March is “Green Your Space” month here at LifeCity and what better way to do this than literally tackling your most personal space – your home. There are plenty of ways to achieve a green space from the technical to the physical to the aesthetic, but let us guide you through some simple to a bit more complex ways you can go about lowering your environmental impact while enhancing your quality of life and that of those around you.
1) Conserve Energy: Homeowners can conserve a huge amount of energy, up to 30%, by getting an energy assessment and making energy efficiency improvements that make sense for their homes. The NOLA Wise program can walk you through this process while connecting you with the financing you need to get started. But in the meantime, make sure to replace your current lights with energy efficient light bulbs (get in touch with Green Light New Orleans), opt for energy efficient appliances, and preset your thermostat to moderate temperatures. And, remember the greenest light is one that is turned off! Same goes for AC units and dryers!
2) Utilize Renewable Energy: While lowering your consumption of energy, consider using renewable energy sources like solar or wind to bring your costs even lower. Renewable energy is clean and waste-free, and modern technology is making these replenishable energy sources all the more efficient and powerful. Work with companies like Joule Energy or Green Grants to have solar panels installed at home while taking advantage of the current solar tax credits while they last.
3) Collaborate with your neighbor: Do you need a lawnmower and don’t want to buy one? Do you have special skills you want to offer to your neighbor in exchange for their help? Consider partnering with your community and encouraging collaborative consumption among neighbors. Not only can this be sharing tools, books, or equipment, it can be working with an organization like NOLA Time Bank where members share their time and receive others’ time and skills in return. Collaboration reduces waste, increases safety, and increases valuable community connections.
4) Zero Waste: One of society’s greatest challenges is reducing waste and the amount of non-biodegradable products ending up in landfills. In our homes, we can help by creating zero waste environments where we compost, recycle, and donate most everything we consume. Take a class at NOLA Green Roots on composting and make sure you have access to recycling services. Think of the big bin as the recycling bin and see how much you can reduce your waste!
5) Out with the Old – in with the Old! It’s better than it sounds, and cheaper too! First, clean up your space and get rid of all that clothing, paper, furniture (i.e., junk), making sure donate as much as possible. Need support? Get in touch with Clear the Clutter to help you part ways with all that stuff. Then, for what you REALLY need, visit some of the city’s great repurposed goods and thrift stores, such as The Green Project and Habitat Restore, to find anything you could want and more.
6) Find a Green Realtor: As consumers become more aware of sustainability issues and the benefits of building green, realtors are meeting this new demand by learning about issues of energy efficiency and sustainability in the various facets of real estate. Get in touch with NOMAR to learn more about their green initiatives and education programs.
7) Keep it Real: We spend enough time during the day throwing away unused napkins or that plastic spoon you had with your lunch gumbo. Make adifference at home by rejecting one-time use, throwaway items or materials. Replace your paper products with reusable ones such as cloth napkins, cleaning cloths, or recycled paper products, if need be. Plus, you’ll look a lot classier too!
8) Eliminate toxins: If you have ever read the back of a bottle of Clorox or Windex, you probably could not have pronounced 90% of those words. Rather than using hazardous chemicals on all your home surfaces, opt for environmentally friendly products that are just as effective, and smell better too! This includes dish soap, hand soap, cleaning products, and laundry detergent. Or better yet, use nature! Natural products like vinegar and water can do the trick as a cleaning product.
9) Shop local: When bringing food and other goods into your home, stop and think “where does this product come from?” On most occasions, you might not have any clue, but doesn’t it feel better when you can answer that question? That you bought it from a local vendor you see at the market or from your favorite local hardware store down the street? Buying local not only supports the local economy, it increases the quality of the goods you receive. Check out Stay Local’s guide to find all those local businesses you need to try.
10) Use water wisely: Water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved and managed efficiently, even in a swamp like New Orleans. Reduce water use in your home by being conscious of the amount of water being used, installing simple tools like low-flow aerators or more substantial ones like low-flow toilets. Reuse water through rain barrels for your outdoor needs, and even consider preventing water pollution through sustainable landscaping and rain gardens.
And don’t forget…
11) Use your Impact Directory guide for everything you need! The Impact Directory is your premier guide to the sustainable businesses and organizations in New Orleans that can help you green your home and so much more.