One of the great things about this apartment building is that it is new, so all the appliances, including the washing machine is energy-efficient and it is a front loading, which uses less water. It makes it easy to take small steps to a greener lifestyle.
1. Install water saving showerheads and faucet aerators.
Heating water accounts for approximately 15% of the average household energy bill. Cut this down by installing water saving showerheads and aerators on kitchen faucets. They use nearly 60% less water and chances are you won’t even notice the difference (until you get your electricity bill!)
2. Turn the tap off.
Your mother probably told you to do it when you were a child, but do you? When brushing your teeth or shaving, always be sure to turn the water off. Even a few seconds can waste a tremendous amount of water unnecessarily. It’s a simple thing that can have a big impact on the amount of water used in your home.
3. Never flush your old medications.
In almost everyone’s medicine cabinet there is expired medications. But whatever you do, do not flush them! That puts them into the water, which can be dangerous. Instead inquire at your pharmacy about whether they will take them and dispose of them properly. If they cannot handle them they will at least be able to tell you where you can take them.
4. Use less water when you bathe.
Baths typically use less water than showers. So whenever possible opt for a soak in the tub. If you prefer showers keep them short. Ten minutes is way too long. And be sure to install a low-flow showerhead and faucet to reduce the amount of water. You can cut back nearly 50% of the water used and barely even notice the difference.
5. Install new toilets.
Newer toilets use significantly less water than older ones. And the low-flush toilets not only conserve water but they actually reduce the greenhouse gases produced in the water-purification process. If you can’t afford to buy a new toilet, a great alternative is to place a plastic water bottle – with the cap on – in the tank. Doing so means less water is used for each flush.
6. Buy recycled products whenever possible.
Many of the products that we use every day can be made from recycled materials. Doing so saves 70% – 90% of the energy and pollution versus using virgin materials. In particular, paper products are a great place for you to choose more environmentally friendly products. Look for bleach-free toilet paper that is made from a minimum of 80% post-consumer waste content.
7. Hang your clothes to dry.
The average household does more than 400 loads of laundry in a year. That is a lot of electricity to dry all those clothes! You can cut this down dramatically by hanging your clothes to dry. In the winter months opt for an indoor drying rack. When it’s warm outside you can move your indoor rack out to a deck or patio, or use an outdoor clothesline. There are many new styles of clotheslines available now that are easily removable when not in use or that can be elevated to keep them out of the way.
8. Clean out your lint filter.
Having a full lint filter in your clothes dryer can result in 30% more energy being used. Be sure to clean it out before every use and scrub it with a soft bristle brush every few months. To check and see if it needs to be cleaned, fill it with water and see whether it drains. Often tiny particles can clog the holes even though it appears that they are clear.
9. Use all natural cleaning products.
Almost all household cleaning can be done using vinegar, baking soda and water. Use vinegar as a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, all purpose cleaner and window cleaner and add it to the rinse cycle of your laundry as a fabric softener. Clean your bathtub, toilet and counters with a paste of baking soda and water. If you prefer to use commercial cleaners, there are many companies now offering environmentally friendly versions.
10. Avoid dry-cleaning your clothes.
The majority of dry cleaning chemicals are highly toxic. Not only are these chemicals harmful for the environment, but also they remain on your clothes as you continue to wear them, which can present a health risk. When buying clothes, opt for items that you can wash at home rather than needing to be dry-cleaned. And keep in mind that most items that say ‘dry clean only’ can actually be washed by hand with a mild detergent and cold water. If your garment absolutely cannot be hand washed, look for a cleaning service that practices wet cleaning instead of dry cleaning.
11. Don’t use antibacterial cleaners.
We have become a society that is obsessed with living germ free. And we may be hurting ourselves more than we’re helping. Antibacterial cleaners contain a chemical known as triclosan, which is a form of dioxin. In addition to causing a variety of health related problems including decreased fertility and birth defects, this chemical is also mixing with the chlorine in our tap water and forming deadly chlorinated dioxins. So you’re better off just using regular soap. In fact, doing so will kill 99.4% of germs. Compare that with antibacterial soap that kills 99.6%.
12. Buy phosphate free detergents and soaps.
Phosphates that find their way in to our lakes and rivers are responsible for the overgrowth of algae. When this algae takes over a body of water it chokes out the other plants growing on the bottom and causes a series of problems. Do your part to limit the amount of phosphates that end up in lakes and rivers by choosing detergents and soaps that are phosphate free.