If you want to do your part to protect the environment as well as keep your home environment safer and healthier, but don’t know where to start, read on! Here are eight things you should know to get started with green cleaning.
- Remove toxic product s from under your sink. Whether you know it or not, you most likely will have a heap of poisons under your kitchen sink. Bug spray, oven cleaner, waxes and polishes all count. Small amounts of the poisons leak out of bottles and spray bottles, which then waft around the kitchen. To be safer, place all products with labels using words such as poison, danger or warning in a locked cupboard in a storage bin in your garage.
- Take advantage of household hazardous waste pickups. Hazardous materials shouldn’t be poured down the drain or thrown away in the trash since they can cause serious pollution problems in the waste stream and in our environment. Instead take advantage of household hazardous waste pickups offered by your community or trash collection company. To find out when and how to schedule a pickup, contact your trash service, your local recycling center, and your town or city hall. Most communities have at least one Household Hazardous Waste Pickup Day a year.
- Replace toxic products. As you use up or eliminate toxic products, replace them with non-toxic, biodegradable ones to help reduce the toxic burden placed on your home, the waste stream and the environment in general.
- Understand product labeling. “Signal Words” on labels are poison, danger, warning, or caution, and can be found on the label of products such as pesticides and cleaning products. These words are placed there by order of the federal government and are primarily for your protection. In some cases these signal words indicate the potential impact the product can have on the environment. Poison/danger denotes a product that is highly toxic, so much so that ingesting small amounts, sometimes even a few drops, can be fatal. Warning means the product is moderately toxic, although as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal. Caution denotes a product that is less toxic, one in which it would be necessary to ingest between two tablespoons and two cups to be fatal. Corrosive products can damage skin and mucous membranes, and a strong sensitizer is a chemical that can increase allergies.
- Learn how to make your own non-toxic cleaners. Many standard household items such as vinegar and baking soda can be used for cleaning. Making your own cleaners can truly work if you take time to understand a bit about the simple chemistry behind how the ingredients work. There are a great many websites that provide recipes for making your own cleaners. For simple and quick wipe downs, a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle can do in a pinch. And while do-it-yourself cleaners are better for the environment, they are also better for your wallet.
- Purchase commercial “green” cleaners. As protecting the environment has become more important to consumers, manufacturers have responded with greener cleaning products, many of which are made from plant-based or other natural ingredients. Some brands include: Seventh Generation, Method, Dr. Bronner’s, Shaklee, BioKleen, Simple Green, Ecover and the Green Works line from Clorox.
- Conserve water. Clean water is one of our most precious and diminishing resources, so you don’t want to waste it. When cleaning, run the water only when you are using it or filling a bucket with it for use. Also use common sense approaches to cleaning such as sweeping instead of wet mopping when possible and putting door mats on outside steps to minimize the amount of dirt that is brought into the house.
- Clean indoor air with plants. Studies show that plants reduce indoor air pollution.
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