Human progress came a long way towards making our lives more comfortable and efficient, but sadly, often at the expense of nature. Take housing, for example, our civilisation has encroached into forested areas and our waste materials into water sources such as lakes and rivers. We may not be aware of this as the animals and plants are voiceless stakeholders.
With our technological advancements, humanity has set foot on the moon, but the greatest challenge may be in proving our ability to coexist with nature. Sustainable practises don't have to start from a lofty position. It may happen from your conduct in everyday life. Here are a few things you can incorporate in your house to be more eco-friendly:
1. They don’t just go away
The common cleaners that we use to clean and tidy our house pose various problems for the environment. Dish cleaners, for example, contain phosphate, and when washed down the drain, it doesn’t simply vanish.
Phosphate ends up in lakes, stimulating algae growth that deprives plants and fish of oxygen. Not only that, these chemicals may affect your health if residues are remaining on the surface of your plates.
For starters, you may substitute these harmful products with natural substances that are equally effective. For example, avoid using soaps that contain petroleum distillates, and swap them over for castile soap, which is a vegetable-based soap, free of animal fats and synthetic ingredients. This natural, non-toxic, biodegradable soap is available in bar or liquid form.
Alcohol and other forms of ethanol can be used to disinfect surfaces while cornstarch for cleaning windows. Vegetable or olive oil also make for good wood polishes. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice can be used instead of chemical sprayers, use steam cleaners to disinfect your house, as these utilise only water.
2. Green paints
Paint usually contains harmful ingredients such as heavy metal and lead. And there are often leftovers from our paint job, which ends up in landfills or rivers.
Not unlike house cleaners, we should opt for the non-toxic version, also known as green paints, which use natural ingredients. Generally, plant-based, water-borne paints are the best buy, followed by plant-based, solvent-borne ones with natural solvents.
As a bonus, green paints are either low carbon or carbon-neutral, and some can even be converted into compost. Although green paints are often sold at a premium when compared to the average paint.
3. Getting down and dirty
There’s no need to rush to the nearest furniture shop every time you need a chair or table. Your demand for wood fuels the need to down more trees. When possible, buy furniture that is labelled “recycled,” meaning that the wood is derived from previously discarded products.
If you are feeling creative, the dumpster and junkyard hold many “treasures” that the discerning individual can put to great use. Your DIY furniture is a standing testimony of your talents, and it is something you can really be proud of. It may be tough work to build your own stuff, but the exertion is good for your health. Besides, you save up on the cost.
4. Worship the sun
Attaching solar panels to your house isn’t a new trick, but it bears mentioning here as most Malaysians haven’t been sold to the idea. Western countries have implemented solar panels for a long time despite having four seasons, and we are yet to catch up, even though Malaysia gets the sun all year.
For any homeowner intending to become eco-friendly, solar panels are essential, although they don’t come cheap. However, it is a good long term investment as you save up on your electricity bills over time.