Being eco-friendly can be so much more than recycling your plastics and reusing your coffee mug. For home builder Dan Phillips, it's all about making his community—and the world—a greener place.
Phillips has always wanted to build homes. About 12 years ago, he and his wife, Marsha, took out a home equity loan on their Huntsville, Texas, home in order to fund The Phoenix Commotion, a company dedicated to using building materials that would otherwise end up in landfills to build low-income housing. "The design of the houses grows out of the material that we have," Phillips says. "Rather [than] premeditating and buying new, we use whatever we have, and that becomes the design of the house."

Phillips makes sure that each new homeowner assists in constructing their eco-friendly home. "They know how to repair their houses because they participate in building them," he says. "Once you've launched a family into a house, the self-esteem of the entire family rises because they're full vested in the mainstream economic structure of humanity."

Phillips' goal? To be more responsible and more sustainable. "We can all lift a finger in trying to heal our planet in our own backyard," he says. "What that means is downsizing our houses, paying a little more attention to energy efficiency, repairing and reusing rather than buying new and throwing away."

Phillips doesn't describe himself as a "tree-hugger." Instead, he sees himself as someone who's trying to spread the message about the importance of being green at home. "I'm not doing anything new," Phillips says. "Every third-world country, that's how they build their houses—they use whatever's around."

Get Phillips' environmentally friendly tips to spruce up your décor.

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