Tips: Maintain Your Home and the Environment

  • 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.com 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.
  • When working around the house, use reusable rags and wipes instead of disposable products. 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.

"Greenscape" Your Landscape

In June, many people some kind of landscaping around their property. The environmental impacts of landscaping lawn and property can be reduced by grasscycling, mulching, and composting. Properly managing yard waste enhances the environment and saves the property owner money. EPA's GreenScapes program can show professional and amateur landscapers how. GreenScapes provides cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions for large-scale landscaping projects. The site also has some advice for homeowners.

The GreenScapes Web site can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/green.

Tips from EPA.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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