Family sitting in hammock

When you “Go Green and Sustainable” you make choices that involve participating in an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The intention of these lifestyle choices and initiatives is to create ecological integrity by helping to protect the environment and sustain its resources for future generations.

The green movement has created a new huge marketplace and profit center. To take advantage of this opportunity many corporations are using the word green or even just the color green as a marketing tool. There is a term used to describe the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing. That term, “greenwashing,” refers to the practice some companies employ of disingenuously spinning their products and policies to make them appear environmentally friendly when, in fact, they are not. As an informed consumer, your best way to make sure your dollars are buying and supporting safe, environmentally-conscious products, companies and practices is to carefully research all products.

This may feel like an overwhelming task to take on and you may ask yourself, “Where do I begin?” Early on, reading labels and analyzing ingredients was daunting but today third parties verify and certify everything you plan to use; from green cleaning products to dishwashers.

The following are some tips to help make your walk down the path of greening your home less intimidating and more easily attainable.

1.  Energy Efficiency

  • Drafts in your home through windows and doorways are very common and cause us to use more energy to heat and cool our environments than necessary. Foam or caulk are commonly used in areas where outside air is leaking into our homes. You may not have heard of SIGA Tape which has long term durability and less chemicals than the foams and caulk on the market.

2.  Lighting

  • Your incandescent light bulbs are using more energy and blowing out much faster than CFLs and LED lights. The CFLs do have mercury in them so disposing of them properly when they die is very important. LEDs do not have that problem and have a much longer life however they are an investment-they are the most costly of the options.

3.  Energy Star

  • Whether a washer, dryer or refrigerator, all appliances that are Energy Star are labeled explaining energy savings and power usage. For washers and dishwashers look for the Water Factor (WF) rating of the appliance. The lower the WF number the more water efficient the equipment is.

4.  Cleaning Products and Materials

  • There are thousands of products that contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are used in the home. Paints, carpeting, adhesives, flooring and textiles just to name a few, most often have VOCs that are off-gassing in our indoor environments causing possible allergies and health threats to us and our families. Find information on over 2000 products on the Environmental Working Group website.

5.  Waste

The rule of thumb in our daily lives is to:

  • Reduce Waste
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

It is especially important to follow this rule during construction and remodeling when waste accumulates in bulk very quickly. Conscious calculations and responsible decisions add up. A good example is to calculate how much paint to buy for your project. One gallon of paint covers approximately 400 square feet. Extra opened paint cans is extra waste that can be avoided.

Going out for a coffee? Bring your own cup with you!  Do you have dinner reservations? Bring a container from home for left overs. Change is never easy, and I applaud you for your willingness to get started. The challenge is even greater and the stakes higher when we deal with those things in our homes that can harm us. I encourage you to keep at it and educate yourself. Small changes today can lead to a healthier tomorrow for us and our planet.