The Green House Effect: How to Organize Your Home in Earth-Friendly Ways

September 01, 2014

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Human beings don't typically live in the branches of trees along with birds and squirrels, but there are still ways to make your home earth- friendly. Organizing, decorating and cleaning a house while regarding the natural environment will keep the process more focused, will teach your family how to treat the earth well, and will improve the health of everyone who lives in your home.

Of course, if you are just now building a home or moving into one, it will be easier to incorporate some green ideas into the household. But, if you've lived in one place for years, don't fret - it's still simple to begin some green habits. Approach your decor with love for the planet in mind and everyone wins.

Knickknacks

Don't buy a sustainable sofa unless you're going to dress it with green pillows. Pillows stuffed with natural fibers, such as cotton and goose down, are preferable for the environment and ensure better air quality. A great place to obtain earth-friendly decor is at flea markets, farmer's markets and other places where local artisans display their craftsmanship. Try an original painting, or something made by a member of the community from wood or other natural materials. These are great opportunities to keep synthetic items out of the home environment.

Appliances

Don't forget the appliances when you go green. Low-flush toilets, kitchen appliances that consume less energy and CFL or LED lights are all good options. In general, appliances that have the Energy Star approval are efficient choices.

It's not just what you put inside your house that makes it green -- it's how you maintain those belongings, from cleaning to organization.

Organizing

Containers If you're stumped about what to use for organizing smaller items in the kitchen and bathroom, try re-purposing old shoe boxes, cans that held soups, and jars that held pickles and spaghetti sauces.

You can also make your own containers out of products such as zBoard, a nontoxic material that doesn't require nails or tools.

Paper vs. Online

Most financial institutions offer you the option of online statements, rather than paper ones, so take them up on it. Get in the habit of paying your bills online. Use an e-reader to enjoy magazines and newspapers. You'll cut down on the amount of paper that gathers in the corners of your home and maintain a greener lifestyle.

Donations

When an item is no longer necessary, such as a toy your child has outgrown, make a habit of gathering and donating them to charities so that someone else can enjoy them. You'll be recycling in the best possible way - another family will find a use for your products and your home will be less cluttered.

Cleaning Household Products

Instead of buying an all-purpose cleaner at the nearest supermarket, why not make your own products for keeping kitchens and bathrooms clean? It's more fun, and you probably have the things you need in your pantry.

• Baking soda and water - This solution cleans just about anything, from tiles in the shower to kitchen countertops. • Lemon juice and vinegar - If you're dealing with mildew or grease, douse with either lemon juice or vinegar and scrub vigorously with a brush. • Soap and tea tree oil - You can make a homemade disinfectant that rivals bleach by combining water, liquid soap and several drops of tea tree oil.

Garden Products

Remember, green doesn't stop inside the house. Tend to your flower or vegetable garden with products that are better for nature.

• Set up a compost bin with vegetable peelings, garden waste, plus newspaper and other fibrous material to create a compost pile. • Allow birds that eat garden pests to thrive in your garden. Encourage them with bird feeders. • Use acetic acid (about 20% acid, 80% water) or oils made from citrus and clove for earth-friendly weed killing solutions.

These items might disturb other plants, so use with caution. The process of having a more eco-friendly home environment can take time. But the rewards for your family and for the earth are numerous.

Garret Stembridge is a member of the Internet marketing team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for the home and for businesses. The Self Storage Facility in Philadelphia has been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

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