When it comes to making eco-friendly changes these are the little ones that really add up to make a difference.
Swap Household Cleaners
Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.
Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week (for a family of four) has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a large number of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.
While sustainable isn’t a term certified by the USDA like organic is, it generally means that the animal was given ample room to roam, and wasn’t treated with hormones or antibiotics. Look for labels like free-range and organic as well as no-hormone and no-antibiotic.
Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by 20 to 30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, draft guard on your outside doors, or even switching to a more energy efficient water heater.
Think of removing your shoes when you enter a home as the equivalent of washing your hands. First, it couldn’t be easier. And second, it prevents the outside gunk like car exhaust, chemicals, and pesticides from being tracked all over your home.
Heating plastics can cause leaching into food and many contain hormone-disrupting compounds (not just the much maligned versions made with bisphenol-A or BPA). Plastics that are labeled “microwave-safe” can simply withstand a higher temperature before losing their shape. So when popping anything in the microwave, opt for glass or microwave-safe ceramics.
By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill. Take items to a thrift store, a charity that accepts donations.
The materials you cook with do have an impact on your food. The three safest options are cast iron, enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel. Non-stick pans, while convenient, can be problematic if you scrape the coating and it gets into your food.
To control pests, prevention is your best bet. Keeping your kitchen crumb-free and sealing any holes in the walls or cracks in the foundation means you won’t have to use harmful chemicals in your home. If you do require pest-control, reach for greener alternatives or home remedies first.
Originally published at www.realsimple.com