5 Ways to Make the Garage an Eco-Friendly Zone

If you think about the least eco-friendly space in your home, you might say it’s the garage.

More than any other area in your humble abode, garages are notorious for collecting chemicals, hazardous materials, and lots of other junk which is generally inhospitable to the environment.

Most of the stuff in our garages is for outdoor use, but some of it (used oil, old paint, tiny amounts of household chemicals, etc.) doesn’t have much use at all going forward.

However, the garage often becomes a collection point for this stuff.

Unfortunately, since we don’t live in the garage like we do elsewhere at home, its physical state is rarely a priority. Many of these things can sit in our garages for years on end.

That being the case, with the winter progressing and spring just around the corner, now may be as good a time as ever for a serious clean up and reorganization.

Why not start the pre-Spring cleaning of your garage by transforming the garage into an eco-friendly zone?

Cleaning and greening the garage won’t necessarily prevent future clutter, but starting in one room of the house has the potential to positively affect how we deal with environmental issues throughout the rest of the household. The garage is as good of a place to start as any.

All that this takes is a little green consciousness and some focus. The following are a few ideas to help get you started:

1. Recycling:
The first priority should be to set up a recycling station for paper, plastic, and glass. Compared with the kitchen or pantry, the garage is the perfect out-of-the-way place to make this happen. From the garage, recyclable materials can be quickly tossed in the car and brought to a recycling center, or can easily be put out for the recycling truck to pick up on recycling day. Find a couple of midsize bins that take up minimal space and are easy to clean and empty out. Cardboard boxes work but garages are sometimes damp, so plastic is probably the better option (generally speaking).

2. Be aware of your Garage doors:
There are two types of doors in the garage. One is the main door that the car enters through; the other sometimes connects the garage directly to the house, or maybe connects the garage to the outside. However, when the garage structure shares walls with a home, the doors should be thoroughly weather stripped and (if possible,) the shared walls should be insulated. Weather stripping and insulation will prevent exterior drafts from putting extra stress on indoor heating and air-conditioning systems. Preventing drafts will in turn decrease the household’s carbon footprint.

3. Toxic substances:
As mentioned above, it’s common to find toxic substances in garages. These include paints, cleaners, paint thinners, weed killers, pesticides, and more. Most of these chemicals and oils require special disposal. Learning how to dispose of toxic stuff from your garage can often be found at local town halls or with a simple Google search. Here is a guide from the EPA to help as well.

If it’s necessary to keep certain hazardous chemicals, label them well and store them in a safe place. However, whenever possible, substitute harsh chemicals with eco-friendly materials and brands instead.

4. Lighting:
Before energy saving compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) became household items, timers or motions sensors were the main sources for saving on electricity (aside from turning off lights). These devices are still quite effective, and by simply switching incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, your energy costs will be cut further and your carbon footprint will be reduced.

5. Garden tools:
Just about everyone with a yard has a lawnmower, a weed whacker, or a hedge trimmer stored in the garage. Most of these tools are either powered by gasoline or electricity. Although they are convenient in that little physical effort is expended while cutting and trimming, these tools also pollute the environment. Whenever possible, purchase manual tools and only use the automatic ones when necessary. Not only is this the eco-friendly choice but you’ll get a bit more exercise!

Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for Networx.com. He blogs for many people all across the United States. This post was written with the Networx Anaheim, CA garage doors page in mind.

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