When choosing materials to improve or remodel your home, try to buy eco-friendly 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.
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, do your part to help the environment by recycling. 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.
Tips for Fall Home Maintenance
- Compost is a rich, organic soil conditioner for your lawn and garden. Put raked leaves and other yard wastes in a compost bin and keep these materials out of landfills. Don't forget to add any organic materials cleaned out of your gutters, too.
- When stocking up on cold-weather gear, buy recycled-content items such as fleece clothing and blankets made from recycled soda bottles and snow shovels made from recycled plastic. Buying recycled-content products "closes the loop" and encourages companies to make more items with recycled materials.
- 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.
- Check caulking around windows and do touch ups for energy efficiency and natural resource conservation.
- Clean and properly store tools, toys and outdoor furniture to protect them from damage, allowing you to keep them longer instead of sending them to the landfill.
- When performing routine maintenance on your car, properly dispose of used motor oil, coolants, tires and batteries. Many repair facilities will accept these items and recycle them, or you can call your local solid waste management department to find auto parts recycling facilities in your area.
For more information, please visit www.www.epa.gov.