While household cleaning is a necessary chore, it’s also an opportunity to make eco-friendly choices that benefit your home and the environment. Many cleaning products are made with harmful materials, contribute to pollution, and end up in landfills. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air quality within our homes can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. This is thanks in part to harmful chemicals found in conventional cleaning supplies.
Fortunately, environmentally-friendly options are available, and even ways to create your own using items you may already have at home. Are you ready to live more sustainably while also improving your health and well-being? Use these eco-conscious tips for household cleaning.
1. DIY Your Household Cleaning Products
Whether you’re shopping for food, skincare, or household cleaning products, it can be challenging to determine what ingredients are tucked away in the packaging. Long, difficult-to-pronounce ingredient names and cunning marketing tactics can leave you at a loss when attempting to make the right choice.
Additionally, store-bought cleaning products often come with a few other hidden environmental effects — from the transportation and fuel usage of these items to the toxic chemicals and excess water used to make them. Start with simple, DIY cleaning recipes when attempting more eco-friendly household cleaning. Making your own products can save you money and minimize the environmental impact of transportation and packaging.
Want to know a simple hack to environmentally-friendly cleaning products? Start with the ingredients below:
- White Vinegar: Vinegar’s acidic nature makes it an excellent anti-bacterial, and it’s powerful enough to dissolve grease, mineral deposits, and grime.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: A disinfectant, deodorizer, and gentle ingredient, hydrogen peroxide should be one of your main go-to’s. It’s anti-bacterial, -fungal, -mold, and -mildew too!
- Castile Soaps: Biodegradable and non-toxic, liquid castile soap can clean surfaces like counters, floors, bathtubs, and even laundry.
- Essential Oils: Not a fan of vinegar’s acidic smell? You can make any cleaner smell like gardenia, eucalyptus, lemon, and more with a little essential oil.
Having each of these items in your home can make for a myriad of different green cleaning products — from all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergent to bathroom and dish scrubs.
Note: Never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar. This mixture can create toxic fumes.
2. Research the Cleaning Brands You’re Purchasing
Truly sustainable brands ensure their products are as eco-friendly as possible from start to finish — from their packaging and manufacturing practices to the actual product being sold. Research the companies you’re shopping from to make an informed decision.
One way to ensure your products are sustainably sourced is by checking for sustainability reports. The right company will share the environmental impact of its products from the top down and inform customers of what steps they’re taking to improve sustainability.
3. Opt for Sustainable Packaging
It’s not just what’s in the container that can negatively affect the environment. The packaging the product comes in is also something to consider. You may want to avoid a few things when shopping for sustainable products and tools.
Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, never entirely deteriorate. They can also release harmful toxins into the atmosphere over time. Consider this fact alongside how often single-use plastics are used and the damaging extraction and transportation processes used to make them. The statistics are staggering.
- Single-use plastics don’t biodegrade. Most of the plastic ever made still exists on the Earth, not including the minimal amount incinerated.
- Plastic packaging and containers contributed to over 14.5 million tons of solid waste in 2018. This number is only expected to grow.
- When extracting and transporting the fossil fuels needed to create plastic, factories emit an estimated 12.5 to 13.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.
- Roughly 14 million tons of plastic end up in oceans worldwide yearly.
Avoid single-use plastics and plastic bottles as much as possible when shopping for cleaning products. This includes carrying reusable shopping bags, buying products in bulk to reduce plastic waste, and choosing reusable containers over one-use packaging materials.
The heavier an item is, the more resources it needs to get from the production factory to your home. Consider liquid laundry detergent bottles, for example. They’re often quite heavy and are full of liquid. Because of this, they typically take up more space in shipping containers, require more fuel to get from point A to point B, and require an excessive amount of water to create.
When attempting to be more environmentally conscious, opt for smaller, lightweight options instead. You could also stop by a refill store or subscribe to a refill subscription service like Blueland for your products.
4. Choose Environmentally-Friendly Cleaning Tools
The environmental impact of conventional household cleaning tools is not to be taken lightly. Many cleaning options, like sponges, brushes, and mops, are made with synthetic, non-biodegradable materials and can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. Additionally, the production, transportation, and disposal of these tools often contribute to pollution and harm to wildlife and ecosystems.
Many sustainable cleaning supplies, however, are made with eco-conscious materials, are biodegradable, and often have a smaller carbon footprint. They are also designed to be more durable and long-lasting, reducing the need for frequent replacements. Here are a few ways to start cleaning with an eco-conscious approach.
Use items you already have.
Before discarding old household items, consider repurposing them into eco-friendly cleaning tools. For example, you can cut up old t-shirts and use them as cleaning rags, and you can use old toothbrushes to clean tight spaces or as scrub brushes.
Choose compostable and biodegradable options.
Some cleaning tools, such as dish brushes and scrubbers, are made from compostable or biodegradable materials such as bamboo, coconut coir, or natural fibers. These tools can be composted for zero waste cleaning or will naturally break down in the environment, reducing their environmental impact.
Read the labels and product descriptions of the tools you’re purchasing.
To understand the materials used in the cleaning tool you’re buying, check the label carefully. Are they biodegradable, compostable, or made from recycled materials? How does their production affect the environment? Doing a little research beforehand can reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the planet for future generations.
5. Conserve Water While Cleaning
Conserving water is not only essential for our planet’s sustainability, but it also plays a crucial role in eco-friendly cleaning practices. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American household uses about 300 gallons of water daily, and a significant portion of that is used for indoor cleaning tasks.
To help reduce your environmental impact, be mindful of your water usage during cleaning routines. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.
- Turn off the tap while scrubbing dishes
- Use a bucket instead of a hose for outdoor cleaning to prevent wasteful overuse
- Fix any leaks in your home as soon as possible
- Use reusable spray bottles instead of running water to wash surfaces. This allows you to control the amount of water you use
Remember, every drop counts! By being conscious of your water usage and adopting these water-saving practices, you can contribute to conserving this precious resource and help protect our planet’s water supply for years to come.
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Sustainable living comes down to more than just the cleaning products you use — it also means making wise investments when it comes to things like furniture. Don’t fall for the trappings of fast furniture — instead, invest in long-lasting, stylish options.
Do your part to end the devastating effects of “fast furniture” by investing in durable, quality-made, beautiful furniture that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Make sure that this year’s furniture doesn’t end up in next year’s landfill.
CORT Furniture Outlet is your ultimate go-to for big savings on high-quality items. Durability is top of mind, and our business model is sustainable by nature. Shop sustainably in-store or online and take up to 70% off new and gently used furniture and decor items today.