Green Home, Happy Home
They say many good things start at home: habits, behavior and health. Add eco-friendly awareness to that list. Greening your immediate environment benefits both you and the world around you.
You might be thinking that a green home plan sounds like something you want to create, but aren’t sure where to begin or if you can afford it. “I think for the first 30 days it’s about quick fixes,” says Kelli Ellis, celebrity designer and interior expert for TLC and HGTV.
Within the first 30 days of working on your green home, you can expect to start experiencing a cleaner, greener dwelling almost immediately. And although it does take some work, there are many things you can do to maintain a shade of jade throughout your abode.
Creating a Green Home
According to the EPA Indoor Air Quality division, indoor pollutant levels can be from two to 100 times higher than outdoors. Stats like these often provide the impetus to creating a green home. Barbara Tag and her husband Gene Penner of Sarasota, FL, have been implementing green home strategies since the 1960s after reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book that many say set the stage for the today’s environmental movement.
The couple’s biggest green home project was installing 31 photovoltaic panels on their roof, which use energy from the sun to generate electricity. Eventually the couple hopes to have a zero-energy home and have cut their electricity bills to nearly $40 a month.
If panels on the roof seem like a giant leap to you, remember that Barbara and Gene created their green home over time, and so can you. Seth Bauer, vice president and editorial director for National Geographic’s Green Guide and Thegreenguide.com, says a green home is attainable. “The thing about going green is that people think of it as this all-or-nothing plunge,” he says. Starting small is a fine approach—and there are many areas to consider as you transition into a green home.
Cleaning the Green Way
The first recommendation most experts make is to rid your home of toxic chemical products. It’s easy to find green home products, such as Seventh Generation or Ecover. Better yet, an easy mixture of vinegar and water makes a great cleaner for just about anything. You can also use a soft cloth or sponge instead of paper towels or disposable wipes to reduce waste.
If you’re investing in a larger-scale project, try to incorporate chemical-free products, such as repainting your home with low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and avoiding toxic glues. Ellis, who specializes in home refurbishing, likes bamboo floors. “They aren’t more expensive and look like wood, but are more durable,” she says. Green home materials like this are quite accessible, with even major outlets offering green home options.