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5 Ways to Green Your Garage

Use Alternative Energy Sources, Dispose of Chemicals, and Organize Your Tools

© 2012 by Sarah Harris; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Garage with a fruit mural; photo courtesy Frank Vincentz

Your family’s garage is often far more than simply the place you park the cars. The garage is the home for all of your do-it-yourself construction projects.

It is also for the creation of your child’s entries in the school science fair, the destination for any tool or chemical compound that can’t fit in the house, and sometimes even your small appliance repair shop.

It’s all too easy for the garage to become a cluttered mess, but cleanliness isn’t even your biggest concern. A poorly-organized garage can quickly become a haven for environmental damage.

You’ve got to address this area if you care at all about environmental sustainability, and piling your recycling there isn’t going to cut it.

Here are five ways to greenify your garage and do your part for a cleaner, happier home and a sustainable future.

  1. Landscaping and Gardening Tools.

    First of all, take a look at everything in the garage you use for landscaping. If there’s anything hanging out here that’s gone to rust, make sure you get it cleaned up and back in circulation.

    The last thing you want to do is toss something in the landfill and buy a new one just because you didn’t take care of it well.

    The garage can often be dirty, dusty and filled with leaks, so keep your tools clean and well-oiled to cut down on your personal waste.

  2. Stick with Cordless Power Tools.

    Next, check out your supply of power tools. Is everything electric and rechargeable? You should try to avoid using gas-powered devices, which burn costly fossil fuels and spread fumes into the atmosphere.

    Today you can even find electric-powered lawnmowers, and some that come with solar panels to generate all of the power they need. Also, any of your tools that require batteries should be stocked with the rechargeable variety.

    Dewalt DC550KA Heavy-Duty 18V Cordless Cut-Out Tool Batteries take a long time to break down, and are filled with poisons that can seep into our water supply if thrown in landfills. Cut down your waste as much as possible, but also dispose of those batteries properly.

    Here’s a tip—when buying cordless power tools, pick one brand and stick with it. Why? Because the battery chargers are proprietary. When all your batteries and chargers are the same, they are all interchangeable.

  3. Dispose of Chemical Products.

    Most garages double as cemeteries for all of our half-finished home improvement projects. And that means bottles and cans of paints, chemicals, oils and cleaning products.

    Many of these are actually classified as hazardous materials, and need to be stored correctly. Some of their packages can degrade over time, especially if your garage isn’t properly ventilated or if the temperature ranges wildly.

    Look everything over and separate out the stuff that needs to be disposed. Obviously make sure everything you keep is stored on a high shelf where kids and pets can’t get to it, and take the waste to the proper recycling or disposal facility.

    Check with your town to see where you can safely get ride of these chemicals. Yes, even partial cans of paint need to be disposed of properly.
  4. Use Sustainable Energy Sources.

    Just because your garage may be a dim place doesn’t mean it can’t take advantage of alternative energy sources.

    Consider ways to lower your electrical usage or even create energy in your garage. First of all, change out your old lightbulbs for the more economical CFL bulbs, which will last longer and require less electricity for a similar amount of light.

    Also look into solar tubes, a unique way to generate solar power without large panels. Basically, the tube will deliver sunlight through the garage door or window and across a series of prisms, allowing you to light your garage without electricity during the day.

  5. DIY Vehicle Maintenance.

    Finally, use the safe haven of your garage to make sure your car is properly maintained. First, check the air in your tires, to make sure they are inflated properly.

    Why not change out the air and oil filters yourself rather than hitting the local Jiffy Lube? Maintaining clean filters will actually increase the fuel efficiency of your car.

    Both are easy tasks, and will actually make saving money on car insurance a bit simpler as well. After all, the longer you can keep your car on the road, the longer you won’t need a new car and a more expensive policy.

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