Green Living

How to Go Green in the Home and Office

As you know, many of the conventional products used for repair and improvement projects around the house contain high levels of toxins. There is a common misconception that products have to be packed with strong chemicals to be effective. Such chemicals can actually have adverse affects on the health of you and your family.

 

In addition to our comprehensive inventory of eco-friendly products, you’ll find a wealth of information and technical expertise at Woodstock Hardware that will help you lower your environmental impact, reduce your carbon footprint, and make educated decisions about the products that you choose for your home and office. Following are a few thoughts about the rooms you and your family spend your lives in:

  • Why a green child’s room? Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental toxins because they sleep with their toys and put everything in their mouths. It is important to surround them with items made of nontoxic, natural, organic materials.
  • Why a green bath? In your bathroom, your skin, hair, eyes and mouth are coming into direct contact with a multitude of products every day. Many conventional bathroom products contain toxins and chemicals that are especially dangerous with repeated direct exposure.
  • Why a green bedroom? Since you spend about a third of your life in bed, it’s particularly important that your bedding, mattress and pillow are made of natural, organic materials that won’t irritate your skin and will help you breathe easy at night.
  • Why a green kitchen? A conventional kitchen contains toxic cleaning products, petroleum-based plastics, inefficient appliances and many disposable, non-sustainable items that can be harmful to your health and to the health of the planet. A green kitchen is stocked full of sustainable, nontoxic accessories, cleaning supplies, appliances and goods which reduce waste and improve the health of our families and our environment.
  • Why a green office? Typical offices tend to have outdated, energy consuming appliances, highly toxic, non-sustainable furnishings, and a large amount of paper, plastic, and metallic waste.

We hope that the above information has been thought provoking and helps you either start or improve your efforts to “green” your home!

Babies and yound children are particularly vulnerable to environmental toxins because they sleep with their toys and put everything in their mouths.

Our ABC’s List of Tips and Practices for Green Living

Green Living A

Adopt Something—an animal, a stream, a whale. 
There’s almost no limit to the number of environmental causes to which you, your friends, or your class can turn.

Avoid Fast Food.
Most fast food is overpackaged and most fast-food companies are responsible for producing mountains of trash. By avoiding fast food whenever possible, you’ll help reduce this needless waste.

Green Living B

Bike Instead Of Ride. 
Riding your bike instead of riding in a car saves energy and reduces pollution, of course. But it is also fun!

Boycott A Product. 
Choose something that you feel is not good for the environment. Once you decide not to buy it, write a letter to the company’s president (the address is often right on the package) and tell him or her why you have decided not to buy the product anymore.

Buy Products Made Of Recycled Paper. 
How can you tell if a package is recycled? Look right on the package. Many have specific claims, such as “made of 100 percent recycled material.” However, some recycled packages don’t advertise this fact, although there are ways you can find out for yourself. For example, when shopping for cereal, cookies, crackers, and other groceries packaged in cardboard boxes, make sure boxes are made from recycled paper. If the underside is gray or dark brown, the cardboard is made of recycled material. If it’s white, it is made of unrecycled material. Then recycle it again!

Green Living C

Change A Light Bulb. 
By replacing a standard bulb with a compact fluorescent one you will get more light for less money and save a lot of energy.

Clean Up A Stream Or Park. 
Get a group of people together and find a stream or park that needs some tender loving care. Arrange for everyone to meet at a specific time to pick up the trash, weed, and perhaps even plant some flowers. Ask local business to donate money, tools, or other supplies you’ll need for the task. You also should invite a newspaper reporter or TV news team to come along and report on the event. Make sure to check with the proper local authority in charge of the stream or park to get permission so you are sure not to break any laws.

Close The Refrigerator Door.
By leaving it open for just a few extra seconds, you waste a lot of energy. Decide what you want before you open the refrigerator door. Then get it and close the door right away.

Collect Aluminum Cans. 
You might raise a lot of money in the process. The best thing is to combine this with your stream or park cleanup. Sell the cans you collect to a local aluminum recycler and use the money for something fun! Or donate the money to a worthy environmental organization.

Contribute To A Good Cause.
You don’t have to contribute a lot of money. In fact, you don’t have to contribute money at all. A local environmental group probably can use your and your friends’ help in a variety of ways. By volunteering for just a few hours a week, you’ll be making a worthwhile contribution to the environment.

Compost your food waste.
It’s easy to do. Find a corner of the yard that’s out of the way. Carefully throw food wastes (leftovers, eggshells, coffee grounds, spoiled vegetables, etc.) into a pile and mix with dirt. Every week or so, turn the pile over with a shovel to give it more air. In a few weeks, it will turn into a rich, nutrition soil that will help plants grow. Just think: What used to be “garbage” is now a valuable substance.

Cut Down On Packaging.
We’ve already given you several ways to do this. Keep in mind that about half of what we throw away is packaging. By buying products that have as little packaging as possible, you can help to reduce those mountains of trash.

Green Living D

Donate Toys To A Worthy Cause. 
When you get tired of or grow out of your games and toys and other things, don’t throw them away. Even if they are broken, they may be fixed and used by other kids less fortunate than you. You’ll also be keeping these things out of the trash.

Don’t Buy Aerosols. 
There are environmentally better packages for most products. Aerosols can’t be recycled—which means that they are guaranteed to end up in landfills—and some of their ingredients contribute to air pollution. Instead of aerosols, look for spray bottles, liquids, powders, and roll-ons.

Draw Up A Petition. 
If you find something in your school or in your community you think needs to be changed, one way to convince the people in charge is to circulate a petition, getting as many people to sign it as possible. Make sure the signed petition reaches the people in charge; send it to the person at the very top. Send a copy of the signed petition to local newspapers and TV stations.

Green Living E

Eat Organic Produce. 
Organic produce contains far fewer chemicals than other produce. That’s probably better for your health, and it is definitely better for the environment. All those chemicals get washed off of farmers’ fields into rivers and streams, where they pollute our water. In addition, many of the chemicals are made from petroleum and other nonrenewable resources.

Green Living F

Feed The Birds. 
Feeding birds not only brings a bit of nature to your backyard, it also helps rid the yard of many kinds of bugs. You can hang a birdfeeder from a tree or place it outside your window, or build a birdbath in your yard from which the birds can drink water.

Find Out How To Dispose of Hazardous Waste. 
Nearly every household has some kind of hazardous waste: old paint cans, used motor oil, unused pesticides and weed killers. If you dump these things down the drain, you’ll end up polluting the water supply. They should be disposed of in a site specially designed for hazardous or toxic wastes. Some cities and counties have monthly or annual pickups. Other areas have special drop-off sites. Call your city or county government to find out the proper way to dispose of such trash in your area. Try organizing a hazardous-waste-collection day in your neighborhood or at your school, encouraging others to dispose of materials properly.

Green Living G

Go To A Zoo.
You’d be surprised how much you’ll learn about the Earth. Find out how many of the animals in the zoo are at rick of becoming extinct.

Grow A Garden.
A garden provides flowers, vegetables, and environmental benefits. It can help to reduce soil erosion and may help to reduce some kinds of air pollution. Try to grow your garden using as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible.

Green Living H

Have A “Green” Picnic.
Plan an outing that doesn’t create a lot of waste or pollution. Use real plates and utensils instead of paper or plastic and reusable tin or heavy plastic cups instead of disposable paper or plastic ones. Wash the cups and use them over and over. And set out separate trash bags for paper, glass, and aluminum. Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t recycle.

Hold On To Balloons. 
Helium balloons are lots of fun, but if you let them fly away, they may harm fish and animals. Helium balloons eventually fall back to earth and can be blown by strong winds miles away into the ocean. Some sea animals mistake the balloons for jellyfish. When an animal tries to eat a balloon, it can kill the animal. So if you have a helium balloon, hold on tight.

Green Living I

Identify Energy Wasters. 
There probably are several companies in your community that are wasting precious resources. Does a used-car showroom leave its bright lights shining all night long? Do parents waiting to pick up their kids from school leave their cars idling at the curb for a long time? Wherever you see people being wasteful, say something! Write a letter, give a call, or walk right up to them on the street and ask them not to waste our Earth’s precious resources.

Insulate Your Home. 
You may find a lot of energy being wasted right in your own home. After you’ve finished your energy audit, make a list of the things you believe should be done.

Invite A Speaker.
A good speaker can provide a lot of useful information and can answer your questions. Almost every environmental group has individuals who will speak to your school or organization, usually for free. Consider hosting a series of speakers, each on a different environmental topic. Even better, invite two people with opposing view points on a single subject.

Green Living J

Join An Environmental Group.
There are hundreds of good organizations around the country. Most of them have annual membership fees of $25 or less, and some have special rates for kids or students. Try to find one that focuses on something you are particularly interested in. Go to a meeting, event, or other activity.

Green Living K

Keep The Car At Home. 
You’ve learned by now that automobiles are one of the single biggest sources of pollution. Most driving trips are under five miles, and you’d be surprised how many are under one mile. Try walking, biking, skateboarding, roller-skating, or taking the bus.

Green Living L

Learn About Your Community. 
As you travel around your community, watch the local news, or read local papers, looking for things that might be causing environmental problems. Locate sources of pollution. Make suggestions to people in charge about what you think could be done to improve the situation.

Look At Labels. 
Reading labels can tell you a lot of things. First, you can find out about a product’s ingredients–whether it contains anything that might be hazardous to your health or the environment. A label will also tell you how to contact the product’s manufacturer with your questions and comments. Feel free to let them know what’s on your mind. Do you think their product is good? Let them know! It doesn’t take very many letters and calls for a company to think seriously about making changes.

Green Living M

Make Scratch Pads. 
Here’s a good way to recycle paper. When you use a piece of paper on only one side, don’t throw it away when you are done with it. Instead, put it in a pile with all of the blank sides surfacing up. When you get a big pile, you can turn the paper into scratch pads. First, get someone to cut the pile of paper in half. Then, staple small batches of paper together into “pads.”

Green Living N

Notify The Authorities. 
Do you know a polluter? Is a company in your community doing things that are bad for the environment? Don’t think twice about reporting them to the local, state, or federal government. You will be doing yourself and your community a big favor. You might even get a reward!

Green Living O

Observe The Three Rs. Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle. 
Whatever you buy, wherever you live, the Three Rs are the most important rules to live by, at least as far as the environment is concerned. The next time you go shopping, think about the Three Rs every time you pull a potential purchase off the shelf. Is it something that is overpackaged or wasteful? If so, Refuse it. Is it something that is made of or packaged in recycled material, or which you can reuse in some way? If so, Reuse it. Is it something that can be recycled easily? If so, Recycle it.

Organize Your Friends. 
You’ve probably heard that “two heads are better than one.” Well, ten heads can be even better! You and your friends can probably accomplish a lot if you set your minds to it. Think about the ways you and your friends can help out as a group. Then contact a local environmental group and volunteer your services.

Green Living P

Plant A Tree. 
There are organizations in most communities that have set up tree-planting campaigns. But you don’t even need one of these. Visit a local nursery to find out what kinds of trees will grow best in your area. The nursery people might also help you find a good place to plant a tree.

Protest Animal Cruelty. 
Each year, millions of laboratory animals suffer needlessly because companies use them to test new products, including most cosmetics and personal-care products. Many of these are extremely cruel. These animals are routinely burned and injected with poisonous substances, among other tests. The worst part is that many of the products for which they are being include ingredients that have already been proven safe! Some companies don’t conduct these tests. They often label their products “cruelty free” because they do not cause harm to animals.

Green Living Q

Quit Throwing Away Batteries. 
Americans go through more than two billion batteries a year. Unfortunately, batteries contain many hazardous materials, which leak into landfills when batteries are thrown away. Many of these dangerous chemicals get into our water supply. There are two ways you can avoid throwing away batteries. One is by using batteries that can be recharged over and over. You should also find out if there are companies in your area that recycle batteries. If you must throw batteries away, do so at a hazardous-waste collection site, if there is one in your area.

Green Living R

Recycle Everything. 
As we described earlier, there is little you can’t recycle one way or another. One exception is plastic, most of which is not easily recyclable. Set up recycling boxes in your home—one for collecting newspapers, another for collecting other types of paper, another for glass, and another for aluminum. You can even try recycling plastic, if you can find a place that accepts plastic for recycling. If you can’t recycle something, see if there is some way you can reuse it.

Reuse A Bag. 
Some people believe that bags made of paper are less harmful to the earth than bags made of plastic. The fact is, making both types of bags creates a lot of pollution, and both paper and plastic bags use a lot of resources. So neither is much better than the other. The best solution is not to use any bag at all, or to bring your own. Some people carry a canvas or mesh bag they can use over and over.

Green Living S

Spend Your Money Wisely. 
When you buy toys or gifts, beware of things made of endangered animals or things made of wood that comes from tropical rainforests. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you know about the things you buy, the better decisions you can make.

Stop A Leak. 
Organize a Stop-the-Leak Day on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks, and does whatever else is necessary to make your home as “tight” as possible. Your local water, gas, or electric utility company may be able to provide help, or even instructions and supplies.

Support Green Companies. 
In the past, most companies haven’t paid much attention to the environment. But now, a growing number are changing the way they do business. Some are changing their products so that they are less wasteful or polluting. Others are encouraging their employees to carpool or to recycle. Still others are helping their local communities improve their environments. These companies deserve all of our support!

Green Living T

Take A Hike. 
Or go fishing or bird-watching. Whatever you do, go outdoors to a place where there are as few people, cars, and building as possible. Take a look around. Isn’t it beautiful? What would happen if all that beauty disappeared because people littered and polluted and harmed the plants and animals? It’s important to keep our natural areas in good shape. So enjoy the great outdoors whenever you can. And if you see some litter there, pick it up and carry it so someplace where it can be safely thrown away or recycled.

Talk To Your Parents/Children. 
There’s a good chance that you know more about the environment than they do. That’s okay, there’s still time for them to learn, and you can be the one to teach them. Don’t be afraid to share with them the information you’ve learned through this site and at school. Help them learn about ways they can be Green Consumers and spend their money in ways that will help the environment. Although it doesn’t always seem that way, grown-ups do listen to kids. If you share your concerns with them, they will become concerned, too. Together, you can help.

Turn Off The Lights. 
This is such a simple thing to do, but sometimes it’s so hard to remember! Consider starting a Lights-Off Fund, to which each person must donate a nickel or dime every time he or she forgets to turn off the lights. As those nickels or dimes add up, you might donate them to an environmental organization.

Green Living U

Use Recycled Paper. 
There’s just no reason why you shouldn’t buy recycled paper whenever it is available. You can buy toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, writing paper, books, newspapers, and many other things made of recycled paper. If you can’t find recycled paper products in your local grocery store, ask the manager to stock them.

Green Living V

Visit A Recycling Center. 
If there’s a center nearby, stop and take a look around. Look at all the different things being recycled—lots of different colors of glass, paper, cardboard, cans, maybe even tires and household appliances. Ask the people who run the recycling center what happens to all this stuff after it leaves the center.

Green Living W

Work For The Environment.
Most environmental organizations need lots of help, and some of these jobs can pay you. Check with the local parks department to see if there are any jobs in the parks taking care of plants or flowers. Check with the local zoo to see if you can work with animals. It might be hard work, but it might be a lot of fun. Either way, you can go home each day with the satisfaction of knowing you are helping make the world a better place.

Write a Letter or an e-mail. 
You’d be surprised how much just one letter can do. Most companies don’t get many letters from customers, and most politicians rarely hear voters, so when they do get letters, they read them very carefully. According to some experts, if a company or politician receives just twenty letters on the same subject within a few weeks, they consider the subject high priority.

Green Living X

eXercise Your Rights. 
As a human being living on planet Earth, you have the right to clean air and water, a safe environment, and the unspoiled beauties this world has to offer. You should speak firmly and loudly against those people and companies who threaten to take those rights away from you by polluting or by making decisions that encourage polluting or other wasteful behavior.

Green Living Y

Yell At A Litterer. 
Well, maybe you don’t have to yell, but if you do see someone littering, you definitely should say something. Be polite, but state your case. Explain that littering not only is ugly and costs us money (because we have to pay people to pick up the litter and dispose of it), it is also bad for the environment.

Green Living Z

Zero In On Specifics. 
While we’ve covered a wide range of environmental problems and solutions on this site, you can be most effective by choosing one or two specific problems to focus on. Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick a problem—acid rain, for example, or animal cruelty—and learn as much about it as you can. Find the individuals and organizations in your area working on the problem and see how you can get involved. That will make you a powerful Green Consumer.