paper for any purpose including greeting cards and toilet paper. High post-consumer waste kind of paper uses minimal virgin pulp. It prevents waste paper to occupy landfills.

Bonus tips:

  • Unsubscribe from junk mail lists. According to the Native Forest Network, everyone will receive around 560 junk mails this year, which easily adds up to 4.5 million tons nationally. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and dumped in landfills.
  • Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, even including several made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. Bleaching processes can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, in the air, water and soil which accumulates over time.
  • Carry your own cloth bags to the store to avoid using store bags.


3. Avoid plastic, reduce global warming. Year after year, US citizens dump around 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags including grocery, trash bags, and the ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Sadly, plastic is made from petroleum — the manufacturing and burning of this harmful material is considered one of the main causes of global warming. That's based on an EPA report. Additionally, throwing away plastic into a landfill also increases greenhouse gases. So, all in all, avoiding plastic, re-using and recycling what you already have are perceived as some of the best ways to combat global warming.

4. Save water. Here are simple ways to save water:

  • a. If you want to cut your annual water consumption by 50%, attach an aerator on all your faucets.
  • b. Only use low-flow toilet. They only consume 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush being used by pre-1994 models. If are stuck with older models, adjust your float valve to accept lesser water flowing into your toilet's tank.
  • c. Wanna make it clear, no need to buy products to save water —change of behavior also add up speedily: wielding a broom instead of a garden hose for cleaning your driveway can save 75 gallons of water and turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth will help you save 4.5 gallons each time.


5. Win by cleaning green. Avoid buying home cleaners that are toxic to both the environment and you. David Steinman, through his book, "The Safe Shopper's Bible," suggests you read labels for particular Earth-friendly ingredients that can perform effectively, too. Grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, usually found in carpet cleaners and some window cleaners as a solvent; plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; eucalyptus and other plant-oil disinfectants instead of lab chemicals which are usually harmful, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant. A huge change is making your own cleaning products. This is a nice alternative instead of buying harmful ones. Use simple ingredients such as water, plain soap (yes they are still available), vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, lemon juice and borax, and save money at the same time. I highly recommend these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: "Better Basics for the Home."and "Clean and Green".


Photos: Clean Green by Steven Erat

Light bulb turned green by Adam d'Oliveira

Green Leaves by go green