How-to: Green spring cleaning
By CG Lifestyles & People Editor Sarah DeCarlo
As April showers end and May flowers start to bloom, many Southeast Ohio residents are taking out the rubber gloves and headache-inducing cleaning products. But once your windows, counters and cars are clean, there’s only one place for those soap suds to go: down the drain. Try these eco-conscious tips to ensure your spring cleaning is as low-impact on the environment as possible.
Concoct natural cleaners
Common household cleaners, like bleach and Lysol, can have fatal effects on plants and animals once if they are disposed of improperly. The solution: don’t use them! Different mixtures of nontoxic ingredients, like baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar, can defeat tough stains and grime just as easily as brand-name products. A quick Google search will turn up several hits on safe cleaner recipes, and a good rule of thumb is if you can ingest the ingredients, it’s okay to make. Don’t have the time or patience for this? Try purchasing organic cleaners, like Seventh Generation products, during your next shopping trip.
Limit water use
We tend to forget that water is becoming a scarcer resource, but it’s true. Instead of running the tap each time you need to rinse off your cleaning tools, fill a bucket with a small amount of water and reuse this for smaller tasks, like dusting. When completing larger tasks, try being more conservative with water use. A great example of this is to wash your own car instead of taking it to an automatic car wash, so you can use just the minimum amount of water necessary.
Open your windows
Many people decide to invest in air fresheners to counteract the musty smells their homes accumulate over winter. But why buy something that artificially smells like fresh air when you can have the real thing? Open your windows to let the sweet smells of spring naturally freshen your home, while simultaneously letting in enough light to justify shutting off unnecessary lamps. If you’re feeling energized, try planting flowers outside of your windows to add some fragrance.
Spring is also the time for renovating, but certain supplies can be very harmful to the environment. A main but popular culprit whose fumes attack the atmosphere is paint, but we can’t expect to live in peeling homes! To cut back on the toxic chemicals, invest in paints that have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These contribute to pollution and can also cause severe health problems, especially in young children. Many paint manufacturers, including MAB Paints, now offer these eco-friendly alternatives, making them easy to find.
Use rag towels
While buying a roll of paper towels to complete your cleaning projects may be tempting, those sheets – and, subsequently, that cost – add up fast. Throwing them away results in additions to your local landfill, and even recycling just costs the city more money. Try keeping a set of old towels around for cleaning needs, or even converting holey yet absorbent clothing into rags. Looking for an added challenge? Dispose of your one-time-use mops and dusters, and replace them with cloth substitutes. They can be reused for years!