Category Archives: environmentally conscious

18 Eco-Friendly Home Projects to Complete in 2018


Do you have any home improvement projects on the radar in 2018? Why not make them eco-friendly? Eco-friendly or environmentally friendly are those products that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment. Environmentally conscious updates to your living space can save you money and help preserve the environment.

With just couple of days left for new year to set in, let’s start this new year with some easy and eco-friendly projects that have minimum impact on the environment. Here are 18 eco-conscious home improvement ideas for 2018.

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1. Start Composting

Instead of tossing organic waste into the trash, start a compost pile in your backyard. The EPA estimates nearly 25 percent of the waste dumped into landfills each year could have been composted. Additionally, composting improves soil quality and decreases erosion.

Composting also helps deter pests in your garden. You’ll save cash on pesticide costs, increase your produce yield and grow healthier, more organic food for your family.

2. Give Your Kitchen a Facelift

Are you in the market for a new kitchen? Instead of trashing your old cabinetry and drawers, try re-purposing them and changing their layout. Refinishing old cabinetry and changing out fixtures, knobs and handles is an environmentally friendly way to get a new look without breaking the bank.

3. Upgrade Your Flooring

New flooring can brighten and completely change the look of a room. Make your new choice eco-conscious by choosing linoleum over vinyl. Vinyl flooring can emit VOCs over time, which can degrade indoor air quality and lead to respiratory illnesses. Choose linoleum flooring instead. Linoleum is nontoxic and won’t leach noxious gases.

4. Repaint Your Home With No- to Low-VOC Paint

A fresh coat of paint can make any room look cleaner and more open. While color is important, so is paint quality. Choose a paint brand that won’t emit VOCs, or at the very least, emits them in low concentrations. Standard paints often release toxic VOCs, similar to vinyl flooring. You’ll improve your indoor air quality and your health.

5. Switch to Geothermal Heating

Geothermal systems use the Earth’s stable ground temperature to maintain a comfortable climate in your home. A pump sends liquid 300 feet beneath the Earth’s surface and returns it to a geothermal heater, which then distributes the temperate liquid through the flooring in your home. In the hot summer months, heat is drawn from the air and deposited back into the Earth.

On average, geothermal systems use 80 percent less energy compared to traditional heating systems. Additionally, they don’t require fossil fuels to operate. It’ll take approximately 10 years before your geothermal investment pays off.

6. Purchase Used Furniture

Consignment shops, antique stores and garage sales often offer excellent deals on high-quality, gently used furniture. Purchasing preowned furniture limits the amount of waste that may make it into landfills and usually costs less than newer options.

7. Add Larger Windows

Are you looking for a more drastic change? Add larger windows to your home or change their layout. Optimizing the natural light that enters your home can help lower your energy bill by reducing heating and lighting costs. Larger windows will also help improve air circulation throughout the year, which can help improve indoor air quality.

8. Install Solar Panels

The cost of installing a solar energy system is on the decline, thanks to technological improvements and solar energy becoming a more mainstream option. Additionally, many state governments, in addition to the federal government, offer tax incentives for homeowners interested in converting to solar energy.

Before you make the jump, have an expert or industry professional analyze your home to determine whether it’s suitable for solar panels. Factors to consider include your local climate, the slope of your roof and tree cover.

9. Reinsulate Your Home

New insulation won’t change the overall look of your home, but it will change the overall feel. Insulation degrades over time, leading to gaps in coverage. Poor insulation will allow air to escape from your home and can dramatically increase your heating and cooling costs throughout the year.

Some insulation can last up to 100 years, but leaking roofs, punctures, animals and other factors can drastically reduce this timeline. Review your home’s history and energy bills to determine if your home can benefit from new insulation.

10. Perform an Energy Audit

Hire an energy professional to perform an energy audit in your home to determine where you can make the most impact. Energy auditors review your home to see where you may be losing energy and provide recommendations on where to make the most impact. Energy auditors can help homeowners can save anywhere from 5 to 30 percent on their energy bill.

11. Invest in Energy Star Appliances

Appliances account for up to 30 percent of home energy usage. Switching the appliances in your home to those with the Energy Star label can save you money on your energy bill and help preserve the environment.

The government backs Energy Star appliances and guarantees they will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and operate more efficiently compared to non-Energy Star competitors. When shopping for replacements, check to see whether an appliance has the government-certified Energy Star label.

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12. Do a Little Spring Cleaning

Set aside time to dig through the attic, your closet and the other areas in your home where you’ve been storing unused or unwanted items. Instead of throwing things directly into the trash, donate them to a local thrift store or hold a garage sale to earn some extra cash. Repurposing unwanted items helps keep them out of landfills.

13. Greenify Your Living Space

Houseplants can help improve indoor air quality by reducing carbon dioxide and absorbing airborne toxins, including benzene and formaldehyde. Not all plants are created equal, however. Spider plants, snake plants and rubber trees are among some of the easiest plants to grow with the best indoor air quality benefits.

14. Switch to Energy-Efficient Windows

Poorly sealed or aging windows can decrease your energy efficiency dramatically. Consider investing in a more energy-efficient option to improve your home’s overall comfort and reduce your energy costs.

If new windows aren’t in your budget, try repairing or updating your existing ones. Improving the caulking around window seals, installing storm windows and adding treatments can also help reduce your overall energy consumption.

15. Install a Low-Flow Toilet

Low-flow toilets use 25 to 50 percent of the water used by conventional toilets per flush. Over one year, the average family of four can save up to 22,000 gallons of water, which translates to nearly $100 in savings on your annual water bill.

A variety of options exist depending on your budget and the type of toilet you’re looking for. Some systems recycle greywater from your sink, leading to further water conservation and even lower water bills.

16. Update Your Landscaping

Adding native plants to your yard can provide additional habitat for local wildlife and reduce your water bill. Local plants are better suited to your environment and won’t require the same amount of water or fertilizer to flourish.

Excess fertilizers can wash off plants and soil in heavy rain events and into local waterbodies. The excess chemicals are harmful to marine life and can lead to an overabundance of algae and other plants, which reduces oxygen levels in the water.

17. Invest in Rain Barrels

Rain barrels capture excess stormwater from your rooftop for future use. They are relatively inexpensive to install and provide a free source of water for use on your lawn or garden.

Additionally, rain barrels prevent excess rainwater from contributing to stormwater runoff. Water flows faster over hard surfaces and can lead to more instances of flooding.

18. Install a Rain Garden

Properly installed rain gardens act as small wetlands. They reduce excess stormwater runoff while the plants neutralize pollutants in the water. When stormwater runoff flows over hard surfaces, it picks up pollutants from oil and gas spills and fertilizers. Rain gardens prevent these contaminants from making their way into water bodies.

With a little effort, you can reduce your family’s carbon footprint and make your 2018 a little bit greener.

Image credit: pexels

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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11 Greenest Countries on Earth in 2017


The world is making advancements towards becoming green especially for environmentally conscious nations as they work hard to develop their economies. Industries have been set up, people have ventured into real estate, and governments are constantly making great milestones in the health, education, energy and transportation sectors. These developments have allowed countries to provide a better economy and life to its citizens.

However, this does not come without consequences to the environment. Global warming and environmental degradation is one of the impacts faced. The environment is thus at a risk, particularly with the increase in the number of production industries, expansion of modern transport and residential developments. Despite these environmental risks that come with development, there are countries that have worked hard to reduce them and keep their environment green. Here are 11 countries that have been termed as the greenest in 2017:

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1. Iceland

Iceland is one of the countries that takes its environment very seriously and invests in its sustainability. It has been graded as one of the greenest countries in world. Besides, it has been in the fore front in the implementation of programs that are eco-friendly. It boasts of an Environmental Performance index of 93.5.

It has placed focus on production of electricity and heat by utilizing geothermal landscapes. Iceland has also played a major role in the fight against ocean pollution. It has made sure that the waters are kept clean and fishing is done while prioritizing on protecting the environment.

2. Switzerland

Switzerland is the second most greenest country in the world in 2017 with an Environmental Protection index of 89.1. It has put into place various measures to ensure that the environment is kept clean and at the same time sustainable. The setting up of Alpine park is one of the steps it took. Additionally, the country has focused on production of resources by using renewable energy, a move that promotes a green economy.

Switzerland has over the years made laws that have allowed farmlands to develop and prevent them from being used for infrastructural expansion. These contributions by the country has allowed it to be green as the natural environment has been kept safe. Clean air, beautiful lakes and mountains have been notable features that make it prominent.

3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is popularly known for its amazing scenery and equally intriguing landscape. The green in its environment is clearly evident at first glance. It boasts an Environmental Protection Index of 86.4. The country has put stern measures to avoid both air and water pollution and hoping to achieve a carbon neutral environment by the year 2021.

The citizens of the country use renewable energy in order to avoid the production of greenhouse gases. Costa Rica hopes to be the first carbon neutral country in the world and is constantly seeking for funding to make this possible. Other than being one of the greenest countries in the world, Costa Rica is also considered to be one with the happiest people in it.

4. Sweden

Sweden is listed among the greenest countries in the world with an Environmental Protection Index of 86.0. The country plans on eradicating the use of fossil fuel by the year 2020. The move is meant to prevent environmental pollution. What’s more, they have embraced the use of renewable energy that is eco-friendly to keep the environment natural and safe from pollution.

The use of renewable energy greatly contributes to the reduction of carbon in the air thus a cleaner and safer environment. The most notable action is the partnership between Sweden and its neighboring countries, especially by taking responsibility to protect the Baltic Sea and protect the ecosystem. The environmental governance body in Sweden is amongst the most sound and this has contributed to the fact that Sweden has been kept green.

5. Norway

Norway is one of the counties in Europe that has a significantly green environment. It has an Environmental Protection Index of 81.1. The country has made sure that its residential and commercial facilities do not release any greenhouse gases to the environment. Like other countries, Norway has made sure that the whole country uses eco-friendly and renewable sources of energy so as to reduce the rate of pollution and carbon production.

Norway has put in place sustainable development strategies and environmental laws that are supposed to aid in realization of a carbon neutral country by the year 2030. Most interestingly, Norway cultivates a relationship with nature. Children from a tender age are taught on how to live together with nature and protect the environment. In addition, Norway uses ecological knowledge to keep its environment clean and safe.

6. Mauritius

Mauritius, a small island country in Africa, has played a major role in keeping its environment green. It has an Environmental Performance Index of 80.6. Mauritius being an island, has worked tirelessly to protect its ports. It has set up laws and protection acts that reduce the rate of pollution whilst promoting environmental protection.

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7. France

The contribution of Nicholas Sarkozy played a major role in making France one of the greenest countries in the world. He implemented legislations that made it mandatory for all of France to partake in making the country eco-friendly and to conserve energy. France has an Environmental Protection Index of 78.2. France has been endowed with very fertile grounds and is one of the top exporters of food. It is also makes wine thanks to the grape fields it has.

The country has less industries as compared to other countries and this has helped in the reduction of air pollution. Over the years, France has been working on deindustrialization – a move that has seen the environmental state of the country improve as water pollution has been reduced significantly. Additionally, France has vowed to change its resource usage and methods of production to conserve the environment.

8. Austria

Austria has an Environmental performance Index of 78.1. It achieves this Index by relentlessly striving to maintain the natural conditions of its environment. Among the major actions taken by Austria is putting environmental protection in its social and economic policy agenda.

Austria has also worked hard in sectors such as waste management and chemical as well as air pollution to prevent such pollutants from destroying the environment. Further, Austria has incorporated ecological knowledge in their agriculture to prevent pollution. This has been highlighted by the restriction on the use of pesticides. It has also put measures into place to protect its forest and reduce deforestation. All these have contributed to making it one of the greenest countries in the world.

9. Cuba

Cuba is not left behind among the countries ranked as the greenest in the world. This is evidenced considering its Environmental Protection Index of 78.1. Cuba has worked hard in keeping its environment green and safe by reducing the use of Pesticides on farmland since they are chemicals that negatively impact the environment.

The sea level has also been lowered to protect the soil from excessive salt that might destroy it. Environmental awareness is also taught in schools so that children can embrace it and practice it to sustain the environment.

10. Colombia

Colombia is a beautiful country that has been blessed with amazing sceneries and vegetation. Particularly, Colombia is endowed with the amazon forest, tropical rainforests and deserts. It also has thousands of species living in its ecosystem. Policies and regulations have equally been set up to protect the environment and preserve its biodiversity.

Despite the fact that they were initially accused of degrading their natural environment, they have worked tirelessly to regain the lost glory by making laws that favor the sustainability of the environment. It has an Environmental Performance Index of 76.8 and is ranked among the greenest countries in the world.

11. Finland

Finland finishes the top 11 list among the greenest countries in the world for the year 2017. In the 80’s, Finland was known for high scores of nitrogen emission and other activities that destroyed the environment. However, over the years, improvements have been noted as the country strives to restore its environment to its original state.

The body in charge of the environment in Finland has worked hard to make sure greenhouse gases are not produced and that the citizens in the country use renewable sources of energy for production. Wind power has greatly been made use of. According to Yale University’s annual Environmental Performance Index, Finland has planned to have more than half of its electricity coming from renewable sources of energy.

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)