Because our homes are where we spend the majority of our time, the choices we make there determine our impact on the environment. Most importantly, our homes are a space where we control how our home’s microenvironment contributes to the world’s macro environment.

Caring for the world around us starts where we live.

1. Get a Plant (or Five)

Live plants are natures air purifiers. They not only add beauty to they also keep the air in our homes fresh and healthy. A rule of thumb from a famous NASA study looking at using plants to purify the air on space ships is one plant per 100 sq. ft. (1) The jury is still out on whether that holds for homes on earth, but regardless, bring some nature indoors.

Be environmentally sensitive: Get a Plant (or Five)

2. Switch to Bars of Soap Instead of Plastic Bottles of Hand Soap

A large majority of consumer products come in plastic wraps or bottles. While we can recycle many plastics, the greenest choice is to switch from products that require plastic to waste-free options. Bar soap is a great example! It works just as well, and there’s nothing to toss when it’s gone.

Switch to Bars of Soap Instead of Plastic Bottles of Hand Soap

3. Start a Compost Pile

Food waste is a big problem in landfills because it cannot break down properly due to all the other waste surrounding it. (2) Compost piles take up little space and rapidly turn food scraps into soil you can add to planting beds or lawns. This is a simple step toward being eco-conscious.

Reduce food waste and be more eco-conscious. Start a Compost Pile

4. Switch to Cloth Towels Instead of Paper Towels

Buy a batch of towels specifically for cleaning up kitchen or household messes and retrain yourself to reach for one of those instead of a disposable paper towel. While there are a few messes like grease spills where a paper towel is super handy, it’s an unnecessary waste in most situations. Reusable cloth towels work just as well and won’t add to the trash heap.

Go green! Switch to Cloth Towels Instead of Paper Towels

5. Buy Greener Brands of Toilet Paper

Most major toilet paper brands use virgin trees from deforestation in northern Canada. (3) Make the switch from luxury toilet paper to greener brands made from recycled material. Yes, you may be less than thrilled at first, but you’ll adjust, and you’ll be doing your part to save irreplaceable old-growth forests.

Save the trees: Buy Greener Brands of Toilet Paper

6. Get Strict with Reusable Bags

Cloth or canvas bags are pretty ubiquitous these days; however, few people use them strictly. They are easy to forget and knowing we can get a plastic or paper bag from the store makes it easy to let ourselves off the hook.

It’s ok if you forget now and then, but the question to ask yourself is, “what am I doing to make sure I remember?” Keeping extras in the car, hanging your unloaded bags on the door handle, or with your grocery list are ways to build in reminders.

Another solution is to make plastic bags off-limit. If you show up at the store without reusable bags, you can only buy what you can carry. You’ll likely get good at remembering in no time, and to be better at being eco-conscious.

Be eco-friendly. Get Strict with Reusable Bags

7. Ditch Single-use Products

Plastics straws, utensils, plates, cups, cotton balls, face wipes, tea bags, and coffee pods are examples of single-use products that reusable options can easily replace. The plastics in these products can take hundreds of years to degrade and are widespread in our landfills and oceans. (4) For all the waste generation that is unavoidable in modern life, this one is easy to prevent.

Stop plastic waste: Ditch Single-use Products

8. Borrow Instead of Buying

Connect with neighbors and friends to borrow tools and lawn care equipment. If you’re hosting a large group, ask around for extra plates and chairs instead of investing in new ones you’ll only use on occasion. Take advantage of the library instead of purchasing books and movies. Buying and owning less is the greenest option there is.

Buying and owning less is the greenest option there is.

9. Shop for Groceries a Little at a Time and More Often

The average household throws away about a third of the food they purchase. (5) That adds up to over $1,800 per year. While there is something to be said for consolidating errands and making fewer trips in the car, it could also save a lot of waste and environmental damage to shop for less, more often. This will keep food waste and packaging out of the landfill and save you money.

Stop wasting food: Shop for Groceries a Little at a Time and More Often

10. Use the “I’ll Buy It Later” Rule

This is an excellent strategy for reducing spending, and it also has environmental benefits. Pausing before making a purchase and waiting a few days will likely result in buying less. Overconsumption of goods is a massive driver of environmental degradation. (6) Strategies to reduce accumulating more things are good for the health of the planet and your finances. This is a great way to be eco-conscious.

Environmentally sensitive: Use the “I’ll Buy It Later” Rule

Let Your Home Be a Force for Good

The environmental crisis our world is facing may feel beyond our control. But we can still do much within our sphere of influence. As we become more eco-conscious consumers and eco-wise homeowners, our choices trickle down the line to influence the larger culture.

Not every aspect of our home life will be “green”. But the more of these ten tips we can put into practice, the more eco-conscious our homes and awareness will become.