10 simple ways to make your small space more eco-friendly
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Wildfires ravaged Australia, burning 5.3million hectares of NSW alone, during 2019/2020 summer. In 2019, there were over 7000 wildfires in California. Climate-related disasters have risen by 300% in the last 30 years and 20 million people have to leave their homes per year due to climate-related disasters. If that doesn’t grab your attention that we need to be kinder to our planet, this probably isn’t the article for you.
We are all allowed to have our own opinions, but we are also responsible for our decisions and actions. By reducing our carbon footprint and being kinder to the environment, we are doing our part as global citizens to reduce our own impact of climate change. In this article, I will share 10 eco-friendly ideas for the home that can be implemented easily, even in a small space.
Reduce your waste by setting up a system
If you’re not recycling … what are you doing?! One of the easiest eco-friendly ideas for home is to have a separation system set up in multiple areas of your home. In each area where there is a waste bin, make sure there is also a recycling bin. Be honest with yourself – you’re not going to go through the bin and pull out all the recyclable containers before you tie up the bag and take out the trash. In your kitchen, also makes sure there is a bin for organics – all those food scraps from meal prep, the last bits of food from plates that won’t be saved as leftovers, make sure it all goes in the organics.
Have a bin for things that can be recycled but can’t go in your local collection bins. Items such as scrap metal, electronics, soft plastics. These items can be collected up over longer periods of time and taken to a waste facility in one go for separation. I absolutely love the cleverness, convenience and how little space this waste sorting tower takes up.
Once you set up a system, I am confident you will be shocked at how little actual garbage you use and how much recycling and organics trash you have.
Light it up
Got a burnt-out lightbulb? Think twice before you replace it. I don’t mean don’t replace it but think about what you replace it with. An ecofriendly idea for home that can also bring savings to your electricity bill is to swap out your regular bulbs for LED bulbs. These burn just as bright and come in a variety of shades (daylight, cool, warm, etc), but use less electricity. The burn time on them is typically much longer than standard bulbs, so you’ll be replacing bulbs less frequently. Win-win!
Hey! Turn off the lights!
When you leave a room, do you shut the lights off? It’s an eco-friendly idea for home that has become a habit for me now. Just like flushing the toilet when I’m done with it, when I’m done in a room, I flick the lights off as I’m leaving. I don’t even think about it anymore. Mentally it says, “I don’t need this space anymore”, and electrically it says, “here’s some money off your monthly electricity bill”.
It’s laundry day!
At the end of the day, do you put your clothes back in your closet? Or do you put them in the laundry basket? I’m here to dispel a myth: Just because you wear something doesn’t mean it’s dirty. I mean, if it’s stinky or dirty, yes. But clothes can be worn multiple times before washing. An eco-friendly idea for home we can all do is to do less laundry. By not washing your clothes as much, you will not only extend the life of your clothes, but you will also save water and electricity from needlessly doing laundry.
I said Brrrrr it’s cold in here …
Bring it On reference aside, another eco-friendly idea for home is another laundry tip. Cold water. Clothes get just as clean in cold water, and it’s better on your clothes too. Swap your warm or hot water temp over to cold and see your clothes keep their color longer. You’ll use less electricity heating the water needlessly. Some detergents are specifically made for cold water now too. Easy peasy.
One of my favorite small space laundry hacks is using these laundry detergent sheets. They take up almost no space, are good for the environment, and do a great job getting your clothes clean!
How’s it hangin’?
Since we’re on a roll with laundry hacks, another eco-friendly idea for home is to hang dry your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. Like with cold water, not rotating your items in a hot metal drum will extend the life of the fibres, keep the color in-tact and not shrink your clothes. You extend the life of your close and use significantly less electricity.
One of my favorite eco-friendly ideas for home that isn’t as common is to suggest a capsule wardrobe. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s ok, you can read my article Everything you need to know about Capsule Wardrobes. The idea is that you have a limited number of items that are seasonally selected, with a base color, neutral essentials and then some pops of color and pattern to spice things up. All your clothes match and create outfits, which maximizes the number of possible outfits, with a limited number of items. It also means you have more investment pieces and less fast fashion in your wardrobe.
Intrigued? You can either follow a set program of how to make a capsule wardrobe like Project 333 or 10 x 10 Challenge or you can simply make your own. Download my Capsule Wardrobe Checklist to get started now!
Put it on, don’t turn it up
When things get chilly, add a layer. Put on a sweater or even a beanie to warm up instead of turning up the heat in your house. Although a small space can heat up quickly, by reducing the electricity you use, you’ll also reduce your monthly bill. I’ve found that wearing thinner my puffy jacket when I’m chilly inside keeps me warm but is also really light and not bulky like sweaters can get. Merino wool layers keep you warm in winter but also are great at regulating heat in summer.
Close the curtains
I don’t know about where you live, but in winter in Canada, even the thickest windows feel cool to the touch. Windows are a major source of heat loss, especially in a small space. If you’re lucky enough to have lots of big windows letting lots of bright light in, you’re also potentially losing a lot of heat. An eco-friendly idea for home is to draw the curtains shut to act as a barrier for heat loss. On hot days, having the curtains closed will also keep your space cooler.
You want me to compost WHAT?!
My last eco-friendly idea for home may not be for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me until I moved into my van. And even then, I was pretty nervous about it. But once I started using it, I realized it was no big deal. I’m talking about composting toilets. You heard me right. This is a dry toilet that doesn’t require any plumbing, and in some cases, no electricity either. I chose Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, which is like the cream of the crop. This version requires a small bit of electricity for an exhaust fan from the solids compartment. So how does it work? I’m so glad you asked.
A composting toilet as an eco-friendly idea for home does take a bit of work and a bit of getting used to. It is separated into two sections: solids and liquids. The liquids are diverted into a jug (2 gallons in the Nature’s Head model, which is one of the larger sized systems), and the solids go into a separate section which is filled with an organic material such as peat moss or coconut coir to aid in composting. There is also a mechanism in the solids section which you use to churn the organic material and solid waste.
The beauty of this separation is that when the two mix, that is when you get smell. Having them separated (and in sealed containers), doesn’t let off any odours in your space – trust me, I live in 72 sq ft. If there was any hint of odour, a composting toilet would not be in my very small space.
But isn’t it gross?
Cleaning a composting toilet is relatively easy, albeit an odd exercise to get in the habit of doing. The liquids jug will fill up faster than the solids, so every 4-5 days you’ll probably have to empty that by finding a toilet, pouring it in and flushing it. The solids section can probably be emptied every 3-4+ weeks depending on usage. It’s as simple as fitting a garbage bag over the section, dumping it in, re-filling the area with your organic material and putting the seat back on. You can just toss the bag of waste in the bin. It’s odd, but it’s actually not that gross and only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. Honestly.
Implementing eco-friendly ideas into your home
As you can see, here are just 10 eco-friendly ideas for home which can easily and painlessly be implemented in a home of any size, to reduce our carbon footprint and help our planet breathe a little easier.