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Tips for an Environmentally Friendly Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning

With the arrival of spring, many of us will soon be participating in the annual task of the dreaded spring cleaning.  This chore is tedious and incredibly time consuming, but it’s necessary after months of being cooped up indoors. There are so many things to do: tidy up the garden, wash the car, dust the curtains, sweep the floor, etc. Remember to use cleaning methods and cleaning products that are the safest for your family, your home, and the environment. Here are some reminders before you get started:

Reuse whenever possible

  • Americans dispose of more than 12 million tons of textiles annually, less than 25 percent of which is recycled or reused, dooming most secondhand clothing to a soggy afterlife crammed deep in a landfill. Give your unwanted clothes a new life by donating them to your local thrift shop or charity. Donating items is indeed the best way to ensure reuse. By reusing clothing and other goods, we can cut down on waste entering landfills.
  • If major thrift stores get clothing that’s too ratty to resell, the cloth gets converted into things like industrial rags or sound-dampening material. When donating to a used-goods store, make sure it recycles unwanted materials. If your old duds get rejected, there’s not much you can do except deploy them as household rags or support the arts by giving them to quilt makers or other rag-intensive craftspeople.

Recycle all that you can

  • Always check with your local recycling center for any recycling restrictions in your area. Some places only accept certain types of plastic or metal. You should check the bottom of any glass or the back of any plastic container for the recycling number. This number will indicate the type of plastic that it is.
  • Recycling carpets is a serious pain because it’s so difficult to separate their materials. Some 3 million tons of carpets are dumped each year, with only about 5 percent recycled or reused. Outfits like the Carpet Recyclers (thecarpetrecyclers.com) can extract and recycle carpet components. Go to carpetrecovery.org for more information.
  • Check out more at the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle website.

Use cleaning products that are safer for your family and the environment

  • Look for products that are labeled biodegradable, eco-friendly, or non-toxic.
  • Avoid products with labels that read toxic, corrosive, irritant, flammable, or combustible.
  • Make your own non-toxic cleaning products at home.  You can find several recipes here.

Conserve water

  • To water the lawn, consider using grey water or even rainwater. An average family typically uses 30% of its water for the garden or the lawn. By using alternative water such as rainwater from a rain barrel, you can cut down on wasted water and even lower your water bill.

For more information about safer cleaning methods for your home and the environment, please visit the EPA’s Green Homes website.

Sources:  EPA Greenversations, Sierra Club