Leave Your Germs at the Door

07/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Lisa Sharkey SVP and Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins Publishers.

Quite often people ask me how much more it costs to "go green". And often my answer is that rather than spending money, there are free ways to go green that actually save you money.

Here's one of my favorites. Leave your shoes, and their germ infested soles, at the front door.

This sounds so obvious and simple but for some reason, we Americans traipse all over the place, stepping in various environmentally unfriendly things from what dogs have left behind on sidewalks, to pesticides on the grass and other chemicals that pollute our streets and fields. Once we come into the house we transport the awful mess directly into our bedrooms.

This problem has a simple solution.

I suggest a shoe rack at the front door of every apartment and house as the best place to leave your dirty shoes, sneakers and boots.If you don't have a rack, take off your shoes, wash them off, and carry them to the closet where at least you can keep the germs from spreading. There is a reason that in Japan, Turkey, Thailand and many other cultures hosts give their guests slippers in exchange for their shoes at the front door.

How many times have you come in from the office, or the park, headed into your favorite room and onto your favorite chair and kicked back to relax, with your shoes still on? Imagine how happy that's making the germs to have been invited into the comfort of your own home.

This suggestion can also apply to your visitors even on nights when you're having a party.Hand out cheap slippers, or cozy socks.

The same rule applies to your dogs. We all know dogs gravitate towards the kinds of things we try to avoid when walking on sidewalks. Why not consider simply wiping your pet's paws at the door before Fido jumps up onto your bed?

As for saving money, you'll have less dirt to vacuum up or use cleansers on when there is no more mud tracked into your home. And your wood floors will look great much longer without stiletto heel marks all over the precious planks.

Not every green idea requires a wallet. It's as important to think about your indoor environment as it is to think about the air you breathe outside. You're probably spending a lot more time inside than you spend outdoors anyhow so consider the home environment every bit as important as the outside world . Have fun in your feet!