Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Simple Steps to a Greener Home Part 1

There are simple things you can do in and around your home right now to help reduce your carbon foot print. Simple things we take for granted. It just takes a little planning and your home will be greener and your pocket book and health will thank you.

Building or remodeling:
First I would like to talk about building or remodeling. If you are planning on building a home then you can start at the very beginning by letting your builder know to only choose supplies and materials that are Ecofriendly. These are products that are friendly to the environment. Products that are made from easily renewable sources, low toxins, organically produced or takes refuse out of our landfills by reusing or re-purposing them, such as used lumber, glass or stone. But if you are like most people you already have a house that was built with out any input from you. Don’t worry, because you can still green up your home.

Granite counter Tops
Granite counter tops are really beautiful. Granite is a naturally occurring material so it must be a green choice, right? Wrong! Because of the way that granite has to be dug out of the ground it is a very destructive (to the Earth) material to harvest. A better, greener choice would be recycled glass and stone counter tops. There are companies that take glass and crush it and mix it with crushed stone to make something that, in my opinion, looks just as beautiful as real granite.  A great place to buy this material is Vetrazzo Recycled Glass Surfaces. There are other places to buy it so shop around.The cost of these recycled glass materials is comparable if not cheaper than granite.


Did you know that you could buy recycled paint? Yes you can. Recycled paint is available at some retailers. You just have to look. The only drawback is you are limited to color choice because it is usually already mixed. Although as the technology for mixing recycled paint is getting better, so are the color choices. But what if you can’t find the color you want? Don’t worry there are more green choices to paint. You can use non-toxic natural paints. Non-toxic natural paints are plant-based paints. The good things about these paints are they are low odor and low VOCs.  Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.
VOCs are a contributing factor to air pollution as well as a cancer-causing toxin. Low VOC Ecofriendly paint is not only a good choice for the environment but also if you are health sensitive. Natural paints are made with plant oils, plant extracts, and minerals. Always look for low VOC paint. One helpful hint I want to give you about paint is, to get rid of the paint smell add vanilla essence or extract. You can find recycled paint at Recycle Paint -Calibre Environmental Ltd.. You can find Eco friendly paint manufacturers here ECO Friendly Home Interior Paint Brands. Then go find the paint sellers who have these brands. Recycled paints are usually cheaper than regular paints and Natural Paints are comparable in price to those made with dangerous toxins.

Floor Coverings:

There are many choices for floor coverings now that are made from natural renewable sources or recycled materials.
·        Sisal – Made from the pulp of the agave plant, after they squeeze all the delicious juice out to make tequila.
·        Hemp – this is a great green material used to make many things. It is one and a half times stronger than cotton.
·        Old tires – these are being used to make doormats that will last forever.
·        Bamboo – the fibers from bamboo can be woven into rugs and carpets. This is also a great sustainable choice because bamboo grows prolifically.
·        Regular materials – you can buy carpets and rugs made from regular materials such as cotton and wool, but be sure to look for low VOC carpet. The VOCs in carpet is what gives it that new carpet smell.
A great low cost tip for changing the look of your floors is by using carpet tiles. They are also non-permanent. When you get a stain simply remove the stained tile or tiles and replace with a new tile. How easy is that? EcoFriendly Flooring Inc. is a great source for flooring that is truly green. They also have other surface covering products as well.
The rugs and carpeting choices listed above are comparable to regular carpeting containing toxic materials.

Ecofriendly fabrics and furniture:
When shopping for furniture, look for items that are made of natural or recycled materials. Use products that are made of 100% organically grown cotton. Non-organic cotton is responsible for 25% of the world’s pesticides. That’s right, I said ¼ of the entire world’s pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. Imagine if everyone started using fabrics and materials made from organic cotton. Imagine how many toxic chemicals would not get into our water supply and air. One company that uses 100% organic cotton is Q-Collection. They have a wonderful assortment of furniture and items that are Eco-friendly. Check them out here: Q-Collection
Look for furniture makers that use 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved wood. The FSC is a non-profit organization devoted to responsible management of the world’s forests.

Textiles can also be made from Eco-friendly materials leathers, hemp, velvet, and silk.
Again the prices are comparable to regularly produced furniture.

Next time we will talk about using houseplants to detox your home.
Until next time be courageous in your designs.

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