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November 20, 2013

Saving the Environment Through Home Improvement

From volunteering to clean-up creeks and highways, to donating to charitable causes for environmental action, there are a lot of ways we can become active participants in saving the environment. But there are even more ways to make small contributions, starting right at home. Here are some simple changes to reduce your pollution footprint, as well as save money.

Simple Solutions

1. Do Some Routine Maintenance

Go through your home and look for things that can save you money and reduce waste. For example, has your show faucet been leaking for months? Are windows drafty? Fixing the faucet and insulating the windows are quick solutions that will help you reduce water and heating costs in the long run.

This also goes for outside: clean up litter that is around your house, and dispose of yard waste properly (if you don’t compost it).

2. Use Non-Toxic and Organic Cleaners

The chemicals you use to clean your home go somewhere, most likely down the drain and into water systems. Though store-bought, environmentally-friendly products are usually more expensive than unrecyclable alternatives, there are many other products you can make at home for almost nothing. Vinegar, for example, is a great all-purpose cleaner and can unclog drains when mixed with baking soda. It is a much safer alternative to the many chemicals from the store that go directly to polluting the water.

3. Compost!

Composting your food scraps help minimize the amount of waste that goes into landfills, while improving your yard and gardens. By setting up a compost bin outside, you can create a natural fertilizer for your land, helping your plants and vegetables grow. You would never need to buy toxic fertilizers, saving you money and creating a healthier environment.

4. Install Water-Efficient Toilets (and more)

Reduce water usage by installing water-efficient items throughout your home. Low-flush toilets, for example, are cost and water-saving. If buying a new toilet is out of the question, add a brick or a container in your toilet tank to reduce water use. Other adjusts that can be made in your bathroom includes replacing your current shower head with a low-flow model to also save clean water.You can also install a rain barrel outside. Just place it where ever runoff from a roof is greatest, or at the exit of a downsprout. You’ll be able to collect a lot of water for your plants after big rainstorms.

Advanced Ways

If you can afford to make even larger investments towards eco-living, consider these modifications to your home.

1. “Green” or Vegetated Roofs

For someone looking to make a great visual impact and reduce polluted runoff, a vegetated roof is a great way to go. Not only does a green roof help filter pollutants from rain water, but it can also cool your home. Consult an expert to review the load-bearing capacity of your roof, as well as help design and care for it.

2. Plant a Rain Garden

Rain gardens specifically tackle runoff issues by allowing water to filter through the ground, rather than directly to sewers from concrete driveways and sidewalks. The rain gardens therefore filter pollutants out naturally, cleaning up the water and keeping the pollution from gutters and drains. Place these rain gardens as a boundary that slows down runoff to the street.

3. Solar-Power your Home

Installing solar panels is another way to provide cleaner energy to your home. Though the installation cost is expensive, and the potential savings don’t pay off until decades later, solar cell technology is on the rise. In the near future, it will become less expensive widely-used. But if you have the money now, consider saving energy by installing it for your home.

4. Install a Water Storage Cistern

The advanced form of a water storage barrel, a water storage cistern can store so much more rainwater and be used in much more capacity. Using a series of pipes and pumps, the cistern can provide water for sprinkler systems to toilets.

Starting your conservation efforts at home is an easy and affordable way to make an impact towards saving the environment. Though seemingly small, all these adjustments have a big impact on keeping our water and land unpolluted and safe.

Posted by Mark Contorno

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