Sustainability at Home
“Sustainability” seems to be the word for 2022, and as a sustainability advocate, I can’t say I’m not incredibly excited about this. Due to the current health climate, many of us spend more and more time indoors. This changed the way we perceive sustainability at home. Not to mention the fact that the pandemic made all the effects of climate change more apparent when entire countries shut down, and some areas saw blue skies for the first time in years. Our modern lifestyle dramatically impacts the environment, and eco-friendly alternatives for every facet of life are becoming increasingly relevant and essential.
A growing number of people want their homes to become oases of calm, healthy, and organic atmosphere, filled with comfort and welcoming for any activities that we do in our homes. This is becoming a focus as we spend more time indoors; we need a more comfortable atmosphere, not only from an aesthetic point of view but also from a mental health perspective. We shouldn’t have to run away from our home to get peace and quiet, and the upcoming 2022 interior design trends showcase precisely this fact.
Aside from the fact that most of these changes won’t put a huge dent in your pocket, in the long run, they will help you save a lot of money and improve your health. So it’s no wonder that we decided to provide a quick – albeit lengthy – guide to help you implement some changes throughout your lifestyle and your living space. Figuring out how to be sustainable at home can be tricky. That is why we’ll start from the basics and go into smaller details so that you know just how much sustainability at home can count.
- What does Sustainability Mean?
- What is a Sustainable Home?
- Passive home vs. Retrofitted Home vs. Renovated Rental
- How to be Sustainable at Home?
What does Sustainability Mean?
The sustainability definition weaseled its way into most facets of modern living and industries. With gas prices going haywire and electricity bills skyrocketing across Europe and the rest of the world, implementing and investing in renewable energy sources has increased. The construction industry intensified its investments in eco-friendly alternatives for green building materials and building practices. Everything from the clothes we wear to the utensils we use in the kitchen stagnates on eco-friendly trends, and interior design follows the same patterns. The logic of this concept is explained in part through the waste management mantra that we should all strive to adhere to and the basic principles of sustainability.
While the sustainability meaning, principles, and waste management mantra have been around for decades, the past years showed increased environmental awareness across the different demographics. Regardless of age, ethnicity, or personal interest, people are lowering their carbon emissions and doubling down on waste management. While some do this because of government regulations, we can see the younger generations being increasingly more fervent towards improving the struggles humanity forces on the environment.
The sustainability goals are to try and do everything in our power to decrease our carbon footprint, reduce waste, improve living standards, and clean the environment through sustainable economic practices. That’s a mouthful, I know, but it’s also a mind-boggling concept. It makes one feel small and insignificant, while at the same time, it focuses the responsibility on the individual, not conglomerates that rule industries. There’s a reason behind that.
Corporate Responsibility vs. Individual Burden
I’ll be the first to tell you that 1-10% of people own 90% of the world’s resources or something along those lines. While this article won’t be a rebellious rant against the 1% of the world, we must mention that 1% spend their resources and waste the planet’s significant impact on the environment.
However … Those 1% supply the entire population with consumable products and ensure a certain standard of living by investing in the world’s most finite resource – fossil fuels. Because of this, our standard lifestyle is dependent on those products and provides profit to the 1%. That’s the world order that harms the planet and us. Much brighter heads are necessary for that discussion, so I won’t be getting into all of that.
I will get into our lifestyle and how we can step away from the standard practices to improve our way of life and promote a more sustainable economy – the circular economy. What might come as a shock to most is acknowledging every consumer’s power on the manufacturing industries. If we no longer buy plastic cups, they’ll make fewer plastic cups. If we change to green-powered alternatives, they’ll extract fewer fossil fuels and decrease pollution. Yes, an after effect of these changes might be a decrease in fossil fuel profits, but some alternatives can bring more sustainable profits. Think of wood, glass, metal, stone, earth, and locally sourced products.
By changing what we buy, how often we buy, and how much we use what we buy, we can stand together in the name of the environment and be louder than otherwise. So let your wallet do the talking for any house-related purchases as it carries a heavier punch for the 1% than all our voices combined.
What is a Sustainable Home?
A home that can be called sustainable is built, designed, or retrofitted to minimize the use of resources and the cost of maintenance. Sustainable at home works by implementing sustainable practices throughout its life stages. From how it is built to how it sources its produce, a sustainable home provides access to a sustainable lifestyle in every aspect of the home. It doesn’t overlook food sources but provides gardening options. When it comes to energy use, it either decreases the cost of energy or eliminates it altogether.
Living in a sustainable home makes it possible for the inhabitants to lower their carbon footprint and lower their financial costs and improve their health. Sustainable homes are easily sourced, locally manufactured, transported, and built. They support local economies and decrease the area’s environmental impact. By using high-quality eco-friendly materials and systems, you simplify management and maintenance. They generate less waste because they adhere more to the waste hierarchy and generally use fewer resources.
All of the above characteristics implement sustainability at home. But, sustainability is the concept we have to implement into our lifestyles. That’s where the real change comes from. I mean, you can buy a 100% sustainable and passive home, but if you generate the average amount of US waste per household of 5.91 pounds of trash per day, what’s the point? Living sustainably can be more complicated to implement but simple to adhere to once implemented. Just take a look at the Hjertefølgers, and you’ll understand what 100% sustainable living can be.
Path Towards Sustainability at Home
We can talk all day about what generates the most pollution worldwide, but we will only focus on how each individual life can limit pollution. The most obvious things we generally think about are electric cars, solar panels, no single-use plastics, and organic foods. I’m here to try to underline that this is the bare minimum.
These are things we all do to some extent, whether we are aware of it or not. It might be as simple as the locally imposed methods of collecting waste that you are contractually obligated to adhere to. Maybe you no longer buy single-use plastic bags because they have an extra fee, or your local grocery store doesn’t provide them anymore. These are passive lifestyle changes as they are imposed on us by others.
A path towards sustainability is not about how many volcanic eruptions happen across the planet or how other nations deal with their CO2 emissions. It isn’t even about how responsible the 1% and the industry sector are for the worldwide pollution. We can reduce sustainability to how you use your money, how often, and with what environmental impact. These are all things we do in our daily lives that carry a much heavier punch than you might expect. They have a more significant impact not only on the environment but also on the other polluting sources. Sustainability at home can carry a much heavier punch than you might expect as well.
Environmentally Sustainable Features
Despite promoting examples such as passive homes and green alternative building practices, we must also consider reality and accept that these might not yet be available to all. While the industry is taking significant steps towards more sustainable constructions in the future, many of us already own a home, rent an apartment, or are looking to buy a home. These three aspects are essential because we have to look at what is available from economic and sustainability perspectives.
Things that you can look into, in general, when thinking about a sustainable home cover most aspects of the home. The following are some simple things to check or implement with a low impact on your budget if the property doesn’t have them:
- Sustainable building materials
- Sustainable building practices
- Interior design styles
- Thermal and audio transfer limitation
- Draft-proof windows and doors
- Alternative energy sources
- Smart appliances
- Eco-friendly lighting practices
Next, we will be covering things that we can all implement in our homes that can minimize this impact. Depending on the kind of housing situation that you find yourself in, figuring out what works best for you can be simplified by a real estate agent near you. Whichever option fits you, there are ways to decrease your household’s carbon footprint that can easily be applied.
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Passive home vs. Retrofitted Home vs. Renovated Rental
Whether you need to make up your mind now or later, choosing between building a new home, updating an old one to the latest sustainability requirements or desires, or simply renovating what you can in a rental isn’t always easy. If you look at it from the perspective of sustainability, you have to understand the building industry’s impact on the environment.
If the new construction is in a sprawled suburban environment and is built with conventional materials, the carbon footprint can be high. However, a passive home can take care of most of those problems by implementing the latest technologies and eco-friendly building methods and designs. Still, the cost invested in the home upfront can be too big for many people, which decreases its appeal.
Retrofitting an existing home has other advantages, whether it is an old or new purchase. Upgrading a home can be more cost-effective for individuals and has a lower carbon footprint because it’s not yet another property built. It’s an old property that is fitted to be sustainable itself. It can be as simple as buying a previously used home and upgrading it or purchasing an apartment and retrofitting it with sustainable features. You can also invest in an old industrial, commercial or residential property and repurpose it into a multiple-unit residential property.
Whether it’s a single-family property or an apartment, renting a home does have some limitations when it comes to implementing sustainable features. Still, there are ways to make an impact, and the best part is that it’s the cheapest option. It’s not like anyone would invest a lot of money on a rental or leasehold property.
Let’s see what sustainability at home features fit with the most common housing types in the US. Again, there’s no point in looking at other countries or continents. They are handling their own issues on their own plan and schedule.
New Passive Property
The construction industry focuses on implementing sustainable innovations to replace conventional building practices. Whether you take a closer look at wooden skyscrapers, passive homes, alternative housing, or eco-friendly glass domes for homes, building a new sustainable home is no longer as difficult as it used to be. Aside from legislation being implemented to make it easily approachable also from a financial perspective, these buildings reduce waste exponentially. Their increased durability through materials and reliability in extreme weather conditions increases their appeal to the public. Improved energy and water efficiency reduce the resources used to maintain, heat, and use these properties over an extended lifespan. The main things to take into consideration are:
- Passive Solar Design
A passive home isn’t only about the waste it produces but also about how it uses the resources at its disposal. Passive home architects and designers first look at the home’s position regarding the elements: sun, wind, water, land. The home’s positioning and location are determined in relation to the sun and wind currents. Without using any mechanical or electrical equipment, passive homes use sunlight to their benefit. The building materials can reflect, absorb or transmit sun radiation and heat.
- High-Performance Windows
Windows are responsible for at least 50% of the home’s energy loss. By implementing high-performance windows, you can limit the amount of heat transfer and light impact. For decades, and even centuries, one option had been available for mass use, and we’re talking about the simple double-paned windows. Innovative solutions take the form of double glass glazing, some types of special coatings, and framing materials that do not work as heat conductors. Overall, the newest technologies for windows provide higher-quality characteristics and air-tight functionality.
- You can maintain a home and make it cooler through low solar gain features. These reflective technologies like double glazing limit the impact that direct sunlight can have on the home’s interior temperature without air conditioning. Some windows facilitate ventilation for better indoor air quality.
- You can maintain a home and make it warmer through well-insulated, low U-value (heat flow rate within a building) framed windows. Triple-glazed windows work best to retain heat transfers to a minimum and decrease the cost of heating by eliminating drafts through tight fittings.
- Energy Efficient Appliances
The biggest appliances we have in our homes are to blame for considerable energy usage. Second only to HVAC systems, household appliances carry a heavy energy use. You don’t only pay the price when you acquire an appliance, but you also pay to use it and maintain it. By investing in the most high-tech energy-efficient appliances available on the market (if the budget allows), you are likely to reduce your energy bills substantially.
You can purchase everything from refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, clothes dryers, stoves, and ovens with sustainability in mind. Look into Energy Star appliances as they are certified by the US Department of Energy, and their energy consumption is between 10 to 50% less than conventional appliances. Just a fridge can be responsible for 20% or more of your home’s energy consumption, but upgrading your appliances to energy-efficient market options when necessary is going to have a significant impact on your energy bills.
- Sustainable Irrigation System
If you own a garden, installing a drip irrigation system will improve the quality of your homegrown vegetables and your energy efficiency. But we can also implement irrigation practices to decrease the water waste resulting from your garden. You can either install a drip irrigation system that focuses water on the roots, where it is needed, and limits evaporation, or implement a gray water system to reuse the water waste generated by your home to improve water management through sustainability at home. Combining the two is the ideal option, and you’ll save both money and water.
Plants are known to deter unwanted bugs so you can improve the quality of your backyard’s relaxation. At the same time, sustainable gardening practices enhance the quality of life for nature’s best pollinators. A healthy and thick layer of vegetation, whether from a tree or bushes, can limit the amount of sun exposure received by your home. Any shading provided throughout your garden can both maintain a cool temperature indoors in the summer heat and decrease the temperature felt while you’re enjoying your patio or pool area.
The rule of thumb when it comes to paint’s toxicity is that water-based paints are more eco-friendly. They release fewer toxins into the atmosphere, they are easier to work with, and can be combined with more ease. They take less time to cure and can easily be worked with indoors as they barely release any odors. Even their manufacturing process poses a far lesser threat to the environment. You can easily throw another coat on top, and as long as it’s opaque or thick enough, you’ll have a fresh coat of paint in no time.
- Cool Roof
We’ll also be talking about solar energy options on the next point, so keep that in mind as we focus on roofs. One of the simplest ways to limit the amount of heat absorbed by a home’s roof and transferred inside the home through poor insulation is by the type of roof you have. A cool roof can be as simple as painting your roof a light color or installing a light-colored roof. A cool roof reflects sunlight through its color, coating, slope, materials, shingles, or tile types. While a traditional roof can reach 150 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit in the US summers, a cool reflective roof stops around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Your cooling bill will see better and cheaper days.
- Renewable Energy Sources
As promised, we can’t talk about renewable energy sources and not start with solar. While some might think it controversial as it presumably affects the property’s real estate value, it depends on the planet’s most abundant resource without abusing it in any way. No animal or plant suffers from our capacity to capture energy from the sun. The cost of this incredible resource for the planet is the struggle to recycle the solar panels themselves. That is the downside that people focus on. While it is a significant downside, innovative roofing technologies are being discovered every day. The cost is decreasing every time.
The other options are wind and water, but an incredible new alternative takes over the market. While still in development, many countries across the globe are fighting CO2 emissions through renewable energy options like extracting energy from plants. The US designed an artificial leaf to increase the amount of CO2 intake and oxygen outtake of a plant. Your home’s energy can come from various sources through your providers. You can choose your provider if none of the options above are accessible to you. Picking a green energy provider, at least the amount of energy you consume doesn’t harm the planet.
- Recycle and Reuse Materials
The materials are essential from the first stage of construction or once your home is built. There are options to use recycled building materials in homes like wood or even bricks. There are more sustainable building materials on the market. Still, if you’re looking for a more traditional home, you can investigate construction waste and reuse it. Also, the materials you are left with once the construction is finished, instead of sending it to the dumpster, save some of it for personal use or resell wood, bricks, and metal. If living off the grid sparks your interest enough to embark on an utterly hands-on project, off-the-grid homes can be 100% sustainable as well.
Retrofitted Owned Property
Retrofitting your home into becoming 100% sustainable can add up to a substantial amount of money. The window replacement part of a project can add up to thousands of dollars. We won’t say that this won’t come with great benefits for your home’s insulation and financial savings in the long run, but it might be a bit too expensive. There are easier ways to enable sustainability at home without having to postpone this year’s holiday to do it:
- Draft-proof Doors and Windows
Without replacing the windows, you can replace the leaky weatherstrips or use foam tape to cover any cracks. This will decrease the amount of temperature transfer and the cost of maintaining your indoor temperature at the levels you want. Your heating and air conditioning costs will decrease, and the price is minimal.
- Curtains, Drapes, and Blinds
Aside from improving the aesthetics of your home, window treatments will also help with heat transfer. In the summer, thick curtains can stop the heat from getting into your home, so they are great if you live in California or Florida as your AC expenses carry a heavy financial burden. A thick curtain can substantially decrease draft and limit heat loss if your windows are drafty during winter times. Doing that will also reduce your heating costs.
- Reassess Insulation
Because insulation is a significant factor in a home’s efficiency, making sure you have high-quality insulation in your home can make a big difference. The Energy Protection Agency (EPA) determined that homeowners could save up to 15% on the cost of heating or cooling their homes by ensuring their home is air sealed and properly insulated. The most eco-friendly options for protecting your home are:
- Cellulose Insulation – some consider it the most eco-friendly insulation material. It uses around 80 to 85% recycled newsprint.
- Denim Insulation – while not entirely stuffing your old jeans in your home’s insulation, this is what happens to jeans that are recycled and not repurposed into other articles of clothing.
- Icynene Insulation – made out of castor oil, this spray foam grows 100 times and is among the strongest insulation alternatives, decreasing your energy costs by 30 to 50%.
- Therma Cork – created from oak trees’ outer bark, this renewable, free of toxins, biodegradable, and noise-canceling alternative has a negative carbon footprint.
- Solar Energy Systems
The number of solar energy systems available on the market grows every year. Whether you want to jump on board the Tesla express or invest in the latest technologies of solar roofs, or any of the other excellent alternatives at the consumer’s disposal, a solar energy system will allow you to power your home without any energy provider. You’ll be your own provider of green energy with low carbon emissions.
- Clean Refrigerator Coils
All you need is a refrigerator and a vacuum or feather duster. This is simple. You pull the refrigerator away from the wall or out of its place and clean the coils behind it. While you might need some physical labor to haul the fridge, your refrigerator will work easier once the coils are clean, consume less energy to keep your food cool, and your energy bill will be less. Just clean the dust and grime twice a year, and you’ll save up on food waste and energy consumption.
- Water Filters
Removing microplastics from your water is a sure way to maintain your plumbing and faucets in top condition for a longer time. You’ll also be taking these dangerous microplastics out of your home and out of the environment.
- Energy Efficient Lighting
This is the simplest way to decrease your energy consumption and lower your energy bills. LED and CFL bulbs not only last longer and use less energy, but their disposal produces a lot less toxic waste than their traditional counterparts. When you move, you can take them with you to the new home and use them some more because of their long life.
- Clean Dryer Filter
If you use a dryer and can’t switch to line drying, make sure to clean the dryer filter. An unclean dryer filter isn’t only a fire and health hazard, but it also pollutes your energy bill as it needs to struggle more to dry your clothes if it’s clogged up.
Renovated Rental Unit
We won’t insist on what you can do if you live in a rental as most of the following tips are mentioned above. These are simple, efficient, and financially friendly ways to decrease your carbon footprint if you live in a rental:
This can be the first and last thing you do when you move. Settling into a new rental can start with changing the lightbulbs to energy-efficient lightbulbs. For even more limited costs, save the light bulbs you find for when you move out. Take the LED bulbs when you leave the apartment and install them in the next rental.
For any small appliances, you might need, choose efficient options. For example, choose an air purifier instead of using room deodorants or other types of household cleaners that release V.O.C.s in the atmosphere. Not only are they easier to use, but they also aren’t costly and ensure excellent indoor air quality.
- Renewable Energy
While installing solar panels might not be an option in a rental, you can choose renewable energy suppliers like Arcadia Power or Clean Choice Energy. If you don’t have these in your rea, a simple Google search will provide alternatives.
Living a zero-waste life isn’t always easy. Recycling is an alternative. The idea is to create less waste and ensure that you dispose of the waste you do make. If there are no recycling options at your disposal, talk to your landlord and see if they can arrange something. Otherwise, take your recycling to the close drop point to your rental.
The second option for your waste is to compost. However, this only works with biodegradable food scraps. If it goes to the landfill, it doesn’t compost properly and only releases methane gas which is worse than CO2. Still, you’ll have your own natural fertilizer if you manage to do so.
- Shower Heads
The most straightforward trick to reduce the amount of water you use is replacing your shower head. There are low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets that you can purchase to save both water and money. Installing a 2.5-gallon-per-minute showerhead and limiting your shower time to 10 minutes can save you around $150 per year.
You can improve your rental’s insulation without investing in insulation as you aren’t the owner. Just buy thick curtains, draft stoppers, and window insulation. These simple solutions can help you save money on heating and cooling if your landlord is not interested in updating the apartment’s insulation.
If you have an old refrigerator and your landlord doesn’t want to change it, the only option, aside from changing it yourself, is vacuuming the coils, as mentioned above.
How to be Sustainable at Home?
So now that we went over the basics of sustainability at home – yes, those are the basics – let’s see how we can punctually apply these features in our homes. Firstly, we have to be aware that while some may not pose too much of a threat to our finances, others might. While implementing the following features will be incredible and will improve your lifestyle and limit your carbon footprint astronomically, nobody is forcing you to do anything yet. Things might change in the future, but for now, these are suggestions.
People have to change the way they live their lives and how they go about their daily actions. The fact of the matter is that if we can implement these changes, once they are implemented, the habits they nurture will be so easy to adhere to. You’ll end up with more money left in your bank account at the end of the month, which has bad investment potential and entertainment options. You’ll be able to take that trip to Bali, take that course to improve yourself, and help the environment along the way.
The main thing about sustainability is the incredible benefits it brings to mankind. But forget about the environment while going over the next part. From now on, I want you to only think about yourself. Be selfish because going green will firstly be beneficial to you. The person who these changes will impact is you. Your life will be better because, while you live a sustainable life, you are the end stakeholder of that sustainable lifestyle. Whichever way you look at it (financially, health-wise, space-wise), you are the one who will gain the most out of this transition, and implementing it will change your life.
We’ll look at each room in particular and see what each room can do for you if you make it more sustainable.
Create a Sustainable Kitchen
The heart of the house needs to be the cleanest. However, the heart of the house is also the biggest waste generator. Just think of all the containers that come with the food you purchase. Whether it’s take-out (containers are likely to contain PFAS chemicals) or just simple groceries, the packaging is only used until the food is cooked or eaten. After that, it all becomes a waste. The chances of reuse within the household are minimal, and you just spend more on the container. Try reusable bags or containers and limit the amount of packaging that comes with the food you purchase. You can shop at refilling stores and look into beeswax wraps and foil instead of unrecyclable cling wrap.
As the kitchen is the part of the house where you’ll cook your meals and occasionally also serve them, the cleaning products are important. Most cleaning products used around the home are packed with chemicals. While chemicals have benefits, not all are good for the human body. Just thinking about what bleach does to a grease stain, because grease is organic matter and we are organic matter, maybe we shouldn’t use bleach-based products to clean everything in our homes. The simplest natural cleaning option is a combination of vinegar, lemon, and sodium bicarbonate. If you don’t believe me, try to microwave a lemon, especially if the microwave is dirty. You’ll be able to clean it with no elbow work. Harsh chemicals affect entire ecosystems because while we use them to clean our homes, they end up in our wastewater that can affect wildlife and soil. The stronger the smell is the more significant the product’s threat to our respiratory system.
Any appliance used in the kitchen should be energy-efficient, but you should also use them efficiently. When you look at dishwashers or washing machines, you must first acknowledge that we save water by using them. The fuller they are, the more efficient the water usage is. Try to use the cooler settings available or the eco setting if available. Clothes are less likely to lose color over time if washed in cold water, and warm water should only be used when more difficult stains are involved. Also, your dishes can dry naturally—no need to dry them through a dishwasher setting. Unplug small appliances when not in use because phantom energy only adds more to your energy bills, and use longer programs outside of the peak consumption hours between 4 pm and 9 pm.
The best option is to air dry your clothes outside. If you have a backyard, garden, or balcony, hang a wire or two and lay them out into the sun. If you’re without any outdoor space, it’s not difficult to spread a wire in a less used area in your apartment and hang your clothes there. Implementing this will limit your energy cost by eliminating the cost of the dryer.
The following will be small things that can make a difference:
- Upgrade your fridge and keep it away from the cooker and direct sunlight to maintain a cooler temperature naturally;
- Defrost your fridge twice a year;
- Choose induction hobs as they consume less energy;
- Repair broken appliances;
- Buy a separator bin;
- Buy eco-friendly sponges.
Improve your Dining Room’s Carbon Footprint
Apply a flexitarian regime in your household. We can’t tell you to go vegan or vegetarian as animal products are too embedded in our eating habits. Oxford University from the UK determined that an individual’s biggest positive impact on climate change is a plant-based regime. This plant-based regime includes relatively smaller quantities of meat, dairy, and fish as these are the biggest polluters of the food industry. If you can’t limit the number of animal products in your household’s meals, purchase them from Farmers Markets or farms nearby if possible.
Buy local organic products as it will limit the pesticides within those products and the carbon emissions resulting from transportation. Milk stations allow you to use any kind of bottle, so why not use your washable and reusable glass bottles without affecting the quality of the milk or the environment. Plan your meals to cut food waste to a minimum and eat seasonally. We can use leftovers to make another recipe, compost it, or take it to the kitchen caddy for recycling.
Relax in a Sustainable Living Room
As mentioned above, insulation provides one of the most efficient ways to limit heat loss. Adding double-glazing comes in a close second, but choose wood instead of PVC for the windows as it can be the best eco-friendly option.
We already covered curtains and LED bulbs to decrease energy consumption on heating and lighting, but there are other things you can do. Install smart thermostats, invest some in thermal wallpaper as both options are less expensive than solid insulation. For example, turning down the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit and adding an extra layer of clothing will decrease your economic burden substantially but lower it to the temperature you are comfortable with.
Considering hardwood floors for your living room or other parts of the home, you can find options with a lower carbon footprint. Salvaged flooring is the most sustainable option seeing as no new wood, or another raw material is necessary. You are using flooring that has already been used and getting flooring simultaneously. The cost is minimal, as only the restoring cost and installation, if necessary, unless you do it yourself. Other variants are cork flooring made of old wine corks or other eco-friendly materials.
When you start furnishing your home, you might be interested in looking at what you managed to gather so far in your life. Whether it’s a sturdy library, a coffee table, an armchair, or a TV stand, if you think it might not fit with the new home’s vibe, restoring old furniture is always an option. Something newly bought can be sustainable, from simple things like reclaimed wood furniture to furniture based on sustainable materials. Otherwise, there are many other sustainable furniture options.
Stressless Sustainable Home Office
Seeing as we started to spend more time in our homes and many found themselves working from home for the first time, home offices grew in importance. Our time spent at home working made home office space necessary as privacy is essential when you’re on a Zoom meeting. Whether we had the extra room or not, we needed a space for it. Instead of buying a new desk, look into restoring an old one, but aside from that, other consumables have eco-friendly alternatives. Replace the throwaway screen wipes and ballpoint pens with reusable options. Fountain pens seem a viable contender without going as far as using feathers to write. If you need paper, use it on both sides when possible and buy recycled if available.
Lighting can also make a big difference, and unplugging electrical devices can help with energy costs when not in use. The psychology of light and color can help us select the best color scheme for our office and lighting based on the amount of natural light available in the space. We can apply energy efficiency to every electrical outlet and light setting and technological devices like your PC, laptop, printer, screens, etc. Smart home devices will bring several benefits but applying them to your whole home will allow you to implement energy-saving solutions throughout your home.
If working from home is not an option for you for any reason, alternative transportation methods have a much lesser impact on your carbon footprint and your budget. No longer always paying for gas and car maintenance will substantially decrease your transportation cost. It doesn’t even have to be solely dependent on public transportation. If the distance you have to cover isn’t that long, take a bicycle or go for a walk. Car-sharing trips can also improve the carbon footprint for a group of workers.
Sustainable Bedroom Tips
When it comes to textiles, the garments we have around the bedroom can make a big difference. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use a bedroom set for several years than have to change it every other year. You can extend the period of life for your garments by taking more care of the materials and purchasing items made out of higher-quality textiles. Hindering the fast-fashion or throwaway fashion trends can decrease the amount of money we spend on the various textile articles, whether they are clothes or bedsheets, while at the same time winding up with better quality items.
By adding an eco-friendly flair to your wardrobe, you might wind up with lower clothing and other textile items expenses. Why struggle to keep up with the ever-changing fashion trends that use up a lot of our economy, take up a lot of space, are made out of poor quality materials, and have a limited shelf life? British actress Emma Watson pledged to wear each clothing article at least 30 times before recycling it. American actor Dylan O’Brien who has been seen wearing the same clothing articles for years, the fight against fast fashion seems to attract more attention. I’m not saying we should follow their example, but if you could pay $100 for a hoodie and have it in excellent condition for ten years, or pay $50 for one and get two years of use out of it, which is the most economically sound option? Decluttering your closet through the KonMari method can improve how you look at clothes as a whole and rewire how you see every one of your possessions.
The manufacturing, use, and disposal of the materials these fast-fashion articles are made of have a significant impact on the environment. Organic cotton is one of the sustainable options for textile materials, but the most sustainable is hemp. Much easier to work with, manufacture, and grow, hemp is gaining more popularity by the day. Hemp or woolen bedding is much more sustainable and hypoallergenic than any other material. Many local manufacturers provide such clothing items, also known as slow fashion, but the materials themselves provide not only sustainable features but also long-lasting qualities with limited carbon impact.
The bedroom’s purpose is to relax, and for that, you need a mattress and a sturdy bed. You can find many DIY options for a resilient bed frame. Some of the simplest that require the least amount of experience are pallet beds that you can do yourself. The wood is sturdy pine. Each pallet can sustain 3300 lbs outdoor at the mercy of the elements. It will not struggle to provide you with a highly resistant and sturdy bed. Not to mention that the pallet is reused, reclaimed, recycled, so no waste is generated. Top that with a sustainable or organic mattress as they are free of dangerous toxins that are banned in many countries. These toxins aren’t only hazardous to the environment but also to human health.
Get your Sustainable Bathroom Spa
Water consumption in our bathrooms can quickly add up during one year. Making sure we use only the required amount of water for waste disposal can significantly differ the quantity of water winding up in sewerage treatment plants. One of the mottos you can apply when societal expectations allow is “when it’s yellow, let it mellow, when it’s brown, flush it down”. Do consider your own needs as well, but at night or when you’re not expecting visitors, habits like this can drastically decrease the amount of water you use.
There are also sustainable methods to decrease the amount of water for every flush. For example, toilets with a high-efficiency dual-flush model have two flushing options that release different quantities of water for your needs. Another option would be to fill up a plastic bottle and put it in the toilet cistern to reduce water usage by up to 100 fluid ounces. This alone can save up to 3200 gallons of water per year.
Installing a regulated tap insert in your taps can restrict the flow of water up to 170 fluid ounces per minute. We can install a similar system in the shower through the 2.5-gallon-per-minute showerheads we mentioned above or other flow regulators. If nothing else can be installed, a simple four-minute egg timer can let you know when your 4-minute shower is over. These methods will not only decrease your energy cost but your water cost as well. Energy-efficient boilers go a long way to providing hot showers at a lesser environmental price and a lesser energy cost.
The bathroom furniture and design may need to be renewed every once in a while, but you can do that without increasing your waste generation. We can recycle furniture and paint tiles if you want to change the design. Not all may respond to paint the same way, but ceramic tiles accept paint, and an extra layer of protection will ensure resistance in the long run.
Bathroom consumables can be eco-friendly as well if you know where to look. Ceramics can apply to many necessary bathroom items. From the toilet brush recipient to the soap holder, using eco-friendly materials won’t only decrease your carbon footprint but will also improve your bathroom’s aesthetics. Bamboo, as one of the most sustainable materials, ceramics, metal, and glass are all materials that have a much lower carbon footprint and have a much softer and welcoming aspect. Our bathrooms can generate a lot less waste with a few simple changes from reusable nappies, pads, and cups to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes. Instead of the single-use cotton discs, choose reusable makeup discs like organic muslin cloths or reusable bamboo makeup remover pads. They can be washed and last for years in some cases.
Sustainability in your garage
Ideally, a hybrid or electric car is coupled with renewable energy sources, like solar panels to cement your environmental awareness position. Aside from the lack of exhaust fumes, they also generate less phonic pollution and access to free parking and charging stations in some areas. If you don’t need to travel that much, you can invest in a kinetic charging electric scooter or a simple or electrical bike. Walking is also an option, especially if you live in a city and don’t need to go across town. If you don’t need the space, you can do many other things in your garage that are far less polluting than storing your car if you don’t use one.
The dream of having a sustainable garden
Any type of garden can be productive, whether you have an outdoor area where you can implement a greenhouse, a small vegetable patch, a small balcony, or a few indoor plants. Your permanent backyard structure can provide delicious and handy vegetables and fruits for an extended period of time. To start, you can grow aubergines, tomatoes, broccoli, apples, herbs, and raspberries. A small home garden can provide tastier vegetables than store-bought variants. This can also be seen in the latest and upcoming kitchen trends as the biophilic design is taking over our window sills with small pots for aromatic plants that will improve your home-cooked meals. Soon enough, you’ll become a Michelin-grade chef due to your homegrown ingredients.
Pesticides also carry a heavy environmental burden and harm the plants you grow, the tiny critters that live in them, birds, and us. Many contain toxic chemical substances that eliminate some garden pests but affect friendly fauna that brings more benefits to our garden than downsides. Neer fertilizer is a great alternative, but ladybird and lacewing attracting plants can ensure aphids stay away. You can even create your natural fertilizer by composting any organic waste from scrap foods and gardening waste and rip the benefits of using it in your garden. By taking care of some of the smallest living things on the planet, we ensure humanity’s survival, as, without bees, humans will go extinct in four years.
For watering the garden and backyard, you could research a bit about wastewater management like drip irrigation or gray water systems. Another option is to collect rainwater and using in the dry season so that you don’t use water from the local suppliers. To maintain your backyard, a lower amount of lawn is better as flowers and plants come with far more benefits both to you and the environment than plain grass does. If you have a lawn, but it’s smaller, purchase a push lawnmower instead of an electric one as your energy bills will decrease and the environment’s health will decrease. Keep that in an ecologically conscious garden shed that you repurposed from a neighbor’s garden or old wood you have around the home that has a green roof for every pollinator to enjoy.
What is Sustainability and is it Important?
Making these changes to decrease your home’s and household’s carbon footprint will take a bit of sacrifice from everyone in your family. However, the benefits they can bring to our wallet, available space, psychological health, and physical health are worth it. Expenditures required to implement these depend on what you own, what you’re thinking of buying, and the style of the property. What we can focus on are our own decisions and choices. What we can look at are our actions. We are the ones that will feel the impact first, and we will be surprised after a short period of time.
One individual’s lifestyle or actions might not make a significant change, but the actions and lifestyles of entire communities can change laws. The money invested in these changes might have a 5 to 25 total return on investment, but the other benefits are felt instantly. And we can follow Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy “Be the change you want to see!” Look at what Iceland managed to do simply through regular consumers refusing to buy toothpaste that comes in cardboard boxes. Not only can you not purchase toothpaste that comes in a cardboard box, but it is also illegal to sell it in stores. But what is sustainability and why is it important?Humankind needs to remember the benefits that nature can bring to our lives. Even something as simple as going for a hike or bike ride can reduce your stress level. Your heartbeat relaxes, your lungs enjoy the fresh air, and your entire body muscles work. All in all, it’s the best workout at our disposal. Of course, we might not always be able to go for a hike in the woods, but bringing nature indoors can bring some of those benefits in our homes. If you plan to start your sustainability at home journey, share your experience with us and let us know if you need more information. You can also check our sustainability category for more details about this way of life. Like & Share this article with your friends or family as a group transition toward green living can be exciting. If nothing else, you’ll surely motivate those around you to take their steps towards an eco-friendly life.
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