Earth Day: One Simple Thing You Can Do at Home

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and you can get involved in the many Earth Day projects going on at a local level. Opt to participate in local projects - from cleanups to volunteering at a park program - but you can also more consciously decorate and practice the Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle principals at home. Here is our editors' Top Tip for making a difference around the house and making everyday Earth Day.

Repair, restore, maintain, and reuse your home goods. Homeowners go to great lengths to be "consumers." We know what brands to buy, where to buy them, and how to get the best deal. We look at Consumer Reports product ratings and scope out new purchases that we're all eager to make. It's a joy to add something new to our homes, from great refrigerators to a new sofa.

But let's start to gather intelligence on the good repair and restoration resources you have in your community. Who can fix a refrigerator, reupholster a club chair, mend a wobbly table leg, or refinish your mid-century modern furniture so everything works and looks like new again?

Go to Angie's List, casaGURU, or other online resources. Talk to your neighbors and friends and put together a network of reliable and trustworthy vendors so you have a master service list. To handle the work yourself, research do-it-yourself repair, refinishing, and home maintainence methods. Stem the tide of making new purchases, and curb the urge to throw things to the curb. Here's an experience from one of our editors.

"We have a 7-year-old Bosch dishwasher in our apartment, and the dealers who sold the machine to us said that the lifecycle of this appliance would be about 7 years. Almost 7 years to the day, our machine stopped working. We tried everything to get the machine to drain, but it kept filling up with water, which we had to bail out. We asked the super in our building to look it over. He declared it DOA and advised us to get a new machine - since they're only supposed to last 7 years!

"Luckily, a neighbor told us of a great dishwasher repairman in the neighborhood. We called him and he came over right away. He shook his head when we told him our experience. He said appliances can run a lot longer than predicted if taken care of properly. He showed us how a piece of broken glass had gotten lodged in the drain. He explained that Bosch and other appliances have automatic shut-off systems when they detect a clog or obstruction. He showed us how to unscrew a plate and reset the machine.

"Our dishwasher has worked fine for the past two years, and by spending $75 on a repairman's house call, we saved over $800 on a new machine - not to mention the waste of throwing out a perfectly good appliance. We saved money, resources, transportation costs, and energy. And we moved from being consumers to being conservers."


Jay JohnsonComment