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Towels, Brushes, and Dishes

This blog post was originally posted on Jeffrey Hollender's blog.

When spring comes along, it's easy to think "out with the old, in with the new." My philosophy has always been to reuse, recycle, and reclaim before buying new stuff. It's the proliferation of new stuff that has affected our environment so detrimentally. One need only look at the recent coverage of the "ocean of plastic" to understand where our old "stuff" goes.

Before you overhaul your home, I challenge you to try out these five tips.

  • Whether it's a busted couch, baseboard, or lamp, it's far better to fix the problem than demolish, remove, or start over from scratch. While repairing, be sure to use the greenest materials possible keep your home environment safe for you and your family.
  • If you need to upgrade your furniture, allow your old furniture to find new life by putting it in another room in your house, give it to someone you know who may be in need, or donate it to Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a similar organization.
  • Planning on painting in your home? Be conscious of when the previous paint was applied. If it dates back to the mid 1970s, it likely contains lead, which is incredibly toxic. Use caution while stripping paint as the dust could remain in your home for years. Although modern paint doesn't contain lead, it may be host to a number of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, toluene, and xylene. When buying paint, opt for the no-VOC option.
  • While cleaning your garage or basement, be sure to wear a facemask and open windows and doors, as these spaces are likely home to hazardous chemicals. To avoid dust from spreading, dampen floors, then sweep or vacuum, and mop. All shelves and storage bins should be cleaned with a VOC-free all-purpose cleaner.
  • Buy less stuff.

No matter what you do, keep you and your family's health and safety top of mind when choosing new products, materials, and cleaning supplies. You - and the planet - will be thankful down the line.

Red more tips from Jeffrey Hollender in his book, Planet Home, written in partnership with Alexandra Zissu.

Read more blog posts from Jeffrey at

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