How to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Every day the California state government and business community are working hard to make the state’s cities and businesses more sustainable.
Recent agreements have helped reduce the prices for implementing solar energy for small and medium sized companies who might not have been able to previously afford those upgrades.
At the state level, California has put plans in place to improve both Groundwater sustainability and to improve sustainability for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program. They are also working to improve the sustainability of their freight industry.
But what about at the residential level? While many residents have opted into renewable power sources for their electrical supply, are there any changes being made to help residents make their homes more sustainable and green? As the severity of the California drought has increased, there have been measures to place restrictions and regulations on residential use of the state’s groundwater supply and Cal Recycle has a list of work being done to improve air quality and other issues facing residents of the Golden State.
But what about residents who want to take matters into their own hands? If you live in California, here are some of the things that you can do to make your home more sustainable and green up your lifestyle.
Recycle Rainwater: This is a biggie. Because of the drought, water is in short supply these days and the quickest way to turn your neighbors into enemies is to try to run your sprinkler or water your lawn. That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to resign yourself to letting your landscaping die or to having a terribly dusty car, etc. Rain is still falling from the sky every now and again (and will likely pour down upon us over the winter as El Nino rears it’s rainy head. Instead of simply letting that water seep into the ground, why not save as much of it as you can? Installing rain barrels is easy and cheap and grey water has a lot of uses (like watering that lawn, washing the car or your clothing, etc). Rainwater harvesting also prevents erosion and other issues that can dramatically affect the supply and quantity of a home (and city)’s water supply.
Use the Sun: Installing solar panels is a great way to reduce your home’s carbon footprint (and your dependency on the municipal power grid). While most residents refrain from going completely solar powered, many have found that even the installation of a couple of panels drastically reduces the amount of municipal energy they consume. Even better, in some cities, like San Diego, opting in to net metering can also help offset a city’s dependence on fossil fuels as well. Solare Energy, one of the more widely used San Diego solar companies, has a fantastic blog post that explains how net metering works.
In addition to solar paneling, many people are opting to purchase solar device chargers now as well. Travelers, in particular, have found solar device chargers save them a lot of time and hassle (airports never have enough outlets).
Composting: There are a lot of reasons to switch to composting, but chief among them is that it reduces the amount of waste produced by your home. According to SF Gate, more than half of the municipal solid waste collected in 2009 was compostable. Imagine how much room will be saved in landfills by composting your organic materials instead of simply chucking them in the trash bin! In addition to reducing the amount of waste you throw away, composting is a natural way to re-introduce and replenish soil’s nutrients. This reduces the amount of money you spend on fertilizers and artificial nutrients for your garden as well as the number of trips you need to make to the garden and lawn supply store to get those materials.
If you live in an apartment that won’t allow you to compost, don’t fret! You can simply give your organic waste to friends who do compost or you can donate it at local composting centers (Findacomposter.com is a great resource for finding the best place to donate near you).
Switch to Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies: Chemical based cleansers release lots of harmful chemicals into the air when you use them. Instead of opting for whatever looks cheapest (and smells best) at the grocery store, why not make your own? Making your own cleansers out of natural products is cheap, easy and will dramatically improve the air quality of your home.
There are a lot of ways to improve your home’s sustainability. Some of them are structural, but many of them are simple habit changes, like starting a compost pile and using natural cleansers. With some practice your home can be completely green!