All interior walls in the house have been covered with paints low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful chemicals found in many paints and stains (prices vary, bioshieldpaint.com).
Dishwasher and Refrigerator
The dishwasher, which meets Energy Star standards, came with the house. Jessica Jensen and Jason Pelletier found their refrigerator by surfing energystar.gov, where "you can research models by manufacturer," says Jensen. The couple air-dry their clothes on a drying rack in the little room off the kitchen. "We rarely use our clothes dryer," says Jensen. "Clothes dryers are horribly inefficient, and Energy Star doesn't rate them. If I have something that takes forever to dry, like a huge quilt, I will put it in the dryer on the lowest heat possible or the air setting."
Pelletier and Jensen put all their organic food scraps, such as banana peels and eggshells, into a perforated metal composting pail (amazon.com), which is tucked into a corner of the countertop. They periodically move the contents to a larger composting bin in the backyard, then use the rich compost on their plants and trees. The couple also use compostable trash bags called BioBags (from $5 for 25, biobagusa.com for retailers); made of corn by-products, they look just like plastic trash bags and, under the right conditions, can "biodegrade in about three months," says Jensen, "whereas plastic takes a long time to break down, if at all. Between composting and recycling, we generate only half a bag of trash―trash that goes to a landfill―a week."
A barely visible standard faucet attachment (from $2.25, energyfederation.org for vendors) pumps air into the water, so users don't need to run the tap at full blast.