green tips

Spring Cleaning for a Healthy Home

By Lina Younes

As we see the first signs of the new season, it’s easy to get into the mood for spring cleaning around the house. We just want to open the windows, freshen the air, put away the heavy coats and signs of winter inside the home. During this process, we start thinking of giving a thorough cleaning around the house and even a fresh coat of paint or doing some renovations. How can we make sure that during this process, we are making our home environment healthier? Well, here are some green tips for your consideration.

Thinking of giving your kitchen or bathrooms a good scrubbing? Do you want to make sure that the chemicals that you are using are safe and green? Here’s a suggestion. Use cleaning products with the Design for the Environment label. (DfE). What is the DfE exactly? It’s an EPA partnership program. Those products with the DfE label have been screened carefully for potential human health and environmental effects to ensure that they are produced with the safest ingredients possible.

Another common spring cleaning practice? Painting! It’s an easy way to give a whole new look to home. However, if your home was built before 1978, it is very likely that it has lead-based paint. Lead is a toxic metal found in paints and buildings built before 1978 and it can cause serious damage to the brain, learning problems and even hearing problems. So if you are thinking about painting around the house or making some renovations, get some useful information on making these renovations safely or getting a certified contractor.

Thinking of some major repairs such as getting water efficient toilets or new household appliances? Look at products with the WaterSense label for greater water efficiency or Energy Star appliances to save energy, money, and protect the environment.

Over the winter, did you have problems with snow and a leaky basement? Make sure to correct the any mold problems and get proper ventilation to ensure good indoor air quality in your home.

So, do you have any grand spring cleaning plans in mind? Share your thoughts. We love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as EPA’s Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Entertaining over the Holidays

 By Elizabeth Myer

Entertaining in the New York City Metropolitan area is complicated (among potential obstacles, space concerns come to mind first and foremost), but hosting guests during the holidays is another thing entirely. In my 575 square foot Manhattan apartment, I’m lucky if I can fit 10 friends at once. With that said, over the years I’ve been able to narrow down some “green” tips for entertaining during any holiday season:

  • Send electronic invitations.
  • Look for reduced packaging when shopping for pre-party food (i.e. stay away from individually packaged treats in small serving sizes).
  • Bring re-usable bags with you to the food store. No excuse.
  • Eat foods that are in season whenever possible. This way, you are much more likely to be purchasing local items.
  • Dim the lights during your gathering (compact fluorescent, of course). After all, everyone knows that the easiest way to set the mood (and save energy) is to minimize the amount of blaring artificial light.
  • Avoid using disposable cups and plates. If you don’t feel comfortable asking guests to bring their own dishware (believe it or not, this is becoming quite the trend in urban areas), rent it! These days it’s cheap and simple to rent a range of dinnerware (plus tables, chairs and tablecloths). This is a GREAT tip for New Yorkers who often lack storage space for excess plates, cups, utensils, etc.
  • Wash the dishware ASAP to significantly reduce the amount of water it takes to clean. After a long night of hosting, this one can be tricky, but it makes a world of difference.

Are you an environmentally responsible host? Let us know how you manage to be eco-friendly while throwing an awesome party (trust me, the two go hand in hand).

Happy holidays!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Think About the Environment this Holiday Season: Holiday tips from EPA’s Regional Administrator

By Judith Enck 

When I was a kid, growing up in Greene County New York, my beloved father won contests for the large number of lights that he put on our house. I would note that entire power plants had to run in order to keep the Enck family house illuminated, so I’m now doing my penance with LED lights. There really is no excuse to double your electric bill or blow your budget around the holidays, so here are my tips for a more environmentally friendly season.

  • Remember to support local businesses whenever possible

    Holiday themed LED lights are a great compromise

  • Consider a small live indoor tree or plant that can serve as a holiday tree to be decorated year after year.
  • If you opt for a real tree, be sure to compost it after the season is over.
  • Decorate with LED lights and colorful reusable ornaments that don’t require electricity such as (reusable) ribbons.
  • Reuse wrapping paper or use old comics to wrap gifts.
  • Start a new card tradition. My friend, Laurie Valeriano and I send the same holiday card back and forth to each other. We read old messages we wrote over the years and they are great memories.
  • Try not to buy unnecessary consumer products. Give experiences instead like tickets to plays or concerts as a way to spend time together.
  • When purchasing gifts, I try to select things that are useful, fun and environmentally sound. This year, several people on my list will be getting seltzer makers so they don’t even have to recycle bottles any more, they can just reuse the same ones.
  • More tips here.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Best wishes for a wonderful and sustainable holiday season and a very green new year!

About the author: Judith Enck is EPA’s Regional Administrator of and a native New Yorker who currently resides in Brooklyn.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.