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Home Interior

Photo collage: home improvement tools; home office

You can do many things to reduce wastes at home. From home improvement projects, to your home office, learn how to make a difference.

Home Improvement

When choosing materials to improve or remodel your home, try to buy recycled products. Using recycled products helps reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Flooring, insulation, plastic lumber, woodwork, shingles, and many garden/lawn products are made from recycled materials.

If your house or apartment was built before 1978, it is likely to still have lead-based paint on walls and other surfaces. Lead in the environment is especially harmful to children and pregnant women. Before you begin any paint removal or remodeling projects, be sure to test for lead. You can hire a professional to remove it or do it yourself. If you do it yourself, spread tarps under the work area, don't work on windy days, and collect and dispose of your paint waste in a licensed sanitary landfill.

Buy carpet made from recycled drink bottles (polyethylene terephthalate fiber). This recycled-content carpet is durable, resists moisture and staining, and requires no additional chemicals for its manufacture. Visit http://www.ecoproducts.comExit EPA for more information.

Install properly insulated skylights or larger windows to allow more natural light into your home. You will help reduce the amount of energy and electricity used to light your home.

To help save landfill space, donate reusable old cabinets, doors, plumbing fixtures, and hardware to a local charity or building materials reuse center.

Contact your local household hazardous waste collection facility for instructions on safely disposing of harmful waste products and materials, such as empty aerosol paint cans, leftover paint and thinners, used solvents and paint chips, unused garden products like fertilizers and pesticides, and household chemicals.

Reuse old milk jugs, coffee cans, or other plastic containers to hold paint, cleaners, or other supplies. Be sure to label and date these containers properly, and store them safely away from children and pets.

Reuse or recycle leftover cement, gravel, and sand whenever possible. Try not to mix up more fresh concrete or cement than you can use in a day.

When your home is undergoing major landscape renovation, try to conduct grading and excavating projects when chances of rain are minimal to prevent erosion and contamination of run-off water. Cover excavated materials, dumpsters, and stockpiles of asphalt, sand, and yard clippings to prevent contaminants from getting into storm drains.

Earth Day (April 22) is a good time to start your spring cleaning. Properly maintain home appliances and keep them clean to help ensure that they will run at peak efficiency. This also saves electricity, which conserves resources and reduces global warming. Remove lint and dust from your refrigerator coil and freezer. Clean up lint around your dryer, furnace, and any vents leading to or from them. Also, change or clean the filter in your air purifier or furnace.

For spring cleaning chores, try to use durable items such as mops and reusable rags or sponges. When using household cleaning products, be sure that you only use the amount you need, and that you read and follow the manufacturer's directions for use and disposal.

Cool, dry fall days are a great time to paint both the interior and exterior of your home. Properly store any unused paint for future use, donate unused paint to neighbors or charities, or turn in your used paint to a waste collection facility for recycling.

If you have a tile roof, check it thoroughly for cracks or missing tiles, and use roofing made from recycled rubber or plastic to make repairs.

Replace old insulation with insulation made from recycled paper, glass, and other recovered materials.

Check your heat pump or furnace and change the filter or make repairs if needed. Properly maintaining your furnace will conserve fuel by keeping it running efficiently and preventing leaks.

Before rough winter weather sets in, remove screens from windows and doors and put up storm windows. Strong winds, heavy rains, and extreme cold can all damage your screens and ordinary windows, and send them to landfills before their time.

Check caulking around windows and do touch ups to conserve energy and natural resources.

When you're stuck inside on a rainy day, clean out your closet and collect the old clothes and toys for donation to a charity or your next garage sale.

Home Office

Make your printer environmentally-friendly. Change your printer settings to make double-sided pages. Use small point-sizes when possible and choose the "fast draft" option included in most word processors after you select the "print" option. "Fast draft" uses less ink, leading to fewer cartridges.

Pay your bills via e-billing programs when possible. Though there are still some paper records, these programs generate less than traditional paper correspondence.

Consider using a digital camera. They create less waste for disposal than traditional cameras because disks can be reused and undesirable pictures can be deleted.

Instead of printing hard copies of documents needed for work, save them to a disk or e-mail them to your own Web e-mail account.

Use paperclips instead of staples when possible.

Keep plenty of scrap paper handy. Use the back side of old documents for low priority prints like driving directions or movie times.

Purchase recycled paper and keep a recycle bin handy.

Reuse envelopes that have metal clasps.

Reuse file folders by sticking a new label over the old one, or folding the file in the reverse direction.

Purchase refillable tape dispensers.

Erase and reformat computer disks rather than purchasing new ones or disposing of old ones.

Use a customized rubber stamp for envelopes instead of disposable labels.

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