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Greening Your Spring Cleaning

Patch offers some handy tips to get you in the spring cleaning mood.

As of Sunday, March 20, it officially became spring in Minnesota. Aside from that lovely parting gift that hit the region last week, of course. It has been a long, trying winter, and while the word doesn’t dictate the weather, I have to admit I’m pretty happy to see it.  

That said, spring isn’t all skipping through fields of dandelions and basking in the warm return of sunshine. There’s work to be done. Spring cleaning is upon us once again.

We have the choice to approach this resentfully, scowling at our reflections while we wipe our mirrors clean, or with the resolve of eco-dedicated neat freaks, knowing there is catharsis in scrubbing the neglected corners of our bathrooms and finally sorting through that old pile of sweaters. Read on for a few nifty eco-minded tips to get you in the spring cleaning mood.

The One Year Rule 

This is a rule I’ve lived by for a while. I may or may not have originally seen it on Oprah. It goes like this: Take a look at your closet. A good, close look.

If you’re like me, by the time spring cleaning rolls around, you have items for every season and situation draped over each other in indistinguishable piles that could be likened to a cotton landfill. This is a less than conducive way to get dressed and start your day.

To solve this cluttered conundrum, take anything you haven’t worn in a year—not counting formalwear—and donate it. It’s a charitable and eco-friendly way to clean out one of the most muddled areas in your house. I often donate to the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota. Not only is it a good cause, but they accept both clothing and household items directly from your doorstep. It doesn’t get much easier than that. 

Swap Those Impulse Purchases

Admit it—you have a stash of barely used items at home that you were convinced you needed, had to have, would finally solve problem xyz. And you were wrong.

So now all these lonely products are crowding up much needed storage space and making you feel guilty about the money and waste. Good news: this is true for practically everyone.

Fret not, as there’s a great way to purge the products and guilt at the same time. Stage an impulse purchase intervention with your friends and swap out unwanted items. Recycle whatever you can that’s leftover. Who knows, maybe someone else bought the thing that really will solve that problem.

Take Advantage of the Many, Many Uses of Vinegar 

Time-tested, natural and environmentally friendly, this wonder substance can be used as everything from salad dressing to stain remover. It also works as a handy cleaner, safe for the environment and safe for you.

Leave the scary harsh chemical cleaners behind and start working with something you won’t have to call Poison Control over if you accidentally ingest a bit. I won’t get into how or why you might be ingesting your cleaning agents. Let’s just leave it at the simple fact that vinegar isn’t nearly as frightening as the list of unpronounceable mystery ingredients on your typical cleaner.

Kill germs by spraying down surfaces with white distilled vinegar and then wiping them down. Vinegar also works to clean grout, remove mildew and other icky things from tubs and tile. Check this website for more than 1,000 other uses. 

Dusty Gibson of local company reminds us there really is no such thing as a chemical-free cleaning product. Technically, water is a chemical, air is a chemical and essential oils are chemicals.

There are, however, earth-friendly product lines that make use of the natural chemicals. Distinctive Cleaning uses Caldrea—green and local, as the company is based in Minneapolis. You can use Caldrea, other eco product lines or, apparently, vinegar.

Ashle Briggs Horton April 01, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Quick note: The direct link to scheduling your donation pickup with the Lupus Foundation of MN is: http://www.lupuspickup.org Thanks to Sara Otto at the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota for that information.

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