Spring’s warmer weather brings thoughts of renewal and new beginnings. Purging items that no longer serve, organizing household clutter, and developing new eco-friendly habits are just some of the ways I like to usher in the change of season. Remember, going green is less about perfection, and more about making small adjustments over time. I’ve personally found these three simple swaps are a great way to start any sustainable journey, particularly if you’re concerned about ditching toxic household chemicals and single-use plastics.
1. Choose eco-friendly cleaners
As someone with multiple chemical sensitivity and atopic dermatitis, I find that most commercial cleaners trigger asthma, migraine, and skin reactions. While anyone can make a simple 1:1 vinegar and water mixture for a food-safe kitchen and bathroom spray, sometimes you need a product that packs a little more punch. For me, that was the All Purpose Cleaner from The Bare Home.
While every product we sell at Ardent Earth is vetted by our strict ethical and environmental guidelines, this cleanser also impressed us by:
- Being made of completely biodegradable ingredients with a 28 day lifecycle
- Ensuring all ingredients derived from plants (coconut and corn), not petroleum
- Having scents crafted with essential oils instead of artificial fragrance
- Being dye free, as well as phosphate free
- Packaged in a recyclable glass bottle
- Being developed right here in Ontario
- With the added plus of being vegan, cruelty free, and pet friendly
Ingredients: Aqua, Alkoxylated Fatty Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, C9-11 Pareth-6, Ethylhexylglycerin, Organic Leptospermum Petersonii (Lemon Tea Tree) leaf Oil.
Doing more with less by finding a great all-purpose cleanser to tackle multiple areas of the home saves not only money, but reduces the chemical footprint returning to our environment.
2. Switch to reusable tools and supplies
Because the average family uses around two rolls of paper towels per week, it's no wonder that paper waste is quickly overwhelming our waste sites. American company, Recyclenation, reported around 254 million tons of paper-towel trash goes straight into the landfill a year, and that number has only grown since 2009. Reusable Paperless Towels made from cotton (or terry cloth) offer great alternatives to single-use products. They’re just as equipped to take on your toughest stains and spills without any risk of shredding. Ours are handmade from 100% cotton deadstock fabric, and come in an array of colours and designs. The best part? They go right in the wash afterwards, saving money you would have spent on paper towels, but also reducing the amount of trash produced on a weekly basis.
Zero-waste scrub brushes, sponge cloths, dish scrubbers, and non-toxic dish soaps are great green substitutes as well. Not ready to make the switch to fully sustainable cleaning? Try using up what you have on hand first, such as repurposing old toothbrushes, or upcycling flannel bed sheets into reusable cloths. Any of these options will help keep unwanted textile and paper waste out of our environment.
3. Declutter mindfully
Charities and drop off centers are a good start, but they aren’t always the answer. A lot of second hand stores get overwhelmed in Spring, especially with people purging their closets and garages. Instead of risking those items going into the trash, I’m a big fan of using buy-nothing groups and second-hand marketplaces such as Bunz, Poshmark, and Facebook Marketplace. I’m happy knowing my unwanted items are going where they’re genuinely appreciated, plus it always feels great to make local community connections.
Sadly, around 80 to 90 percent of existing clothing isn’t being resold in Canada. Many charities running clothing boxes can only resell about half of what they collect, and half of that still actually sells to the public. Because charities like the Salvation Army are so popular, their second-hand items only have around 4 weeks to sell before they’re replaced by incoming donations. While for profit companies like Value Village do agree to take some of the unsold load, only around a quarter of that is publicly sold. The rest ends up in a landfill, meaning only around three-quarters of donated clothing actually ever finds a second home.
If you’re local to Toronto, and buy-nothing groups aren’t for you, an alternative drop off site for your gently used clothing is CAMH. CAMH - Suits me fine is a free clothing store designed to equip disadvantaged job seekers with appropriate business, court and special events attire. For non-business clothing, Double Take is a great alternative thrift store option who actively support local artists, and give back to our community through second-hand sales. They’re parented by the Yonge Street Mission.
However you decide to refresh your space this spring, I hope these suggestions will inspire you to make eco-friendly choices and help greenify your space. Did you enjoy this article? Let me know in the comments what your favourite green spring cleaning tip is, and what your plans are to reduce impacts on our environment in 2023.