It must be spring. It’s not so much the extended sunlight, the warmer weather, or even the greening grass that’s brought the new season to my attention, as it is the talk of cleaning. I’ve even been invited a spring cleaning party. Rather, a series of parties: a group of women are all banding together, and each week they tackle one house. It’s an effective and sociable strategy for diving into spring-cleaning, and this year I am looking forward to taking the green approach.
Spring-cleaning is the ritualized act of scrubbing, scouring, and sorting through all those places that the cold winter weather makes it hard to access. It is a time for freshening up, getting rid of clutter, and finally cleaning out the garage. But before you rent a BFI bin and park it in your driveway, here are few tips to make your clean up a little bit greener.
Substitute chemical cleaners for baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda can be used on almost any surface and can be used much like Comet or Ajax. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it to clean and disinfect. If the smell of vinegar turns you off (more than the smell of chemical cleaners), add a few drops of your favourite aromatherapy oil and shake prior to use. If you still prefer to use conventional cleaners, consider switching to biodegradable products. Earth-friendly products are higher in price, but are convenient as they are available in most grocery stores.
A garage sale is, of course, a time-honoured way to get a bit of a return on your unwanted goods. Selling old furniture, books, kitchenware, clothing, and so on can make for a profitable cleaning. It is time-consuming, however, to spend a Saturday minding the sale tables in your front yard, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll sell everything you want to. But don’t despair, if you’re not the garage sale type, there’s still a few ways to avoid a trip to the dump.
Many items can be donated to local charities, thrift stores, and fundraisers. Phone around to see if there are any church or community garage sales coming up that you can donate your goods to. For less desirable items such as old, torn clothing, the odds and ends from your junk drawer, old wrapping paper, magazines, or other paper products, call your local community center, elementary school, or Brownie troop to see if they would be interested in any of your items for crafts. Just the other day, when the Girl Guides came around selling cookies, I asked one of the moms if they accepted donations for crafts — she left me her phone number and told me to call when I was ready and she’d come pick it up. Easy.
Many hospitals and senior citizen lodges will accept book donations, provided they are appropriate (maybe weed out Naked Came the Stranger). Consider this before you toss your old paperbacks into the recycling bin or trash can.
With advances in recycling technology and awareness, items that were once left for dead back alleys, are now recyclable. Call your local recycling center to see what unconventional items they accept for recycling (TVs, computers, etc.) and, for what they don’t accept, ask if they know of any recycling programs that do. A call to your neighbourhood group or community center may also provide you with information about recycling. Cellphones and MP3 players can often be returned to the company for recycling. Rogers provides recycling boxes in their video stores and mall outlets for cellphones of any brand.
With a little bit of effort and recycling, reusing, or donating your unwanted items, not only can you clean out your house, basement, or garage, but you can also have a clean conscience knowing that your method of cleaning is almost as green as the spring-time grass.