Environmental Projects to Push Your Efforts to the Next Level
One key action in each of the 7 issue areas that individuals should take to green up their house.
Have you completed many green steps in your home and you’re interested to do more? Take on some of these hands-on projects:
Energy Conservation: Insulate and Weather-strip
The average US home has enough air leaks to equal an open window. Sealing and insulating your home can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, and upwards of 10% on your total energy bill (Energy Star). Find an experienced certified contractor, or follow Energy Star’s do-it-yourself guide to sealing and insulating.
Transportation: Choose a Fuel-Efficient Car
The single most important environmental choice that most US citizens make is our choice of transportation. The average US auto releases 6 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, acting as one of the biggest contributors to climate change. When you purchase a new car, take some time to research so that you can purchase a vehicle that gets 35 mpg or higher.
Toxics Reduction: Create Your Own Green Cleaners
There are over 80,000 synthetic chemicals in use, and less than 5% have been tested for their effects on human health and the environment. The best way to control your exposure to chemicals is to make your own green cleaners with some common and non-toxic household ingredients. Read these 25 do-it-yourself green cleaning recipes for every room of your house.
Food: Purchase Local Foods
A typical carrot travels 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table (Sustainable
Table). Support your farmers close to home and reduce your carbon footprint by
visiting farmers’ markets or participating in Community Supported Agriculture:
The organization Local Harvest offers a handy website to locate the markets and CSAs closest to you. Taking this step to purchase locally may require more time and effort than visiting your typical grocery store, but the quality and price point will be better, and you will have the opportunity to meet your farmer and try out new and unique fruits and vegetables.
Water Conservation: Use Rainbarrels
When we are given the gift of rainfall, we tend to capture it in gutters and let it flow into the nearby landscape all at once. This poses several problems—in urban and suburban areas, the concrete and turf landscapes aren’t permeable, and so the water flows in torrents, often leading to flooding, and in rural areas this water flow carries valuable soil with it. By diverting the water from the gutters into a rainbarrel, these problems are avoided, and the water that is collected can be used for plants, gardens and other uses. Review this useful rain barrel guide.
Waste Reduction: Compost
The average American creates 4.5 lbs. of garbage each day (Source: Story of Stuff), much of which is food waste. Starting an indoor or outdoor compost bin is easy, smell-free, and turns food waste into nutrient-rich soil. Read a simple description of composting grass and table scraps and learn how to compost. Contact your township; often, townships will provide compost bins for free or at a discount. In a small space or urban area? See this composting guide for New York City and check out a hassle-free indoor electric composter by NatureMill.
Grounds Maintenance: Create Local Habitat in Your Backyard
One of the biggest threats to local wildlife is development—as homes go up, habitat is destroyed, and wildlife is unable to find places to feed, live, and raise young. Make your property as wildlife-friendly as possible by certifying your backyard as a wildlife habitat. See National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.