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Green Living: Uncovering Your Family’s Green Potential

Green Living: Uncovering Your Family’s Green Potential

Green living family outing
Article by Gillian Deacon, author and green living guru.

Green Living Tips

What if you spent what’s left of April making a conscious effort to reduce your environmental footprint? What I have learned since becoming a mother and breast cancer survivor is that whether it’s Earth Month, Earth Hour, Earth Day or just a regular Tuesday, it’s important to take some time this month to start making easy and effective changes to uncover your green living potential. As I have talked about in my books Green For Life and There’s Lead in Your Lipstick, small and mindful changes can help eliminate harmful chemicals, save on energy costs and leave you feeling good about your environmental footprint.

As Canadians there are many alternatives that we can start to integrate into our lives to help make the planet a cleaner, healthier and more enjoyable place to live. As I have recently discovered, millions of homes across the country share a dirty secret. Canadian households typically have three zones that can consume up to 60% of energy usage. By focusing on each area as a ‘greenable zone’ it is possible to unlock countless environmental saving opportunities. Here’s where to start:

Greening Your Kitchen

  • What are you cleaning your countertops with? Chlorine? Ammonia? Nitrobenzene? Our food is in direct contact with whatever chemical ingredients we use to clean kitchen surfaces, so make sure to avoid hazardous toxins in your kitchen cleaning products.
  • Keep a pitcher of cold water filled from the tap in your fridge. Why? The water helps maintain the cool temperature inside and allows your refrigerator to work more effectively at a lower temperature.
  • Did you know a simple sheet of paper can help detect heat loss from your stove? Use my simple paper trick to discover if your stove is leaking the heat you’ve spent good money on for baking and cooking.
  • Ever wonder why your dishwasher has a delay button? Many newer model washers allow you to set a later time for dishwashing so your energy consumption occurs during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower and energy consumption is less taxing to the grid.

Greening Your Laundry Room

  • Overhaul your laundry shelf by purchasing products that only offer biodegradable detergents, and packaging made from post consumer waste. Seventh Generation, for example, makes a biodegradable and non-toxic detergent that even comes in a fully compostable package.
  • What is the cheapest and easiest way to avoid static cling before it happens? Scrunch up a ball of tinfoil and toss it in the dryer to eliminate static electricity.
  • Clean your machine once a year by running a full (light) cycle with 2 cups of white vinegar, to prolong the lifespan of your washing machine.

Greening Your Bathroom

  • An estimated 65% of your home’s total indoor water use takes place in the bathroom.
  • Start a family shower challenge and save on water and energy use by reducing the amount of time everyone spends under the hot water. Set a timer in the shower; the goal is five minutes, but you can work your way down in increments. See which family member can take the shortest showers!
  • Install a low-flow showerhead to make your shower pressure feel stronger while actually using less water. Available at any hardware store, the low-flow showerhead is a no-brainer.
  • Be aware of the products you use to clean your sink and tub. Non-biodegradable chemicals impact our water supply and also come in contact with small children taking baths.

There are lots of great online resources that offer tips and tricks on green living – education is the key! I follow several green companies online for daily tips and green giveaways, my personal favorite is www.facebook.com/SeventhGeneration.

See Also

Award-winning broadcaster and bestselling author Gillian Deacon is one of Canada’s best-known environmental advocates. She is the author of There’s Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins in Everyday Bodycare and How to Avoid Them (Penguin, 2011), and the national bestseller Green For Life (Penguin, 2008), a guide to making green living ‘the new normal’, and has been a columnist with Chatelaine magazine.

* Photo credit for family in bike helmets: Liz West on Flickr

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