With the economy being what it is, people are less likely these days to just pick up and move homes as often as they did before. Instead they are improving the homes they're in with a few changes; some big, some small. So if you're in the home-improvement stage of your life, consider some of these environmental options before starting your next project:
This is the area I know the most about since I have recently painted several rooms in my house. I was pleasantly surprised to find the many eco-friendly options in the paint store. If you buy certain products, such as paint rollers and paintbrushes, you'll have most of the supply you need for future painting projects as well.
Paint roller covers are now made out of 100% recycled material (made from recycled water bottles) and only cost a few dollars more than the regular kind.
Paint trays are also available in an eco friendly option. They are made of 100% recycled pulp fiber, and its liner is made of recycled plastic. PLUS, they biodegrade within 6 months, rather than hundreds of years it takes for the plastic trays.
Use real drop cloths. Don't go the easy, disposable route with the plastic drop cloths. Buy real cloths available at the paint store and reuse them over and over again. Not only does this eliminate more trash in the landfill, but it will save you money in the long run.
Buy no-VOC paint. VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in paint are bad for the environment and bad for your health. These paints release gases that are toxic and are very harmful to the environment if not disposed of the proper way. Zero-VOC paints have no smell or harmful effects to your health. No-VOC paints can be poured down the drain with no harmful effects to the water system. And there is NO difference in quality of paint. The difference, as often is with environmental products, is the price. However, with coupons and sales you can actually beat the price.
This is an area I don't have any experience with, however there are many sources that can tell you more about recycled carpet. New carpet requires lots of oil to produce, and contain lots of chemical and toxins which pollute your home. Try buying recycled carpet or any other of the eco-friendly flooring options for your next project. Here's one website with more information on the subject: http://www.greenamericatoday.org/pubs/realgreen/articles/flooring.cfm
Donate your used products:
If refurbishing or improving your home by replacing things like lightswitch plates, outlet covers, air vent covers, or even things like cabinets or light fixtures, donate your old ones to Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store. This is a resale outlet by this organization that uses the proceeds to support their efforts in building Habitat homes and community work. And as an added bonus, these gently used products don't end up in the landfill and are reused. Visit http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx
to find your nearest ReStore.
Please consider these options the next time you want to spruce up your home. Less in the landfill, less virgin products, beautiful home and planet. :)