Wanting to make your home more eco-friendly is a great thing. Anything we can do to make our homes and our presence on this planet less harmful to the environment is a bonus. There are many ways we can make small incremental benefits. It is important to focus on what you can do as it can be quite easy to become overwhelmed. Just remember that any change is a good thing no matter how small!

So let’s take a look at eight ways you can start to make positive changes within your own home. These tips are not the only things you can do, but a small sampling to get you started on the path to eco-friendliness.

  1. Owning a Rise Garden Having a Rise Garden had to be at the top of my list! There is so much energy, pesticides, and pollution that goes into growing and getting food to the grocery store. It makes sense that a great way to disrupt that process is to grow your own food at home, which is where owning a Rise Garden comes into play.

    I am always amazed how much you can grow in a relatively small space and you don’t get much fresher than picking food as soon as you want to eat it. You cut out all of the middle men: no trucks picking up food and driving it across the country, no driving a car across town to the grocery store, and you know everything that went into producing that piece of food because you grew it. It is a truly empowering and super eco-friendly way to grow food. Hydroponic systems also use much less water than growing outdoors, which is also great for the environment. Plus, growing indoors with a hydroponic system means less trips to the grocery store, more money staying in your pocket, and more nutrient dense food for your body.
  2. Change how you do your laundry One change you can make is to wash your clothes in cold water. Most of the energy used while washing clothes is in heating the water so switching to cold whenever possible will reduce the energy used every load. As an added bonus, the cold water can actually help your clothes last longer and colors stay more vibrant.

    When it comes to drying, whenever possible skip the dryer. Dryers are one of the most energy sucking appliances in your home. An easy fix is to go old school and carry those wet clothes outside and hang them out to dry, at least during the summer months. Personally, I love the smell of fresh air in clothes line-dried outside. If this isn’t an option for your, you can always get a drying rack for inside. Chances are you’ll end up with less mystery holes in your favorite shirts and have all your socks accounted for!
  3. Reduce your plastic usage I think everyone can agree that plastic is not good for the environment. There is an estimated 150 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans alone, which is not good for anyone. This doesn't even account for the plastic in landfills and piled high everywhere else around the globe. Any steps you can take to reduce the amount of plastics you consume and bring into your home is a huge plus for you and the environment.
    One easy switch is to store food in glass containers rather than plastic. A mason jar is a great way to take your lunch to work. You can also use (or better yet make) some reusable shopping bags. If you buy from bulk food stores, ask if you can bring your own containers in (the answer is almost always yes).
    Try to eliminate as many single use plastics from your life as the are typically the worst offenders.
  4. Switch to LED lights Whether it is your Christmas lights or the bulbs in your home, switching to LED lights is another great eco-friendly option. So why use LED bulbs? Well, they are highly energy efficient and they use 75% less energy than those old school lights and last about 25 times longer! As an added bonus they are much cooler and more robust than traditional bulbs as well.
  5. Buy energy efficient appliances and electronics 
    Most people are aware of the Energy Star program, which exists in both the USA and Canada as well as some other countries. It was established in 1992 and its goal to provide consumers with information about the energy consumption of different products and services. Products that are deemed energy-efficient will have an Energy Star sticker on them. Be on the lookout for this sticker if you need to buy new appliances.
  6. Use eco-friendly cleaning products Using eco-friendly cleaning products is a great start and there are loads of eco-friendly options available. You can also choose to make your own, which is an easy and cost effective DIY. Most can be made with simple ingredients such as vinegar, water, baking soda, and lemons to name a few.
  7. Shop Local A great way to be more eco-friendly is to buy local products. A great example is to buy food from farmers markets or join a CSA (community supported agriculture). This also means you will be buying fruits and veggies when they are in season, which is also when they are at their freshest and tastiest! Additionally, you are supporting local farmers and growers, which is good for your community.
  8. Become a micro homesteader This is my favorite item on the list as it incorporates so many of the ones listed above. Most people think of homesteading as needing lots of land and in some cases being completely off-grid. While this is one aspect of homesteading, I look at it as a spectrum. As a self proclaimed micro homesteader, I incorporate aspects of it into my daily life. I grow a lot of the food we eat indoors in my Rise Garden as well as outdoors in my back, side, and front yards. I also compost almost all of our food waste, make sourdough bread, and make my own cleaning products. I have made my own soap, preserved my harvests through canning, and tried to reduce plastics in my home. So, even living in the ‘Burbs, I am able to leverage a lot of the homesteading principles!

Kiri Martin is a Rise Gardens Ambassador and blogs at Our Little Suburban Farmhouse