How to Build an Eco-Friendly Home

how to green your homeWe talk a lot about “greening” your lifestyle by dropping unnecessary habits like bottled water. But, perhaps you’re wondering about some other ways to live a more eco-conscious life. Using more efficient air and water filters is just one step in building an eco-friendly home. Erick, a writer for San Diego custom home builders, Murray Lampert construction, shares with us a few more simple, and fairly inexpensive things you can do to reduce your home’s carbon footprint:

The Simple Stuff

Recycling – One of the easiest ways to help green your home is to start recycling. It’s simple, and most communities today offer recycling services to their residents. All you have to do is set up a recycling system with your family. Label different containers for the various recyclable waste products instead of throwing them all together in the trash. Recycling is also a great way to get children involved in eco-friendly practices and to help them learn about environmental issues and ways to live healthier, more eco-conscious lives. Recycling with your kids gives you a chance to explain to them how decreasing the amount of wastes in landfills helps the planet.

Eco-Friendly Light Bulbs – Another simple way to make your house greener is to save on energy by changing your light bulbs. Replace those old incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. They’re inexpensive and will make a difference in your monthly energy bill.

New Hot Water Heaters – You can also save power by switching from conventional hot water heaters to solar hot water heaters or on-demand tankless water heaters.

Shower Heads – Conventional shower heads can waste a lot of water. Switching your old shower heads to pressurized and low-flow alternatives can save you gallons of water per day and will make a huge difference in your monthly utility bills. A low flow shower head typically uses about 2.5 gallons per minute or less, as opposed to 6 GPM from old shower heads. Filtering your shower water can also help you maintain a healthier home, as it removes toxic chlorine from your water supply. Most Sprite filtered shower heads are low-flow.

Optimize Water Use – Another good way to save water is to place containers outside to capture rainwater to use for garden irrigation. You can also save your shower’s “gray water” and use it to irrigate your garden as well.

Eco-Friendly Landscaping

Landscaping your yard or garden with local, native plants is a great way to make your home more eco-friendly. Because native plants are acclimated to the local ecosystem, they’ll grow without much soil amendment. This means less pesticides and artificial fertilizers that harm the environment. Visit your local nursery to learn more about native landscaping options.

Eco-Friendly Home Building

Next time you’re planning a home remodeling project, look for remodeling companies that have LEED certification, or some other type of government green building certification. Most eco-friendly builders use natural products that don’t contain harmful chemicals. These will not only help the environment, but will make your home safer and healthier for your family.

To learn more about other eco-friendly ways to remodel your home, shop around with various local home builders and remodeling companies for advice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

100,000 Days of Clean Water Donated to Those in Need!

We just wanted to share the good news that we recently received from the Changents team regarding our Proctor & Gamble GIVE HEALTH Blogivation widget for clean water. Since November, nearly 350 bloggers from around the world, along with their readers, have teamed up with P&G and Changents to donate clean water to those in need. This campaign has successfully donated 100,000 days of clean water to people in developing countries who don’t have access to it. Thanks to everyone who visited our blog and clicked on the widget at the top, we are now proud to say that 64 of those days were the contribution of our readers. Although 64 seems like a small number in the grand scheme of things, every little bit helps!

The widget at the top of our blog has now been updated to reflect the successes of all those involved. But the campaign is not quite finished. The goal was 100,000 days of clean water donated by the end of 2010, and the New Year is right around the corner. P&G GIVE is now on Facebook and is asking  all those who participated to “like” their page. For each “like” and “share”, P&G will donate an additional day of clean water from now through January 31, 2011!

Many of our readers are also customers, who have purchased a water filter from us before. In the spirit of Christmas, you can now share the gift of clean water with those who don’t have the same luxury, and it’s as simple as hitting the “like” button on a Facebook page. Please help us spread the joy this holiday season with just two clicks. One to donate, and the other to share this post (and the widget at the top) with all of your friends so that they can join in the success as well.

Bottled Water Won’t Protect you from Chromium-6

dirty bottled waterA few days ago, a Canadian news source put out an article called, “Bottled water not so bad.” Naturally, I was curious. There have been a lot of recent desperate attempts by the bottled water industry to reclaim its hold on the convenience-obsessed, consumer culture of America. The IBWA has put out several videos, such as “The Real Story of Bottled Water,” defending bottled water from the criticism it has received from environmental enthusiasts like Annie Leonard, or Stephanie Soechtig – director of the documentary “Tapped” – who claim that bottled water is an expensive marketing scam that’s bad for the environment. (In case it’s not obvious by now, we tend to agree.)

This article, along with several other recent news sources, claims that bottled water’s environmental footprint is not that bad, when compared to that of other packaged consumer goods. According to the article, “the average bottle of water travels about 250 kilometers from source to shelf.” Hmm… now I know Fiji is not your “average” bottle of water, but last I checked, it was a lot farther than 250 kilometers.  This article also makes the point that bottled water is 100 percent recyclable. The problem, however, is that not much of it is actually recycled. Though the recycling rate of bottled water has risen, according to a recent report, we are still left to deal with the remaining 69 percent that continue to pollute our landfills.

The only seed of hope that I saw in this argument was this: “Plastic beverage containers represent less than one-fifth of one per cent of the waste stream. Bottled water packaging represents 40 per cent of that.”

Perhaps that’s because more people are beginning to realize the wastefulness of plastic bottled beverage consumption. IBWA has proudly reported that the recycling rate of bottled water has increased to 31 percent. Well, of course it has. If fewer people are choosing to drink beverages sold in plastic bottle containers, even if the amount of bottles recycled remains the same, the rate of recycling is bound to increase.

Perhaps you’re a little hesitant to trust the water that comes out of your tap, especially in light of the recent discovery of hexavalent chromium (a.k.a. chromium-vi, or chromium-6) in water, in 31 cities across the U.S. If you think bottled water will save you, think again. Your best bet is to buy a reverse osmosis filter. Even the Environmental Working Group admitted that bottled water will not guarantee protection from this carcinogenic substance.

Once again, the bottled water industry has put its best, most defensive foot forward, but we are still not quite convinced. Nice try, though. Good game.