Small Steps to Going Green with Cleaning

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By Jean Hill

April 22nd is International Earth Day and this year the focus is to end plastic pollution.  There is a large and growing body of research on the harmful effects on plastic on the environment and in oceans. Living in Jacksonville, Florida, with the Atlantic Ocean so close, thinking about the health of the water, beaches, and marine life is very important to me.

I believe there are lots of simple ways from a cleaning perspective as well as home organization to think about our use of plastic and to consider how (as The Earth Day Network is encouraging the public) to Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, and Remove plastic from our daily lives.

The statistics are shocking: The Earth Day Network says that if nothing changes in our plastic consumption habits, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight)! Since plastics are not biodegradable, they stay around forever. Only a small proportion are recycled or incinerated – 79% is in landfills.

So what can you do in your home?

  • Use micro cloths for cleaning which you can wash and REUSE – or tear up old towels, dish towels, even t-shirts for cleaning cloths.
  • Buy cleaning products in bulk sizes and transfer to a smaller container you’ve kept of the same product – not only will you save money, but you’ll REDUCE how many containers you are purchasing annually.
  • Make DIY cleaning products from vinegar, baking soda and other ingredients that are greener and don’t require the purchase of a plastic can.
  • RECYCLE a toothbrush that’s done for cleaning teeth, to be a small scrubbing tool for your cleaning needs.
  • Use glass storage containers for leftovers or REUSE plastic deli meat containers with lids as leftover storage containers so they have more than a single ‘life’. Those store containers can also be used for storing elastics, batteries, pens, any small items you are trying to organize.
  • Use a pretty glass pitcher for water for the family or use refillable water bottles with filtered water instead of single use plastic bottle of water.
  • Consider storage containers for clothes, scarves and other things that could be made from cloth, natural woven materials, or lightweight wood.
  • Of course, when you shop (for groceries or anything else), take cute tote bags with you that you can REUSE (and wash when they get dirty).
  • For children, buy a set of melamine dishes which will last longer rather than flimsy plastic cups or plates and thereby REDUCE the amount of plastic on which you put food for your children.

I’d encourage you to calculate your plastic consumption (https://www.earthday.org/plastic-calculator/) I was surprised at our annual “plastic pollution footprint”!  Every small step or change is a step in the right direction!

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