Spring Cleaning Sustainably

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 4.32.56 PMSpring Cleaning Sustainably (Week #16)

“Spring breeze—

the pine on the ridge

whispers it”

Haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1804)

After Earth Day and around Arbor Day I begin an annual ritual I have enjoyed for many decades, “Spring Cleaning”. It’s origins can be traced back to the Persian practice of khooneh tekouni, which literally means ”shaking the house”.

In the midst of “the rebirth of nature”, our Midwestern family in the late 50’s, were recruited for a full weekend of running mattresses outside, hanging Persian rugs and draperies for a day of sunshine (and a good batting), dusting, sweeping, floor and window-washing. That was followed by the next weekend’s cleaning of the garage and a yard sale. Visions of our Scandanavian ancestors stuffing hay into their beds comes to mind.

We had a family of six, whose sports, camping and collecting recquired my mother’s diligent Army commando style direction to keep us focused on our respective cleaning and purging tasks. I recall, the pungent smell of cedar oil, ammonia, bleach, Fels-Naftha and trisodium phosphate. There was ample time for hijinks and fun. Driving our parent’s crazy was the objective of four creatively active offspring who reluctantly gave up a weekend of teenage activities. We had pillow fights, water hose competitions and attic theatricals to relieve the tedium of our chores. A spotless home with clean air and more space after a Minnesotan winter was appreciated by all.

I remember it as a pleasantly cathartic opportunity for humor and prankdom that required increased inspiration, as we grew older. Let us know what your family tradition of “Spring Cleaning” was by commenting below.


Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 4.57.14 AM

This week, your challenge is to practice the 6 R’s while we “Spring Clean” in a sustainable way to create the space to move forward towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle!

The HOW:

  1. Toss out the toxins in your life. Whether it’s old food, toys, clothes, or other mental or physical clutter. Self-improvement and advancement need room to grow. Utilize decluttr, craigs list, free cycle, thredup and sports gift to donate, recycle and sell all your “stuff”. Have a yard sale!
  2. Look at the pattern to your clutter. Are there too many dead plants, paintings, books, magazines or toys? Is there some emotional programming you need to rewire?
  3. Learn to be selective. We absorb the energy of the people and objects with whom we associate. Be proactive about your daily choices after you consider their full impact.
  4. Liberate your true identity. Look at what you own versus who you are. Liberating yourself from the past possessions and unsustainable habits, diets and practices will maximize your present lifestyle and “spring it forward”.
  5. Make room for the new sustainable you to emerge. With the new “space” in your environment, you will have the room to be creative and make smarter choices.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 5.36.27 AMNote:

The EPA suggests the following five guiding principles when purchasing sustainable cleaning products:

1.  Include environmental considerations as part of the normal purchasing process.

Emphasize pollution prevention as part of the purchasing process.

3. Examine multiple environmental attributes throughout the product and service’s life cycle.

4. Compare environmental impacts when selecting products and services.

5. Collect accurate and meaningful environmental information about environmental performance of products and services.

The Deep Dive:

Complete listing of each type of spring cleaning checklists, schedules, seasonal chores can be found here.

Try either of these DIY laundry solutions. They work well, are inexpensive and keep your clothes fresh and soft: Hippychick’s recipe for 4 gallons of your own laundry soap here. Getting Raw’s DIY laundry detergent & softener here.

Try commercial green cleaning products such as MethodSeventh GenerationSimple GreenGreenWorksMrs. Meyer’sEcoverDr. Bronner’sBiokleenOptionsForLife or other manufacturers.

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