Looking for ways to make your home more eco-friendly, but not sure where to begin? It’s easier than you may think — we promise! Small, simple changes can add up to decrease your environmental impact significantly. Start here with our list of 8 tips to make your home healthier and greener and let us know how it works out for you!

1. Compost Your Kitchen Scraps

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of households typically throw away. If you compost those materials instead of throwing them out, you not only help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, but you can reduce costs associated with trash collection. It’s a win/win! Bonus benefit: compost will help your plants grow if you add it to your soil, making it even easier make your home and garden greener. Check out EPA’s tips on indoor and outdoor composting to get started.

2. Plant Some Plants!

Indoor plants don’t just look pretty — they boost the overall air quality in your home by filtering out common pollutants (benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene and more) that cause health issues like headaches or eye irritation. NASA published an in-depth study on the best types of plants to boost indoor air quality but for a quick, at-a-glance summary, check out this infographic by Lifehacker. [caption id="attachment_10783" align="alignnone" width="300"]Van Metre Homes Willowsford Featured greenery: the Timberneck at Willowsford, Van Metre Homes[/caption]

3. Simplify Your Recycling

The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. According to an Ipsos Public Affairs Survey, the top reason people don’t recycle is that it isn’t convenient or accessible where they live. With that in mind, set your recycling bin right next to your garbage to make it easier, and see what options your city offers for curbside recycling. Bonus tip: Check out IWantToBeRecycled.org to see what cool products your items turn into when they’re recycled!

4. Try Consignment

Speaking of recycling — it isn’t just for paper and plastics! Consignment stores accept a wide array of household items to sell back to the community and keep them out of the landfill, so you can earn a few dollars while reducing your environmental impact. Additionally, shopping consignment can decrease household costs significantly, particularly for baby clothes and furniture. Many baby items in consignment stores are new or almost-new because babies outgrow items before they actually get a chance to use them, or parents receive excess baby gear from well-meaning friends and family. To see what your local options are, check out Northern Virginia Magazine’s Guide to Thrift, Consignment, Vintage and Antique Stores.

5. Use Greener Cleaning Solutions

We touched on this a little bit last month in our blog on 5 Ways to Simplify Your Spring Cleaning but it’s worth repeating: there are numerous ways to clean your home without using harsh chemicals! Care2.com has a number of simple, straightforward recipes for creating your own non-toxic cleaning kit with everyday household ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil and liquid soap. Try them out during your next cleaning spree!

6. Switch to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Did you know that energy-efficient light bulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) typically use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents and can last 3-25 times longer? This reduces your household energy usage and, ultimately, saves you money.

7. Opt for Essential Oils

There are countless synthetic home fragrances on the market today, but before reaching for a product with potentially harmful toxins and chemicals, consider making your own air fresheners with essential oils. Just a few drops can fill your home with natural aromas that can either soothe or energize you, depending on the oil you choose. Lavender oil, for example, is thought to have a calming effect on the body and can potentially help you sleep better, while peppermint oil has an invigorating quality that can boost energy. Check out Real Simple’s Guide to Essential Oils for more information on the various benefits of oils and consider investing in a diffuser to add natural fragrances throughout your home.

8. Ditch the Paper — Enroll in Online Billing

Do you find yourself inundated with paper bills in your mailbox each month? If so, look into online billing services offered by your bank or credit union. Not only does online billing make it easier to organize, manage and pay your bills and avoid extra charges, but going paperless is a greener option that will help decrease your environmental impact and reduce unnecessary paper clutter in your home. --------- Curious to see how Van Metre Homes promotes energy conservation and green living? Check out our Green Program!