P24U — the Individual

Green Building
Home Comfort
Home Appliances & Fixtures
Breathing Easy Indoors
Painting, Staining & Sealing
Out in the Yard
Car Care
What do I do with these Chemicals?
Multiple Topics
P2 Quiz

Everyone knows that most pollution comes from big, ugly pipes – factory smokestacks, sewer outfalls, and the like, right? Not exactly. A significant share of pollution comes from small sources that add up – the cars we drive, the energy we use to heat and light our homes, the water we consume for cleaning and sanitation, and the chemicals we use around the house.

You can reduce those impacts and still live comfortably. In fact, practicing pollution prevention around the house can save you money on utility bills, make your house healthier, improve your yard, and give you another reason to be proud of your home. Plus, you’ll help keep the air and water clean, protect salmon, and reduce consumption of natural resources.

So, what is pollution prevention (P2) anyway? It simply means avoiding the creation of pollution in the first place rather than dealing with its consequences after the fact. P2 means rooting out little inefficiencies or wasteful habits that don’t add much value to your home. For example, you can do P2 by trying substitute products, using resources more efficiently, or just rethinking yard and housekeeping practices. Maybe the lawn would be better off if it wasn’t mowed quite so short. Maybe the living room end tables will still look beautiful with a little less polishing. In doing P2, you do a little rethinking about the way you run your house. The benefits are money saved, a healthier, more comfortable home, and a helping hand for our environment.

Green Building

How to start when starting from scratch

Are you planning to build a dream home of your very own? Do you have a remodeling project on the drawing boards? You can build or remodel your house so that is more comfortable, costs less to maintain, and is healthier for you and your family. There are ways to build or remodel houses "green" so they use energy and water efficiently; contain recycled, reused and/or certified building materials, and keep the indoor air fresh and free of unhealthy chemicals and microbes.

Resource Where to find it
Green Building Primer. The basics: what green building is, and how it can benefit you and the environment. www.nrg-builder.com/greenbld.htm
Northwest Ecobuilding Guild. A lot of useful links to green building resources. www.ecobuilding.org
Environmental Building News. General newsletter for environmentally responsible building. Contains articles, resources, links, and product information. www.buildinggreen.com
Energy Efficient Building Association. Includes publications, videos, manuals, software, and conference proceedings on green building. www.eeba.org
The Energy Outlet. Contains a wealth of Northwest-based information and links on energy efficiency and green construction, including an "ask the expert" feature. www.energyoutlet.com
State Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy. This site provides links to tax incentives, grants and loans that states offer for installing solar hot water and other renewable energy systems in your home. www.dsireusa.org
Resources for Environmental Design Index. Searchable database of companies selling green building products and services. oikos.com/redi
Health House Project. The American Lung Association’s Health House Project shows you how to build in features that will help keep your home healthy. www.healthhouse.org
SmartWood Certified Product Finder. A database of vendors selling certified wood products including building materials and furniture. www.brandsystems.net/smartwood/
Plastic Lumber and Other Recycled Building Products. A helpful summary of King County’s experiences using plastic lumber products, with vendor links. www.metrokc.gov/procure/
"Sustainable Building Sourcebook," website for the Green Building Program, Austin, TX. Topics include water, energy, building materials, and solid waste. Although some of the specific information is Texas-specific, there is a lot of good, general information on this site. www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/
PPRC's Green Building Topical Report includes hundreds of additional links on green construction, divided into broad subcategories. www.pprc.org/pubs/

Home Comfort

Keep warm in winter, keep cool in summer, and keep money in your pocket

Your home is central to your life. Here in the Northwest, everyone wants to come home to a cozy house on those long winter nights. Summer cooling is important in the arid communities of the inland Northwest. Typically, heating and cooling are the largest share of your home’s energy budget. You can make your home more comfortable and avoid high heating and cooling bills through a variety of efficiency measures. By getting more work out of the electricity and gas you use, you can help reduce the impacts of energy production on air, climate, water and fish.

Resource Where to find it
"The Efficient Windows web site is sponsored by the Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC) with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Windows and Glazings Program and the participation of industry members. This web site provides unbiased information on the benefits of energy-efficient windows, descriptions of how they work, and recommendations for their selection and use."
   A wealth of information about energy efficient windows, including information that is specific to the climate found in the Pacific Northwest.
EPA Energy Star window site. Information provided includes an overview of ENERGY STAR® windows, how to select windows, and what window ratings are. www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=windows_doors.pr_windows
"Energy-Efficient Windows." A 1994 United States Department of Energy fact sheet, providing an overview of why energy efficient windows are important, what to look for, different types of windows, and a list of resources for more information. www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/
Alliance to Save Energy website, "a nonprofit coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit the environment, the economy, and national security." This site includes links to "Power$mart – Easy Tips to Save Money & The Planet," and "Home Energy Checkup." The topics covered on the Power$mart page (www.ase.org/powersmart) include:
  • Why Bother
  • What's Energy
  • It Starts at Home
  • Leaking Energy Dollars?
  • Keeping Your C-o-o-o-l
  • Light Up Your Life
  • Enlightened Comparisons
  • Home Cooking
  • Coming Clean
  • Too Plugged In
  • On the Move
  • Doing Your Share
  • Links & Resources
  • Home $weet Home Campaign
Some of the information provided here applies to Home Appliances & Fixtures.
"Understanding Energy-Efficient Windows," from Fine Homebuilding. A comprehensive and easily understood overview of energy efficient windows. www.taunton.com/
"Vacuuming the Refrigerator with the Drapes Closed," by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). A well-written resource provided by TVA, focussing on energy efficiency. Some of the specific documents apply directly to home comfort, some indirectly. www.energyright.com/
"Fascinating Facts" from the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium. Examples of the information provided:
" EPA found that GeoExchange heat pumps can reduce energy consumption--and corresponding emissions--by over 40% compared to air source heat pumps and by over 70% compared to electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment. Combining GeoExchange with other energy-efficient measures, such as window or insulation upgrades, can further increase these savings."
   The Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium is made up of representatives from utilities, national organizations, manufacturers, trade allies, academic institutions, government agencies, and international entities. Their website is http://www.geoexchange.org.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Building Technology Center. This center focuses on energy efficiency research for building roofs, walls and foundations -- the building envelope. Two of the fact sheets in particular are geared toward residential homes: "Insulation Fact Sheet,"(www.ornl.gov/roofs+walls/insulation) and "Attic Radiant Barrier Fact Sheet," (www.ornl.gov/roofs+walls/radiant). There are also a number of interactive calculators, which can be used to determine the efficiency of walls, roofs, and insulation. www.ornl.gov/roofs+walls
Insulation and Weatherization. An overview on insulation’s benefits, including interactive ZIP Code Insulation Program to help you determine the most economical amounts of insulation you need in your area. www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/
Heating and Cooling. Tips on duct insulation, heat pumps, solar heating and cooling, fireplace efficiency, gas and oil-fired systems, air conditioners, and programmable thermostats. www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/
Burning Wood Better. A guide to sizing your stove right, burning wood efficiently, and minimizing heat loss. hearth.com/what/
Northeast Regional Biomass Program. Click on the compass icon and navigate to a consumers’ guide on heating with pellet stoves. www.nrbp.org

See the Home Appliances & Fixtures section below for additional resources that will help you cut your heating and cooling costs, as well as other home energy expenses.

Home Appliances & Fixtures

All the comforts of home at less cost

Imagine trying to get along without your refrigerator, water heater, lights, home electronics, or bathroom fixtures. They make modern life possible, but the energy and water they use can be hard on the household budget. Efficient appliances and fixtures can help you reduce those costs and conserve natural resources at the same time.

Here are some resources that may be of assistance using energy and water more efficiently in your home.

Resource Information
Home Energy Saver website, developed by the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and sponsored by EPA and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As noted on the "about" page, "The Home Energy Saver is designed to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy in their homes, and find the resources to make the savings happen."
    This site allows for the customization and breakdown of energy costs for your house.
EPA's Energy Star site. As noted on the website, "Energy Star is a voluntary partnership between DOE, EPA, product manufacturers, local utilities, and retailers. Partners help promote efficient products by labeling with the ENERGY STAR logo and educating consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency."
    This website includes information about products, manufacturers, retailers, frequently asked questions and news, and also has a link to the Homes Program (www.epa.gov/homes), which "promotes partnerships with home builders to construct highly energy-efficient new homes."
Seattle City Light conservation page. Provides information and links to a number of areas, including:
  • Residential Programs & Services
  • Neighborhood & Community Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Resource Conservation
"Vacuuming the Refrigerator with the Drapes Closed," by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). A well-written resource provided by TVA, focussing on energy efficiency. Some of the specific documents apply directly to home appliances, some indirectly. www.energyright.com/
Website for Home Energy Magazine, published by a non-profit organization "whose mission is to provide objective and practical information on residential energy conservation."
    There are links to articles, as well as available consumer guides covering windows, lighting, remodeling, kitchens, bathrooms, insulation, and air conditioning
Home Lighting. Guidelines from the Lighting Design Lab for brightening up your house attractively and efficiently. www.elflist.com
The Most Energy-Efficient Appliances. A guide to energy-efficient kitchen appliances, water heaters, clothes washers, furnaces and air conditioners published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy hes.lbl.gov/hes/searchhes.html
Home Water Savings. Information from the City of Bellevue Utilities Department for indoor and outdoor water conservation. www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/
Toilet Purchasing Guide. Yes, we have to talk about toilets. One-third of your home’s indoor water use goes down the toilet. This page describes different types of commodes and gives you some tips on shopping for a toilet that, er, fits your needs and uses water efficiently. www.ci.seattle.wa.us/

Breathing Easy Indoors

What’s that smell? Stay healthy – keep the indoor air clean.

We spend 80 to 90 percent of our time indoors. The air we breathe indoors can be unhealthy for a multitude of reasons. Household maintenance and cleaning products, furnishings and fabrics, building materials, combustion by-products, and poor ventilation are among the sources of indoor air pollution. Below are general links that will help you understand and prevent indoor air pollution. Separate sections below provide resources on healthier alternatives for painting and cleaning.

Resource Where to find it
What Causes Indoor Air Problems?A primer on the causes of indoor air pollution and links to additional information resources. www.epa.gov/iaq/homes
Indoor Air Quality Fact Sheets. Series of fact sheets from the American Lung Association on indoor air pollutants, including household products, combustion by-products, duct cleaning, radon, and asbestos. The home page for the American Lung Association can be found at www.lungusa.org. www.lungusa.org/
Home Indoor Air Quality Knowledge Base. Information provided by the Minnesota Indoor Air Quality Consortium. The site describes sources of indoor air pollution, offers repair and building design tips, and includes links to other indoor air quality sites. www.dehs.umn.edu/

Painting, Staining & Sealing

Protecting your house without all the fumes

Certain paints, thinners, strippers and wood preserving products contain solvents. Solvents can create serious health hazards. They’re volatile too, and as a result, solvents are an ingredient in smoggy hazes that can build up in cities during summertime. By buying only the quantities of product you need, giving away surpluses, and trying out alternatives such as water-based paints, you can avoid the health hazards and air pollution that solvent-based products cause.

Here are some resources that you can use to reduce the amount of paint you need, and some possible alternatives.

Resource Where to find it
"Six Steps for a Successful Paint Project," King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program site. Areas covered:
  • Buy the right amount
  • Choose the right paint
  • Paint safely
  • Use up all the paint
  • Recycle leftover paint
  • Dispose of paint properly
Easy to follow information and tips provided for painting. There are also links to information about the solvents that can be be present in paints, and precautions to take with lead-based paints.
Paints, Solvents and Wood Preservatives. Washington Toxics Coalition guide to choosing and using healthy alternatives for painting, paint removal, thinning and wood preservation. www.watoxics.org/redirect/


Oh oh! The in-laws are coming over! Cleaning up the house with safe, non-toxic alternatives.

Many household cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals, such as chlorine, acids, solvents, or ammonia. Non-hazardous alternatives will keep your house both clean and healthy. You’ll be amazed at how sparkling clean you can make your kitchen and bathrooms with safe alternatives like baking soda, lemons, and vinegar.

Here are some places to start when looking for alternative cleaning products.

Resource Where to find it
King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program site, providing an introduction to some of the hazardous products found in most homes, and suggestions for alternatives. Specific areas covered:
  • All-purpose cleaners
  • Drain cleaners
  • Oven cleaners
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Toilet cleaners
  • Scouring cleaners
  • Glass cleaners
  • Laundry bleaches
  • Stain removers
  • Automatic dishwasher detergents
  • Furniture polish & wax
  • Metal polishes
  • http://www.metrokc.gov:80/
    "Green Cleaning Kit Recipes," Pierce County site, providing alternative cleaning options for:
    • Tub & Sink Cleaner
    • Window & Mirror Cleaner
    • Toilet Bowl Cleaner
    • Linoleum Floor Cleaner
    • All-Purpose Cleaner
    • Copper Cleaner
    • Drain Cleaner
    • Oven Cleaner
    Conservation & Environment: Green Cleaning. City of Seattle site, which also has links to "recipes" as well as an explanation for some of the chemistry behind the alternatives. www.seattle.gov/util/

    Out In The Yard

    Sunny at last! Time to work in the yard ... naturally

    Fertilizers and pest control chemicals can run right off your yard, especially if you’ve applied too much or if you’ve overwatered. That’s a waste of money. Plus, fertilizers and chemicals flowing off your yard can pollute streams and lakes. This is not good for fish. You can have a great lawn and a lovely garden without a lot of fertilizer and chemicals, and without a high water bill. It starts with having the right plants in the right location.

    To learn more, check out these sites.

    Resource Where to find it
    "Natural Yard Care," from the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program. Information is provided on:
    • Building healthy soil
    • Planting right for your site
    • Smart watering
    • Avoiding pesticides
    • Natural lawn care
    "Natural Lawn Care Program." Information found on the City of Seattle site. Topics covered include the elements of and benefits of natural lawn care. www.seattle.gov/util/
    City of Seattle composting site. It provides a quick overview of the benefits of composting, and provides links to other information, including:
    • Yard Waste
    • Yard Waste Mulching
    • Food Waste
    • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about compost
    • Resource Guide - some of the contact information is Seattle-specific, but the resources are applicable to all.
    • Yard Waste Grasscycling
    • Contacts & Links
    King County, WA compost site, with good, general information about composting. www.metrokc.gov/dnrp/swd/

    Car Care

    Earth-friendly ways to keep your car running and looking sharp

    We all like our cars but we don’t like the pollution problems they cause. There are simple things you can do to reduce the environmental impacts of automobiles. Keeping vehicle fluids and wash water out of storm drains, recycling used oil, keeping the engine in tune, and taking some of your trips by bike or bus can help do that. You might even save some money in the bargain.

    More details can be found at the following sites.

    Resource Where to find it
    Think you know the auto score? Take PPRC's Do-It-Yourself Automotive Repair Quiz and see how well you safeguard the environment when you work on your car. www.pprc.org/pubs/
    "Concerned Citizens and Consumer Information,"United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information, for automobiles. This site includes information about:
    • Pollutants
    • What You Can Do
    • Inspection/Maintenance/Warranty
    • Imports
    • Fuels
    • General
    • Inventors/Devices
    • Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV)
    An "Automotive Products," website from the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, WA. Topics covered:
    • Recycle your used motor oil
    • Dispose of antifreeze properly-your dog will thank you
    • Protect your small engines (like lawnmowers and boats)
    • Recycle car batteries
    • Wash your car without washing the fish
    Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Pollution Prevention Alliance (PPA) "Green Car: A Guide to Cleaner Vehicle Production, Use, and Disposal." As EDF has stated, this guide provides a "truckload of information on the environmental impacts of motor vehicles, from the cradle to the grave. While helping consumers make informed choices about the environmental impact of the type of car they choose, this community guide will also give citizens and community groups detailed information they need to work with auto plants in their neighborhood to reduce pollution from the manufacturing process."
      This site includes specific information about
    • Raw Materials Extraction/Processingv
    • Pre-Assembly Manufacturing
    • Vehicle Assembly
    • Vehicle Use
    • End-of-Life Vehicle Management

    Transportation Connections. Give the car a vacation. Save some money and keep the air and water clean. This page is a guide to finding practical alternatives to driving alone, through the I-5 corridor connecting Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle. Includes links to ridesharing bulletin boards, public transit systems, intercity bus lines, Amtrak, and ferries. www.transconnect.org

    What Do I Do With These Chemicals?

    Handling household hazardous waste the right way

    The best way to handle household hazardous waste is not to make any in the first place. Using non-toxic products for cleaning, sticking with water-based paints, and giving away surplus products that you don’t need can prevent accumulation of hazardous stuff down in the basement or out in the garage. Take advantage of local household hazardous waste collection programs for old cleaners, paints, thinners, fuel and yard chemicals. Above all, don’t throw hazardous wastes into the ordinary household trash, or dump it down the sink or into a storm drain.

    To find out exactly what to do with household hazardous wastes, check out these sites.

    Resource Where to find it
    "How to dispose of household hazardous waste," King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program website. Wastes covered: pesticides & herbicides, paint & solvents, automotive products, cleaners, and other items.
        Although some of the specific information is for King county (e.g., the location of household hazardous waste collection sites), the waste handling methods are transferable.
    "Rest in Peace: Safe Disposal." Information compiled by EPA Region 5 and Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University. Source: Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home. Second Edition (1989) & Missouri Household Hazardous Waste Telephone Advice Manual (1994). Missouri Household Hazardous Waste Project. Areas covered:
    • Guidelines for Safe Disposal
    • SWAP: A Solid Waste Abatement Program For Your Own Neighborhood
    • Household Hazardous Waste Management Option Instructions
    Many good tips and ideas for much of the hazardous waste found in homes.

    Multiple Topics

    Combined resources

    There is quite a bit of information available that covers more than one area for your home. For example, energy issues and cleaning, automotive and gardening, and/or painting and household hazardous waste. This section identifies those areas that let you do a little bit more "one-stop" shopping.

    Resource Where to find it
    Sustainable Living. Not sure where to begin? This site is a good jumping off place to learn about pollution prevention and sustainability in everyday living. www.sustainableliving.org
    American Lung Association of Washington has quite a bit of information available about environmental health issues, including the Master Home Environmentalist (MHE) program (www.alaw.org/air_quality/
    ). With the MHE, the American Lung Association trains volunteers to conduct free home environmental assessments. Areas addressed: indoor air quality, lead, alternatives to hazardous household chemicals, mold and moisture problems, asthma, and dust issues in the home that impact people's health. Currently there are programs in King and Pierce Counties, and a program will be starting in Yakima County in Fall 1999.
    "A Consumer Guide To Safer Alternatives To Hazardous Household Products, Part 2." A booklet by the Santa Clara County Hazardous Waste Management Program and the Santa Clara Valley Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program. Applicable topics include:
    • Automotive Products
    • Cleaners, Polishes & Deodorizers
    • Paint Products
    • Personal Hygiene Products
    • Pesticides & Fertilizers
    • Pet Care Products
    • Miscellaneous
    • General Information
    Some of the information provided is specific to Santa Clara (e.g. a listing of emergency phone numbers), but the comprehensive listing of alternative products is valuable and transferable to all who are interested.
    "Toxics in the Home," information from the Washington Toxics Coalition, covering a range of topics:
       · Cleaning Products
       · Lawn & Garden Chemicals
       · Indoor Pest Control Chemicals
       · Art & Hobby Materials
       · Home Repair & Building Materials

      Information is also provided about the Green Gardening Program and the Master Home Environmentalist (MHE) Program.

    The California Peer Review Project has "gathered scientific information on the efficacy, health and environmental effects of twelve alternatives to hazardous household products, in order to assist local household hazardous waste (HHW) program managers. The project was developed to counter industry challenges to the accuracy and reliability of information about alternatives recommended by HHW program managers."
       Most of the information available on this page refers to cleaning products, but it also includes an evaluation of products used as pesticides, insecticides, and building materials.
    "Stormwater Pollution Prevention Manual: A Guide to Best Management Practices for Industries, Businesses and Homeowners." Information provided by Pierce County, WA. This Guide provides a listing of required and suggested Best Management Practices. Chapter 3 provides information specific to individuals: "Best Management Practices for Single-Family Residences." Areas covered:
  • Automobile Washing
  • Automobile Maintenance
  • Storage of Solid Wastes & Food Wastes
  • Composting
  • Yard Maintenance & Gardening
  • Swimming Pool and Spa Cleaning & Maintenance
  • Household Hazardous Material Use, Storage & Disposal
  • www.co.pierce.wa.us/
    "Resources for information and products," King County site. Topics:
       · Information about less-toxic products and how to use them
       · Seattle-area stores which carry less-toxic products
       · Merchants who sell less-toxic products by mail-order
       · Related web sites
       · Books on less-toxic pest control

      Some of the information provided is Seattle/King County specific; most of the information is applicable to all interested in it.

    The "Protected Forest" offers information on alternative products for household cleaners, insecticides, and fertilizers. forest.fireshui.com/home and forest.fireshui.com/cleaning