Turning your home into the embodiment of your green living goals is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while also seeing to the health needs of yourself and your family. For example, growing an organic vegetable garden means you can forego the chemical-laden produce offered at the store (and all of the hydrocarbons created to ship it). This move is good for the planet, good for your family, and even good for your wallet. And the truth is that your efforts will only start in the kitchen; every room in your house is probably ripe for an eco-friendly makeover. Of course, you might not think that the garage qualifies, simply because it’s not categorized as a living space. However, this room could be one of the biggest environmental offenders in your home. So here are just a few ways to green it up.
A good place to start is with hazardous materials, and there are probably a wide variety hanging around your garage, from automobile lubricants like motor oil to cans of paint and stain to pesticides and fertilizers for your yard. Although some of these items don’t necessarily offer green alternatives, there are still ways you can make them a little more eco-friendly. For one thing, you could choose paint options that feature low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These air polluters are harmful to your health and they can linger in the air for years, but even worse, they can damage the ecosystem when disposed of incorrectly. So take old paint cans in for hazardous waste disposal and go green with VOC-free options in the future.
As for pesticides and fertilizers, you can go green here, as well. Skip the chemical compounds and opt for natural pesticides like certain flowers and plants (marigolds, onions, garlic, and so on) or even predator urine sprinkled around the perimeter. Depending on the type of pests you have, you may need to use a variety of natural pesticides. And instead of keeping chemical fertilizer in the garage, think about setting up a compost heap out back to keep your garden growing.
Finally, it’s time to address the toxins and waste related to automobiles, and whether you have bottles of motor oil, dirty rags, or even an old transfer case for Grand Cherokee lying around, you should be aware that there are ways to store and dispose of them in an environmentally-friendly manner. First of all, old parts may be recycled or sold for a second life that keeps them out of the landfill. As for leftover oil (and other fluids) as well as filthy rags, you can go to your local hardware store to get eco-friendly containers to store these items until you can take them to a drop-off location (like an auto shop or gas station) that will properly dispose of them for you.
And if you’re thinking of updating an unfinished garage space, consider using great green products like organic fiber insulation, EcoRock drywall, and Eagle Mat recycled tiles (made from 100% recycled vinyl) to cover and protect your garage flooring. Also, make sure to add eco-friendly lighting options, like windows (or even skylights) to provide for energy-free natural light or CFLs for illumination that uses a third of the energy of incandescents and bulbs that last about ten times as long.