We all know how important it is to establish a natural harmony between the resources we use and the earth’s resources. It’s become even more important given recently released studies and more and more contrarians admitting they were wrong.
Over time, going green has become something of a fad, which isn’t so bad if it gets people to break their environmentally destructive habits like excessive waste production, high chemical use and generally unsustainable activities.
Now that “green” is marketable, many companies have jumped on the bandwagon, offering products that claim to be environmentally safe.
Of course, not all of them live up to the hype and are the same product with maybe a little dye and a swooshing font on the label to convey a sense of “naturalness”. Some of these products are the real deal, and others are just trying to cash in on the fad; if you want to support real change you’ll have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
Here are some products that offer real change. For ease of use, I’ve ordered them by price bracket, since we all know it’s not easy – or cheap – being green.
Vinegar Price Range – $1 – $5
Before anyone even comes over for the holidays, you have to give the house a scrub down–and this process offers an existential cirsis in and of itself. Most cleaning products on the market are POISONOUS. Who hasn’t found themselves torn, standing in the grocery store aisle and debating between buying a bottle of Drano (TOXIC!) and calling a plumber into snake the drain(EXPENSIVE!)?
But not every decision has to be so extreme. There are a number of green cleaning products that advertise their low chemical content and point to the green dye in the liquid as a testimony to how environmentally safe any given product is. Many products advertised as green are only so in name, but there is one all-natural cleaning agent that clobbers preconceptions about “green” cleaning. Vinegar!
The best cleaning agent you can use with regard to the earth is vinegar. You want a chemical-free, low acidity cleaner that works on carpets, bathrooms and every other surface. Vinegar is a low-cost, highly effective substance. When combined with lemon and/or baking soda the combination makes germs tremble.
Dyson Vacuums Price Range – $100 – $400
A vacuum cleaner? Really? Really.
First of all, if a product is yelling about how green and how environmentally safe it is, I become a little suspect. The good thing about a high quality vacuum cleaner is that it effectively gathers and disposes of real waste, by which I mean things you can’t recycle; the wad of dust and cat hair that comes out of most vacuums is not going to be repurposed into a winter coat.
A good vacuum that uses little energy, is made with the least amount of materials, functions well in its task and lasts long enough to warrant not buying another vacuum (made of more materials, using more electricity, etc.) is, in my opinion, a very “green” decision, and a label is not necessary to communicate that.
Energy – Price Range – $750 – $3000
How does heating your house for less than $1/day during the winter sound?
Geothermal energy is an intensely beneficial way to conserve energy and utilize the planet’s energy to heat and cool your home. What is geothermal energy, you ask? Popular Mechanics has the scoop:
The geothermal principle works about as well for air conditioning. Instead of an outdoor compressor laboring against the heat of the day having to use hot air as its heat-shedding medium, a ground-source heat pump operates indoors, using ground temperature as its starting point. The result is a 20 percent to 40 percent savings over conventional heat pumps and air conditioners.
The up front cost may certainly carry with it some sticker shock but the ultimate benefits far outweigh the expenses. General ROI includes lower energy bills for life (or as long as the system holds up), and less energy used that is not naturally derived. Curious about how it works? Don Otto of DPO Construction has an easy-to-understand explanation here. In short: In a geothermal system, water-filled tubes buried in the ground pick up the ground’s heat — about 50° to 55° year round — and circulate that water to the heat pump.
Many people want to claim a green lifestyle, but few are willing to step to the plate and walk the walk. Invest in these simple solutions based on your tax bracket and live the squeaky clean life.
Thomas Stone, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys classical music, leaving the environment in a better condition and loves Greek yogurt.