Ways To Go Green While You Spring Clean

Article courtesy of the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership

After a very long, cold winter, spring is now in full swing in the St. Louis area. And now that warmer temperatures have arrived, many of us are beginning to tackle those spring cleaning chores that we put off during the cold weather months. Unfortunately, all this housework can take a significant toll on the environment. From cleaners made with harsh chemicals to the many rolls of paper towels used to wipe down surfaces, cleaning can be far from earth-friendly. But there are a variety of ways to freshen up the home in a greener way.
One easy way to green your spring cleaning is to make the switch to natural cleaning products. In recent years, a number of environmentally friendly products have come on the market from companies such as Seventh Generation, Method, Biokleen and St. Louis-based Better Life. Said to work just as well as their conventional counterparts, these products are available in virtually any store, making it easy and convenient to clean in a greener way.
There are also a number of household items that can be used to create homemade cleaners. For example, the combination of distilled white vinegar and water serves as an excellent glass and floor cleaning solution, while vinegar, baking soda and water can be mixed to clean countertops and bathroom tile. Numerous homemade cleaning “recipes” can be found online, making it simple to create a complete homemade cleaning kit.
Another easy way to reduce our impact on the environment as we clean is to use more earth-friendly cleaning tools. Instead of wiping down surfaces with paper towels, try using biodegradable, washable natural fabric towels or microfiber cleaning cloths, or repurpose old shirts or pillowcases into towels. If paper towels are preferred, consider purchasing ones made from recycled paper. You can also trade in your traditional cleaning sponges for plant-based cellulose sponges, opt for a reusable mop instead of single-use mop pads and purchase a recycled plastic bucket to transport your homemade cleaning solutions.
For many of us, spring cleaning time is also a perfect time to clear the clutter from our homes. Instead of throwing out unwanted items this year, go green by donating gently used clothing and household items to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill store, or another charity of your choice. A garage sale can be another great way to get rid of clutter and make some extra money. Unwanted electronics can easily be disposed of at an electronics recycling facility or event. In addition, spring is a good time to recycle any old junk mail and magazines that may be lying around and to remove your name from junk mail lists.
“These ideas seem simple, but they can really have a positive impact on the environment,” said Susannah Fuchs, Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the Plains-Gulf Region. “With so many of us working hard to live greener, making a commitment to clean greener is one more way we can do our part to reduce our impact on the environment and ultimately improve the region’s air quality.”
To learn more about ways you go can green and do your share for air quality, visit online at www.cleanair-stlouis.com or send an email to sfuchs@breathehealthy.org.

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