For better or worse, there’s no doubt our everyday choices have an impact on the environment.
Study after study have shown that deforestation, overcrowded landfills, pollution, and fossil fuels have been causing some serious environmental issues. Issues that could be disastrous…poor air quality, a lack of drinking water…unfortunately, the list goes on.
But while we’ve all been asked to socially distance ourselves during the coronavirus pandemic, we’re seeing how our small decisions can add up to create a big impact.
For the first time in years, the water in the Venice Canal is clear enough that you can watch fish swimming. The smog that usually surrounds cities like New York and Los Angeles has cleared up (for now), and air pollution in China has cleared up so much the difference can be seen from outer space.
But how can you assure your carbon footprint stays minimal even once life goes back to normal?
You can start by taking this time to make your home eco-friendly, one small update at a time. Let’s start with your living room.
1. Upcycle Your Furniture
Nearly everything in your living room has the potential for more eco-friendly updates, even your furniture!
One of the most efficient ways to ensure your furniture is making a low impact on the environment is to help reduce waste by upcycling. Upcycling is like recycling, but with a creative twist: Instead of throwing something away, you make it into something new!
Has your old coffee table seen a few too many coaster-free cups and scuffs? This can be turned into a beautiful ottoman to brighten up your room. Not only will help reduce waste by keeping your coffee table out of the landfill, but you’ll save money, have a new furniture piece, and might even learn a new skill or two!
Here are a few handy tips before you get upcycling:
- Make sure you have a plan before you dive in. Take the time to go through the project-specific instructions and have all the tools you’ll need. This way you’re reducing the risk of having to throw the piece away after making a mistake during the process!
- Clean every piece of furniture before you upcycle it to help decrease your chance of having to redo your painting and polishing.
- Use non-toxic paints and varnishes.
Enjoy your new creative outlet, and pat yourself on the back knowing you’re helping eliminate unnecessary waste.
2. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies
Chemicals in cleaning supplies, adhesives and other household items often contain toxins that can be harmful to us and the environment. No matter how you dispose of them, they always end up in the ground and contaminating water resources.
Even the vegetables in your garden can be affected by disposed chemicals, as some of the toxins can be absorbed by the roots.
There’s a simple solution that can help you reduce exposing yourself and the environment to toxins.
Start by creating nontoxic cleaning formulas to replace the store-bought, chemical filled ones. Most of them you can make with just a few things from around the house.
All Purpose Cleaner
- All-purpose cleaners are handy when it comes to cleaning up messes, wherever they may happen. And you don’t have to sacrifice that convenience!
- Simply mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda with 2 liters of water and boom! You have a new nontoxic all-purpose cleaner, and you barely even spent a few dollars
- For bonus enviro-points, replace your paper towels with natural fiber cloths.
- You’ll be reducing landfill waste and saving some trees!
- No one wants a house full of germs, especially in the current climate.
- Create an effective and toxin-free disinfectant by mixing 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 teaspoons or borax and 3 cups of hot water.
- Use it as you would any disinfectant by wiping it onto a surface with a cloth or using a spray bottle.
3. Update Your Lighting
The type of lighting you choose for a room makes a huge difference in its overall aesthetic as well as your mood, and its importance doesn’t stop there.
Lights like incandescents contribute to an increase in carbon emissions. The more carbon that’s in the air, the warmer the environment gets. Carbon emissions directly contribute to global warming.
When choosing your lighting, go for LED bulbs. LED’s are worth the slight price increase as they last longer, and they use about 70% less energy than incandescents and fluorescents.
If possible, increase natural light. Open those blinds and curtains during the day to help light up your home instead of using lights and lamps.
4. Reduce Use of Air Conditioning
Summer is quickly approaching, and for many of us that means getting ready to put the good ol’ A/C to use.
But before you get it cranking, keep this in mind: while air conditioning helps keep our homes cool, in turn it heats the atmosphere. Exhaust emissions from air conditioners contribute to global warming.
There are a few different ways you can go about this:
- Use digital thermostats. Digital thermostats can help you program different temperatures to different times of the day and help ensure you aren’t wasting energy during times when less cool air is needed, like late at night.
- Avoid placing heat-emitting appliances like televisions and lamps near the thermostat. The thermostat will pick up on higher temperatures and use more energy.
- Dial up the temperature when you leave to avoid cooling an empty house.
- Make sure your home is well insulated. Insulation will help keep your house cool on warm days and warm on cool days.
5. Use Eco-friendly Decor
Everything from the paint on your wall to the kind of carpet you use can have an impact on the environment.
In order to have more eco-friendly decor, consider the following:
- Use nontoxic, water based paint to help eliminate exposing yourself and the environment to harmful chemicals.
- Use eco-friendly fabrics in rugs and textiles. The chemicals used to treat many types of rugs, carpets and textiles can both lower the air quality of your home and pose environmental issues in landfills. Seek out materials that are recycled, recyclable and organic.
There’s no better time than now to make a few changes to help save our environment. The best part is, making you living room eco-friendly also saves you money! Going green is a win/win.