Green Eyes On: Greening Any Home

A few years ago, my husband and I were looking to move. We strongly considered buying some land far from the city and erecting some cool modern eco-home. When I was a kid my parents, inspired by a drive and commitment to live off of the Earth as much as possible, moved us from our home in the city of Ann Arbor to a house we built in the woods about 20 to 30 minutes outside of town. We had solar panels (that never really worked), compost piles, huge organic gardens and we kept warm via passive-solar heat and a wood stove. I had something like this in mind (with a much more clean-lined modern look and feel) as Ryan and I sketched ideas out for what our country eco-home would look like. In the end, though, we decided that we are social creatures (Ryan has more friends than anyone I know) and that we subscribe to the city-living = green/efficient-living theory too much to live in the country just yet. So instead we decided to recycle a home. We bought a nearly 90-year-old tired but sturdy colonial house and we breathed new life into it. It's not perfect. Not in the decorator sense or the uber-eco sense, but I have small gardens, compost bins, natural elements, and energy savings devices throughout. (You'll be able to see some pictures in the April issue of Woman's Day magazine.)

The thing that gets people excited and that is important for people to hear is that no matter what type of home you live in — old or new, city or country, modern or traditional — there are things you can do to give it green validity. You've heard the obvious ones a thousand times over: Switch out a light bulb for a CFL, take shorter showers (or shower with a partner hey, it's eco!), skip the pre-rinse, recycle, get organic cotton sheets, and the list goes on. I encourage all of these or any of them. There are at least a hundred things that you could do today to make your home more energy efficient and healthier for yourself and your family (or your cat, for that matter). The point is not to try to do them all at once but to start somewhere. Slowly begin the process of detoxifying your home.

In the coming weeks you'll be able to learn a bit more about this and get some tips on how you can make it work in your house on PlanetGreen.com.

That makes me think of Tim Gunn's famous saying on Project Runway, "Make it work!" Same thing goes for your house. I don't care where you live or how you live. Honestly, I don't. But I do care if you take the time to "make it work." Make it green, make it healthy, make it efficient, make it work.

Inspired to "make it happen" yourself? Check out PlanetGreen.com's latest multimedia feature, Detox Your Home. Written by the experts at TreeHugger and PlanetGreen.com, and featuring video tips from Sara Snow, we take you on a room-by-room tour that can help turn any place into an eco-haven in no time—whether you live in a 100-year-old palace, a tiny urban apartment, or anything in between.

Sara Snow is Planet Green's green lifestyle expert. Her column Green Eyes On appears every other week.

Tags: Architecture | Buildings | Green Building | Sara Snow

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