Each room of your home represents your personal style. From the mocha café walls in the great room to the brilliant red abstract painting you found at a local art show, your tastes, style and personality can be found throughout your home. And wouldn’t it be great if each room conveyed your personal style and was eco-friendly too?
Making eco-friendly, green choices can be challenging, But when you take the time to learn about how products are made, what ingredients they use and where they come from you may find a greater appreciation for the items you interact with everyday. And fortunately, making more eco-friendly choices doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take a lot of time. Read on to discover some simple, affordable ways to add green style to throughout your home.
Admit it. You have a drawer full of items saved for special occasions, many of which never see the light of day. And chances are hidden deep inside the drawer are those linen napkins you received as a wedding or house warming gift. Never used, but ready for the day they will be. Well, today is the day.
Using cloth napkins instead of disposable paper napkins not only adds style to the table everyday, it also saves valuable resources and money. Unlike throwaways, cloth napkins can last several years which means you can save hundreds of dollars over the life of the napkins. And since cloth napkins are so compact in size, you can easily throw them in with your weekly load of towels without adding extra loads to your laundry. Or if you prefer a more casual look, consider turning old t-shirts into napkins. Fun and whimsical, soft and absorbent, once your favorite t-shirt becomes too worn out to wear, turn it into napkins by cutting into 6 x 6 squares and stitching the edge. The t-shirt napkins are simple to make, and easy to care for since no ironing is required.
Before giving old pots and pans the old heave-ho, consider turning them into a decorative accessory. Teflon pans, recently cited by the EPA as a possible cancer risk when used to cook at high temperatures, can now transform to become a holder for dish towels, plants or even cook books. Remove the handles from smaller pots and pans and they transform into a cabinet organizer for clips, twist ties or packets of seasonings.
Possibly, the least favorite room to clean, the bathroom is surprisingly simple to green. Simple things like losing your plug in air freshener which can actually emit toxins into the air and replacing it with essential oils can create the air quality of the room. Simply place a drop of essential oil of cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus on a cool light bulb. When the lights are turned on a toxic-free, fresh scent filters through the air. Another trick to keeping your bathroom smelling fresh is to dab a cotton ball with your favorite essential oils and hide inside a basket of towels or discreetly on a shelf. The scent will fill the air and can be refreshed as often as needed.
The perfect place to start greening your bedroom is with bedding. Although cotton is a natural fiber, it typically requires pesticides and fertilizers to grow. The Sustainable Cotton Project estimates that 12 pounds of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers are applied to every acre of cotton in the United States. Organic cotton is grown without the harsh and toxic chemicals that often end up in the waterways and pollute the earth for years to come making it a more eco-friendly choice.
Another luxurious, yet green option is bedding made from bamboo which is naturally environmentally-friendly, antibacterial and soft. Bamboo fabrics are made from bamboo fiber yarns which are naturally silk-like and easy to dye, making it possible to find the perfect color to match the color scheme of your room.
Consider transforming your room into one inspired by the tropical colors of Caribbean or the warm colors of the American Southwest with clay and milk paints. Made naturally from clay, clay paints and plasters are available in a range of natural earth tones and textures. Another eco-friendly choice is milk paints. Both clay and milk paints do not contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or harsh chemicals, making them one of the greenest paints you can choose for your walls or bedroom furniture.
According to Energy Star, if every American home replaced incandescent bulbs with Energy Star rated CFL light bulbs in the 5 highest use areas, each family would save more than $60 per year in energy costs and the combined effort would keep more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air – which equals the emission of 8 million cars. Even better, CFL light bulbs last up to 10 -15 times longer than traditional bulbs, so you don’t have to change them as often.
Now that you’ve started on your quest to green your home, strive to make small changes every time you run out of a product. Before buying the product you’re using today, see if there is a more eco-friendly option available. And as an added bonus, you may discover how rewarding making green choices in your everyday life can be rewarding for not only your pocket book but also your sense of style.