Being environmentally friendly on a daily basis starts at home. Here are some tips on how to clean your house/apartment/tent/igloo/whatever in a green way.
Why green matters when you’re doing chores:
The EPA says that indoor air pollution is 100 times worse than outdoor air pollution and a lot of that has to do with the chemicals we use to clean dishes, clothes, showers, counter tops etc. The pollution not only affects you but your children as well. In fact, children are much more susceptible to environmental harm than adults, so use safe and simple products in order to avoid contact with body- and earth-harming chemicals.
Green cleaning products:
Both Seventh Generation and Planet are trustworthy organizations because they avoid harsh chemical ingredients and use environmentally friendly business practices. For a list of environmentally friendly cleaning products from Seventh Generation, click here: product list
Save money. Make cleaning supplies at home
Here are some easy recipes that are toxin-free and easy to make from things you probably already have. This is a great way to save money too because homemade cleaning formulas can cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterparts.
Use half a lemon and a little bit of baking soda as a detergent. Then you can put the lemon rind in the garbage disposal to get rid of odors.
Also, you can use dishwashing liquid to wash produce as a way of removing waxes, dirt and pesticides. Just put several drops of detergent and mix it in a big bowl of cold water, then submerge your fruits and vegetables in the water and let them soak for about a minute. I recommend Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid because it’s low on chemicals.
For cleaning windows:
1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand.
Mixing baking soda and water into a paste gets stains out of most fabrics.
For almost anything else:
Plain old white vinegar reportedly kills 82% of mold. You can put some on an old toothbrush and scrub away. Vinegar is remarkably versatile because its natural acidity kills germs and bacteria without affecting indoor air quality. If you put it in a spray bottle, spritz the liquid on cloth instead of directly onto surfaces. That way you’ll use less and save money. Oh, and if you’re worried about the smell, that goes away as soon as it dries.
Some general tips:
Disinfectant cleaners might seem like the best way to eliminate germs, but they actually can’t sterilize all the surfaces in your home or sterilize the air. According to Planet Inc, disinfectants can only temporarily ‘reduce germ populations in specific areas for a limited time.’
A lot of cleaning products claim to be biodegradable, which is technically true only because everything has to degrade at some point (duh.) But don’t be a sucker to greenwashing. We have to think about how FAST something degrades because these products often accumulate faster than they can break down, leaving a build up that potentially harms aquatic life.
More ways to get involved in greening your cleaning
Seventh Generation is doing their part to get the government to be more stringent about the products that are allowed on the market. Too many environmentally unsafe cleaning products are widely available in stores even though they contain chemicals that have not been tested. As a result children everywhere are being exposed to environmental hazards which could harm their health. Seventh Generation calls their campaign the Million baby crawl. For more info click here: Million Baby Crawl