Make spring cleaning Earth-friendly


Spring cleaning? Don’t forget the environment!

The irony is that in making your home brighter and fresher, you may inadvertently soil the air and water. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Nothing is completely safe. Almost anything we
    dump down our drains, even if derived from plants and other “natural”
    substances, can cause problems. Even with the increasing number of greener
    products on the market, none is perfectly safe for the earth.
  • Don’t accept vague claims. Words like
    “biodegradable” or “nontoxic” have no legal definitions.
    Ask companies to substantiate their environmental claims in plain English.
  • Avoid cleaners containing phosphates.
    They biodegrade totally and quickly. But when they get into rivers and
    lakes, they cause algae blooms, robbing the water of oxygen, blocking sunlight,
    and ultimately killing marine life.
  • Minimize use of bleaches. The most common
    bleach is chlorine, which in wastewater can create toxic compounds.
    Non-chlorine bleaches are gentler to clothes and the environment, though they
    are less effective in colder-water temperatures, requiring more
    energy-intensive hot water.
  • Buy concentrates whenever possible. Ask manufacturers
    to produce refillable versions that allow you to refill a spray bottle by
    adding water to a packaged concentrate.
  • Check with local authorities. Contact a Poison
    Control Center (usually listed in the front of the phone book) if you are
    unsure about a product. Most centers have data about chemicals’  health hazards

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