By: Stephanie Benney
As I was driving home from Cleveland this past week, the turnpike was lined with fields of green and budding trees. There is a specific shade of green that comes along only once a year. It is the brightest, cleanest and purest – and when you see it, you know that it is SPRING!
With spring comes that infamous task of spring cleaning. There’s just something about clearing the air, the space and the energy in your home. It’s like those Febreeze commercials – ahhhhh! If you are going to clean, why not clean green? Our friends at Earth911 have put together a magnificent guide for green cleaning your home. Why not start with the kitchen?
“You can’t clean without the products. But before you run to the store to stock up on harsh, chemical-laden cleaners, consider eco-friendly alternatives instead. Eco-friendly cleaners typically contain natural, organic, non-toxic, chemical-free or biodegradable ingredients for all the clean without the environmental impact.
Seventh Generation, Shaklee, Eco-Me and J.R. Watkins Naturals all sell eco-friendly and biodegradable cleaning supplies and many are available wherever cleaning products are sold. Or you can make your cleaners at home using a prepackaged kit, like this one from Elizabeth’s Kind Cafe.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also whip up a few eco-friendly cleaning products from scratch using common household ingredients like vinegar, salt, lemon juice and baking soda. Check out our guide to mixing up your own all-natural laundry detergent, tile and grout cleaner, glass cleaner and more.
Unless a cleaning product is marked “biodegradable,” avoid dumping half-full bottles down the drain or tossing them in the trash. Instead, clean with the product until it’s used up, rinse the bottle and recycle it. Or use Earth911 to find household cleaner recycling options near you.
CLEAN THOSE SURFACES:
Before you buy a bunch of specialized cleaners to degrease your oven, decalcify your glasses and de-gross your stovetops, take a moment to think about what you really need. Select a product that will work best for its function, and only use the amount directed on the label to cut back on waste. More is not better for your home or the planet, especially when it comes to cleaners.
Whenever possible, use an eco-friendly multipurpose cleaner, as long as it’s right for the jobs, to reduce the number of products you have to buy and dispose of, saving money and reducing the waste of your spring cleaning project.
STOCK UP ON REUSABLES:
Paper plates, plastic cups and single-use containers are convenient, but most of these items aren’t recyclable, especially after they’ve been soiled by food and oils. Fight back against waste by stocking up on affordable, reusable items ahead of time.
Check out reusable food storage containers, like these from Faberware – which are both recyclable and biodegradable, according to the company. For no-hassle kitchenware that works at home or on the go, check out these picks from Preserve – made from reclaimed hard-to-recycle #5 plastics.
And try a few unconventional reusables, like Cusp Natural Products’ reusable coffee filters, Ethical Ocean’s reusable drinking straws or Lunchskins’ reusable sandwich bags.
PURGE YOUR PACKAGING:
Whether the food packaging in your home is recyclable or not, it’s always best to find ways to reuse it before tossing it in the bin. Go through your pantry and transfer dry items from their original packaging into reusable containers.
Once you have all your packaging in the same place, take note of the products that the majority of your packaging waste came from. Can you buy any of these materials in bulk to cut back on waste? How about switching to homemade? A little planning could mean emptier trash cans all year long.
No, we’re not talking about your next business trip. We’re talking about your fridge and freezer. Improperly packed freezers or refrigerators can cause a huge energy drain.
Think about it this way: When you open the door to your fridge or freezer, warm air from your kitchen comes in and replaces the cool air inside. Your fridge now needs to use more energy to maintain temperature. So, the more empty space you have, the more warm air will enter your fridge, and the more energy your fridge will use.
We’re not telling you to stuff your cold-storage box to the gills with perishables, but in general, full is good. The refrigerator should be full, but there should still be enough empty space around your items for the air to circulate efficiently. The freezer should be more tightly packed, since your items will help to keep each other cool.
Don’t want to stock up on food? Containers filled with water will serve the same purpose in both the fridge and freezer.
CREATE MORE SPACE:
If you feel like the limited space in your kitchen is stifling your culinary creativity, take a few minutes to de-clutter and get smart about storage to maximize your workspace.
Start by cleaning out your kitchen cupboards. Recycle or donate what you can. This will give you more room for appliances and other items you may not use every day and do not need on your countertops (like your cast iron skillet or blender).
And when you’re contemplating storage space, don’t forget about your walls! You can easily add a bookshelf for your spice rack and cookbooks or hang pots and pans, oven mits and untensils like spatulas.”
For a guide to green cleaning the rest of your home, please visit: www.Earth911.com
Stephanie Benney is a “Sustainable Visionary” and also the new Pittsburgh Representative for Fuzed Marketing, where she helps companies increase their brand presence. email@example.com