Spring into Greener Cleaning

By: Mary Ann Kelly

It is spring and a perfect time to set sustainable cleaning goals! Green cleaning is the process of choosing cleaning products that are better for both people and the planet.  Unlike conventional cleaning products, green cleaning products are created using safe, non-toxic and biodegradable products. Making smart choices about what we buy, how we use it, and how we dispose of it can make a big difference in the amount of waste we produce and the greenhouse emissions associated with our consumption. Everything you use goes through a life cycle and each stage of the life cycle has an environmental impact. The more green cleaning products you use, the better it is for the environment.

What can you do in your home to create your greener cleaning routines?

Green cleaning can begin with natural green cleaning products like baking soda, vinegar, and lemons. Other options are manufactured green products that are healthy for the environment. These are green products that may not be free of additives or harsh chemicals, but may use recycled packaging or donate a portion of profits to environmental causes. 

“Green” Cleaners

There are several ways to find green cleaners:

  1. The EPA has a Safer Choice program to help find products that perform and contain ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment, including cleaning products.
  2. You can also check the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which cross-checked more than 2,000 different cleaning products and 1,00 ingredients against scientific studies and toxicity databases to find out which are safest.
  3. Another label to look for is Green Seal, a certification by an independent nonprofit organization (greenseal.org).The green checkmark helps identify proven greener products and practices that offer better indoor air quality, reduced or eliminated toxins and asthmagens, and excellent performance.

Eco-friendly Cleaners for the Whole House

There are several environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions companies which focus on eliminating single-use plastic bottles. These brands are eco-friendly in various ways, whether offering refills, using green ingredients, shipping without plastic, or a combination of those factors. One simple step may be to start with a general eco-friendly cleaning kit for the whole house.

A recent WIRED magazine’s top pick is Blueland Concentrated Cleaner Kit . You purchase a starter kit and get a few recyclable “Forever Bottles”. The refills come in the form of dissolving tablets, https://www.blueland.com

The Blueland Cleaning Kit has the Safer Choice label and uses earth-friendly boxes for shipping. 

If all this is too complicated for you, using a simple cleaner like Seventh Generation Free and Clear All Purpose Cleaner is an alternative. This is a biobased product with no fragrance and no color. Seventh Generation is a Vermont-based company that has a mission to create a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable world for the next seven generations and beyond. Their goal is that 100% of packaging will be reusable and reused, recyclable and recycled, or biodegradable and degraded by 2025.

What about those plastic laundry detergent bottles?

One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic in your household is to stop using big plastic jugs of liquid laundry detergent. According to the EPA, traditional liquid laundry detergents are usually packaged in high density polyethylene; 68% of these bottles are not recycled and contribute to the approximately 275 metric tons of plastic waste that goes into the oceans and waterways annually. 

Tru Earth Laundry Strips are an alternative to liquid or pod detergents. They are made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) so they completely dissolve in water.They are free of dyes, phosphates, and chlorine. They are low-sudsing and work in high-efficiency washers.The Tru Earth packaging is plastic-free. It comes in a cardboard envelope that’s both recyclable and biodegradable. By removing all water, the 32- load envelope weighs about 2.5 ounces, reducing  transportation costs.

Highly recommended by The Reduce Report, Dropps Laundry Pods are an absolute buy! These are EPA certified, use plant-based ingredients, High-Efficiency (HE) safe, and use carbon neutral shipping. Dropps is the original laundry detergent pod. They partner with an organization dedicated to ocean conservation, Oceana.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember the key to making any changes is to start with small changes in your everyday routines. When purchasing cleaning products, consider functionality, cost, and environmental impact. You may think that it is just a bit of cleaner, a squirt of all-purpose cleaner or a scoop of laundry detergent- how can it make a difference? But think about how much is used once you multiply it across billions of people!

Eco-friendly cleaners can reduce plastic containers from reaching landfills, avoid carbon pollution from plastic container manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions from shipping. The only way to reduce your carbon footprint is to be aware of it and to understand which of your actions are making an impact.

Yorktown100 is a 100% volunteer group of neighbors working to reduce our carbon footprint by 5% a year through various programs.   Contact us if you would like to learn more or would like to join.  Visit us at https://yorktown100.org/ and help make a difference.

Mary Ann Kelly is a retired Science teacher with a background in Environmental Science.

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