Carter Oosterhouse, who now divides his time between his homes in California and Michigan, was raised in Traverse City, Michigan, where his dad was a farmer.
“Growing up, he was very into making sure that we took care of [the earth] and ourselves,” says Oosterhouse who gives back today through his non-profit, Carter’s Kids, which builds one playground a month around the country. “We took care of the woods behind our house. He wanted to make sure that we had a healthy balance in everything we did. A fundamental value he made sure we had in our life.”
Oosterhouse says even in washing the car, his dad made sure they used biodegradable soap; in his career today, he happily teaches others what has become second nature to him.
Here are some easy tips he recommends for a more eco-friendly home:
1. Figure out what can be recycled and composted. Oosterhouse says he has a trash bin for waste that cannot be recycled, a recycling bin, and smaller bin for compost which sits right on the kitchen counter with a top where he puts waste from vegetables fruits, tea, coffee, and even newspapers. “Once that little bin is full, I take it to the backyard and mix it with grass clippings, leaves every couple of weeks, and after several months, it’s great compost for the garden,” says Oosterhouse. “It’s really nutritious for the garden. When you use compost, it’s remarkably different to see how the plants flourish.”
2. Use detergents and soaps that are biodegradable.
3. Use paints that have no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) — it’s much healthier for us.
4. Look for Energy Star appliances such as dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters, to help on your monthly costs and also cut down on pollution.
5. Change your air filter every six months on both your heating and cooling HPAC systems.
6. Always look for recycled flooring such as engineered hard wood made from post-consumer materials. Cork flooring is a natural insulator, and bamboo is sustainable. They will also both save you money.
7. Lessen your trash. As humans, we produce up to 4 pounds of trash a day. If you recycle 4-feet worth of newspapers, it’s the equivalent of a 40-foot tree, and sometimes it’s as easy as using reusable bags at the grocery store, instead of the plastic ones that have a very hard time breaking down. Reusable water bottles are also great. When Oosterhouse is on set, he says he gives the crew reusable water bottles to use.