Skip to main content

5 ideas to make your home more eco-friendly

Eco-friendly and sustainable home design has been a major trend in the design industry over the last several years. However, Gay Browne, personal environmental health advisor and founder of Greentopia, points out that creating an eco-friendly home is more important now than ever before, due to the fact that many of us now working from home. “Doing things that support the health of the individuals and pets living there is paramount,” she explains.

Here are five easy ways you can make your home more eco-friendly, which will not only help promote your own health, but that of the environment, as well.

eco friendly home
Galina Zhigalova/Shutterstock

An eco-friendly home is germ-free

Browne suggests starting out by taking a cue from the Japanese. “Removing your shoes when you walk in the door is one of the best ways to begin this process,” she maintains. “The Japanese have a cultural tradition of doing this to avoid getting the floors dirty, but with the addition of COVID, it’s more important than ever, as viruses and bacteria live on the bottom of your shoe.” You can also keep germs outside of the home by maintaining a set of clothes designated for indoors. “Under the current health restrictions, if I’m not going out again that day, I like to change into ‘cozy clothes’ and hang up my ‘outside wear’ to air out or put them in the antibacterial cycle in the dryer to shake off any other bacteria that may be nesting in my garments,” she says.

Recommended Videos

An eco-friendly home is toxin-free

Browne urges keeping your home toxin-free. “As much as possible, look at all your purchases — whether it is food, furniture, clothing, cleaning products, paint, personal care products– to see how they are made,” she says. “While it is not possible to be 100% organic, if you can’t understand the ingredient on the label, it’s probably not good for you.” She explains that nonorganic products can have SVOCs (semivolatile organic compounds). “These VOCs or SVOCs can be a mild irritant to your eyes, nose, and throat, or prolonged-term exposure can damage your central nervous system or even worse, cause cancer,” she notes.

Additionally, there are perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOAs) lurking in your kitchen, “in Teflon cooking pans and other endocrine disruptors found in plasticware.” Finally, when using a microwave, she strongly urges heating up food in a glass container or other microwave-proof dishes, “just not plastic, as it will leach plastic into the food or liquid that you are heating.”

An eco-friendly home has clean air and water

Keeping your air and water pure is a must if you hope to maintain an eco-friendly home, says Browne. “Since reports say that 70% of toxins we are exposed to come from the home, beyond the toxins you can control by choosing healthy products, be alert to the invisible ones like radon, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, asbestos, and secondhand smoke,” she explains.

One way to do this is by getting a portable air filter to move around the house. “The most important room to have clean air is the bedroom because we are there six to eight hours a day and children even longer, and opening windows with pollutants in the air won’t help. Polluted air has been linked to lower IQ and asthma, so clean air is crucially important for children,” she points out. “Air-filtration systems with HEPA filters are the best defense for keeping your air healthy.” If you aren’t sure how clean your air is, you can invest in a radon and air-quality monitor, such as Airthings Wave Plus.

If you aren’t sure of the health of your water, take a sample to a local testing service, such as Water Keeper Alliance. “Whether or not your water is as clean as you think it should be, there will always be invisible chemicals in your water, as current public water systems are not capable of screen out every toxin, so best to get a water-filtration system that works for you,” Browne urges. There are three options: Those that are installed at the entrance of the house where the water pipe comes in; at the kitchen sink (usually under the sink); and the portable one that you fill up and set on the counter. However, whatever water-filtration system you choose, get one with a carbon filter and make sure to change it once a year or sometimes more if they get overly used.

PUR Stainless Steel Faucet Mount Water Filtration System

An eco-friendly home is a smart home

Installing smart home devices in your home can make it more efficient — and more eco-friendly. For example, a Nest Learning Thermostat literally learns your behavior and adjusts your heating accordingly, saving energy and money simultaneously. Los Angeles interior designer Gavin Brodin of Brodin Design Build suggests a variety of smart solutions — including adding solar panels, swapping out your light bulbs for LEDs (low-energy bulbs), and installing solar shades on windows, “so less hot air comes through,” eliminating the need to blast the AC all day.

smart home
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nest Learning Thermostat

An eco-friendly home creates less waste

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017 was 267.8 million tons — or 4.51 pounds per person per day. Therefore, reducing the amount of waste is crucial if you want to consider your home eco-friendly, Brodin points out. An easy way to do this is by eliminating or minimizing paper waste and replacing them with reusable textiles. For example, Brodin suggests using less paper towels by investing in durable kitchen towels that can be tossed in the wash. Same goes for napkins.

Zeppoli Classic Kitchen Towels, 15-Pack

Editors' Recommendations

Leah Groth
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Can you paint vinyl siding? Yes – here’s your how-to guide
Refresh your home's exterior without a renovation
Guy on ladder painting exterior of house

Vinyl siding is a popular choice for homeowners because of its durability and low maintenance. However, over time, you may find that you want to refresh its appearance with a new coat of paint. But can you paint vinyl siding? The short answer is yes, you can. Let's explore the process of painting vinyl siding, from preparation to application, to help you achieve professional-looking results and boost your home's curb appeal.
Is painting vinyl siding a good idea?

Before diving into the painting process, you'll want to consider whether painting your vinyl siding is a good idea. While vinyl siding is designed to withstand the elements and maintain its color for many years, it can fade or become discolored over time. Painting your siding not only gives it a fresh new look but also provides an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Tools needed to paint vinyl siding

Read more
10 most popular home styles: Everything you need to know
Home design is ever evolving, which means there are dozens of home styles. Here are a few
Gray-blue house exterior

Domestic architecture has evolved over time, with several unique housing styles coming and going as trends change among homeowners. From Cape Cod homes to the resurgence of cottage aesthetics, exterior home design has influenced society and interior design and is often a reflection of history.

If you’re curious about the various home styles in the U.S., then here, we're going to discuss 10 wonderful and popular designs so you can have everything you need to know.
Craftsman home

Read more
The easiest way to get sticker residue off new bowls, plates, furniture, and more
Don't let that price tag's goo ruin your new purchase
Plate and mug with sticky residue

Getting newly purchased items is always a thrill. But, from dinner plates to furniture pieces, the worst part of buying new home items is peeling off the price tag and stickers. The super-strong adhesive often leaves behind an annoyingly gooey residue that can be difficult to remove. No matter how much you scrape or peel, there always seems to be a little gunk left behind.

Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to get off the sticky residue by hand — there’s a better way! There are lots of tried-and-true methods for how to remove sticker residue, all of which use products you likely already have at home.
How to remove sticker residue from most materials

Read more