Sustainability Commissioner Beth Stegora stands outside her home with her children.
The idea of making your home eco-friendly can seem like a huge undertaking and feel overwhelming.
“Anyone can start with the small things and over time they can take on bigger projects to build a green, energy-efficient home,” Sustainability Commissioner Beth Stegora said.
When you create a sustainable home, you improve the environment and lower the cost of running your home. How did the Stegora household do it?
Reuse water with rain barrels. Stegora uses the water collected in their six rain barrels for watering fruits and vegetables grown on their property.
Compost your organics and recycling. Food scraps and other materials are collected and turned into compost. Composting helps enrich your soil and reduce methane emissions from landfills.
“We have two compost bins for our garden and participate in the City’s organics program with excitement,” Stegora said. “The organics program is so easy, and we really enjoyed using the compost given out at the City’s garden tool swap.”
Use smart mowing practices. “We use a spinning blade, no-fuel, no-electricity mower,” Stegora said. “And we don’t mow our lawn if it is not going to rain. Therefore, we don’t use water for grass.”
Add solar panels. Solar is the cleaner and more sustainable alternative power source. Solar panels reduce the negative effects of climate change, because they don’t produce greenhouse gases.
“By installing solar panels, we have become energy independent,” Stegora said. “We can power our house and our electric vehicle. And we are involved in the solar perks program and sell back the extra energy.”
Minimize your carbon output. “We decreased our product purchases,” Stegora said. “We shop at thrift stores for clothes, swap items in the Facebook groups, and joined a toy library to share toys.” Even though they have an electric vehicle, Stegora still bike commutes to work 14 miles a day to decrease car traffic on the roads to improve overall carbon efficiency of traffic.
Improve your impact by trying new behaviors. “Our newest habit is to minimize single-use plastics [like plastic bags for food storage],” Stegora said. “We now bring our own to-go containers for leftovers to restaurants.” Something new the Stegora family tried this season is drying out clothes on a clothesline to minimize fossil fuel use of their dryer.
By learning how to make your home more sustainable, you will contribute to a healthier environment.
“Our kids have been a huge motivation to preserve our precious Minnesota resources such as water and air,” Stegora said.