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Home Environmental Issues: OR Green Living at Home

December 26, 2007

by Kit Cassingham

Being environmentally active starts at home. And many of us pay attention to the three Rs, but most of us can do even more than we are presently doing. This is true of B&B innkeepers as well as their guests. Here are ideas of things you can do, starting at home, that may overflow to habits you have while you travel. Environmental issues surround us and it's up to us to lighten our load.

How environmentally sensitive are you in your daily life? Do you recycle? Is organic food at least part of your diet? What about resource conservation -- with energy and water? There may be even more ways you can be environmentally active.

Start by reading William McDonough and Michael Braungart's Cradle to Cradle to challenge your present concept of the Four Rs and replace it with a new paradigm of environmental soundness. I've added a fifth R to the list: Repair. Pay attention to as many of the Five Rs -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Renewable, and Repair -- as you can at home. Try it while you travel too.

Here are lists of things you can do at home to help the environment at home and at work.
    Reduce your use of resources (water, natural gas/propane, electricity, plastic, and paper) in the bathrooms, kitchen, yard, and around the house.
  • Don't run water while you brush your teeth or wash dishes. Turn the water on for rinsing only.
  • Retrofit your bathrooms with low-flush toilets.
  • Use flow restrictors in your shower heads and sink faucets.
  • Use plants native to your location, creating a xeric garden that generally won't need much watering since the plants thrive on what water nature provides.
  • Upgrade to energy efficient furnaces and appliances saves electricity.
  • Turn the heat down and the AC up to save energy. In the winter you can add a warm layer and save money and resources by not heating the entire house.
  • Retrofit your lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs and keep your eyes open for LED light bulbs. And only have lights on in the room(s) you are using.
  • Pre-cycle by buying products that have minimal packaging and then strive to buy products in more highly-recyclable containers like glass and metal.
  • Save paper by printing on the front and back, only subscribe to magazines and newspapers you actually want to read, and don't print when you don't need to.
  • Shop with reusable, durable bags.
    Reuse products as much as you can.
  • When your sheets and towels wear out use them for rags.
  • Repair appliances that break rather than toss them.
  • Buy recycled products whenever possible.
  • Shopping bags, especially those you get at the store.
    Recycle as much as possible, diverting many items from landfills helps save the planet from toxic waste and wasting land.
  • Compost food scraps either into your compost bin or find someone who wants to recycle them for you, like a farmer who can feed the scraps to pigs, goats and chickens.
  • Recycle the paper, plastic, glass, carboard, and metal when you can.
  • Donate furniture and furnishings to a shelter as a way of recycling.
    Renewable resources are better choices than non-renewable. Consider what the products you choose to use in building your house and running your inn do to the earth.
  • Consider and research sustainable building practices like renewable flooring (cork, bamboo and linoleum).
  • Avoid, or at least understand the ramifications of, non-renewable resources like stone counters and floors.
  • Crushed rock is generally the biproduct of quarrying (quarries are reclaimed after the project is complete) while river rock is most often mined from riverbeds.
  • As beautiful as it is, reject rainforest woods and old-growth forest woods which are essentially non-renewable.
  • Strive to incorporate alternative energy into your home. Petroleum-based fuels are non-renewable, polluting and cause reliance on foreign governments instead of self-sufficiency.
    Repair clothes, furniture and appliances rather than throw them away when they break or tear. There is a point at which it's not useful to do that any longer, but do it as long as you can. For example, fashion changes and mending clothes too long makes you look and feel dowdy. But when you don't want them any longer, use them for rags or offer them to a second-hand shop for people who may want them. And old appliances are energy inefficient so at some point when they break it's better to recycle them.


My Resources Guide For A Green Home
  • Cleaning and Household Supplies

    Avoid chlorine bleach because it's caustic, reduces air quality and can be harmful to your health. Instead, use StainSolver, a powerful oxygen bleach for all of your cleaning needs. Buy in bulk and save money and resources; it's available in 4 pound, 12 pound and 50 pound containers.


    Even at home bulk soap and shampoo dispensers are invaluable. Aviva Dispensers make bulk dispensing of shampoo, soap and conditioner easier and beautiful. There are a variety of bulk dispensers available, but these are high quality, beautiful and come in several classy styles.

  • Consumer Guidance:

    Your air could be making you sick. Learn lots from articles about air purifiers, air filters, and air pollution to help you decide the best approach to cleaning the air you breathe.

    Water is our basis of life. Water supplies and quality are suffering more daily and the articles about water pollution, water filters/purifiers, and various water resources will give you the scoop on water issues facing us.

    Sleeping on tired old mattresses that are probably filled with dust mites and broken down? It's probably time for a new mattress, and you can find a wide range of environmentally sound options. Research articles about mattresses that will not only be good for you but the environment as well.

    Window coverings not only finish the decorating scheme of a room, but they also act as environmental control for the home. Research the myriad options and get fun ideas about curtains, shades, and blinds. Keep your interior climate comfortable with the use of artistically designed window treatments.

  • Food

    Shade grown, bird friendly, organic, fair trade coffee and tea are great for you, the environment and the economy of the countries and regions that produce those food items. You owe it to yourself and the environment to switch to these kinds of beverages, if you haven't already.

    Start buying more locally produced, organic foods to support the local farmers, protect the environment because of saved transportation pollution, and improve your health by consuming healthier foods.


Build Green International Green Lodging Directory

Use the Environmentally Friendly Hotels website to help you find green hotels anywhere in the world you travel.


Take inventory of your environmental activism and decide on at least one more step you can take to save the planet. Consider getting your friends an family to also be more environmentally aware and active. After all, we live here together and need to band together to make a difference. Even one step will help, and more will be even better. There are lots of environmental issues you can adopt to keep your backyard nicer.




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