The flowers are beginning to open, the leaves are on the trees, and where icicles once hung, puddles of water now sit below. It seems that spring is upon us once again, and with spring, often comes a spring clean, a chance to start the season with a freshly renewed optimism through your clean property.
We want to take the spring clean concept one step further and teach you how you can help the environment at the same time.
The first thing you can do to keep your home or office in good order is to reduce the amount of stuff you buy, and that applies, for the most part, to the things you don’t need. An alternative to reducing is to buy better quality products. One nice or refillable pen will be more valued and longer-lasting than a pack of 20 biros, which often get scattered and lost, if they even work. Buying fruit and vegetables packaging-free from the supermarket is something everyone can start doing right away to reduce their carbon footprint.
The boxes that your online shopping comes in can be reused for storage, the plastic tubs from last night’s takeaway can be cleaned and used for packed lunches, and those bottles of mineral water can be used as water bottles for tap water afterwards. Find opportunities to reuse, and you’ll also reduce your spending, which lowers pressure on manufacturers to make so much stuff.
Having a good recycling system in your home and office usually comes down to a few simple factors – the materials are being separated in a good way, everyone is participating, and people are taking responsibility for getting the boxes out on the right evening or morning.
Eco-friendly cleaning supplies are sold in most supermarkets, but if you really want to help the environment, you’ll make your own with a few simple ingredients that most people have in their cupboards. Reduce production, shipping, purchasing and transport emissions by turning an empty spray bottle you already own into your new cleaning spray. Mix hot water, vinegar and baking soda or washing soda with some scented oils, like vanilla. Now, there are no toxins for your kids and pets to be inhaling during your spring clean.
When you give something away from free, it means the other party doesn’t need to buy something, as it already exists in a lifecycle, meaning the manufacturers have one less product to make (in theory). By donating, you are helping the environment, and allowing the item you donated to continue its useful life before disposal or recycling.
Home organization tools
Once you’ve decided what is useful and what isn’t, and you’ve cut down on your stuff (which will result in less dust and a cleaner home), you should look to organize your things better. Eco-friendly shelves made from unwanted wood are a good opportunity, as are storage containers made from bamboo, recycled paper or cloth bags.
Zero waste cleaning
Ditch the paper towels and get reusable washcloths, the environment will thank you for it. Why should a tree fall so that you can wipe spilled milk from your kitchen counter? Do the same with disposable cloths for mops, stop buying them and get yourself a quality reusable mop that will last for years. You can have all the chemical-free sprays in the world, but if you use a whole roll of paper to clean, you’re not helping the environment.
Office, wardrobe, electronics
There are opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout your office, wardrobe and electronics collection. Old gadgets sat in drawers can be donated to local WEEE recyclers, who will break them into component pieces and make sure everything gets recycled. Textile and fabrics recycling is increasingly popular and whilst donating for reuse is better, your old t-shirts might end up as comfy bedding for animals.
Notes in the right places
If everything is labelled clearly, there’s less room for error. Going shopping? Put a note by the door reminding you to take your bag-for-life. Doing the recycling? Put a note reminding you to wash the stuff first and to put it in the right boxes. Find opportunities to remind yourself and those you live or work with what the best practice is for different activities.