Part of living well is living in a way that preserves the world around you. As we move into the new year, sustainability and environmental ethics are on everyone’s mind. For example, you might see your favorite brands release climate disclosure statements, or re-commit themselves to a more climate-conscience mission.
Here are five changes you can make to transition your home into one that’s eco-friendly and sustainable:
Reduce single-use plastics
It’s easy to swap out your disposable water bottles for a trendy Yeti or Stanley, but that’s just one place we accumulate single-use plastics. Look around your kitchen, your bathroom and your laundry room; you’ll find product after product that’s made to throw out, or packaged in non-biodegradable plastics. Moving away from these is a great first step toward sustainability.
If your eyes are lingering on your jugs of laundry detergent, Kind Laundry Sheets offer a great solution. Rather than measuring out liquid detergent from plastic packaging, this product comes in pre-measured sheets you toss in your washing machine. All the packaging is biodegradable.
You might also consider wooden toothbrushes and either no-waste packaging or packaging with refills for products in your bathroom (brands like The Body Shop do great lines of refillable hair and skin care!), and recyclable aluminum cups in your kitchen for your next outdoor get-together. The cups also have the advantage of looking great—we love the sleekness of them compared to the plastic options.
Seek sustainable furniture makers
We can always put our money where our mouth is and support businesses that commit to sustainability and locally sourced materials. This not only lowers the gas emission created from shipping goods across the country, but also ensures that the creation of these goods doesn’t cause harm to those who made them.
New Jersey-based Teakcraft US dedicates itself to creating wooden furniture with less of an environmental footprint, and boutiques such as Montclair’s Culture Couture offer all manners of ethically sourced decoration.
You can also check out the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry, which is a non-comprehensive collection of registered sustainable businesses in the state.
Look into a smart thermostat
You might already be thinking about one of these for the convenience of adjusting temperature on your phone, but these gadgets are also a great way to manage and reduce your energy use overall. Scheduling when home temperature changes, for example, can make an immediate impact on the energy you use. These thermostats have essentially made a constantly running heating system a thing of the past.
Keep an eye on your peak and low energy requirements, and schedule the temperature of your home around that. Not only will this save money on your energy bill, it will reduce your carbon footprint in the long term.
Reach for eco-friendly paints
For your next decorating project, invest in more eco-friendly options. Some paints have a very high Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content. VOCs are hazardous air pollutants, and can make your eyes sting or your throat burn when you crack open a new can of paint. In addition, they can also negatively affect groundwater, air quality and even the ozone layer.
The great news is that many eco-friendly paints are also less toxic, as they reduce chemicals like ammonia and formaldehyde. They also sacrifice nothing in their color payoff. Check out leading brands like such as Farrow & Ball and Benjamin Moore, whose Eco Spec line is the company’s “greenest” premium paints. Other reliable brands include Backdrop’s and Behr Premium Plus. You can also look for paints made of more natural material, like Real Milk Paint. Not only will the earth thank you, your lungs and eyes will too.
Consider an organic mattress
This one is just as much for your health as it is for the planet’s. You spend nearly 23 years of your life sleeping, but mattresses can contain some questionable materials, from formaldehyde to phthalates. Not only are these materials bad for you, they’re also non-biodegradable—meaning the mattresses can sit in landfills for decades.
Organic mattresses, whether you the prefer spring or foam variety, nix the harmful chemicals and plastics, which means they are better for you, make less of a footprint during manufacturing and biodegrade faster. You’ll rest easy with options from premium brands like Saatva, Hastens and Stearns & Foster as well as the selection from companies such as Avocado Green Mattress and Naturepedic.
Also, when getting rid of an old mattress, make sure you are disposing of it properly. Search for government programs or business in your area that pick up or take old mattresses and ensure they’re recycled.
How are you taking steps toward a greener and more sustainable home? Tell us on Instagram @njhomemag.