Going Green, Simple and Cheap: Living Rooms

Many people are completely intimidated by the concept of going green. It really feels like if you don’t start using a rain barrel, install solar panels on your roof, eat, drink and breathe 1000% organic, and compost every living thing under the sun, you’re a failure. But I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true! There are tons of ways to be green simply and cheaply – and I know because as a young mom, I’m forever on a tight budget. So read on to find out my simple ways to go green, room by room.
The next room I’d like to tackle is the living room. Our house is small (and about 1/3 under construction to boot), so our living room is not as much a formal sitting room, but the actual place that we live day to day. And being that we spend a good amount of time in the space, the need for it to be comfy and family-friendly is paramount. For me, the things that make a living room inviting and ready for anything are a clean, presentable space (for those unexpected visitors), climate control, and creative (and attractive) storage solutions.

Cleaning Part of what I love about Method is not only their extensive collection of products for specific types of surfaces (like their almond-scented wood floor and granite surface cleaners, both of which exist in my living room) is the microfiber cloths that go with them. Completely reusable, the cloths are washable (air dry) and also made for different surfaces. As a bonus, they are slightly color-matched with their products, but if even that is baffling, the tags on them remind you what they’re for. I’ve had mine for almost three years now, and they’re still amazingly efficient while our household paper towel usage has remained dramatically low.
Temperature When we moved into our home, our thermostat was one of those dial-kind from the 1970’s. While functional, that relic wasn’t doing us many favors on the energy-efficiency front. And with a gas-fueled furnace right at the height of the gas crisis, our wallets were whimpering in pain. So a simple trip to Home Depot and less that $50 later, we bought ourselves a programmable thermostat. I even installed it myself in less than an hour, with no electrical knowledge whatsoever. We set the temperature to be about 5 degrees lower at night while we sleep, and we actually open the curtains to let the sunshine help heat the house, saving even more energy. Our wallets have been thanking us ever since.
Storage With a little one beginning to roam around and a menagerie of animals always looking to get into something, finding a place for random items like remotes, headphones, and other odds and ends is pretty imperative to sanity. But because we don’t have a lot of extra dough floating around for storage systems or elaborate bookcases, we’ve learned to work with what we’ve already got. An antique steamer trunk inherited from a great-grandmother that once housed porcelain dolls when I was a child now holds our various free weights and yoga mats while adding charm and depth to the room. A small unused trashcan from Ikea now keeps all of our pet toys stashed away in one place, out of sight (except when the cats decide it’s recess and knock it over). And an open-shelf changing table works as a bookshelf and toy depository for my son’s playthings that he can access himself without looking out of place with our decor. Finding creative uses for storage not only keeps you from wasting money on unnecessary purchases, but it helps keep things out of landfills and reduces the impact of industry on the planet.
How about your living rooms — what do you do to help make them greener without a lot of expense or effort? Let me know in the comments, and watch for the next post in the series to help make your dining room simply and cheaply green!

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