I am sure that most of you have heard the term "going green" at this point. While it might be a hip term to throw around at parties, an understanding of what it means might inspire you to actually do it.
Basically, going green means to live life, as an individual as well as a community, in a way that is friendly to the natural environment and is sustainable for the earth. It means helping to maintain the natural ecological balance in the environment, and preserving the planet and its natural systems and resources.
It also means taking steps, whether big or small, to minimize the harm you do to the environment including the carbon footprints you leave behind, as a result of inhabiting this planet. Taking a small first step is the key so let's take a look at some things you can do in your home environment to create your personal "green" movement. The earth will thank you!
Most of us are unaware that the common household cleaning products, disinfectants, deodorizers, and paints we use actually contain very dangerous chemicals and carcinogens that are toxic and poisonous and can affect the health of ourselves, our family and our pets. These toxic chemicals are not just dangerous pollutants inside our home, they are equally as dangerous to our outside environment.
Being the consumers that we are, we buy an abundance of cleaning products for our homes and our bodies. These shampoos, soaps, and cleaning detergents that you use can contain toxic chemicals that are washed down the sinks and pipes, into drains, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea. Have you ever considered switching to more natural cleaners and personal products that are made with natural substances instead of man-made chemicals where minimal harmful chemicals are used in the process of their production? At the same time, these natural products are bio-degradable and do little harm even when released into the environment because they are found in the natural environment in the first place.
I personally have started using Method products to clean my home and I purchase them at Target. These are natural and non-toxic products that clean well and smell fabulous. I am partial to the eucalyptus mint tub and tile cleaner. These products are cool because they work and smell fabulous, and the bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic. I like the fact that they are safe for people and pets, and there are no stinging eyes, burning lungs and headaches which are the unfortunate side effects of other cleaning products.
Outside of house cleaning products, you can also make a green choice with the products that you us on your body. Toms of Maine carries many such products and are available at many supermarkets and drug stores right here in the Massapequas. The company has a "no animal testing" policy and the products contain no animal ingredients or artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives. Green Works is another line of cleaners from the makers of Clorox that cleans without the harsh chemical fumes or residue. It just makes sense to clean with something that is not non-toxic or you may as well leave it dirty.
Another small step in going green at home is as easy as changing your light bulbs. If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. You save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime. The average U.S. household has 45 light bulbs; replacing that number of 75-watt incandescent bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) would save $180 per year. CFL bulbs produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.
The type of light from these bulbs might take a bit if getting used to but Westinghouse puts out a CFL that mimics an incandescent bulb. The Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, Mini-twist Style, is for interior standard base light fixtures and the 9-watt bulbs are equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent bulb with an average life of 8,000 hours. You can get them at for about $6.99 each.
One thing you should be aware of though is that CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and should be disposed of properly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, CFLs contain an average of five milligrams of mercury, which increases the bulb's efficiency. But that also means you can't just trash them; CFLs must be properly recycled. Ikea is one national retailer with a recycling center in their stores to take old CFL bulbs back for recycling. Also, visit EARTH911.org and type in "CFL" and your city/state to find a recycling center near you.
If you are in the process of upgrading or replacing a household appliance, switch one out to an energy efficient model and look for the "energy star" label. It can be a great way to trim your utility bills. If you have a dishwasher made before 1994 you may be paying an extra $40 a year compared to owning a new energy star qualified model. Replace one of these old dishwashers with an energy star model and save enough money to pay for dishwasher detergent all year. A dishwasher built before 1994 wastes more than 10 gallons of water per cycle compared to owning a new qualified model. Replace one of these old dishwashers and save enough water each week to wash 3 loads of laundry in an energy star qualified clothes washer.
Nearly 70 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, which releases greenhouse gasses and other air pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change and air quality problems. Energy Star dishwashers use less energy than conventional models, which helps reduce air pollution and combat global climate change. Remember to load your dishwasher to full capacity before running it. An added benefit is that there are numerous tax credits available for upgrading to energy efficient appliances. However, some will be expiring at the end of this year.
If you are in the process of extensive remodeling, you should consider some green options. If you are redoing your kitchen for example, there are some countertop options that go way beyond the customary formica, granite and tile. One I came across looks gorgeous and is an ideal granite alternative called IceStone that is made of recycled glass and concrete. You be surprised to know that some countertops could be coated with plastic resin and contain harmful petrochemicals.
Additionally, some stone or granite materials are mined half way around the world in unknown and unregulated labor conditions and extracted or manufactured without concern for the environment. IceStone is 100% free of harmful plastics, toxic resins, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Each slab is pre-cast in a day-lit factory that meets OSHA standards. The mixing of non-toxic pigments with various glass colors and sizes results in IceStone's versatile palette of 28 available colors and unlimited amounts of custom colors. You can visit www.icestone.biz for more information. Being manufactured in Brooklyn also gives it local appeal to us Long Islanders.
Cutting down on your use of paper at home is a big "green" change. The more we can conserve paper, the more trees we save. One easy way to save paper is to pay all your bills on line. You actually conserve two ways, paper is not used for the incoming bill, and paper is not used for paying by check. You also save money on postage. As the price of paper cards and postage increases, consider e-mailing e-cards. When printing documents, print on both sides of paper. You can cut your paper consumption almost in half. You may want to consider E-mail documents and information instead of printing and mailing them and save the documents on your computer or on a disk instead of in a print copy in your filing cabinet.
By now you are most likely recycling your bottles, plastic, and paper and that's great but it's time to go bigger. By using green cleaning and grooming products, cutting back on paper, using energy efficient appliances, and conserving electrical energy, it will help protect our natural resources, keep you healthier, and save you money. Additionally, having green features in your home can actually increase its market value. Start the process, and step by step we can all make a huge difference in preserving what is beautiful and natural in Massapequa, in the USA, and in the world.
Your comments and questions are welcome. Contact Cindy at Succosorealty@aol.com