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Earth Day: Being Green in Your Home

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On this day, people around the world work to raise awareness about environmental protection. Of course, it’s wonderful to participate in initiatives and events surrounding this day. But why not also take action to reduce your own carbon footprint and be more environmentally conscious? Here are some pointers to get started.

Reduce Your Use of Plastics

Each year, millions of tons of plastic waste enter the oceans, endangering marine life and harming entire ecosystems. Fortunately, there are things you can do at home to use fewer plastic materials. As Earth Day’s toolkit advises: Reduce, refuse and reuse. Since plastics are often used as product containers, you can look for alternatives such as investing in a water purifier and utilizing your own water bottles. When you go grocery shopping, bring a canvas shopping bag instead of accepting plastic ones. If you already have plastic bags at home, reuse them until they wear out.

Use Green Cleaning Products

Recent research shows that household cleaning products contribute significantly to urban air pollution. The reason is that they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful because they combine with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce harmful ozone.

Instead of using chemical cleaning products, you can purchase environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents and dishwashing detergents. The Federal Trade Commission provides some handy tips on how to determine whether a product is deemed green or not.

There are also several ways to clean using items already in your home. For example, you can clean windows with a mixture that consists of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water. To clean your drain, just use baking soda, vinegar and hot water - simple as that.

Dispose of Organic Waste Appropriately

The organic waste that your household produces — for example, cooking scraps and leftover food — can contribute significantly to air pollution if you don’t dispose of it properly. The reason is that when organic matter degrades, it releases toxic gases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfill gas (LFG) consists of 50 percent carbon dioxide, a tiny amount of compounds and 50 percent methane. When compared to carbon dioxide, methane traps approximately 30 times more heat in the atmosphere. In short, when you throw organic waste in the garbage, you’re contributing to the production of greenhouse gases.

You can prevent this from happening in several ways. If your municipality has a sustainable organic waste program, sign up for it. Separate your organic waste from other garbage and always put it in the appropriate recycling bin. If this isn’t an option and you have a yard, you can always start composting. There are easy-to-use, odor-free compost kits available at your local hardware store that come with full instructions. If neither of those options is right for you, then simply put your organic waste in the garbage disposal.

Being green in your own home might seem like a lot of work but once you start the process and it becomes a habit, you can be proud of your contributions to the environment — not just on Earth Day, but 365 days a year.


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