Every April 22, we celebrate Earth Day in many different ways. Some will plant trees, others will pick up litter, and others will be educating themselves about how we can make a difference in the face of climate change.
This year, I’ll be doing my spring cleaning—with an eco-friendly twist.
Protecting the Earth starts at home, after all, with each choice we make adding our personal impact to no less than the future of our planet. The impulse to do a spring clean-out, from clearing clutter to wiping windowsills and mopping floors, is such a logical extension of the fresh, new feeling of tender leaves and new buds on the trees outside. The desire to clean our homes in a way that respects and helps heal the larger world only elevates the renewal of spring cleaning.
Try these tips to change the way you clean, on Earth Day and afterward.
Lose the Paper Towels
Instead of paper towels, which are single-use items that go straight to the landfill, pick up a packet of inexpensive, washable microfiber towels that can be used for kitchen spills and bathroom wipe-downs. Old t-shirts or towels can be cut into squares and rotated through your laundry cycle for ongoing use.
Clear the Paper Clutter
No scrubbing required to get this spring cleaning task done—take inventory of your flow of mail and consider what you are able to switch to paperless communication. Bills, newsletters and bank statements can be safely password-protected online, which saves the postal system and the planet a lot of bulky paper waste. Some things, like catalogs or other subscriptions, can benefit from a trip online to “opt out” of your subscription altogether.
Donate Unwanted Textiles
If you don’t end up using old sheets and towels as paper towel substitutes, please don’t toss them into the garbage! Textile recycling is an easy way to take ripped or unwearable clothing or other fabrics and turn it into reusable materials. Many communities have yellow Planet Aid bins for textile collection, or ask your public works department if they accept textiles for recycling.
Make DIY Cleaning Products
You can save both money and the environment by switching to easy-to-make cleaning products for your home. Equal parts water and white vinegar can be scented with lemon peel or rosemary for a pleasant smell. A paste of baking soda and white vinegar is a bubbly and effective way to scrub your tub. Stainless steel appliances wipe clean with a few drops of dish soap mixed with warm water. A few drops of essential oils in cleansing, pleasing scents like lavender, grapefruit or tea tree elevate your cleaning experience, leaving your home smelling fresh and spa-like.
What are some eco-friendly ways you tackle spring cleaning jobs?