The gang over at Martha Stewart’s healthy living title, Body + Soul, were kind of enough to give me — and now you — a sneak peek at an upcoming feature from the mag called “50 Tips for a Greener, Cleaner Home.” It’s an awesomely comprehensive list filled with practical advice, great green products for the home, and even some words of wisdom from Ms. Martha herself.
The article is part of the March 2010 issue of Body + Soul that hits newsstands on Monday, Feb. 15. To tide you over until then, here are 20 of the 50 tips. Which tips have you recently (or months/years ago) scratched off your green home checklist, and which ones do you plan to tackle next?
1. AVOID BPA
Some studies link the plasticizer to cancer and other health issues. Use cooking tools made from safe plastics — usually labeled #2, #4, or #5. (Bonus if recycled!) Try Preserve mixing bowls, $25 for 3; preserveproducts.com
2. CUT BACK ON YOUR PAPER-TOWEL HABIT
Washable viscose cloths are far more absorbent than paper; they can soak up 10 times their weight in liquid. Try Super Amazing kitchen cloths, $4 for 2; traderjoes.com
3. TOSS YOUR TEFLON
Nonstick ceramic is a healthier choice — and chicken breasts still lift right off. Try Cuisinart GreenGourmet cookware, $275 for 4 pieces; vivaterra.com
4. KEEP YOUR FREEZER FULL
“Use bags of ice to fill the voids, and your freezer won’t have to use as much energy to stay cold.” — Martha Stewart
5. USE CLOTH NAPKINS
If everyone in the United States replaced just one package of paper napkins with cloth, we’d save 1 million trees. Try Natsumi napkins, $30 for 2; natsumi.bigcartel.com
6. DRINK FROM RECYCLED GLASS
These take 50 percent less energy to produce than virgin glass. Try tumblers made from old wine bottle bottoms from The Green Glass Co., $38 for 4; greenglass.com
7. BE COUNTER-INTUITIVE
If you’re replacing countertops, consider recycled glass over quarried stone. From $110 per sq. foot (installed); vetrazzo.com
8. GIVE UP YOUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL
If you aren’t composting food scraps, Kate Heyhoe, author of Cooking Green, says it’s better to throw them in the trash than to grind them in the disposal. Food sent down the drain often winds up in the landfill after the sewage treatment plant, so save the electricity — and 2,000 gallons of water per year.
9. TWEAK YOUR TOILET
“If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, place a half-gallon jug filled with water in the tank. Simply displacing the water could save a family more than 4,000 gallons a year.” — Thomas Kostigen, author of The Green Blue Book
10. FILE DIGITALLY
Save trees (and your sanity) by keeping important records electronically: Just make sure they’re backed up on a hard drive. If there are some files you simply must print out, conserve paper by using both sides.
11. GET SMART ABOUT ELECTRICITY
You probably already know you can save energy by plugging chargers and other “vampire” electronics into a power strip with an on/off switch. But how often do you remember to flip that switch? Mindy Pennybacker, author of Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth through Simple, Everyday Choices
and editor of Greenerpenny.com, recommends buying a Smart Strip (about $30 amazon.com
) that turns itself off when it senses that appliances are idle.
12. DRAW THE CURTAINS
The average person can save 25 percent on heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer just by using the added insulation of window shades.” –Thomas Kostigen
13. GO BIODEGRADABLE
EcoGen’s unique bath accessories are made from a polymer called PHBV that can completely decompose in six to nine months. From $6; containerstore.com
14. BUY JUST ONE CALENDAR. FOREVER.
Instead of going through a page per month, try a perpetual calendar. The future includes a combination of paper inserts that will work for any year. Pieter Woudt for Kikkerland, $32; amazon.com
15. LOSE YOUR SHOES
Wiping your feet on a doormat before you step inside is good, but removing your sneakers altogether is even better. “So many studies show that we bring dangerous pesticides and chemicals into our homes on our feet,” says Sarah Beatty, founder and president of the Green Depot. “Taking off your shoes is one of the simplest and most important things anyone can do.”
16. USE A PUSH-MOWER
No fuel, no emissions, no blaring roar — and today’s models are way better than Grandpa’s. Try RazorCut 38, $249; ecomowers.com
17. PULL UP A (RECYCLED) SEAT
Pottery Barn’s new lightweight desk chair is both stunning and made of 100 percent aluminum, $299; potterybarn.com
18. AIR DRY
“As often as possible, hang your laundry on a line outside or a rack inside, instead of using a dryer. You’ll save 4.4 pounds of carbon per load.” –Mindy Pennybacker
19. CARPET WISELY
FLOR’S 19.7-inch tiles are recyclable and easy to replace if badly stained. Martha Stewart Floor Designs, from $13 each; flor.com
20. HIT THE WALL
Conventional wallpaper often contains PVC; Chrysalis Wall Flats, made from renewable bamboo pulp, don’t. They’re paintable and stick with adhesive, $86 for 10 18-inch tiles; inhabitliving.com