Five Easy Steps to a Greener Life

This post was inspired by Healthy Child Healthy World's 5 Easy Steps. Here are my suggestions for 5 easy, practical and affordable steps towards a less toxic, more eco-friendly home.

Take off your shoes at the door.
Does your child spend a lot of time on the floor, maybe even licking the floor? Taking off your shoes keeps a lot of man-made toxins out of your house, off your floor, off of little kids' hands and out of kids' mouths. Removing your shoes is especially important if your home has wall-to-wall carpet. I am a slovenly housekeeper, but vigilant about shoes off at the door. I feel like the latter somewhat compensates for the former.

Open your windows.
Due to more energy-efficient construction, newer homes allow little air in or out except through the windows and doors. The EPA warns that indoor air pollution is now often a bigger problem than outdoor air pollution. Opening your window, even for just a few minutes, can drastically improve indoor air quality. Focus on opening windows in rooms where your kids spend lots of time (for example, children's bedrooms before bedtime), and after buying or using anything with a strong smell.  And skip the synthetic air freshener.

Clean with vinegar
Do you feel daunted by the thought of trying to find a green replacement for your favorite household cleaner? A very simple and cheap way to green your cleaning routine is to just use a spray bottle filled with straight or diluted vinegar. Use it to clean your kitchen table, kitchen counters, bathroom counter and toilet surfaces, mirrors and hard floors. Vinegar disinfects, deodorizes, is completely safe, and very cheap (I buy 2 gallons at a time at Costco). It has a strong smell, but after a few minutes there is no smell at all.  Vinegar also is sometimes enough to keep ants and other bugs at bay.

When you run out of something, replace it with something greener. 
This is the advice I most often give my friends who are interested in going green but feel overwhelmed by all the information and choices. When you go to the grocery store next week, try purchasing one dairy product or produce item organic, and see how you feel about it. Bookmark green consumer websites to consult when it’s time to upgrade your cleaners, personal products, furniture or appliances. Or browse a few green blogs on a regular basis so that you have the information at hand when it’s time to replace the diaper cream, laundry detergent or disposable food baggies.

Sign petitions. 
In the end, many of the toxins we are exposed to cannot be avoided through individual choices, but need to be addressed through governmental action. You may not be up for organizing a community rally or protesting on the steps of the state capitol, but you can sign an electronic petition or forward an email to your representatives. Sign up for email alerts with one or more green advocacy organizations.  When you receive an opportunity to sign an electronic petition or forward an email to your representatives, do it.   Then post it on Facebook.  With less than one minute of effort and from the comfort of your home computer, you are helping shape policy.

Additional Resources from Eco-novice

Photo credit: beggs


  1. Excellent tips.I don't like either the family to wear shoes in the house. Everyone takes them off at the door.

  2. As is the custom in so many Asian cultures! The photo in the post is from Singapore -- the comment from the photographer was that everyone leaves their shoes at the door in Singapore.

  3. These are great tips! I also commented on indoor air quality on my post too. As a wife of a home builder, I can't stress how important it is to take steps to keep your indoor air quality clean! I also (used to be) a stickler about shoes. We've moved into a temporary home with floors that need to be refinished - it doesn't seem as important with ugly floors, but you've reminded me otherwise! :-)

  4. I also just wanted to say, I lived in Japan for 2 1/2 yrs. They even took their shoes off at school! I worked in a Japanese junior high school for one year and had to bring "school" shoes to work! :-)

  5. This is such a great post!! I so totally agree with these tips!!

  6. Great tips! I'm also using vinegar to clean my house and my laundry.


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