Making Environmentally Sound Decisions In Your Home

Jori Hamilton -- Contributing Writer

Posted on Monday 27th September 2021
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Going green is on everyone’s minds these days. The need to take the steps to be sustainable is valid — the impacts of climate change are becoming more and more stark. Without making major changes to our lifestyles now, chances are we'll all be forced to make incredibly difficult decisions in the future because of our lack of action. 


Although the climate science is daunting, there are quite a few things that people can do individually to make a difference. For most, this involves small, conscious adjustments to their lifestyle and a few modifications to their home. It’s surprising how quickly some of these changes can add up, especially if whole communities or countries were to get on board. 


Modifications that can make your home more environmentally friendly come in all shapes and sizes. They can be big alterations that impact how you build, heat, or landscape your home, or they can be small ones that add up over time. Regardless, all of these modifications take us a step in the right direction and make a positive impact. 

Building a more Sustainable Home

Undoubtedly, when most people think of having a more sustainable home, they think of building it from the ground up. There are thousands of green building designs, tips, and tricks that can ultimately make a new home more energy efficient and green. Over time, some of these homes can save the owners money and they may even become carbon neutral


When building, there are a number of things to consider. Something as simple as which part of the house faces west into the evening sun can have an effect on your heating and cooling expenses, which in turn impacts the amount of energy used in your home. Other things to consider include:


  • Using locally produced materials to reduce transportation from source to site.

  • Installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other self-sufficient sources of energy.

  • Utilizing quality insulation in the home to reduce heating and cooling expenses.

  • Incorporating recycled building materials where possible.

  • Placing low energy appliances in the home. 

  • Putting in a composting toilet. 

  • Reducing the amount of concrete used in the home and choosing an alternative in its place.

  • Installing high performance windows.

  • Painting with eco-friendly paints inside and outside the home.


You still have options even if you’re retrofitting or making small upgrades to an existing home over time. Beyond what’s listed above, you can also consider changes such as replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, turning down the thermostat/air conditioning a few degrees, or fixing leaking pipes. Making adjustments in these seemingly small areas can provide a surprising number of benefits such as saving money on bills and even reducing the number of pests in your home.  

A ‘Green’ Yard

Making environmentally sound decisions in your home should also extend into the yard and landscaping. It’s time to rethink the concept of having a nicely mowed green lawn at all. In many water-stressed areas, lawns are one of the most significant individual uses of water per household. Beyond that, pesticides and fertilizers can contaminate water sources, mowed lawns are a terrible habitat for native wildlife, and lawnmowers are typically some of the least efficient motorized tools out there. 


Lawns can be updated with all sorts of beautiful and earth-friendly alternatives, such as landscaping that uses less water, or the incorporation of native plant habitats that promote pollinators and biodiversity. Many native habitats are already adapted to the local climate and may not require much water at all after the plants are established. If you aren’t quite ready to ditch the grass, even just eliminating fertilizers, mowing less frequently, and allowing dandelions and clover to crop up can make a positive difference. 


Another environmentally sound decision you can make in your yard space is to plant a garden. Gardens are an extraordinary way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables while also reducing transportation and chemical impacts. Incorporating canning and a compost pile can also profoundly reduce your family’s food waste, which is a significant carbon contributor. 

Small Changes and Big Results

Many people think that to become more sustainable is to completely change your lifestyle. Though there are certainly some real environmental positives to overhauling the way you approach waste entirely, it isn’t the only way. Even some of the smallest changes can add up to big results. A more minimalist lifestyle can improve your environmental footprint as well as reduce stress.


Choosing to shop with reusable grocery bags reduces your reliance on single-use plastics profoundly. Add washing and reusing your Ziplocs (or replacing them with reusable zipper pouches) and you’re well on your way to becoming more eco-friendly. Other small things you can do around the house that really add up include:


  • Turning off and unplugging electronics when they aren’t in use.

  • Washing laundry with cold water.

  • Drying clothes on a line outside when the weather is permitting.

  • Clean and reuse plastic containers such as those from butters or sour cream.

  • Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.

  • Make your own environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

  • Buy things like shampoo and conditioner in bulk and reuse your bottles.

  • Eat less beef, or give it up completely.

  • Limit purchases of food that comes in a lot of packaging.

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle.


When it comes to making small changes that can have big effects around the house, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at first, especially if you don’t know where to start. And though no one can improve the overall health of the environment on their own, developing good, eco-friendly habits — even small ones — is a good place to start.

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