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Living Space: Green swaps make for a cleaner, healthier home

By BY KATHRYN WEBER
April 3, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 2, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.

A new and great-looking choice in natural floor coverings is bamboo, available in everything from rugs to bamboo wood flooring.

After what could arguably be called the "winter from hell," it will be nice to open the windows again and welcome the light and warmth of spring.

To get into the swing of things, why not make some green swaps around your home? They're not hard and don't require drastic changes, but are good for your home and the world.

House, yard

Get your green thumb back in shape by planting an herb garden. Why pay $4 for a paltry few stems of dill or basil when you could have all you want all summer long with a package of seeds that costs less than $1?

Another great swap: Add a composter to a corner of the garden that will take your kitchen scraps and turn them into what gardeners call black gold, or compost. A composter that takes up about the same space as a compact trash container can produce compost from yard clippings and vegetable, in short order (Earth Machine, $109, Homedepot.com).

In the house, ditch those old polypropylene throw rugs and replace with all-cotton, jute or sisal options. A new and great-looking choice in natural floor coverings is bamboo, available in everything from rugs to bamboo wood flooring. Bamboo is sustainable, harder than wood and comes in a range of styles and colors. You can even buy soft throw rugs made from bamboo silk fiber rugs that look just like traditional area rugs (Zen Olive Rug, $339, Wayfair.com).

In the kitchen

One of the biggest sources of environmental waste is plastic, and one of the major culprits is plastic bags. Do your part by swapping traditional plastic bags for compostable ones. Try Glad Bags Compostable Tall Kitchen 13-gallon trash bags ($5, Walmart.com) or EcoGuard's 33-gallon compostable lawn and leaf bags ($12, Amazon.com) that are approved by the city of Houston for lawn refuse.

For the counter, use a small composter for vegetable waste rather than consigning those carrot tops and slimy brown cabbage leaves to the garbage can. Pick one with odor control, such as the Oggi Stainless Steel Counter Composter with charcoal filters ($31, casa.com).

Plastic containers are great for curbing waste, but your collection can easily overflow the plastic drawer. Ditch all those used margarine tubs and cottage cheese cups for a quality set of food storage containers for cold foods (salads, cheese, fruit). Then, for safely reheating foods in the microwave, choose a set of glass containers that won't leak chemicals, like Rubbermaid's eight-piece nesting glass storage set ($25, Rubbermaid.com).

Easter cheer

If the Easter holiday (April 20) is on your radar, try a few easy green swaps for a less plastic-filled holiday. One big offender is Easter grass. Those little plastic shreds seemingly go everywhere, are unnatural and are not recyclable.

Instead, switch to a completely safe, natural and compostable grass like Tim's Real Easter Basket Grass ($8, Realeasterbasketgrass.com), available online or in your nearest Whole Foods market. Line a real willow or other natural fiber Easter basket with organic grass. Before you fill the basket, chuck those plastic fillable Easter eggs in favor of small paper sacks filled with treats and goodies.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her web site, redlotusletter.com.

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