There are so many things you can do around your home to make it as green as possible, and yes, one person can make a difference.
Sometimes, when it seems like a problem is overwhelming, we begin to think that we possibly can’t make a difference by ourselves. Well, when it comes to our environment, I really believe that individual effort can make a large impact.
Shari and I put this list of deco tips together many years ago when we were asked to attend an Earth-awareness program at our state fair in Ohio. The reason that we called them “deco tips” is because we are decorators and we are concerned about the ecology so “deco” and “eco,” well, you get the point.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be taking a big step in making a difference.
- Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint when painting exterior on interior paint projects. Latex is very durable, which means you won’t have to paint as often, saving both time and money. Latex paints also retain color depth longer, so your reds stay redder.
- Latex paint uses soap and water clean up. It is also lower in VOC or volatile organic compounds, the stuff that makes paint smell and is harmful to our environment.
- If you must use oil-based paint (alkyd), you will need to clean your painting equipment with paint thinner. Be sure to recycle the thinner. Clean your tools with as little thinner as possible, then store used thinner in a reseal able container. Allow the thinner/paint to settle, removing the sludge that collects and letting the sludge dry on a piece of cardboard. Once hardened, discard it and reuse the clean thinner.
- Buy quality paint. The cheaper the paint the more times you will have to paint. I would rather part with a few extra dollars for a quality gallon of paint, then have to repaint in a couple of years.
- Use leftover paint to paint a long-forgotten closet, or even the garage. Latex paints can be mixed together (only latex, please) and will usually make a somewhat pleasing taupe color.
- If you do need to get rid of leftover paint, please dispose of it properly. Contact your local recycling and litter prevention program or solid waste management district and find out their guidelines for disposal of paint. Most will ask that you open the can and allow the paint to dry. Place all the containers in the sun on a warm day, and once in a while stir the paint to allow the paint at the bottom to dry.
- If you do woodworking, collect the sawdust from you power tools in a container. When you have leftover paint to dispose of, stir in some sawdust, allowing it to absorb the paint. Kitty litter works as well (old or new, the paint won’t know the difference).
- Use plastic pails when painting. Pour your latex paint into a plastic pail, and paint away. When you have finished painting, pour the remainder of the paint back into the can. Allow the plastic pail to dry, don’t rinse with water (the goal here is to save water). Once the paint has dried, peel the paint from the pail and discard.
- When doing projects, purchase the correct amount. Manufacturers go to great lengths on their product labels to help you purchase the right amount. If you buy the amount that you need, you won’t waste products or money.
- Make your own cleaning solutions. Warm water and white vinegar works great. It can clean windows and vinyl floors.
- Look for the “recycled” label. Many products are now being manufactured with recycled content. Carpeting is even being made out of recycled milk jugs.
- When changing your decor, don’t throw away your old furniture. Donate it. Decorative items can be donated to shelters to help create a homier environment for those in need. Pick up the phone and call a local theater company; your couch could become a star.
- What we do when we are overwhelmed with excess accessories or decorative items that just don’t work anymore? Have a decorator’s garage sale. Old clothing can be used to slipcover old furniture. Use jeans on pillows; sturdy cotton fabrics or even flannel make comfy patchwork quilts.
- Instead of purchasing a lot of decorating magazines for gathering inspiration, visit the library. Most libraries carry periodicals that are current. Best of all, you can photocopy the page you need for reference and eliminate magazines piling up at home and being thrown away later.
Those are just a few deco tips Shari and I use. If you have more, let us know. We will try to update and add to this list often.
Paper products make up 40% of all trash. That can all be recycled!
The highest point in Ohio is a literally a garbage dump that is now called Mount Rumpke.
Americans throw away 25 trillion Styrofoam cups that cannot decomposed or be recycled.
Only about 30% of paper, trash, and food waste is recycled.
17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water can be saved by recycling 1 ton of paper!
80% of papermakers in America use at least some form of recycled materials to create new paper.
Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour!
Recycled plastic is can be made into polyester carpets, plastic lumber, clothing, flower pots, insulation for sleeping bags & ski jackets, car bumpers and other products.
All soda cans are made from aluminum. Each American uses about 400 cans a year. If aluminum is recycled, 95% less energy is used than if it were made from scratch.
Cell phones, computers, and other technology release toxins into the environment when they are thrown away. The only way to stop the pollution is to recycle them.
Although 75% of our trash can be recycled, the EPA set a national goal of 25% for 1992.
The first real recycling program was introduced in New York City in the 1890s. The city’s first recycling plant was built in 1898.
By 1924, 83% of American cities were separating some trash items to be reused.
About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material!
Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted.
One-third of the water used in most homes is flushed down the toilet.
A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.
Here’s a few fun facts about recycling and how participating in a curbside program can impact your community.
- Throwing away a single aluminum can, versus recycling it, is like pouring out six ounces of gasoline. Last year, Americans recycled enough aluminum cans to conserve the energy equivalent of more than15 million barrels of oil.
- The EPA estimates that 75 percent of what Americans throw in the trash could actually be recycled. Currently, only 25 percent is.
- Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job; landfilling 10,000 tons of waste creates six jobs; recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs.
- The national recycling rate of 30 percent saves the equivalent of more than five billion gallons of gasoline, reducing dependence on foreign oil by 114 million barrels. This could be even higher!
- The aluminum can is 100 percent recyclable and can be used to make new beverage cans indefinitely – demonstrating recycling at is finest! “Every can, every time!”
- According to the EPA, recycling, including composting, diverted 68 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2001, up from 34 million tons in 1990.
- Recycling 35 percent of our trash reduces emissions equivalent to taking 36 million cars of the road.
- Every Sunday 500,000 trees could be saved if everyone recycled their newspapers.
- Think recycling is expensive? Consider this: aluminum cans are the most valuable item in your bin. Aluminum can recycling helps fund the entire curbside collection. It’s the only packaging material that more than covers the cost of collection and re-processing for itself.