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Being environmentally friendly is becoming increasingly important,
as well as increasingly easy.

In the Yard
The most earth-friendly option for your yard is to trade grass for ground covers or mulch, as maintaining a lawn takes a lot of water and energy. If you choose to keep your lawn, however, it is best to use native grasses; your local nursery can advise you on which are indigenous to your area. You should try, whenever possible, to do the following, according to the Choose Green Report from Green Seal Environment Partner:


Cut grass no lower than 2.5 inches; any lower, and it will require more water.

Always water the lawn before sunrise or after dark to reduce evaporation and water more efficiently.

Don’t throw away grass clippings. Leaving them on the lawn will provide nutrients.

Buy organic fertilizers, as they don’t degrade as quickly as synthetic fertilizers and are safer for children and animals.

Buy an electric lawnmower. It will save you, on average, a whopping 73% on lawn care costs and is better for the environment. The average gasoline mower emits the same amount of hydrocarbons in one hour as a 1992 Ford Explorer emits in over 23,600 miles!

In the Fridge
Your appliances can be a great source of green living. Keep in mind the following when using and buying appliances for your home:


It is more energy-efficient to do a load of laundry in cold water than in hot. Also, when drying laundry, it is more energy-efficient to dry loads of laundry consecutively, as you are taking advantage of residual heat in the dryer.

Gas ranges are more efficient than electric ranges.

An energy-efficient dishwasher is more “green” than hand-washing a sinkful of dirty dishes.

When buying new appliances, always look for the Energy Star label. It may cost a bit more, but it will save money and the environment.

Replace refrigerators that are 10 to 20 years old, as they could be 40% less efficient than newer models. A new fridge can reduce your costs by as much as $15 a month!

Side-by-side refrigerators use 10% to 25% more energy than stacked refrigerator-freezer models.

When possible, don’t place your refrigerator next to a heat source, such as a vent, dishwasher, oven or in direct sunlight, as it will require more energy to cool it.

In the Lights
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) reduce the energy used for lighting by one-third and are available at most home stores and some warehouse club stores. A CFL can last 10,000 hours, whereas a regular bulb only lasts 1,000 hours. They can be used wherever you would use a regular bulb. On a dimmer switch, however, make sure that you use only a CFL that is labeled for such use. Over the long-term, you can save $20 to $30 per bulb.

In the Paint and Cleaner
Household cleaners and paints have ingredient lists that read like a complicated chemistry quiz. Here are a few tips to being more environmentally friendly while cleaning your home:


Use a brand of cleaner that is concentrated, where you need to add water. You can use concentrated cleaners for a variety of things, and can cut down on the amount of cleaner and containers that you use.

Don’t use cleaners with chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite as they have harmful environmental effects. Instead, look for clears with citric acid or hydrogen peroxide, which will do the job just as well.

Avoid volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some new paints will include the fact that they have low or no VOCs on the label. These VOC-less paints cost the same as other premium paints and have no paint smell.

In Your Shirts and Slacks
You may have seen dry cleaners in your neighborhood starting to offer “Earth-friendly” alternatives to traditional dry cleaning. The traditional solvent used in dry cleaning, perchloroethylene, has been linked to several health issues, including dizziness, headaches and possibly cancer. If a dry cleaner offers an “Earth-friendly” option, ask what solvent is used. There are two likely candidates: liquid carbon dioxide and siloxane. The former is the most promising and leaves no toxic residue. When tested, Consumer Reports found that it cleaned with the “best results, even better than conventional dry cleaning.” Siloxane is also effective, but some preliminary studies have shown a possible link to cancer in rodents.



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