16 Easy & Expert-Approved Earth Day Tips for Going Green at Home
** This is a guest post from the Redfin blog **
As we approach Earth Day, it’s a great time to take a step back and evaluate our impact on the planet. Making small changes in our daily lives can add up to make a big difference when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint.
One area where we can make a significant impact is in our homes. From reducing energy usage to conserving water, there are many ways to make our homes more eco-friendly.
In this article, we’ll explore some Earth Day tips for creating a greener home and reducing our impact on the planet. Whether that’s making small changes in your apartment in Richmond, VA, or your house in Salisbury, MD, read on to help create a more sustainable future.
1. Check if the food you’re buying is certified
Eating certified food is better for the environment because it ensures that the food is produced using sustainable and eco-friendly practices, reducing the carbon footprint and promoting biodiversity conservation. A great Earth Day tip would be to be mindful of what’s on the food labels.
A Greener World shares, “What we grow and eat has an incredible impact on our climate and environment, and that impact can be positive or negative. Farms certified by A Greener World (AGW) are investing in our planet by using sustainable farming and high-welfare livestock management practices, which are better for our environment, society, and animals.”
2. Plant native species in your balcony or yard
Today, there are 40 million acres of monoculture lawns across the United States that offer minimal benefit to local wildlife. Instead, U.S. lawns consume 800 million gallons of gasoline to stay neatly trimmed and 3 million tons of nitrogen-based synthetic fertilizer to stay green. It seems like a huge waste, right?
Sustainable Harvest International, an environmental non-profit organization, encourages you to, “Plant native species, whether in a pot on your balcony or by converting your entire lawn into a wildlife habitat. Native plants are specifically adapted to their local climate and social conditions. That means that they’ll need less water, less fertilizer, and less maintenance from you.”
3. Try solar alternatives
Going solar is an excellent way to celebrate Earth Day and reduce your environmental impact. Solar energy is a renewable and clean source of energy that does not produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions or contribute to air pollution.
“Many households are perfect for solar panels, and there are even local solar options available for renters or others who can’t install their system but many people just don’t know how to take the first step,” says Johanna Neumann of Environment America, an environmental research and advocacy company.
4. Meal planning will save time, money, and food waste
Meal planning is crucial during Earth Day, as it can help reduce food waste and minimize the environmental impact of our food choices. By planning our meals, we can avoid overbuying groceries, which can lead to food waste and greenhouse gas emissions from decomposition in landfills.
Brittany Kline from The Savvy Kitchen, a home cooking resource shares, “Meal planning is a great way to save time, and money, and reduce food waste. Try planning your meals for the week ahead of time and creating a shopping list based on the ingredients you need. This will not only make grocery shopping more efficient, but also ensure that you have healthy and delicious meals prepared throughout the week. Consider using leftovers to create new meals and reducing the need for additional grocery shopping.”
5. Be conscious about water usage
Limiting water usage is a great way to conserve one of the planet’s most precious resources. By reducing our water consumption through simple actions such as fixing leaky faucets, taking shorter showers, and using water-efficient appliances, can help to preserve it.
“Small habits like turning off faucets in between washing the dishes/your hands or brushing your teeth make a difference,” says Vizan Giri of Terra Thread, a sustainable bag and apparel brand. “Keep a large bowl near your kitchen sink- when you wash your veggies and fruits, save the water in that bowl and use it on your plants. Fix the leaks immediately and only run the dishwasher and washer when full.”
“Rachael McKennon from Milk Grass Home, a simple living blog has another idea for conserving water. “Try adding a half-gallon bottle of water to the tank of your toilet to reduce the amount of water used in every flush or install a low-flow shower head to save several gallons per wash. Since you only have to deal with these once, they require no habit changes and will start working immediately.”
6. Begin a minimalist lifestyle
By consuming less, we can decrease our carbon footprint and the amount of waste we generate. This can be achieved by adopting a minimalist lifestyle, avoiding single-use products, choosing products made from sustainable materials, and recycling and composting as much as possible.
Barefoot Minimalists, a minimalistic living blog shares, “In a world where consumerism seems to be the norm, it’s easy to forget the environmental impact of constantly buying new stuff. A great tip for Earth Day would be to take a moment to question whether you really need that new item or if you can borrow it from a friend, find it secondhand, or simply do without. By consuming less, you can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and conserve resources.”
7. Reduce plastic waste
By reducing plastic waste through actions such as recycling, using reusable bags and containers, and avoiding single-use plastic products, we can help to preserve the planet’s natural resources and create a cleaner and healthier environment.
“Invest in reusable produce and shopping bags to bring to the supermarket market instead of plastic bags,” recommends The Wellness Feed Team, a media company encouraging a sustainable lifestyle. “When cooking, you can further reduce your CO2 footprint by putting your kitchen scraps into a paper bag instead of a plastic trash bag. Do you know that you can store fruit and veggie scraps in the freezer until trash day? When you swap plastic for paper, you’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a biodegradable product.”
8. Less is more when it comes to cleaning products
By using sustainable cleaning products made from natural and non-toxic ingredients, we can reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals and help to create a cleaner and safer environment for ourselves and future generations.
L’AVANT Collective, a plant-based cleaning company says, “When it comes to cleaning products, less is more these days. High-performing, plant-based cleaning products that use biodegradable ingredients and are multi-use allow you to save money, cut down on plastic waste, be gentler on our waterways with biodegradable ingredients, and are safer to use in your home. Plant-based multipurpose or all-purpose cleaners can be used for all your surfaces, not just specific surfaces.”
9. Make your own organic compost
Use worms to compost
At Brothers Worm Farm we encourage composting with worms or vermicomposting. It’s an eco-friendly way to reduce landfill waste and fight global warming, and it’s easy to do at home.
To get started, you just need 1/2 lb of red wiggler worms, a worm bin, and a few gallons of bedding like peat moss or topsoil. Then place the fruit and vegetable kitchen waste into the bin and watch the worms work their magic as they upcycle the waste into nutrient-rich worm castings for use in your houseplants, lawn, or garden.
In addition to being a fun hobby, vermicomposting is a great way to teach kids about sustainability and the environment.”
Start with fruit and veggie scraps to compost at home
“Home composting is a fabulous way to be more eco-friendly while also generating “black gold” to use for your houseplants or garden,” says Kayli Kunkel from Earth & Me, a small brand that inspires us to be zero-waste, support sustainable entrepreneurs, and educate ourselves in environmental justice. “You can compost in any bin or enclosed – just make sure for home composting you only use veggie and fruit scraps, without any meat or dairy to avoid attracting pests. You’ll want to turn your compost every few days to aerate it.”
Maisie Raftery from Natural Awakenings Boston, a healthy living magazine, agrees. “Composting at home is an easy way to reduce waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants and garden. Start by finding a container that can hold food scraps and yard waste, then add a mix of brown and green materials. Keep it moist and aerated by poking holes in the sides of your container and periodically turning the materials. Be patient, and before you know it you’ll have created new, fresh, and healthy soil.”
Compost in your garden or use smaller tumblers
“To start composting, you need to choose an appropriate location in your garden, ideally in a shaded area or partially covered location, and use a compost bin or just make a tidy heap, says Dawn from Zero & Zen, a sustainable lifestyle blog. “Add organic material regularly, like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, grass trimmings, and any other organic material that is not animal-based to the compost bin or heap.”
“If everyone in the United States composted, it would be equivalent to removing 7.8 million cars from the road, so get started with a compost bin, or make your own,” says SOL + SPIRIT, a zero-waste, sustainable product company. “Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can find smaller compost tumblers that can fit in a small space such as an apartment balcony. ”
Sign up for a local compost pickup
Neighborhood Compost encourages everyone to consider composting, even if you don’t think you have the space. “ If you’re interested in composting, but don’t have space to do it at home, try signing up for a local compost pickup service. It’s a great tip to celebrate Earth Day all year long.”
Creating organic compost is important on Earth Day because it reduces the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Composting also helps to enrich the soil, reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers, and promote healthy plant growth, making it a sustainable practice for gardening and agriculture.
10. Save wrapping paper and boxes to reuse
Saving wrapping paper and boxes is a smart way to limit waste because it helps to reduce the number of materials that are thrown away and can be reused for future gift-giving occasions.
“Our family committed to not buying any wrapping paper for presents. We save delivery wrapping/boxes instead and usually jazz it up by painting on it or drawing on it before wrapping up a gift or transforming it into a card. I think this means so much more to the recipient and cuts down not only on money but unnecessary waste,” says Megan Landreth-Smith from our slow home, a zero-waste blog. “If we don’t need it for wrapping we use it as drawing paper, or use our creativity to transform it into a rocket ship or something exciting.”
11. Collect rainwater
Collecting rainwater helps to conserve water resources and reduce the demand for treated water. By using rainwater for tasks such as watering plants, flushing toilets, and washing clothes, we can reduce our water usage.
“A third to half of your monthly water use likely goes to outdoor watering of lawns or gardens, ” says Sustainable Waters. “You can greatly reduce your impact on our natural water sources – and save yourself money on your water bills – by collecting the rainwater falling on your roof and storing it in a cistern. Most homeowners can capture enough rain for all their outdoor needs.”
12. Reduce plastic waste by ecobricking
Ecobricking is important on Earth Day because it helps to reduce plastic waste and prevent it from ending up in the environment. By compacting plastic into eco-bricks, we can create building materials that are both durable and environmentally friendly.
Ang and Sporty of Mostly Mindful, a simple living blog shares, “As much as we’d like to avoid single-use plastic, it’s pretty much impossible nowadays. Yes, you can shop at package-free grocery and farmers’ markets if you have access to them in your area. But what if you don’t? If you do the bulk of your shopping at regular grocery stores, a great way to dispose of single-use plastic is to eco-brick it. You’d be amazed at how much you can fit into one bottle.”
13. “Greenify” your home
There are many ways to go green at home. Become more energy efficient by using LED light bulbs, or learn how to recycle properly. Making these small changes can make a big impact, no matter where you start in your home.
Green Business Bureau shares their tip for Earth Day, “The at-home worker can support their company’s sustainability goals by making green improvements within their own home office. This includes reducing paper use, installing LED lighting, properly recycling office materials, and investing in energy-efficient office appliances. Working remotely is also a powerful way to lower your carbon footprint. Not only does this eliminate travel emissions, but it leaves more time for productivity and tending to your family, home, and personal health.”
14. Make sustainable swaps one step at a time
Going green doesn’t have to happen all at once. Start small by changing some old habits and incorporating more sustainable practices. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
“Having a more eco-friendly lifestyle is really about taking a good look at the things you bring into your home and throw out, and just replacing or eliminating one thing at a time,” says LastObject, a reusable alternative company. “An Earth Day tip to make these conscious choices a part of your lifestyle is to replace one thing a month, so you get 30 days to get used to this new habit.”
“Changing everything at one time can be overwhelming and costly,” says Edge Green Cleaning. “My earth day tip would be to consider changing products over in one area at a time, such as the kitchen, shower, or laundry. Think about all of the toxic products in your home and start replacing the ones that seem easiest, like hand soap versus your favorite shampoo. Allow yourself to run out of the prior product, then replace it with a healthier choice. This Earth Day tip will save you money and help you to adjust to new products a little at a time.”
15. Use reusable food and drink containers as well as bags
Using reusable food containers and bags is an important Earth Day tip because it helps to reduce waste and conserve resources by avoiding single-use packaging.
K.o. ecolife, a green-living and healthy lifestyle company shares,” Choose an earth-loving, reusable food or drink pouch with a built-in straw to avoid the 2.5 billion disposable food pouches that go into landfills every year (not to mention the 38 billion water bottles and 182.5 billion straws). These can be filled with applesauce, smoothies, yogurt, water, and much more to make on-the-go eating/drinking easy and eco-friendly. And, many are collapsible to save storage space.”
“If you’re stuck buying groceries that come in a resealable plastic bag or container, an Earth Day tip to reduce plastic waste is to wash and reuse them for lunches or leftovers instead of buying more plastic bags,” shares Kimberly-Carr Home Designs, a green-living blog. “These bags are a waste of money and create more plastic waste.”
16. Start where you waste most
Switching to more sustainable practices where you waste the most is beneficial for the environment because it reduces the number of resources consumed and minimizes the waste generated.
“When you’re looking to go green, start with the big wins. For example, if you buy bottled water, switching to a water filter could reduce thousands of bottles per year in your home,” says Kalen Bruce, a financial freedom coach from Freedom Sprout. “If you have a lot of food waste, composting could make a huge difference. Find the areas where you currently tend to have the most waste and start there. This way you’re making the biggest impact from the beginning.