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We're all trying to do 'our bit' for the planet, and here's how you can make a difference in your own home.

 

1. Use Green Cleaning Products

Common cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals - compounds that are directly linked to cancer, reproductive disorders, lung and skin damage, and other serious health concerns. Kids are especially vulnerable. Cleaning chemicals are a major contributor to indoor air pollution - and keep in mind that inside the house is where the average family spends 90% of its time. What's more, cleaning products end up in the environment, devastating the eco-system and contaminating our water.

Switching to green cleaning products is easy if you're willing to try your hand at making your own eco-friendly cleaners, or shop for eco-friendly alternatives at your local supermarket.

2. Install a Water Filter

Clean, safe water without all of the waste. This is a simple home improvement that is smart, easy and cost-cutting: no more plastic water bottles, no more fossil fuels used to deliver the H20, and no more water delivery bills, either. Find out more about home water filtration and purification.

3. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Did you know that 90% of electricity is lost by heat in incandescent (regular) bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs produce the same amount of light using about 25% of the energy. There are energy-efficient light bulbs for every kind of fixture, providing a spectrum of watts, hues and ambience. There are even light bulbs that last 20,000 hours that's 5 hours a day for 11 years. Just one of them will replace 26 store-bought light bulbs. So smart!

4. Purify Air with Houseplants

Indoor air can be up to two to 10 times more polluted than the air outdoors. Building materials, furnishings, carpet backing, cleaning products, computer circuitry and printers continuously release pollutants. Plants are not only nice to look at, they are also great, natural air purifiers. While opting for non-toxic products will help control indoor pollution, populating the house with plants is a fantastic way to "grow" fresh air every day.

5. Choose Natural Lawn Care

Pesticides are intentionally toxic. Every year, 90 million pounds of pesticides are used on lawns. Our shoes track these toxins into our homes and our children's health is the most compromised. Exposure to pesticides can lead to such health problems as birth defects, neurotoxins, and kidney and liver damage. Synthetic fertilizers may seem like a quick fix to green a lawn but they actually weaken grass and deteriorate soil in the long run. They also kill healthy microorganisms that build healthy soil. Change to natural and organic fertilizers.

6. Favour Cloth over Paper Products

Using cloth towels, napkins and rags instead of disposable paper goods can reduce the heaps of rubbish in our landfills and save you money in the process. Cloth dishtowels are a smart eco-choice over paper towels. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. The initial cost will quickly be offset by the reduced need to buy disposable paper products.

Ratty dishtowels and washcloths are great to recycle into cleaning rags. Old t-shirts also make great rags - just cut them into squares. Use cloth grocery bags. They are easier to carry than disposable bags, hold more, and protect breakable items. Keep a small basket or crate in the trunk of your car and put them back after unloading groceries so you don't forget on the next trip to the market.

7. Be Wise with Laundry

My mom is the queen of smart laundry and taught me well. Use Biodegradable Detergent and Oxygen Bleach: Both are free of toxins and irritants. And wash clothes on cold: The washing machine performs just as well with cold water as with warm or hot. It will save energy and money and extend the life of your threads.

Wash full loads, but don't overfill: It takes the same amount of energy for a small load as a large load. However, an overfilled machine won't perform as well and may need a longer wash/rinse cycle.

Hang dry what you can. Nothing is better than fresh, line-dried clothes. It will save energy, money on electricity (tumble dryers are a huge draw of power), and line drying makes fabrics smell wonderful. Your clothes will thank you, too. The dryer is rough on textiles, elastic and wears out colours quickly. In colder weather some laundry can be hung indoors; socks, underwear and lightweight clothing such as tee shirts will dry quickly. A folding rack can be easily stashed away. If you like clothes fluffy, tumble drying for a few minutes will do the trick. And regularly clean the lint screen in your tumble dryer to allow air to flow more freely for efficient drying time.

[ family.com ]