This summer is a great time for home improvement projects. Since going green is more than just a trend, but a lifestyle, it's best to focus on minimizing the footprints in your home. The carbon kind, that is.
One of the easiest ways is to ditch lighting that drains energy and opt for compact fluorescent bulbs, called CFLs, or light emitting diodes, called LEDs. By literally changing a light bulb, you can significantly reduce energy usage in your home and lower your utility bill because the new bulbs use a lower wattage to produce the same amount of light, and they emit less heat and use less electricity.
Embrace all things organic and natural, whether in fabrics, carpeting, flooring or countertops. Opt for durable, strong materials that will last, so that the cost of ownership pays off in the short or long run. Consider slate if you live in the northeast, to mimimize the cost of transporting, for instance. Vermont slate is one of the most beautiful countertops available, in my oh-so humble opinion. (View a slideshow of Vermont slate images.)
Another option is soapstone. It's durable and beautiful either in its natural state or freshly oiled to a black gloss. Not familiar with soapstone? You've probably used it without realizing. Think back to the chemistry labs in high school and college. Remember those sturdy, thick black countertops with veins of white? Those were soapstone.
A simple way to go green is to shop in your own home. Scour your attic for old furniture that hasn't seen the light of day in a few years. Sand, repaint and repurpose and you have the ultimate in recycled materials — your own reclaimed dresser or chair. Make sure, of course, that you use low- or no-VOC paint so that you minimize the pollutants in your indoor air.
It's also a great way to find old decorative objects that can be repainted and reused in a way that they look new. Do you have a stack of old mismatched picture frames? Buy some metallic spray paint and spray them all the same shade, then hang the various-sized frames on the wall for your own instant gallery. This look is charming with or without pictures in the frames.
Did your search turn up an array of vases or candlesticks? White is a great color for summer decorating. Spray paint all of the vases the same shade of white, and then cluster them on a tabletop or mantle. Add a few stripped branches from your yard, and you have a great new décor feature in your home.
Use your imagination and you can come up with a range of green ideas for your home that will help you and your family reduce your carbon footprint. As my mom always says, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."
Read more about going green at home.
Vermont slate photos courtesy of Vermont Structural Slate Co.