With the number of home improvement shows and magazines and the amount of information available online, home improvement has never been easier. Everyday people like you and me can now create the homes of our dreams with some research, planning and big ideas. But now more than ever, home improvement can also be greener and have a lesser impact on our other home – the earth.
The opportunities to implement green alternatives for home improvement are endless, but here are a few easy ways to make your revamped home friendlier to the environment.
- Consider using natural flooring – If you’re replacing the flooring in your house, consider using a natural, renewable flooring material rather than synthetics or environmentally damaging traditional wooden floors.Bamboo flooring is renewable and beautiful as well as highly durable. Cork is also natural and sustainable and is also quieter than wood flooring and beneficial for allergy sufferers. It also acts as natural insulation to help keep heat in and energy usage down.Many suppliers now offer eco-friendly flooring options, including Empire Flooring which carries both bamboo and cork flooring.
- Install low water consumption plumbing and fixtures – Huge quantities of water are wasted every time you flush a toilet or wash your hands at the sink. Eco-friendly plumbing alternatives are an easy way to save water. Consider installing an aerator into new faucets and replacing old toilets with low-flush versions when redoing your bathrooms for an easy way to cut down on water usage.
- Recycle your carpet – If you’re opting for new flooring or just want to replace your old carpeting, opt to recycle your carpet. Old carpeting can be heavy and take up a lot of space in landfills. You can recycle your old carpet easily through C.A.R.E. (Carpet America Recovery Effort), which is a partnership between private industry, government agencies, and NGO’s that sets goals for reducing the amount of carpet that ends up in landfills by encouraging carpet recycling. Empire Today is one national brand participating in this program, but you can find the whole list of members at their website, www.carpetrecovery.org.
- Be smart about paint – If you’re not changing the color of a room and just want to freshen up the existing paint, try washing the wall first to see if that does the trick. You may find that you don’t need paint after all or that you need less than you thought, saving you money and work and preventing paint from being thrown out and contaminating groundwater or ending up in a landfill.
If you do need a fresh coat of paint, consider using non-toxic paint as a greener alternative. Non-toxic paints usually contain less or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than chemical paints, which can affect the air quality of your home and harm the atmosphere when disposed of. Look for phrases like “Low VOC”, “Zero VOC”, or “All-Natural” to be sure you’re buying non-toxic paint.
Empire Carpet suggests using insulating non-toxic paint to get a durable paint job without the dangerous fumes and chemicals that also help keep heat in during the colder winter months. Insulating paint uses a non-toxic additive that reflects heat to keep it from seeping out, saving energy and money. Finally, when repainting, buy only what you need when you need it. You can always go back to the store to buy more paint should you need it, but excess paint may not only cost you extra money but can end up sitting in your garage and ultimately in a landfill.
These days, there are green alternatives for nearly all of your home improvement needs, but try these four tips to make your home improvement an improvement for the environment as well.