You don’t have to embark upon a major renovation or build a new home to go green. There are small steps you can take to live a life more at one with the environment around you.
We picked the brains of the staff at a.k.a. Green in Scottsdale, a green building store and resource, as well as scouring the Web sites of the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Star to find 10 easy and cheap ways to start living greener.
1. Replace the five most-used light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs. According to Energy Star, if every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, enough energy would be saved to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars. The bulbs cost between $5 and $8 and can be found at lighting and hardware stores.
2. Use your city’s recycling program and use it correctly. Recycling can significantly reduce the amount of trash hauled to the dump, but throwing the wrong items in your blue bin can cost your community a bundle.
3. Make a compost pile for your vegetable scraps and coffee grounds. Composting reduces the amount of garbage generated in your home, reducing landfill waste and the energy required for transport. It reduces the odors in your trash can, and it’s good for your soil.
4. Use Greenseal certified paints for your next painting project. Greenseal certifies paint performance in addition to environmental safety. It limits the amount of volatile organic compounds in the paint and prohibits the use of other chemical ingredients that are known to be toxic. The paints cost about $30 a gallon and are available at a.k.a. Green.
5. Replace your chemical cleaning supplies with natural ones. Traditional cleaners contain numerous chemicals known to cause or suspected of causing health problems. Look for brands such as Shaklee, Method and Seventh Generation.
6. Buy tissues, paper towels and bath tissue made from recycled paper. Doing so “closes the loop” on recycling, ensuring that items that are recycled are turned into items that can be used again. We found items at Trader Joe’s, Sunshine Market and Sprouts.
7. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, showers account for about 20 percent of your indoor water use. By replacing standard
shower heads with 2.5-gallon-per-minute heads (which cost as little as $5 each) a family of four can save about 20,000 gallons of water per year.
8. Change your air-conditioner filter regularly, using pleated, higher-quality filters. This ensures that as much dust and particles as possible are removed from the air in your home.
9. Unplug (or put them on a power strip you turn off) phone chargers and power adapters you are not using, such as paper shredders, water fountains, toys, printers and copiers. Unplug devices that have digital display screens and power lights. Buy a device such as a Kill-AWatt meter ($25.95, a.k.a. Green) to find out how much each device in your home uses.
10. Whenever you replace an appliance, look for an Energy Star label, which indicates it meets energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.