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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

This article was updated on 01/18/19. Happy National Winnie the Pooh Day!

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

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 wood shop.

Unfortunately, t’s all too easy for your garage to become a cluttered mess (entropy at home), but cleanliness isn’t even your biggest concern. A poorly-organized garage can quickly become a candidate for environmental damage.

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

Here are five ways to greenify your garage and take personal responsibility 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 can be prone to 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 emit fumes into the atmosphere.

    Today you can even find electric-powered lawn mowers like the Ryobi 20 in. 40-Volt brushless mower. 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 paint, chemicals, oils, and cleaning products. Things like homemade wood putty are generally safe.

    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 varies wildly.

    Look everything over and separate out the stuff that needs to be disposed of. 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 rid 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 light bulbs 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 and life 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 full coverage insurance policy.

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About the Webmaster:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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