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20 Ways That Can Help You Live Green At Home

Earth Day 2015By Shelagh Duncan

Earth Day is April 22nd. This is the time when we should be re-evaluating our efforts to take care of this planet we call home. We all know about the 3 R’s, but we should also be trying in other ways to lessen our carbon footprint and be a better friend to the environment.

Here are 20 ways that can help you live green at home, and why not consider adopting even a couple of these ideas. If everyone does a little, we can accomplish a lot.

Royal Palm Interiors

1 Buy for the long-term. Save toward a good quality sofa, for instance, rather than a cheapie that you’ll be regretting after five years. A well-made sofa can be re-covered several times over the course of its decades-long life. Take advantage of store sales, or layaway plans.

2 Cook in larger batches and freeze. This saves energy and time. Make sure your food storage containers are free of harmful bisphenol (BPA).

Window coverings3 Window coverings will help keep your home cool in the heat of the day, and you’ll find using ‘black-out’ fabric is the most effective. Even ready-made panels make a huge difference, they are easy to find and affordable. Roller blinds will give sun protection when needed and have minimal visual impact when closed. You can also use awnings outside to block direct sun at certain times of day.

reusable shopping bag4 Use reusable shopping bags and take them when you go to the grocery store. Stash them so you’ll have them where you need them – in your tote, at home, or in the car.

5 Don’t use one plastic bag at the grocery store for each fruit or veggie you buy – put them all into one or two large bags when labelled and priced. Then try to find some cotton bags to put them in at home (or sew up a tea cloth). That will also help keep them fresh in your crisper drawer, and the bags are washable when needed.

6 Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. Look for products that are biodegradable, phosphate-free and not tested on animals. Beware – sometimes products labelled ‘Green’ , ‘Natural’ or Eco-Friendly are not! It is just clever marketing, so read the labels to be sure.

Eco-friendly cleaning products


7 Or, just check out your cupboards: Vinegar diluted with water is great on windows and floors; baking soda is great for gently scouring and deodorizing kitchen and bath surfaces.

8 Reduce your use of paper towels. Use re-useable, washable cloths whenever possible.

energy star appliances9 In the market for new appliances? Buy Energy-Star certified products. You pay a little more up-front, but enjoy the long term savings.

10 Install Solar panels and become as self-sufficient as possible. Or, get an electrical audit done and find out where you are losing energy: bad or missing ground connections, faulty wiring etc. Wasted electricity is expensive and fixable.

11 Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). If you really, really don’t like them, just change your porch light, laundry or utility room light to CFLs. You won’t notice the difference, but CFLs use 75% less energy than standard bulbs so you should still see savings in your ICE bill. Also put them in hard to reach areas like in cathedral ceilings, because they last a lot longer than regular bulbs.

recycle12 Recycle and compost. There is recycling in Costa Rica! Way too many bottles etc. end up in our rivers, and then the ocean. Plastic bottles can take 600 years to degrade! Take the time to find out where to take your recycling – then do it.

14 Plant a tree on your property. Or more, if you have space. Native trees provide wildlife habitat and help cool the planet. If you have built and trees came down in the process, think about planting others to replace them. No space on your lot, then ask a neighbour or friend. Small trees grow, and they are not expensive here.

16 Eat organic. Pesticide residues and fertilizers effect the food chain and harm our wildlife. They also pollute our water as the rains wash these chemicals into our rivers and then the ocean.  Did you know that many of the chemicals used here are banned in the US…  (Environmental Health News)

native plant garden17 Plant a tropical garden. Choose native plants and instead of North American style lawns that need lots of water, use local ground covers or a grass species native to this zone.

18 Install aerators and low-flow showerheads so you can save water without sacrificing water pressure.

19 Put your dryer on hold and use an outdoor clothes line or drying rack whenever possible. You will save on electricity – and enjoy the fresh air scent of your clothes.

20 Go Tico-style – use cold water to do most of your laundry, and replace harmful bleach with white vinegar to soak those stinky gardening clothes.

Okay, I hope that got your creative juices flowing. However, if you are not the handy type but appreciate re-purposing, then check out Artifice in Uvita for super cool jewellery created from pop bottles!

Being environmentally friendly at home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your sense of style. Smart choices can ensure that you do your part, all the while looking (and feeling!) good about your contribution to our planet’s wellbeing.

Until next time…

Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita, 2743-8323, [email protected]

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