Spring into eco-friendly cleaning

Five tips to help reduce your environmental impact

With longer, sunnier days and the smell of emerging flowers in the air, springtime is officially here. For many, this seasonal switch is indicative of the semester nearing an end, summer approaching, and a time to balance your mindset with some therapeutic decluttering, cleaning, and space-making. 

However, this type of gung-ho, Marie Kondo-inspired “tidying” frenzy often has unseen environmental impacts. 

Where we send our old clothes, what types of products we use to clean our rooms, and how we manage our waste are all aspects of this year’s spring cleaning you can easily take into account. 

Here are five tips to make your spring-cleaning more environmentally-friendly, so crack your windows open, turn up your favorite cleaning playlist, and get to tidying! 

1. Choose green supplies

Finding the products with the least harsh chemicals and searching instead for plant-based, biodegradable cleaners can make your cleaning process easily more sustainable. Many mainstream cleaning products depend on harsh bleaches or other chemicals to degrease, but plant-based alternatives are easy to find, or you can even DIY your cleaning supplies with vinegar and soap with many recipes existing online

2.Choose washcloths 

Whether it’s the paper towels you wipe down your windows and mirrors with or the cotton-balls you use when cleaning your face, they all are single-use and end up in landfills. Washcloths are inexpensive and they wash clean with your weekly laundry; even if it is simply reducing the amount you use, every habit change goes far in reducing landfill input.

3. Purify your air with plants

Adding a little extra green to your windowsill can also benefit your room’s air quality. Studies from NASA have shown that plants like the golden pothos, snake plant, gerbera daisy, and peace lily all have air-purifying capabilities, removing benzene and formaldehyde from the air. 

4. Keep recycling nearby 

Rather than excitedly dumping your backpack out into the trash after your last final next month, find the nearest recycling to catch all that paper. CNU’s single-stream recycling accepts papers (not including used paper towels or tissues), #1 and #2 plastics (check the number on the bottom of your plastic products), glass, paper cartons, and aluminum cans. Empty that bagless bin or box into your residence hall’s closest clear-bagged recycling receptacle to make sure your waste doesn’t outweigh what you’re reusing. 

5. Repurpose old clothes

Clearing closet clutter can be beneficial for you, your community, and the planet, if you find the alternatives to simply trashing old clothes. Turning old cotton shirts into washcloths is helpful in reducing waste, or even selling / trading clothes with friends can reduce what ends up in the trash. Additionally, donating your old, worn, or even tattered clothes to your local thrift store or green-deposit receptacles is a great option even if you don’t think anyone will wear or buy them after you; many stores or organizations will send unsold materials to fabric recycling facilities.

~James Duffy, Staff Writer~

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