Gateway Gazette

How To: Sustainable Spring-Cleaning

With spring quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about cleaning your living space and getting it organized for the warmer months ahead. The way we clean and remove clutter from our space is just as important as the task itself. The products and methods we use when tidying our homes can be harmful to the environment in so many ways, and it is important to make sure we are cleaning and disposing of products appropriately.

Following these simple steps to make small changes in your spring cleaning process will help ensure that everything you do to clean your home will benefit the environment in some way.

Clear out the clutter

First, you’ll want to remove all of the unwanted or bulky items that no longer have purpose. You can easily accumulate items from the holiday season and during colder months that you no longer need or want. Now is the time to put these items in storage, donate them, sell them, or throw them away in a resourceful manner.

It’s easy to just put everything you don’t want in a garbage bag and throw it all in the dumpster. However, when you do this, all of these items will go straight to the landfill and likely won’t break down easily, which harms the earth. Take care with the items you get rid of, making sure they can get as much use as possible before being thrown away.

With old holiday items that you won’t need until next year, consider storing them in reusable, biodegradable containers, like paper bags and sturdy cardboard boxes as opposed to large plastic storage containers. As long as your belongings are stored in a cool, dry place, your items will be just as safe as they would be in a plastic storage tote.

With items that you know you’ll no longer use, like household tools and decor, non-perishable food, and other items still intact, look for the appropriate places to donate these goods. Local food shelters and thrift stores are likely to take your donations and will be able to put them to good use for someone else to enjoy, rather than just throwing these items away.

Another popular task when spring cleaning is to do a wardrobe clear-out. When sorting through your clothing to decide which pieces you want to keep and which ones you want to get rid of, before going straight to donation or throwing these items away, consider selling your gently-used clothes to an online second-hand shop. That way the store can either sell or recycle your clothing pieces for you. With clothing making up such a large portion of the landfill and not breaking down properly, finding alternative ways to put your unwanted clothing to good use is important when clearing out your closet and spring-cleaning your home.

Clean the Dirt

Once you’ve decided what you are going to do with the items you no longer have use for, and found a designated location for everything else you want to keep, you’ll want to go through your home and give it a good deep-clean. Prioritize getting rid of the dust and dirt that has accumulated over the past few months to keep your environment neat.

When looking for eco-friendly products for your home, some good things to look for are products made with essential oils for fragrance and non-toxic chemicals. Some cleaning products are even made with recyclable, compostable, or plant-based packaging, which is ideal for disposing of the packaging once the product is used up.

You can even take this a step further and make your own cleaning products with common household items like water, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. If you’ve got essential oils, adding a few drops of those into the mixture will give your cleaning solution a nice scent that stays on the surfaces you clean.

Finally, use reusable cleaning cloths and rags rather than single-use products. Using old washcloths, clothing scraps, or purchasing reusable cloths made of sustainable, recycled materials will ensure that you aren’t creating more waste than what is absolutely necessary when cleaning your home.

Spruce up Your Space

With the clutter gone and your surfaces sparkling clean, you may want to brighten up your space a bit, maybe with a candle or a few new pieces of decor. There’s nothing better than lighting a candle once you’ve cleaned your whole house to make the entire project feel complete, but candles can actually be quite harmful to yourself and the environment. Making the switch to safe, environmentally friendly candles means reading the ingredients to ensure that the candle is made mostly of vegetable based waxes and does not contain synthetic ingredients.

For adding a few new pieces of decor, try looking around a local thrift shop rather than buying brand new ones. Repurposing items you already have or doing a little DIY project on some old items to refresh them is a great way to avoid buying new pieces that otherwise have a stronger negative impact on the environment.

Eco-friendly cleaning and organizing is a practice we all should try to incorporate into our lives. Not only are these simple changes beneficial to our environment, but you may even see some opportunity for cost-savings as well. Reusing and recycling what you already have is the perfect way to begin your journey toward total sustainable living.

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