The arrival of spring brings the promise of warmer weather, a new hope that winter hibernation will finally come to an end, and of course the urge to purge our homes of all the things we've hoarded over winter months.
We find it counter-intuitive that during the spring clean ritual, we'd rely on toxic chemicals that typical cleaning products are filled with, not to mention polluting the planet with single-use plastics in the wake.
Every year popular media encourages us to chuck out the things that no longer bring us joy and over order on kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, wooden floor cleaner, window cleaner… well, you get the idea.
This year let's try being more mindful and approach the time of reinvention with the intention to produce less waste. Here are some quick tips on how to spring clean without generating mountains of waste.
Can the things that no longer bring you joy be repurposed? Those old band T-shirts can make excellent kitchen cleaning cloths and broom mops, way better than using microfibre cloths that are 100% plastic and leach microplastics in the washing machine. Don’t forget about repairing and mending as well. Breathing new life into things that have a little wear and tear is an excellent way to switch off from daily stress and to re-organise your house.
If something no longer serves you but is still in good condition, make an effort to donate it instead of sending it to the landfill. Finally, if nothing else works, consider recycling old clothes. While clothing recycling is still in its nascency, there are more options available today. Some brands might even take old clothing back to recycle it and give it another life. While we believe recycling should be the last resort, it is better than items ending up in the landfill or oceans where they live forever.
Avoid toxic cleaning products
We cannot stress this enough. The pollutants from harsh chemicals in innocently packed cleaning products that are used daily, cause more harm than good. The whole purpose of spring clean is to make sure that your home is fresh and clean after the long winter months of inadequate ventilation and stuffiness. Why ruin that with toxic chemicals that hide in mainstream cleaning products? Opt for non-toxic cleaners like Spruce or make your own to shield your home from nasty indoor air pollution.
Look to your pantry for a universal cleaner
Baking soda has been used as a cleaning ingredient since Egyptian times. We feel like it's under-appreciated in our lives. If it was good enough for our grandmothers, why can’t it be good enough for us? It can be used as a powerful oven cleaner, drain unblocker and more.
Do not mix cleaning products
Mostcleaning products come with a warning that they should not be mixed with other products, and for good reason. Although, based on popular practices, we can be sure these warning signs are ignored and more than one product is often used in a closed space. Certain products when mixed together, release toxic fumes or VOC's (volatile organic compounds) that are known to cause health issues such as eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, nausea, damage to organs and central nervous system. These are the same compounds that cause smog. We'd recommend staying clear of such strong chemical cleaners, to begin with, but if you must use them, please read the label carefully, use them cautiously with ample ventilation and store them away from children.
Go on a rubbish collection walk
You've cleaned your home, hurray! If you have any energy or time left, why not go outside and help to clean up our planet too? Low waste and clean living have an obvious connection with honouring our environment. Make some time this spring to make your local community just a little bit tidier.
And lastly, be mindful. Whilst everyone around you is preaching to scrub your house down with bleach and to throw away things to lighten the load, focus on creating a safe space. Mending and repurposing can be a mindful task. Avoiding toxic cleaning products that pollute our homes and the planet will give you peace of mind. You can pat yourself on the back for a responsible spring clean this year.
Happy Spring Sprucing, everyone!
Words by Sofya Zakharova. Image by Stacey Sutcliffe.