Although eco-friendly houses that are already built by developers are hard to come by in Malaysia, there are still ways to implement energy saving and eco-friendly methods in the home.
What are the benefits of doing so? Well, not only are you lowering your carbon footprint, you’re also improving the air quality in your home, lowering your electricity and water bill, and saving yourself money.
Here are 8 tips to begin an eco-friendly environment in your home.
1. Use non-toxic home cleaning solutions
Toxic store-bought cleaning solutions contain tons of chemicals that contribute to indoor air pollution and can cause respiratory illness and trigger allergies in some people. Plus, they are extremely dangerous if ingested. It’s advisable to avoid using them, especially if you have kids in the home. Believe it or not, there are several natural ways to clean the home that work just as well than chemical cleaning solutions. It’s also a cheaper option!
One easy way to make your own multi-purpose non-toxic cleaning spray by combining ½ cup of white vinegar/lemon, 2 tablespoon of baking soda in a spray bottle, and few drops of scented oil in a spray bottle, then add enough water to fill the bottle.
2. Reduce energy usage
We know that the weather in Malaysia can be really hot and humid sometimes, and we feel like we can’t live without the air-conditioning. Here are some easy ways to cut down on your energy usage.
- Utilize a timer for your AC unit so it’s not running all the time.
- Make sure all lights, fans, TVs and other electrical appliances are turned off when no one is in the room.
- Open up the windows, switch on the fan and enjoy the breeze instead of using the AC all the time.
- Use LED bulbs instead of incandescent. Although they are more pricey, they save you money in the long run as they use less energy.
- Cut down excessive use of heating appliances such as irons and dryers.
Besides that, enjoying a candlelight dinner every once in a while could be fun too!
(Read: How To Reduce Electricity Bill)
3. Add greenery to the home
Indoor air pollution is a big deal and it is frightening that most of us didn’t even notice that it is happening inside our house. Stop using aerosol spray and not smoking inside the house are some of the first steps to improve the indoor air quality.
Add some indoor plants inside the house that could further help in reducing the toxic level in the air. English ivy, spider plant and aloe vera would be some of the best options for this purpose.
4. Use low VOC / non-lead paint
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are some of the toxic chemicals that can be found in paints. The VOCs are unstable substances that contain a high level of carbon. The molecules of the VOC will vaporise into the thin air that we breathe in and affect our health with symptoms like asthma, headache and watery eyes to name a few.
Paint with lead content is even worst! Constant exposure and consumption of lead to toddlers may cause developmental delays, learning difficulties, loss of appetite and many other negative health implications. As for the adults, long-term exposure to lead may cause high blood pressure, headaches and damage to internal organs as well.
Therefore, if you’re unsure of the paint quality in your home, you should hire a professional painter to give your home a fresh coat of non-toxic paint as soon as possible.
5. Invest in energy-efficient home appliances
Energy efficient appliances can help you save the environment and make your wallet a little lighter. But not all of us really understand how it works. Energy efficient product means that the machine will produce the same outcome by using less amount of energy. So when the appliances in your house use less amount of energy, the amount of carbon emission to the environment will be lesser too!
So when you want to purchase new electrical appliances, remember to look at The Energy Efficiency Label. According to the Energy Commission, it is compulsory for all electrical product to display this label before it can be sold to customers. Remember to see how many stars the label has. More stars mean more energy saving!
6. Recycle and reuse
Remember those mason jars that you get as wedding favours, leftover glass bottles from parties, and the A4 paper that you’ve printed on wrongly? Don’t throw them away just yet! There are so many things that you can do with old mason jars and bottles. Wash them thoroughly and can be a perfect container to keep different type of spices in your pantry, or decorate them to make your own pretty DIY vases. The printed A4 paper can be reused for arts and craft activities with your little one and as scrap papers for you to write notes and shopping lists.
As for your household waste, remember to sort them out into separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, can and everything else. If you don’t fancy having five bins, just a few big rectangle basket and put two plastic bags side by side. Use a different colour plastic bags for each type of waste to make the sorting process much easier for everyone.
7. Start rainwater harvesting to reduce water usage
Rainwater harvesting was the norm for our ancestors for a very long time. But as our lifestyle became modernised and we had access to clean water, we disregarded the benefit that we will get from such a simple routine. So the next time it rains, bring out the pails and start collecting the rainwater. If you are concerned about the pH level or cleanliness of the water, just use it to wash the car or bicycle, water the plants, wash the driveway or other purposes that don’t involve cooking or drinking. Remember to keep the water enclosed or use immediately to prevent mosquito breeding.
8. Stop using toxic bug spray/pesticides
Cockroaches, ants, spiders…they’re always lurking somewhere in the home. How did you get rid of them? Using toxic pesticides and aerosol sprays like Fumakilla and Ridsect? If these are your solutions to get rid of the culprits, stop using them now! There are a lot of natural remedies that will do the job, using ingredients like apple cider vinegar, lemongrass, ground coffee, and peppercorns to repel these insects and keep them at bay.
For more dangerous and difficult pests like rats, termites and bees, it is best to get consultation and periodical treatment from a professional pest control company.