Clean and Green

Clean and Green: How Homeowners Can Live Environmentally Friendly

By Ray Flynn,

American homeowners use up a staggering amount of resources on a daily basis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American family of four is capable of going through 400 gallons of water a day. Then there’s the tremendously excessive use of fossil fuel-based energy and the amount of pollution Americans account for, from pesticides and fertilizers to paint, toxic fluids and animal waste. The sheer weight of such pollution is incredibly damaging to the environment and is largely responsible for turning whole rivers and lakes into sludge-ridden cesspools.

It lies within the power of every homeowner to reduce the amount of waste and environmental pollutants they produce. It’s more than an environmentally responsible act – it’s an excellent way to save your personal energy costs and create a healthier environment for your loved ones.

Junk mail

It keeps coming every day – the mailman leaves one stack of junk mail after another in the mailbox, adding to the great mass of waste that finds its way into landfills. Add paper utility bills to the situation and you have a mountainous accumulation of waste paper to pollute the environment. You can help stem the flow by arranging for electronic statements to be sent via email and opt out of commercial loan, credit card and insurance offers that flow your way. And make a point to recycle any waste paper such as old bills, junk mail and newspaper. It’s simple enough and it’s an overtly eco-friendly act.

Kick off your shoes

Your shoes pick up all kinds of substances such as fertilizer from the lawn and antifreeze from the garage or driveway. These toxic elements can come into contact with your skin and pollute the air you breathe. It’s easy enough to prevent such pollutants from entering your home by asking that everyone kick off their shoes and leave them by the door. If you have a problem with  clutter in your front entryway, you can quite affordably buy a shoe rack or keep them in a nearby closet.

Eliminate VOCs

The chemicals we introduce into our homes gradually break down, giving off fumes that can irritate eyes and respiratory tissue and even damage the central nervous system. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found in household items we all take for granted, from furniture and building materials to cleaning fluids and carpeting. An EPA study has found that indoor pollutants are as many as five times higher than outdoor pollutants. There’s an increasing number of eco-friendly products that eliminate or are low in VOCs, and it’s advisable to open the doors and windows and air out your home at least two or three times a week to get rid of build-ups of toxic indoor pollutants.


Leaky toilets and faucets, excessive showers and running the dishwasher all add up to a tremendous waste of water resources. Homeowners add to the problem by making an extravagant use of water to keep their gardens and lawns looking good. Instead, try collecting rainwater and use that instead to irrigate the garden. Consider rerouting your gutters to a barrel that collects rain runoff, which can be used with a watering can or a hose attached to the barrel. It’s a great option if your house is made primarily of wood or other materials that are vulnerable to water damage.

Rainwater collection can also be an affordable option: Some water collection systems cost less than $50. You can also easily save on energy costs by purchasing energy-efficient appliances. Many refrigerators, dishwashers and washer/dryers today are engineered to conserve energy, a technology that uses just what is needed and no more.

Making the decision to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle is an investment in your health as much as it is a commitment to protect our environment. Reducing toxins and pollutants in your home will improve indoor air quality and your overall living environment and living more efficiently will save you hundreds of dollars a year. It’s a major decision, but relatively simple and inexpensive to do.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.


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