By Clarence Washington
Adding a bit of Mother Nature into your home’s design shows dedication to preserving Earth’s precious resources. You can reduce your carbon footprint by upgrading appliances, choosing eco-friendly decor, and repurposing items. No matter what Kermit the Frog says, it’s easy being green!
Buying new items for your home is nice, but each product takes a toll on natural resources. Check out your neighborhood antique, vintage, and resale shops for bargains on glassware, furniture, textiles, dishes, decor, and gadgets. Many pieces have so much more life in them, and chances are, you can negotiate a price that fits your budget. Antique furniture was often crafted without harsh staining chemicals. You can also be eco-friendly in your everyday life by reusing glass jars, bricks, wooden slats…anything possible.
Nothing says “eco-friendly” like greenery. Plants emit oxygen as they purify household toxins from the air. Aloe vera, snake plants, English ivy, lady palm, lilies, bamboo, and Barberton daisies are good choices. They filter out germs, dust, and airborne chemicals. Try dressing up your home with an indoor garden wall. Grow herbs, strawberries, lettuce, and flowers. Hydroponic gardens with fertilized liquid help plants grow under specialized lighting.
When it comes to eco-friendly lighting, install energy-efficient bulbs. You’ll reduce the amount of energy you use as well as your electric bill. Energy Star lighting is a cost-effective way to replace heat-producing incandescent bulbs. Speaking of light, there’s nothing like the sun’s beams to brighten up your home. Open the blinds and let the sunshine in!
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are gasses emitted from paints, varnishes, glues, upholstery, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, and a wide assortment of household products. When choosing cleaning products, check the labels for VOC content. “Green” cleaning solutions on the market will help you spruce up your home in an eco-friendly way.
“Organic” means natural, and that’s what you should go for when redesigning your home. Wood, marble, stone, and clay make nice flooring and tables. Avoid plastics and synthetic fabrics made with chemical dyes. Nontoxic paints have little or no VOCs in their hues.
Knowing the type of grass on your Massachusetts lawn helps you to care for it. Organic fertilizers such as composted leaves, manure, and wood chips won’t burn the grass. And composting leaves and grass clippings keeps them out of the landfill. Unlike synthetic fertilizing chemicals, organics won’t damage nearby watersheds. Eco-friendly landscaping also encourages wildlife and biodiversity.
Flowers, vines, and ground cover don’t have to be limited to the soil beds that surround your house. Sunken areas of the yard that absorb excess rainwater are great for adding moisture-loving plants like black-eyed Susan, winter holly, and goldenrod. Dig a hole about eight inches deep and five to ten feet long. Place well-draining soil and compost inside, and then add decorative stones or a clay border around the edges. When flowers are in bloom, you’re sure to see some bees and butterflies hovering around, and maybe even a ruby-throated hummingbird or two!
Being “eco-friendly” isn’t merely a 21st-century catch-phrase – it’s a way of thinking that will help us keep our planet clean and sustainable. Every little thing you do today is a step towards a more environmentally-sound tomorrow.