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Sustainability 2019: Greening Your Home

by Amber Beard

Little actions can add up to big results. Here are some recommendations from Amber Beard, the owner of projekt hABitat, a sustainability and wellness consultancy in Door County.

• Use nontoxic and environmentally friendly laundry detergents and cold water to wash your clothes, and hang them to dry whenever the weather permits.

• Replace your incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Although compact fluorescent bulbs are energy efficient, they also contain mercury, which is toxic. All around, LEDs are the better choice.

• Avoid K-cup-type coffee machines. The used plastic pods have nowhere to go except into a landfill.

• Ensure there is a space of at least three inches between your refrigerator and the wall behind it to allow for air flow. This will help your fridge run efficiently.

• Start composting non-meat food waste. If you don’t have a yard, there are in-kitchen versions that can do the job without the smell.

• Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and ensure that all taps seal tightly when they’re turned off. A single faucet dripping for one week can add up to 182 liters of water lost!

• Install a low-flow showerhead in the shower and aerators in your faucets if they’re not already water-efficient.

• Use Energy Star-qualified appliances. They use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances.

• Reduce bag waste by taking your own bags to the grocery store, and choose produce that isn’t already in plastic packaging (or take your own produce bags).

• Use nontoxic cleaning chemicals, or clean with vinegar, a natural way to kill bacteria, germs and mold.

• If you use air fresheners, look for the nonaerosol varieties that use 100 percent essential oils rather than scents made of chemicals and synthetic fragrances.

• Avoid pre-rinsing before putting dishes in your dishwasher, and always run a full load and allow the load to air-dry at the end.

• Add plants to your space. They’re beautiful and can improve indoor air quality.

• Use organic sheets and towels. Conventional cotton linens drive a great deal of the world’s insecticide use. Choose alternatives such as organic cotton or even bamboo. Silky bamboo sheets are softer than Egyptian cotton and have wicking properties that aid sleep.

• Swap your pillow – and even your mattress – for those stuffed with organic wool. Besides being organic, the wool can protect against dust mites and bed mites, which contribute to allergies and asthma. Conventional pillows and mattresses are treated with chemical retardants such as bromine to prevent fire, and they can be toxic to skin and air.

• Buy toilet paper with recycled content.

• Unplug your TV when it’s not in use; otherwise, it’s sitting in standby mode when you aren’t watching. Also look for other electricity “vampires” in your home and unplug them.

• Turn down your thermostat in the winter when you leave the house each day or when you’re away on vacation. Or, use a smart meter and program it so that it turns on only at certain times of the day.

• If you have a garden, make sure any pesticides you use are the most environmentally friendly on the market, and try making your own,  such as garlic oil spray.