January brings cold weather and a winter wonderland. While everything may be cold, snowy, and white outside, now is a good time of the year to focus on greening the inside of your home. Make it a resolution to continue simple habit changes throughout the New Year to make your “home sweet home” into a “home green home” in 2022. Here are some tips to get started:
Use an electric snow blower to clear your walkways and driveways this winter. Or better yet, shovel when possible. You will get some exercise and help the environment. Of course, keep your health in mind and clear snow safely.
Reduce food waste and if your home doesn’t already compost - if possible, invest in a composting set up or service. You will not only help our environment, but you’ll also benefit by creating compost to use in your gardens. Learn how to reduce wasted food in your home.
Increase your energy efficiency by using a timer or a scheduler on your thermostat -- set the temperature lower if you’ll be gone for four or more hours. The air is dry this time of year but by air dry your clothing, you can add moisture back into the air to help humidify your home and save energy. If you’re in the market for new appliances, look for ones with Energy Star® certification.
Plant a tree. They help to lower heating and cooling costs by offering shade to your home, provide food and shelter for native wildlife, improve water quality by filtering runoff, prevent erosion, and increase overall public health and well-being. You can purchase a tree or shrub seedling through the spring seedling sale, now through May 13.
Close the recycling loop and buy recycled. Post-consumer recycled content items to look for in the grocery store include paper napkins, paper towels, toilet tissue, writing papers, greeting cards, envelopes, paperboard packaging (this includes cereal, cake, and cracker boxes), paper bags, and containers made of recycled glass, aluminum, and steel. Be sure to check the products “recycled content” information on its packaging when making your purchases.
Recycle used electronics properly -- not with your household recycling. Items such as keyboards, televisions, printers, game consoles, photocopiers, fax machines, etc. should be disposed of as e-waste at designated facilities. Read more about the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act.
Properly dispose of used oil. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, make sure to take your used oil to an authorized service or retail location for recycling at no charge. The law requires establishments that sell at least 500 gallons per year of new oil and perform vehicle servicing to accept up to five gallons of used oil per person per day. Read more about what to do with used oil.
Correctly dispose of all types of batteries. From car batteries to alkaline - make sure you dispose of batteries properly. Vehicle batteries and rechargeable batteries can leak contaminants, so it is illegal to throw these in the trash. Best for the new year - transition to rechargeable batteries and consider electronic lawn care items, and e-vehicles.
Dispose of unused prescriptions safely. This will help keep New York’s water clean by not flushing prescription drugs. DEC offers information on safe household medication disposal in addition to a map to find a nearby collection site.
Go Foam Free New York. As of January 1, 2022, disposable food containers containing expanded polystyrene foam will not be able to be used. New York state law puts certain restrictions on the use of expanded polystyrene containers. This includes certain packaging peanuts -- alternatives include using kraft papers and other reusable, recyclable, and compostable items. Learn more about going foam free.
DEC provides additional information on how to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost.