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One big lesson I have learned through minimalism and starting a homestead is that living in an eco-friendly home needs to be a priority.
The Earth is a precious resource that keeps us all alive and nourished, but it is also something we take for granted. Many people believe that they cannot make a difference, and that simply is not the case.
With small changes, big impacts are made. Just think of how the internet has evolved over the years. I remember AOL being my internet connection and waiting 15-20 minutes for webpages to load.
Now they load within a few seconds and are no longer tied to your phone line [at least not how they were way back in the 90s]. The internet is just one piece of technology that has evolved over the years and transformed the way we connect.
Transforming our homes into an eco-friendly home can have the same effect.
The best part is that you will reap rewards for doing so, such as saving money, living a better quality of life, and learning valuable skills that we have started to take for granted.
Having a greener house isn’t about doing all of the ideas I’m sharing with you. It is about doing all that you can now and being open to introducing new steps along the way.
The fun part about making these changes is that you’ll see shifts in other areas of your life, too! So you aren’t just benefiting the Earth and your strides to create an eco-friendly home, but also other areas of your life.
When I started making these changes, I started questioning how I could care for my mental health in a similar way, which led me to so many opportunities.
27 Eco-Friendly Home Ideas
Before we get into each idea, I want to reiterate that you don’t have to do all of these things at once. That isn’t sustainable.
Start with the changes you can make, get comfortable with them, then ask yourself what else you can change.
1 // Swap single use items for better options
- Paper towels for cloth napkins
- Cotton pads/balls for cotton rounds
- Plastic straws for stainless/metal straws
- Water bottles for reusable bottles
Each of these swaps not only save you money, but they reduce the waste you send to the landfill. Products that end up in the landfill do not decompose naturally, as they were intended.
In fact, plastic does not break down for many decades. I have personally made all of these swaps, and have never once regretted it.
2 // More Energy Efficient
- Swap out thin curtains for thicker or even room darkening curtains
- Swap out light incandescent bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs
- Replace old glass windows with energy-efficient windows
- Replace air filters every month
- Be purposeful with your laundry and only wash loads once
- Hang clothes to dry, instead of using your dryer all of the time
Each of these tips are also money savers. They also require less work on your home to be energy efficient, which in turn helps appliances last longer and reduces the amount of energy your home pulls from the grid.
3 // Renew and mend before replacing
- Mend clothes with holes or buttons missing
- Repair broken pieces of furniture
- Freshen something old and tired with a new coat of paint
- Find a new use for something that no longer works in its current state
Tossing things out just because they have a hole in them or are missing a button is something we all have probably done.
However, if repairing them gives them a new life that will allow you to continue wearing it, why not go the extra mile? Same with broken furniture.
What if a simple fix is all it needs? What if a new coat of paint will give it a new purpose and life?
For things that you cannot mend or repair, such as holy shirts that you do not want your husband going out in public wearing, cut them up into rags to use for cleaning or to rub stain on a piece of furniture.
Maybe that basket does not work for gathering vegetables from the garden, but it makes an excellent catch-all basket. Get creative!
4 // Swap conventional products for environmentally friendly products
- Swap harmful cleaning products with non-toxic cleaners
- Use vinegar and water for cleaning
- Swap your laundry detergent for a plant-based one
- Use wool dryer balls in lieu of dryer sheets
- Use baking soda for the hard to clean jobs in lieu of harmful chemical products
- Find furniture that uses natural fibers to limit your family’s contact with harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
The environment soaks up all of these harmful chemicals that have the potential to pollute the Earth. They also harm you physically when breathing in while cleaning or soaking up through your skin.
By switching to all natural products, you do not have to fear the effects, nor will you be harming the environment. I will suggest for you to do some research, because there are a TON of products that seem all-natural that really are not.
Related Post: Creating a Chemical-Free Home
5 // Unplug unused appliances
The energy appliances pull when not in use costs you money. You may have heard of the terms ‘phantom energy‘ or ‘ghost energy‘. This means that even when you don’t need your appliances, they still need electricity.
To ensure you are only pulling energy you need, use serge strips that can turn off when you don’t need the things plugged into it.
Depending on how many things you have plugged in that aren’t in use and still pull energy, you could be throwing away $100-200 per year.
That could save you an entire month’s electricity bill!
I recommend you only have things plugged into outlets that you need at all times, such as the refrigerator. Move everything you can to serge strips so that you can turn them off when you aren’t using anything plugged into them.
6 // Purchase things that are not packaged in plastic, if possible
When it comes to things like produce, opt for plastic-free packaging. Things like avocados and bananas don’t need to be put in plastic produce sacks.
You can opt for reusable produce bags that still allow you to put your produce in something if you aren’t comfortable without it.
Related Post: How to Create a Zero Waste Kit for on the go
7 // Recycle and compost
Reducing the trash you send to the landfill is a great way to live more eco-friendly. There are so many things you can recycle and compost, like paper, cardboard, certain plastics, food scraps, etc.
Be sure to check with your local recycling centers to see which plastics they collect and other materials you can recycle.
For things like paper, cardboard, and food scraps, you can compost them yourself or provide them for a local farmer.
Organic materials do not decompose in a landfill, so use a little effort to reduce how much of it you’re sending to the landfill.
Related Post: How to Reduce Waste; 101 Ways to Reduce Waste
8 // Use a Pressure Cooker for faster cooking
The shorter amount of time you spend cooking means less electricity being used, which saves you money and is better for the environment.
This also means that you don’t heat your house up as much, so the air conditioner is running less, too!
I recommend the Instant Pot 8-in-1 Pressure Cooker because of its versatility. Plus, it makes pretty good roasts and ribs!
This Instant Pot specifically is a substitute for a rice cooker, yogurt maker, slow cooker, steamer, cake maker and more!
9 // Take shorter showers
One resource we should all be conscious of using is water. The shorter the shower you can take, the better!
According to a study done by Boston University, you can save 10 gallons of water just by shorting your shower time by 2 minutes! [source]
That means you save water, electricity, and money! This is an easy change that you can do to have a more eco-friendly home.
10 // Line dry when possible
By hanging your clothes out to dry, you’re decreasing the use of your dryer, which pulls a lot of energy.
Line drying your clothes also increase their lifespan, so you are really multiplying the savings with this eco-friendly idea.
If you can’t dry your clothes outside, hang them in a well ventilated, sunny area to dry. This is currently how I dry a lot of my clothes, and I’ve notice a HUGE difference in how long my clothes last.
11 // Shop secondhand
When you choose secondhand shopping over buying new, you are saving resources to make the items.
This includes the following resources:
- transportation [fuel]
- textiles [cotton]
You save all of these resources when you choose a secondhand item, because the resources have already been used.
On top of shopping secondhand, it is important to choose quality items, which is a lot easier than you think.
I purchased a $100 high-quality cardigan from a secondhand shop for $8. It was brand new with the tags on it. It was a HUGE score for my wardrobe. I line dry it to ensure that it lasts me for as long as possible.
The great part is that is just one of my stories for how I built a quality wardrobe for pennies on the dollar and am curating a more eco-friendly home as a result.
If you want to dive deeper into how much in resources you can save shopping second hand, check out this article by the World Resources Institute and this video:
12 // Wash clothes in cold water
When you wash clothes in cold water versus warm or hot water, you aren’t using water from the hot water heater.
This means you save electricity due to not needing the hot water heater to work at heating up so much water.
If washing everything in cold water freaks you out a little bit, you can still adjust from washing on straight hot water to warm water. It is just as effective and still saves electricity.
13 // Decorate with houseplants
Depending on which houseplants you choose, you can purify the quality of air within your home. This means you are living healthier and have beautiful plants to care for and admire.
Here is a helpful infographic created by lovethegarden.com that shares NASA’s findings for which houseplants you should put into your home to filter the air:
I have the Chinese evergreen, Peace lily, and Variegated snake plant, and love each one of them!
14 // Use natural beauty products
Beauty products are some of the most toxic things you can have in your home. Switching to natural beauty products needs to be higher up on your list, so that you aren’t poisoning your body anymore.
I won’t dive into all of the information here, but you can check out these posts I’ve written:
- Minimalist Beauty Tips: Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid
- Sustainable Beauty: Why You Should Care About It
- Natural Ingredients for Hair Renewal – Bring Your Hair Back to Life
- What are the Best Oils for Your Skin Type & How to Use Them Effectively
Your skin absorbs everything you put on it, so make sure you only use natural products that are actually healthy for your skin.
15 // Shop locally
While this isn’t directly related to inside your home, it is better for a sustainable lifestyle. Supporting local businesses keeps money in the local community.
Shopping locally also reduces the amount of resources needed to ship products to the store for you to purchase.
Who would you rather support?
- A local small business owner
- Another country
Personally, I prefer a local small business owner. That isn’t to say that I don’t buy bananas from South America, but I do my best to source locally first.
16 // Have an edible landscape
Did you know that certain flowers are edible?
How fun would it be to create an edible landscape that you can forage as you work in it like a vegetable garden?
You can plant anything with available space, which means that the only resources needed to grow food is if you need to water the plant.
Instead of using oriental cabbage, use edible cabbage [red or green].
Choose edible flowers like lavender, hibiscus, nasturtiums, pansies, or roses.
Enjoy a pretty vine plant? Cucumbers, peas, and pole beans are all great options.
17 // Insulate your home
If your home isn’t insulated properly, you could be losing a lot of money and wasting a lot of energy.
With proper insulation, the energy-efficiency of your home increases significantly. You save energy and money.
This does come with an upfront investment, but it pays for itself rather quickly.
In my previous home, we added insulation to the attic and saw savings on our electric bill in the same month.
18 // Install solar panels
Want to go off the grid? Create your own energy with solar panels!
This is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, because you pull energy from the sun versus the grid.
If you’re in the United States, you could deduct this expense on your taxes. Of course, I’m not a tax professional, so be sure to consult with a professional accountant.
Read this post by Energy Sage about the ten benefits of solar energy.
19 // Use natural cleaning products
One of the best eco-friendly home swaps you can do is replace conventional cleaners with natural cleaning products.
Conventional products are toxic for you to breathe and cleaning with them can do more harm to your health than good.
In my workbook, A Simple Cleaning Routine, I share my favorite DIY recipes and the only natural cleaner I recommend.
Spoiler Alert: It isn’t something you can order from Amazon or Grove Collaborative.
Before you purchase new cleaning products, check to ensure they are as safe as they advertise by visiting GoodGuide.com to look up their safety ratings. Be sure to not just look at the rating that shows up in the search results, but look at the product details to see why it is rated that way.
I find this type of research extremely helpful and it shows me what ingredients to stay away from completely.
20 // Choose recycled products over new
Going back to the point of purchasing secondhand products, you should also choose recycled products over new.
Yes, recycled products do use resources to be recreated. However, it is far less than sourcing for new products.
21 // Use natural air fresheners
In an eco-friendly home, it is very important to use natural air fresheners. Aerosol sprays, conventional candles, and stove top simmer recipes are great, but aren’t the best for creating a greener house.
Opt for essential oils to diffuse, coconut wax candles with essential oils, and DIY mason jar lamps [to replace stove top simmer recipes].
Aerosol sprays and conventional candles aren’t healthy for you to breathe in nor are they good the environment. The artificial fragrances can contain harmful chemicals and companies are not required to state ingredients within the fragrance due to trademark secrets.
For the stove top simmer recipes, it uses resources from your stove, regardless if you have an electric or gas stove. By opting for an oil lamp, you still receive the benefits of a simmer recipe without using those resources.
22 // Choose a non-toxic mattress
Conventional mattresses are very toxic. They can contain petroleum-based foam and synthetic latex, chemical flame retardants, and vinyl.
Instead, you should opt for a non-toxic mattress.
When I finally replaced my mattress, I chose a Brentwood Home mattress, specifically the Oceano Luxury Hybrid Mattress.
We’ve slept on it for almost 3 years and LOVE it!
The materials used in it include:
- CertiPUR-US® certified cooling, gel-infused memory foam
- Silk fibers
- GOTS organic certified cotton and wool
- Sustainably-sourced plant-based Tencel fibers from eucalyptus trees.
It is made without chemical or synthetic fiber flame retardants.
Brentwood Home offers a 1-year sleep trial and 25-year warranty with the Oceano Luxury Hybrid Mattress, which is amazing!
23 // Install energy-efficient windows
Similar to insulating your home, windows keep your home running efficiently.
If you have old, single pane windows, consider replacing them with double pane, energy-efficient windows to prevent inside air getting out and vice versa.
24 // Opt for organic fabric bedding
When you choose organic fabric for your bedding, you are giving your bedding another use once it is no longer useful as bedding by reusing it in some capacity, then you can recycle or compost it.
Synthetic bedding can only be reused then tossed in the trash and taken to the landfill.
25 // Use VOC-free paint
VOC [Volatile Organic Compound] paint is toxic to breathe. It can cause several side effects including headaches and nausea.
Opt for VOC-free paint. It is friendlier for the environment and your health.
To dive deeper into why you should steer clear of VOC paint, read this article by the EPA.
26 // Buy recycled toilet paper
The best eco-friendly home would use family cloths, but honestly, that isn’t something I’d consider. The next best solution is recycled toilet paper.
One thing I recommend when shopping for recycled toilet paper is to also look for plastic-free wrapped toilet paper.
Here is an option from Amazon that is popular and does ship plastic free.
27 // Get a Kindle and purchase digital books
Physical books use a lot of resources to create. By opting for ebooks, you can have a library full of books without using the resources physical books need to be created.
I’m a fan of physical books, but I also enjoy the minimalistic options a Kindle provides.
If you read a lot of books, you can take advantage of Kindle Unlimited, which actually saves you money compared to purchasing each book in a physical format.
Here are some of the perks for Kindle Unlimited:
- Unlimited reading [includes access to over 1 million books]
- Current magazines
- Unlimited Audiobooks
- Read anytime on any device
With my reading goals this year, the Kindle Unlimited membership will help me achieve these goals, save me quite a bit of money, and help me work towards an even more eco-friendly home!
Choosing a sustainable lifestyle is a commitment, but it doesn’t have to be a burden when you approach it one change at a time. To successfully create an eco-friendly home, you have to be diligent and intentional.
The good news is that you get to start with simple swaps and can choose how to navigate a greener house from there.
It isn’t about doing all the things at once to create an eco-friendly home, but rather doing what you can and continuing to implement changes when you’re ready.
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