It’s that time. It’s well into spring, and that means it’s time to look at your home — including the garage, the spare room, and any closets full to bursting — with a critical eye. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a purge, however. In fact, there are several steps you can take to declutter and clean your home while throwing away as little as possible and reducing your environmental impact. Here are just a few:
Rethink Traditional Cleaning Products
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] names phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and chemicals grouped under the term ‘Volatile Organic Compounds’ as the worst environmental hazards in household cleaners,” according toThe San Francisco Chronicle. If you pick up everyday items like all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, and more, the chances are pretty high that you have used and continue to use cleaning products with these dangerous chemicals. Even typical use of these cleaning agents may end up contaminating the fresh water supply, which can — in turn — contaminate produce and farm products. There is a better way, and it’s cheaper, too!
Common items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can be used alone, combined with water, or sometimes mixed together to create powerful, effective, and environmentally friendly cleaning agents. Vinegar can easily clean toilets and pots and pans, and baking soda creates a good scrub or deodorizer for the refrigerator or household carpets.
Take A Few Extra Minutes When Cleaning Out The Closet
Everyday clothes and linens account for 5% of the waste in U.S. landfills, and — worse — 90% of this waste could have easily been recycled and donated to help those in need. Set aside lightly used clothing, and look into nearby places to donate clothes. In some cases, you may even be able to save a trip; there are plenty of charities that will pick up charitable clothing donations. And if tidying up the closet and helping families in need isn’t enough incentive for you, you can often write these donations off on your taxes. As many as 1,507,231 organizations that accept donations are tax-exempt. Ask for a receipt, keep it, and enjoy the break on next year’s taxes.
It’s time for spring cleaning. Do it without a hugely negative impact on the environment. Choose baking soda and vinegar over chemical cleaners, and find nearby places to donate clothes instead of simply tossing them.