#1Thing: Zero Waste Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning
Photo credit (Getty Images)
By WCBS Newsradio 880

By Lori Melton

Spring is just around the corner and after a long cold winter, just the thought of opening the windows and letting the fresh air pour in is invigorating. The sun comes out, temperatures rise, and trees and flowers bloom around us in colorful bursts.

Nature’s reawakening reminds us of how beautiful this planet is and why it’s so important to protect it for future generations. As we look forward to decluttering and doing the annual deep cleaning, let’s remember to make eco-friendly choices and use these zero waste spring cleaning tips to do our part to honor the Earth.

The 3 Rs

Following the “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) applies to many areas of eco-friendly/zero-waste living, including cleaning the house. 

When lining up cleaning tools, to reduce waste, repurpose, reuse, and recycle what you already have. Use old towels or t-shirts as cleaning cloths, use empty spray bottles for cleaning solutions, or use a veggie scrubber as a scrub brush. Also, wood brushes with animal or plant-based bristles are eventually compostable as opposed to plastic versions.

Overall, using items on hand instead of buying new tools is always the most sustainable option.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

Many retail leaning products can contain harsh, toxic chemicals that can cause skin and eye irritation, respiratory issues, and more. Making a natural, non-toxic cleaning solution that cleans a variety of surfaces is easy.

Trash Is For Tossers has a great all-purpose eco-friendly cleaning spray recipe that combines water, distilled white vinegar, and optional scented essential oil in a glass spray bottle.

This solution is great for cleaning standard countertops, bathroom sinks, mirrors, showers, tile, stovetops, mopping floors, and so much more. However, you shouldn’t use it on marble or granite counters because vinegar is acidic. Nature’s Nurture has an alternative natural recipe for those.

Mixing Castille soap and baking soda into a paste is also effective for removing soap scum in showers, sinks, and tubs.

Conserve Water

An important part of doing zero waste cleaning is conserving vital natural resources, such as water, along the way. Be mindful of how many times you fill and rinse cleaning buckets and bottles. Also, when scrubbing out sinks, surfaces, showers, and car exteriors never waste water by leaving the faucet or garden hose running. Always turn the water off while cleaning and scrubbing an area and only turn it back on to complete a timely rinse.

Donate to Declutter

Decluttering closets, drawers, and other storage spaces is an important part of doing a thorough spring cleaning. When swapping out heavy winter coats and sweaters for warmer weather options, remember to support zero waste living by donating items you no longer need.

Also consider repurposing well-worn towels, tees, and other pieces as cleaning rags. If you’re crafty, you can also make pillows, quilts, and gloves from old sweaters, concert jerseys, socks, and more.

Another fun decluttering option is to hold a neighborhood swap event or yard sale. The goal is to give old items a new life instead of tossing them into the overcrowded landfills.

Compost Food Scraps

Most of us clean out the refrigerator much more frequently than during an annual spring cleaning. If you’re adding this to your seasonal zero waste cleaning list, remember to compost any food and produce scraps to help replenish the Earth. 

If you’ve never composted and are wondering how to start, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers some simple guidelines.

In general, a compost pile contains three core materials: Browns (hay and straw, dead branches, twigs, and leaves), Greens (fruit and veggie scraps, grass clippings, yard trimmings, houseplants), and water.

You can build a compost pile outdoors in a dry, shaded spot in the yard or indoors in a special bin. Moisten dry ingredients as you add them. Once the pile is ready, you can spread it as a natural fertilizer in the garden to enrich the soil and watch your garden grow.