Home Makeover Month: 25 Ecofriendly Tips
Follow these tips to get your household "Going Green." This week on "The Martha Stewart Show," we'll reveal 25 tips for making your home more ecofriendly. Each day, we'll add the most recent tips to this page. At the end of the week, you'll have a useful guide for "Going Green" that will save you money and help you become more environmentally conscious.
1. Switch to compact fluorescent lights since they use 66 percent less energy than regular bulbs and last 15 times longer. A staggering 25 percent of all electricity used in the United States comes from lighting consumption. A small change in your home's energy usage can add up significantly over time. A simple sign on the wall can be a helpful reminder for children to turn off the lights. Follow these other bright ideas to save money and electricity.
2. Placing a plant every few hundred square feet within your home improves the air quality significantly.
3. Fix leaking faucets to save water -- one drop per second can waste 165 gallons per month. Don't stop here; there are many more ways to conserve water around your home.
4. Set up a fun recycling center that kids can help out with. An organized recycling center makes it easy to separate plastic, glass, metal, and newspaper.
5. Stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. About 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away each year. Instead of adding to this waste, purchase cloth bags and reuse them when you go shopping. Some stores even offer a discount when you use your own bags. Get your own shopping bags now.
6. Start buying organic foods. Find out more about what to look for when buying organic foods.
7. Use baking soda as a natural surface cleaner. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with enough liquid dishwashing detergent to create a frostinglike consistency. Apply mixture to a sponge as an ideal cleaner for any sink. Or, if you don't want to use a sponge, dip half a lemon in baking soda for a great sink cleaner.
8. Make your own disinfectant spray with vinegar and any essential oil, such as lemon oil or tea-tree oil. Combine 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and 10 drops lemon oil or tea-tree oil. Another good recipe is 2 teaspoons tea-tree oil and 2 cups of water mixed in a spray bottle. Shake well before spraying onto problem areas.
9. Use club soda as a window and glass cleaner. Use a 100 percent cotton cloth to wipe off the club soda.
10. Polish wood with olive oil. Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice, and use a soft cloth to apply to wood.
11. Use plant-based products for the washer and dryer. Modern detergents work just as well in cold water, so you don't need to use the hot-water cycle. Instead of dryer sheets, place a dab of plant-based liquid softener onto a washcloth, and put the cloth in the dryer.
12. Design and renovate your home with ecofriendly products.
13. Look for products with the Energy Star label.
14. Switch to organic, slow-release fertilizers that break down slowly, and therefore fertilize for a longer time. Slow-release fertilizers won't produce as much run off, which in turn pollutes water supplies.
15. For weed control, use corn gluten meal, a pre-emergent herbicide for broad-leaf weeds that is not hazardous to children or pets. The timing of the application is important; ask your garden supply center or contact your local cooperative extension for advice. Corn gluten meal can also be used as a light nitrogen fertilizer.
16. Use copper as a slug repellant. Copper gives a shock to slugs, which repels them. In addition to placing copper strips in the ground, you can also wrap copper around pots or tree trunks.
17. Spray plant leaves with insecticidal soap to rid them of mites and aphids. This is especially good to do before you bring plants indoors for the winter. Small plants can be dipped into a diluted soap mixture.
18. Bats help control mosquito populations, sometimes eating up to 2,000 mosquitoes a night. Build a bat house that meets Bat Conservation International standards, with room for up to 40 bats.
19. Teach children about helping the environment. It's never too young for kids to start learning how they can help.
20. Institute a "no idle" rule at school pickup areas. Turn off your engine while you wait for your child.
21. Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner. This way, they won't have to package your clothing in plastic that will end up in landfills.
22. When you're looking for your next vehicle, consider a hybrid car.
23. Use mugs instead of disposable cups in the office. Closer to home, bring your own mug to your morning coffee shop.
24. Replace paper goods with recycled ones. This reduces the destruction of "virgin" trees to make paper goods.
25. Join the movement! Become an activist!