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Cool ways to be green

Just like charity, doing the right thing by the environment really starts at home. These days, it seems most people try to take at least a few steps to lighten their footprint on the planet.

Much of it is about changing your behaviour – remembering to put stuff in the recycling bin and not the rubbish, and switching off lights as you leave a room.

But there are also heaps of products that can make it a bit easier to be green. Of course, whenever you come across something with environmental claims, you need to do your research to make sure there’s not more greenwash than eco-cred attached to it.

However, here’s five ideas that I can vouch for from personal use.

Compost caddy

The one thing many people don’t like about compost is the mess it can create in the kitchen. What container do you keep the scraps in so they don’t smell? And when you empty out all the fruit skins and vegie peelings you’re often left with a manky bowl or bucket to clean.

But Maze, a Melbourne company, have a brilliant “compost caddy” which can be fitted with biodegradable bags.

It makes the whole process clean and simple. When the caddy fills up, you can just remove the compost by lifting out the bag and putting it straight in your compost bin or worm farm. No more really smelly food scrap containers to scrub out.

Some councils also allow these bags to be placed in the green waste.

$11.95 from Maze. A roll of 26 bags costs $4.92.

The caddies and bags are also sold at some hardware stores.

I really like the caddy because it is big enough to store a good few days’ worth of food scraps, and saves on cleaning. It also contains the smell of the scraps pretty easily, and fits nicely on our bench.

We have two – one for worm farm scraps, and another for citrus and onions, which don’t tend to agree with worms. We empty the onion one into our tumble compost bin, or council green waste bin.

Shower steam sensor

Do you hate the exhaust fan stealing all of your steam as soon as you get in the shower? Are you sick of people not turning on the fan and then mould growing on your ceiling?

This clever little sensor from Vapotec sits in the ceiling and turns your exhaust fan on when enough steam builds up to allow droplets to form on two little wires in the sensor.

The wires almost touch each other and the moisture creates the vital link for an electric current. This means the sensor only works when there’s enough steam being created. That gives you a few minutes to get warm in the shower before the exhaust fan kicks in.

Once the steam clears, the sensor turns the fan off.

The great thing is you don’t have to remember to turn the exhaust fan on and off – it operates automatically. And you should never get mould again, as the fan continues to operate until all the steam has cleared from the bathroom. It cost $99, plus delivery of $11.

I bought the sensor for our shower because I wanted something that only operated when it had to, hopefully saving power. After two months of use, I am very impressed.

We use it with an exhaust fan that has draught stoppers, which should help to keep the bathroom warm when the fan is not in use.

Power-off board

Leaving your TV and DVD player on standby can chew up quite a lot of power. You probably know you should turn it off at the power point but the problem for many people is reaching the switch.

Now you can do it all from the couch with a remote control power board. It has four ports, and you can turn all of them off at once, or just one. So if you are no longer using your DVD player you can turn it’s power off and keep the electricity running to the TV. I bought mine from online site Todae, for $69.95.

Parents managing the viewing habits of their kids may also find this as a handy way to be able to turn the TV off. It’s certainly been used that way at our place!

Green cleaning

Green cleaning sounds confusing, and there are plenty of companies out there making it more so by cashing in and selling a plethora of “green cleaning products”. Most of them you can do without.

For surfaces, if you’ve got a spray bottle, all you need to put in it is some vinegar and water. If you need to cut through grease, just add a bit of liquid washing up detergent to the mix. If you need something that has a nicer scent add some natural vanilla essence.

For the toilet, try flushing the toilet, then sprinkling in some clothes washing powder (go for one that has green cred). Leave it for a few minutes and then give the loo a quick scrub and a flush, and you’re done.

For floors, use very hot water and a few drops of washing up detergent.

For an air-freshener, you can try vanilla and water, or look for the Orange Power spray products in your supermarket. They are a mix of pure essential cold-pressed oils and sugar alcohol, and come in orange, lime and lemon myrtle. Costing under $5 each, they are Australian made.

Ceiling fans

With a few hot spells during summer, air-conditioner installers have been doing a roaring trade. Granted, there are times when it is just so hot you may need to flick on the air-con, but most days, you can get by with a ceiling fan.

Visit a good fan store and marvel at how beautiful some fans are, and you’re sure to find one that suits your home. If you are renting, the other option is pedestal fans, or a desk fan.

Carolyn Boyd is a property journalist and keen follower of Australia’s housing market.
Source: www.domain.com.au

Tags: advice, environment, housing, news, property

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