Did you know that San Francisco is one of the most eco-friendly communities in the country? San Francisco has made huge efforts to create a more eco-friendly environment with recycling and compost programs as well as energy-saving incentives. For 14 years, the city has played host to the Green Festival Expo, which took place in November. Each year guests hear from speakers on a variety of green topics and vendors show off eco-friendly services and network with customers and other businesses. Keep an eye on the Green Festival Expo page to find out events planned for later this year.
Turning your home into a more eco-friendly environment is not only beneficial for the earth; you can also reap the benefits including a healthier household and lower bills. The belief system behind green living focuses on creating a more sustainable environment so that future generations have a world that is beautiful and unpolluted.
You can do your part to help preserve resources by taking a few simple steps to make sure your home is a little more eco-friendly. This article will give you a few ideas you can incorporate in your home. Each section includes an easy/low-cost option, a moderate option and complicated/more expensive (Top Dog) ideas. Feel free to share your ideas in our comment section!
Eco-friendly Water Solutions
Although 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is water, scientists say that only 1 percent of that water is actually usable for humans. Until scientists discover a way to make more of that water accessible, you can do a few things around your house to make the most of what we have. You can also check out the San Francisco Water, Power and Sewer Company for a few more tips.
One simple solution is to put a few rocks (small pebbles) into an empty, plastic bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with water, seal tightly and put it in the back of your toilet (the water tank). This bottle can save you up to 10 gallons of water per day. The bottle disrupts the surface area of the water and requires less water to fill up the tank.
Cut back on showers, laundry and dish loads. You can significantly change the amount of water you use by adjusting your daily routine a bit. Make sure your dishwasher is entirely full before running a load, run your washer on the short cycle and take showers instead of baths. If you have children, consider bathing them together to save water. Washers and dishwashers use about 20 gallons of water per load, so running them full instead of half-full could potentially save hundreds of gallons of water per year.
If you are serious about conserving water, consider installing a rain barrel in your yard. A rain barrel system collects rainwater that falls from your roof. Normally this water would go into runoffs or storm drains and be wasted. However, using a rain barrel allows you to store water to use for your gardens and plants. You can also use rainwater to wash your car, wash your pets or add to compost. Even if you only use the rainwater for your garden, you could save over 1300 gallons of water each growing season.
You can learn more about a rain barrel system, including how to install one at a Rain Barrel Installation Workshop in Walnut Creek, located just about 40 minutes from San Francisco. The class is on Saturday, February 27, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can get tickets here. Tickets are free (though you can donate to help cover expenses). The class will teach you how to choose the right size barrel and how to set the system up.
Eco-Friendly Energy Solutions
Another great way to make your home more eco-friendly is to use less energy. It may not seem like using a load of electricity has a major impact on the environment, but most of our electric and gas comes from fossil fuels (like coal). Petroleum and coal are nonrenewable, which means when they are gone, they are gone. Using less energy slows down the need for fossil fuels.
Easy: Buy a few surge protectors and plug several items into the one strip. When you are not using those gadgets, you can flip the switch off and cut off power to those appliances/gadgets. Your radio, computer, televisions and even your toaster all consume energy even when you are not using them. Cutting off the power supply by unplugging them (or in this case, flipping a switch) is the only way to nix the use of energy entirely.
Quick tip: You can safely unplug items like your television, DVD players, radios, toasters, computers and microwaves. Check your office for even more savings. Your printer, paper shredder and lamp may be sucking extra energy too. Leave only items like your refrigerator, washer, dryer and oven plugged in.
Moderate: Give your air conditioner a rest. Use ceiling fans or box fans to cool your home. Keep your air conditioner set at 72 degrees to maximize cost savings. To help keep your home cool during the hot months, consider closing your blinds or install awnings over the windows to keep some of the heat from entering your home. When you do run the air conditioner, keep doors to each room open to allow the cool air to flow better.
Top Dog: Install solar panels on your home. Solar panels use solar photovoltaics to turn sun energy into electricity. Solar panels still collect energy on cloudy days and because you do not have to pay for sunlight, you can significantly reduce your energy bills, and energy usage, by installing this type of system.
In addition to reducing your carbon footprint and trimming your power bill, you may even be able to get a tax break. Solar panels save an average of 1 and 1/2 tons of carbon dioxide per year! You can expect a system to set you back about $25,000. California offers an incentive (cash back) for homes and/or businesses to install these systems though through The California Solar Initiative.
Eco-Friendly Home Organization Solutions
Trim your carbon footprint even more by taking simple steps when it comes to decorating and/or organizing your home. Simple self-recycling projects help reduce waste in landfills and allow you to create unique, attractive storage options perfect for your home. Here are a few fun ways you can reuse items you already have in your home to create better organization and/or décor.
Easy: Reuse glass jars and containers. Glass jars are excellent items for reuse. Baby food jars can organize screws and nails in the garage or sort paperclips, staples and pins in the office. Glass peanut butter jars are great for storing stovetop popcorn, cash, pens, emergency supplies or car keys. If you enjoy crafting, glass jars, (with or without lids) can store paintbrushes, crayons, markers, beads, stamps etc.
You can even use glass jars for gift ideas. Check out a few cute, easy ideas (including photo jars!) here.
Moderate: Repair/Repurpose old clothing. Teenagers tend to be professionals at these types of projects, so if you are lucky enough to have one in your house, they can offer plenty of good ideas. Reusing or repairing old clothing reduces waste in the landfill and lessens the need for natural resources.
Consider turning old t-shirts into a quilt or a purse. Use old jeans to make a back-of the door organizer or simply create an entirely new look with a bit of snipping and sewing. This eco-friendly home tip requires a bit of skill, but if you know someone handy with a sewing machine, you may find yourself with an array of fun projects to tackle!
Top Dog: Repurpose old furniture into storage options. You can save a lot of room in the landfill by turning and old dresser, desk or headboard into an organizational tool. This top-dog method will take more time and may require a bit more ingenuity, but the results will be worth it. Check out a few of these cool examples.
What are a few ways you go-green in your home?