The beginning of a new season is a great time to make positive changes, and as the last of summer fades away, we’re putting the focus on making eco-friendly changes. That’s right: It’s time to turn over a greener leaf this fall. But fear not; becoming a more eco-conscious family is much easier than you think. To get you started, we’ve put together eight simple tips for making this fall your greenest yet.
To learn more we turned to Laura McHolm, green expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving, California’s premier eco-luxury moving and storage company. McHolm is passionate about being green, and it’s evident in many aspects of NorthStar Moving. A few of the company’s green initiatives including converting their entire fleet of trucks to biodiesel, using moving boxes made of 100 percent recycled materials and installing skylights and extra windows to provide natural light and eliminate unnecessary electrical use.
Contrary to what some people may think, it actually is easy being green – and we have the simple steps to get you started sans stress. “With fall headed our way, there is no better time for a fresh start or to turn your home into an environmentally friendly place to be,” McHolm says. “The whole family can participate with these easy DIY greening tips.”
Make sure you have adequate recycling bins in your home and that everyone in your family knows which items go in what bin. “Make it easy for your kids and color-code the bins,” McHolm says. She suggests using blue for paper, red for glass and green for plastic.
Clean up after those frequent spills and messes the green way, by shopping for greener household cleaning products that don’t contain harsh chemicals. Brands such as Simple Green and Method are great, as are old-fashioned (but effective) household formulas like vinegar, lemon and baking soda.
Try this now: We love the Eco-Me home cleaning DIY kit ($22), full of everything you need to get your home spotless – without harmful chemicals.
Decorate with plants
If your home gets lots of natural light, why not spice up your space with plants? Bring your children to a local farmers market or garden center and pick out some greenery together to have in the house. “Pretty plants help improve the flow of oxygen in your home,” McHolm says, plus they add color and do a great job of brightening up every room.
Skip the supermarket
We know it’s not always feasible to forgo larger stores and name brands, but make a habit of avoiding packaged food as much as possible. “Shop local and take your family to a nearby farmers market to help pick out locally grown food and plan a meal together,” McHolm says. Swap some of your kids’ pre-packaged snacks to organic fruits and veggies, she advises. That way you’re teaching your kids about what’s fresh and in season – and avoiding all that excess packaging.
Try this now: Add some extra flavor to your farmer’s market meals with herbs grow yourself. We can’t resist these stylish herb growing kits made from hand-crafted, recycled wine bottles ($35). Choose from basil, oregano, parsley, chives and mint.
Donate what you don’t use
Clean out and organize your closets so you don’t end up with duplicates and you get more use out the things you have. Do you need really need six spatulas? Or how about those 10 pairs of jeans you have stacked in your closet? If you or your children have outgrown clothes, donate them to those in need. The Goodwill Locater allows you to find drop-off locations for your used and unwanted goods.
When cleaning out and organizing your closets and cupboards, take a look at what you keep. Ask yourself if there are greener alternatives to what you do buy regularly. “Believe it or not, there is most likely a greener alternative to almost everything in your home,” says McHolm. Try bamboo chopping blocks or 100 percent organic cotton sheets. Look at where and how the products you purchase are manufactured and when you can, buy local.
Be conscious of e-waste
Purchase a container for e-waste, rather than having everyone in the house tossing old batteries and unused electronics in the trash. McHolm suggests keeping a container in your home that’s strictly for e-waste, and once it’s full, take it to a domestic recycling center. Here are a few more e-waste options:
- EcoSquid helps consumers find opportunities to either sell or recycle used electronics.
- Best Buy offers an e-cycling program that allows you take old items back to any store.
- Dell Reconnect allows you to drop off used computer equipment at various locations. Simply enter your zip code to find a spot near you.
- Take your old office and personal electronics to Staples to be recycled.
Ask about green alternatives
When it comes to your home – whether you’re getting something fixed, redone or redecorated – make sure to research green alternatives and ask about eco-friendly options, McHolm suggests. “If you’re thinking of home improvement, ask your contractor or vendor what they do to go green,” she says. This goes for any service you or your family use. Many businesses now have green alternatives that you may not know about, so it’s always a good idea to ask.