The last few weeks in central Minnesota sure have felt a lot like spring. With spring comes everyone’s favorite activity, spring cleaning! Opening those windows, letting in fresh air, and releasing the dust bunnies that have been hiding out all winter. Just the thought of it makes you feel better, right?
That is, until you start thinking about how much waste you might produce, where to take some of your throw-away items to dispose of them properly, and what impact some of your cleaning products might have on the environment. All of these concerns are valid and worth thinking about. Did you know the average American produces 1704 pounds of garbage each year? Think about how much your spring cleaning will tip the scales.
Even so, there are environmental benefits to spring cleaning. You just have to be smart about how you clean and what products you use. Follow our guide this spring to make your house and the earth a cleaner place.
Declutter and rehome
Clutter is a problem in every home. It can be stressful and make your house feel smaller than it really is. Getting rid of those piles of items that you no longer use will make you feel so much better! Start in one room and make piles of items to give to friends, repurpose in another room, or donate. If an item still has life, you should give it a chance to be utilized.
By repurposing and rehoming these items, you will prevent them from going to the landfill. You will also get rid of the need to produce a new item. That reduces carbon emissions that go into producing the new item and transporting it from production facility, to store, to home.
For those clothing items that you don’t want to get rid of, but just aren’t what they used to be, learn to fix them yourself! There are tons of YouTube tutorials out there about how to fix holes in clothing, or remove stains. Doing these projects yourself with natural products will give your clothing longer life than using harsh stain removers.
Banish the dust bunnies
There are many products that claim to grab and cling to dust better than the next product. Unfortunately, those products are often disposable or made out of non-recyclable materials. If you already have a Swiffer duster that requires disposable pads, consider fashioning your own from old t-shirts or cloth diapers. Both of these will make a great dust rag and you’ll prevent these items from ending up in the landfill.
Say “bye-bye” to mold and mildew
Many mold and mildew cleaners are made with harsh chemicals that can contaminate our waterways and harm the wildlife that relies on them. They often come in thick plastic bottles. While they can be recycled, it is always better to do without plastic.
Try using some distilled white vinegar on those mold and mildew spots instead. Purchase a reusable plastic squirt bottle, and fill it with distilled white vinegar, which can be used for many other things in your home such as cooking or haircare. A few squirts of vinegar left to sit for a few hours will kill the mold, making it easy to scrub away. For tougher spots, combine baking soda and water into a paste, and use an old toothbrush to scrub.
Naturally freshen the air
Did you know that air fresheners and scented candles often contain harsh chemicals that stick to fabrics and surfaces in your home? These chemicals can cause health issues in our pets and prolonged use of aerosol products can contribute to the deterioration of our ozone. Luckily, there are so many natural alternatives to these products!
You can make your own natural air freshener spray using a glass spray bottle, water, alcohol, and essential oils. Not only is this better for the environment, but it’ll really boost your home’s aroma. You can even create your own scent by combining different essential oils.
Revitalize your pots and pans
After a year of good use, stainless steel and chrome can start looking pretty gross. It might seem like a hopeless cause after you spend hours scrubbing them. You might start to eye those products in the cleaning aisle that boast “no scrubbing required” on their labels. But, those products use harsh chemicals that can have a serious effect on our environment.
Instead, buy a lemon! This little fruit can do some serious work. Cut the lemon in half, sprinkle salt on the lemon flesh, and go to town. The citrus and salt will work together to break down and scrub away those tough, greasy stains. Reapply salt as needed until your pots and pans are as shiny as the day you bought them. Rinse and buff with a soft cloth to finish them off and get them ready for another year’s worth of delicious meals.
As you can see, there are so many earth-friendly opportunities that come with the season. Whether it is using eco-friendly products, or repurposing old stuff into new. Spring cleaning can be a great activity for your family, just make sure that everyone is working together to keep the Earth clean too.