1. Dishwasher: Of all of the water your home consumes, it is estimated that 20% of is in used in your kitchen. This is one modern machine that actually helps you consume less water and energy than old-fashioned handwashing: according to a recent study, a modern dishwasher can use one-half the energy, a sixth of the water and even less soap than rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands wet. Of course, the same rule applies to dishwashers as the washing machine-always use when running full loads to maximize the effectiveness.
2. Microfiber towels: I will say from the beginning that this one could be controversial. Microfiber is not a natural fiber and the the fibers that do make up microfiber are produced from petroleum: a non-renewable and non-biodegrable resource. However, the life length of a microfiber towel is extremely long making the need to continually purchase new cleaning products almost obsolete. In one study, the life of a microfiber mop is almost 10 times that of a traditional cotton mop and are proven more effective at removing not only dust/dirt but allergens and bacteria! Microfiber towels are so effective at cleaning that almost remove the need to use a cleaning agent and replace displosable dusting devices such as a Swiffer (for floors or furniture.) Lastly, microfiber towels are proven to use less water and energy to clean after using them. While they are not ideal, they are a very cheap way to get a long lasting product that helps you get effective, chemical-free cleaning done in your home.
3. Steam cleaner: More and more steamer cleaners (like this floor-cleaning one from Bissell or this complete home-cleaning version from Shark) are coming onto the market place. With more competition, the prices of these products are becoming more affordable. For people who live in areas with very hard water or other cleaning issues that discourage them away from natural cleaning products, switching to a chemical-free steam cleaner can keep their homes and the envinronment clean.
4. Water Filter: Filtered and bottled water is still very popular, even among my eco-friendly friends. Whether you are motivated by the convenience or concerns about pharmaceuticals in our water supply, a water filtering system along with a BPA-free water bottle can make heading to work with your morning dose of H2O convenient and clean. It is estimated that the most common of filters, a Brita can replace between 300-750 standard sized water bottles (depending on whether you are using the filter picture or the faucet filter.) The filters are made with Number 5 plastic, which is not accepted by many recycling locations however, Brita has drop-off recycling locations (or a mail-in option) for their filters.
5. The Internet: This one if not something you physically use around the house but the green possibilities that exist online are endless. Besides being a wealth of knowledge about green living, you can save countless trees (and often money) by recieving/paying bills online, opt out of paper catalogues and recieve sales/coupon notifications in your inbox instead, or read a book online instead of purchasing a physical paper copy. Of course, it is important to remember that computer usage does use energy so, if you are purchasing a new one, look at Energy Star certified models, utilize power saving modes, and watch your paper data output (think twice about whether you need to print those directions every time you Mapquest something!)
What modern-day inventions help keep you on track in your green efforts?