Sustainable living is more than just a trend. There are real benefits to adopting eco-friendly practices in our daily routine.  The main goals of green living is to ensure our health, peace of mind and to sustain the planet for future generations. It’s surprising to learn how much we stand to gain when we become aware of resource usage and the impact we have on our environment.

Greener living means being aware of how we improve our life by living differently and how that affects our environment. Adopting practices that are healthier for our home is essential for our long-term health, that of the planet—and its people.

Let’s look at five ways of embracing the concept of living green, makes a difference in our life:

A healthier home

Many harmful chemicals are in our homes right now? From the paint that covers the walls to the cleaning materials we use, toxins are found everywhere. Even our carpets release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air we breathe.

They can be avoided or even eliminated by choosing greener living principles. As a result, we’ll find that our indoor air quality improves and with it, our overall health. These chemicals become concentrated in the home and cause unpleasant side-effects. For example, eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and damage to the central nervous system.

We improve our health by living differently. Here are some suggestions to detox our homes:

  • Ditch the chemicals: Replacing our regular cleaning products with green alternatives. These natural solutions are a good alternative to chemicals: white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and corn starch. They work just as well and don’t cost as much as commercial cleaning solutions.
  • Replace old carpets: Newer carpets have been designed to emit lower levels of VOC’s into the atmosphere. Our best option though is to avoid carpeting altogether. Rather opt for natural wooden floors made of sustainable materials such as bamboo. Though wooden floors are an expensive investment to make; they are durable and well worth the money spent.
  • Choose eco-friendly paints and adhesives:When re-decorating, look for paints, varnishes and adhesives that are non-toxic and safe for the environment. These days green alternatives are readily available and don’t cost much more than regular products.

The air in eco-friendly homes contains fewer pollutants and toxins. People living in green homes are healthier and happier because of the air quality.

More space and less clutter

When considering for a moment what we own, like clothes, gadgets, furniture, toys. All the belongings that we’ve accumulated over the years. Is it all necessary? Could we live with less? Green living is about keeping things simple.

By adopting green living principles and eliminating the clutter from our life, we’ll have more time and room for the things that are important. Teaching our children to use or play with what they have, and they’ll grow up to value people over material things. Rather than spending money on our family, spend time with them.

Our consumer-driven lifestyles are often the reason for having things we hardly use.  We work hard to afford things we don’t need or don’t have the time to enjoy. It also means that we’re stretching the planet’s precious resources and filling landfills with things that are no longer wanted or useful.

Rather embrace the idea of living green.

We also find it easier to navigate our day-to-day life when we’re not wading through the clutter. It will be effortless to clean and maintain our homes. And as mentioned we’ll have more time for other things.

How much paper, plastic, glass and tin land up in the rubbish bin over the course of a year? Is it surprising to learn that the average South African generates 0.7kg of waste per day? In one year, over 42 billion cubic metres of waste is generated across the country. Imagine the effect this has on the environment? And it places additional strain to manage the dumping grounds.

The good news is that there are alternatives. We just need to look differently at our options. Here are some ways to cut down on waste:

  • Use cloth bags for grocery shopping.Buying plastic bags doesn’t help the environment, even when recycling them. And it costs us too. Rather make a habit of taking sturdy bags made from material and leaving them in the car. That way they’ll always be there when needed.
  • Buy foods and snacks in bulk, and then pack individual portions into reusable containers. Individually wrapped items create more waste. Buying in bulk cuts down on the amount of packaging we throw away.
  • Buy dish soap and laundry detergent in concentrated forms. We get the same amount of product once diluted, and we’ll throw away fewer containers. Be on the lookout for eco-friendly products while at it.
  • Getting our bills, statements and other mail sent via email. It’s more convenient to file and store important documents on our computers. Apart from the convenience, we’ll cut down on paper wastage at the same time.
  • Turn our food scraps and garden waste into compost.If we have a garden, we can set up a composting bin, and other alternatives, with little effort. Fertilise our plants for free and take the green living concept further by growing our own vegetables.

There are many ways to start living green. All it takes is being mindful of how we use things and not take packaging for granted. It needs resources to produce and just ends up in landfills. Be sure to recycle paper, plastic, glass and metal instead of throwing those away. Separating our waste will become a habit. When we see just how little we send to the landfill, we’ll realise the benefits and ease to recycle. Part of the habit is knowing where we take the recycling items conveniently. More and more convenient collection points are popping up.

An eco-friendly home is one that runs efficiently. We’re living green when we take into account all the ways we use resources in our homes. Small actions such as switching off the light when leaving a room, and using both sides of writing paper, all contribute to saving resources and costs.

Learning new skills

An essential part of greener living is learning new skills. For instance, making our own cleaning products? Or started a compost heap outside or with an interior compost container? Small and big projects require a little awareness and imagination.

It may be difficult when we start out, then over time we’ll find plenty of resources on the internet to get us going. We learn as we go along and keep thinking of how to do things in an eco-conscious manner. Even come up with our own unique ideas.

Whether it’s organising a lift club or investigating green flooring options, we’ll discover that there is much to learn. We’ll develop skills that will allow us to become more self-sufficient. For example, we may realise that installing a rainwater tank will give us a supply of free water. We’ll use the harvested rainwater for washing our cars and watering our gardens. Not only will this cut down on our monthly utility bill, we’ll learn how to use water wisely.

Once we know how to use resources such as water and electricity wisely, we’ll realise how much we’ll save. When we start developing green habits, we’ll see how easy it is to set up and run a green home. A little effort goes a long way, and we’ll reap many rewards.

Save money every month

Yes, some green technologies are expensive to implement. Photovoltaic solar panels, solar water heaters and underground rainwater harvesting tanks require extensive alterations to our homes. We’ll recoup our invest with the monthly savings we enjoy from these green features. That’s why purpose built eco-friendly houses are more expensive.  Over time, as utility costs rise, we save even more money on our monthly electricity and water when living in an eco-friendly home.

Even if we don’t take the concept of green living that far, we’ll still save money by making small changes. Installing low-flow shower heads and taps in the bathroom and kitchen cuts down on the water we use. Sealing the gaps in our windows and door frames stops warm air escaping in winter. It will make a significant difference to our heating costs.

Buy in bulk to cut down on the packaging that ends up in the rubbish bin over the course of a week. Walk or cycle instead of using the car.  These help us save money for other things. Swap our commercial cleaning products for homemade solutions. These small actions all contribute towards reducing our costs, health and impact on the planet. And they’re the perfect example of greener living habits anyone can adopt.

Few people realise just how much creating an eco-friendly home affects our finances. It’s easy to forget that the modern conveniences we enjoy come at a price. Green living is not about depriving ourselves of the things we enjoy. In fact, we’ll end up saving while improving our quality of life and by not paying for things that’ll only end up in the landfill.

And then invest our savings in advanced green features. What about insulating the ceiling? With recycled insulation material, of course. That helps reduce our energy costs even further, saving more money.

Become aware of the monetary benefits of green living. It’s easy to implement a few small changes and see a return almost immediately. And realising why eco-friendly houses are the way of the future.

To experience the benefits of green living, start right away. Think about the way you live now and what ideas you can implement today. There’s no reason to wait before you make the change to a more sustainable mindset. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll understand that green living is a lot of fun. You’ll save money, learn new skills and streamline your life for the better.