10 Solid Ways
To reduce your carbon
footprint at home
by Jeff Cardello
You've cut down on eating meat, started carpooling to work, and always make sure that the plastic you use ends up in the recycling bin.
Looking for more ways to decrease your impact on the environment and lower your overall carbon footprint? We’ve come up with 10 ways you can further help the planet, starting in your own home.
1. Install water efficient toilets
Did you know that the toilet is the number one water guzzling item in your home? On average people hit the flush handle five times a day.
And that ceramic monstrosity from the 80's that you've been meaning to replace? It may be using up to 7 gallons of water every time you flush. If you’re looking to make your house environmentally friendly, installing a modern toilet is a good first step.
There are a number of different styles of water efficient toilets that can help maintain a sanitary environment while lessening the impact.
- Dual flush toilets: These give you two options of either a full flush or half flush. On average this style of toilet uses 1.1 gallons
- Ultra-low flush: Reaching—at most—1.6 gallons per flush, these are another type of toilet that will help decrease your water bill and the environmental impact of your home.
- High efficiency toilets: Their maximum capacity per flush is 1.3 gallons, making them a great choice for those wanting to lessen their water consumption.
- Outhouse: These take no water at all. Okay, we’re joking! First—gross—and second, we’re pretty sure your HOA wouldn’t be down with you digging one in your backyard. We just wanted to see if you were paying attention 😉
2. Reduce the size of your lawn
The grass may always be greener on the other side, but its carbon footprint is also so much bigger. With many areas of the country scorched by droughts, having a smaller lawn makes sense.
Think about filling the perimeter with river rocks or other less water intensive features. You can even replace large expanses of grass with clover or buffalo grass. If you live in the Southwest, where water is an even scarcer natural resource, consider using gravel and native plants that thrive in dry conditions.
3. Plant a garden
And while we’re on the topic of shrinking your lawn, how about filling that space with a garden? Whether you’re adding fresh basil to your pasta sauce, or blending that morning smoothie with crisp kale, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from having grown something of your very own. You don’t get more locally sourced than what’s right outside your own back door.
Having a garden is one way to increase your self-reliance, and decrease your carbon footprint.
4. Swap out standard light bulbs with LEDs
Those incandescent light bulbs you have occupying every socket in your home are costly. Not only do they not last that long, but they gobble up electricity. Replace these with LED bulbs that use an average of 75 percent less power. LEDs are not only a bright idea (literally), they’ll save you cash in both utilities and the price of buying bulbs over the long run. This is one simple step you can do on your way to making your house environmentally friendly.
5. Install a programmable thermostat
That outdated clunky box on your wall not only looks like something akin to a rotary phone, it’s about as smart as the plastic it’s made from.
A programmable thermostat is an intelligent thermostat. It gives you precise control, allowing you to set a comfortable temperature when you’re most likely to be home, and dialing it back when you’re away. And best of all, unlike most of us, a programmable thermostat never forgets to turn things off.
6. Replace conventional window shades with ones that are insulated
Both heat and cold can escape through cheap window shades. Decrease the cost of maintaining a cozy temperature in your home with insulated window coverings no matter what the season. Your bank account and the environment will be better off for it.
7. Use natural cleaning products
Just because a cleaner is made from non-toxic ingredients doesn’t mean that it won’t do its job.
There are many natural alternatives that you may find on the shelf of your grocery store or online. A bit of research on the web also shows quite a few non-toxic cleaning options you can make on your own, with many containing essential oils that will fill your home with their pleasant aromas.
Environmentally friendly cleaning products don’t have to be complicated. Using a solution of equal parts distilled vinegar and water can go a long way in cleaning up surfaces instead of toxic sprays.
8. Put in a solar hot water heater
Going all in on solar—and having an array of panels installed on your roof—can be expensive. But why not take advantage of some of that free energy from the sun by just adding a solar water heater? And just how much will this decrease your consumption of electricity of heating water for your home? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that it may lessen usage by up to 80 percent.
And while we’re on the topic—how about cutting down on some of those long showers?
9. Put in a clothesline
Taking advantage of the warmth of the sun, instead of that electricity hogging dryer is an environmentally friendly alternative. Putting in the posts and lines is a project you can get done in an afternoon. Best of all, unlike a dryer, a clothesline requires almost zero maintenance.
10. Go for environmentally friendly furnishings
Many people don’t even realize that there are greener options when buying items for their living spaces. Did you know that you can lessen your carbon footprint by buying a mattress made with organic materials? If you’re wondering how to get an environmentally friendly sleep, we have an answer!
The EcoSleep Hybrid mattress by Brooklyn Bedding features 100 percent natural latex layers that are Rainforest Alliance and FCS™ certified. Everything from the foam and individually encased coils to the tapes and threads meets Prop 65 standards—important to not only California residents, but to anyone looking for a sleep product that’s free of harmful chemicals. All of this environmentally friendly goodness goes top to bottom, including a quilted cover of New Zealand Joma™ Wool and 100 percent organic cotton on both sides for a more breathable and hypoallergenic sleep surface.
Best of all, the EcoSleep Hybrid mattress is flippable—meaning you get optimal comfort and support as well as healthier sleep environment.
A mattress that helps out the planet and helps you get a good night’s rest? Both of those sound like pretty great things to us.