Spring is in the air and you know what that means...spring cleaning! But have you ever wondered how to make your cleaning routine more environmentally friendly? Read on to find out more!
Eco-friendly, green, and natural seem to be big buzzwords these days. There are so many resources out there to help you live a more environmentally friendly, less toxic, and more sustainable lifestyle. There’s so much information that it can be hard to know where to begin! But this isn’t something you have to tackle all at once. By starting with small lifestyle changes (such as switching to re-usable grocery and produce bags) or small changes in the products you use, you can begin to slowly develop a healthier, greener home and lifestyle over time.
What is Green Cleaning?
Green cleaning means using cleaning products in your home that are safe, natural, and environmentally friendly. Switching to greener kitchen and bathroom cleaners, soaps, and detergents may seem like small changes, but they can still make an impact!
What products should you use? With so many products on the market claiming to be “green” and “natural,” it can be hard to know what products actually meet those criteria. “Greenwashing” is a common problem these days. Greenwashing is a marketing strategy where a company advertises themselves as being “green” or provides misleading environmental claims to the consumer, while not actually meeting any specific environmental standards.
If you’d rather avoid the sometimes confusing territory of choosing environmentally safe products from stores, there is always the option to make your own cleaning products! There are many recipes available online and in books. Check out your local library to see what green cleaning books they have available! Two of my favourite at-home ingredients to use for cleaning are white vinegar and baking soda. There are many ingredients you might already have at home that you can use!
What to Look For
Of course, not everyone has the time or the desire to make their own cleaning products! If you’d prefer to buy ready-made products, how can you tell which products are actually safe and environmentally friendly? One of the best ways is to look for an environmental certification label or “ecolabel” on the product itself. These labels are provided by third-party organizations, and products must often meet rigorous environmental standards in terms of both ingredients and production to obtain these certifications. You can search for ecolabels on websites such as the Ecolabel Index. This website allows you to search all ecolabels used worldwide, or you can filter your search by country. Some common labels include the Green Seal Label (US) and the EcoLogo Certification Label (Canada). More information regarding Canadian and international ecolabels can be found at the websites below:
Online environmental databases can also be useful, such as the “Skin Deep” database provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Their database provides safety and environmental information for a wide range of ingredients and products on the market, from cleaning products to personal care items and cosmetics.
However, it is important to remember not to rely on these databases completely. Limited data and other factors can make them not 100% reliable. Databases can be helpful, but I personally prefer to stick with certified ecolabels as my main factor when choosing products for my home. It’s important to do your own research when looking for safe and environmentally friendly products! Even if you decide to only use products with ecolabels, it’s important to know what those ecolabels actually mean as well.
Re-Use and Recycle
If you are buying cleaning products or home products such as soaps or detergents from stores, a good way to reduce your environmental footprint is to buy your products in bulk or to bring refillable containers to the store that you can keep re-using. This option is often available in smaller local stores. See what’s available in your town! And if you can’t use refillable containers, it’s always good to recycle! Another good tip is to avoid using disposable cleaning items such as single-use wipes or other items that cannot be re-used.
If all of this information seems a bit overwhelming, that’s okay! It’s okay to start small. If everyone makes a small step, it can make a much bigger change for the future. We’re all in this together!
By Kate at FWIO