- Try greener cleaning products. Did you know that many standard cleaning products contain chemicals that are more toxic than the dirt you want to eliminate? In fact, the EPA ranks indoor air pollution as a top environmental danger. Get rid of the toxic cleaners and try brands like Seventh Generation, Method and Biokleen. These companies make full lines of earth-friendly household cleaners and are readily available at your favorite stores. You can also easily make your own non-toxic cleaning products using everyday items like distilled white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and olive oil. For example, vinegar gently eliminates soap scum and grease. Lemon juice cleans mold and mildew. Baking soda has virus-killing abilities as well as cutting through grease and grime while also deodorizing surfaces. Look online for free recipes for do-it-yourself cleaning products. Here's one of many: http://www.organicgardening.com/living/8-must-haves-nontoxic-cleaning-kit?page=0,1 .
- You won't have to clean things you give away. Donate unwanted items and you can clear your physical and mental space with minimal effort. How about holding a swap with your friends and family to give those old clothes, no-longer-used toys, art supplies, musical instruments, tools and kitchen items a new home? You can reduce your clutter, reuse a discarded item from someone else and recycle things you no longer want all at the same time! If your neighbors or family aren't available, bring your unwanted items to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or another favorite charity, where they will surely get a new life.
- Let houseplants clean the air in your home. Like we mentioned earlier, the air inside your home is often more toxic to your health than the air outside. NASA began studies in the 1980's to determine which plants could be used to filter harmful substances out of the enclosed air in space craft and space stations. Many subsequent studies support the science of using plants to clean the air inside. Try these plants and please note that some are best kept away from pets. Aloe Vera, (which also has medicinal properties); Spider plants (nearly impossible to kill); Gerber daisies (which come in a variety of colors); Snake plant (also known as “mother-in-law's tongue”, which filters formaldehyde out of the air); Chrysanthemum (which filters benzene); English Ivy; Chinese Evergreen (which filters more toxins as time goes on); and Bamboo Palm.
- Stop using paper towels. We know they seem convenient, but converting to using cloth napkins, rag bags and microfiber cloths offers far more benefits than the supposed convenience of using disposable paper products. Ditching the paper towels will save you money, spare a tree, reduce the waste you send to a landfill, as well as decrease the pollution caused by their production, packaging and transportation. Instead, make rags out of old towels, pillowcases and other cotton fabrics. Then rewash and reuse again and again.
- Rethink your laundry habits. There are many ways to clean your clothes and be green. You can save the dryer for the winter; why not take advantage of spring by drying your clothes on a line? If aesthetics are an issue, look into retractable lines that can easily disappear when not in use. Front-loading washing machines, especially those with Energy Star labels, use only half as much water and energy as top-loading and older models, so if you're in the market for a new machine, consider one of those. If your washer is still in good working order, be sure to wait until you have a full load and wash your clothes in cold water on the shortest available cycle.
Spring is right around the corner and, with the variety of intense weather we've experienced this winter, it's time to clean up. We've put together a few ideas on how to make your spring cleaning as healthy for the environment as it is for your home and family. There are so many ways to take simple and effective steps to make your home and community more sustainable. Here are a few:
SBS believes in the value of collaboration. Our post come from ideas and issues our team feels passionate about. We offer a combination of topical sustainability issues and applicable tips for every month of the year.