Local Expert Advice
Local experts share their advice for more eco-friendly living at home.-By Sharael Kolberg | Illustration by Rob Donnelly
Most people know that if they want to be “greener,” they can switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, install solar panels, turn off the tap water while brushing our teeth or wash a full load of laundry. But to dig even deeper, we’ve asked local green experts to provide tips that go beyond the basics and offer alternative ways to help save the planet and put more green in your wallet.
Founding member of Transition Laguna Beach and Ecology Center board member, recommends the following ways to take it easy on the earth:
1. Catch the Rain: Collecting rainwater reduces your water use, prevents dirty urban runoff spilling into the ocean and limits the chance of flooding.
2. Unplug: Disconnect your technology and reconnect with friends and family. Save money and rekindle relationships. Even a few minutes a day is a good start.
Regional manager at Green Star Home Services, recommends looking to your appliances and home systems, such as:
3. Convert to a Tankless Water Heater: Installing a tankless or “on demand” heater can be up to 34 percent more efficient than a traditional tanked heater. A tankless water heater produces water when it is needed, rather than constantly keeping 40 – 100 gallons of water hot.
4. Install Central Water Filtration: Eliminating bottled water from your daily routine while simultaneously addressing the corrosive elements of chlorine and heavy sediment is one of the best “green” investments you can make for your home’s plumbing system, the planet and yourself. Whole house water filtration will protect your bathroom appliances and fixtures effectively reducing maintenance costs and eliminating expensive bottled water.
5. Maintain Your Appliances: Preventative routine maintenance on your home can save you thousands on costly replacement, but making sure they are running efficiently also lowers energy costs.
Head of Transition Laguna Beach’s food group, suggests not only growing your own food to negate the impact on the planet, but also the following useful tips:
6. Oh Behave: The first thing is behavior—turn off lights, compost, don’t leave the fridge open and use reusable bags.
7. Seal It: Even the thin holes around light switches and outlets can leak cold air into your home. Seal the holes with insulating pads to save energy.
8. Plant a Tree: Not only will you be increasing oxygen, but if you plant it in front of a sunny window outside your home, it will provide shade and reduce air conditioning expenses. Make it a fruit tree and you’ll have an added bonus!
President of Laguna Canyon Foundation, shares his ideas to create a planet-friendly home:
9. Floor It: Utilize rapidly renewable resources like bamboo for flooring and other built surfaces. Bamboo matures in just five or six years, compared to 50 years for many hardwoods.
10. Slay Electricity
Vampires: Unplug appliances you don’t frequently use. Some appliances suck up electricity when they are turned off and still plugged in.
11. Go Native: Incorporate native plants into your landscaping to reduce your water usage and attract local wildlife to support the native ecosystem.
Green builder and author of “Green Made Easy,” shares ideas on transitioning to a green lifestyle:
12. Sleep Soundly: Researches believe exposure to raised electromagnetic frequencies can affect good, restful sleep. Reduce exposure by using a battery-powered clock on your nightstand, retiring electric blankets and unplugging the TV and stereo at night. Also, consider non-toxic bedding like organic cotton or bamboo sheets and down pillows.
13. Reuse Water: Place a bin in your kitchen sink to catch water while washing produce, and then use that water to irrigate your garden. Even better, utilize “greywater” from your kitchen sink for your garden. Make sure to use safe biocompatible dish soaps like Doc Bronner’s or Oasis.
Community relations manager for Waste Management of Orange County, offers the following advice for reducing negative impact on the planet:
14. Enlist the Kids: Double your green efforts and get the kids involved. Teach your children simple ways they can help keep our natural resources, natural.
15. Buy Recycled: Commit to buying more post-consumer recycled products. Your consumer purchases help foster recycling markets when you buy items made from recycled materials. LBM