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Spring is a great time to renew your practices for — and commitment to — sustainability in daily living
In the fall of 2020, then-presidential-candidate Joe Biden referred to the upcoming colder months as a “very dark winter.” Now that those dangerous months are officially behind us, it’s time to move forward into a more hopeful spring.
As we all prepare for the warmer weather, it’s important to recalibrate. One area that was often back-burnered in the rush to stay safe was sustainability. Here are a few ways to help put eco-friendly habits back in the spotlight as you enjoy the sunny weather, warm breezes, and fresh smells of the next few months.
One of the easiest ways to stay sustainable this spring is by using the right cleaning products. The beginning of the warmer season is renowned for its effect to inspire individuals to dust, mop, scrub, and otherwise clean their living spaces. This desire to give your space a spring cleaning is a good one.
However, it can also lead to filling your home with layers of harmful chemicals and clouds of noxious fumes. Many commercial and industrial cleaners use very powerful ingredients — and make no mistake, they can clean a surface like nobody’s business. However, they can also harm your skin, your lungs, your loved ones, and the Earth itself.
If you want to keep the Earth in mind while you’re cleaning your space, it’s wise to swap out the overpowered cleaners for gentler (though often still very effective) green alternatives. Many benefits come with using eco-friendly cleaning products in your home, such as:
- Reducing pollution;
- Preserving your possessions longer;
- Helping protect your skin and guard against allergies;
- And even saving money (for instance, vinegar is a popular natural cleaner).
While green cleaners are great, it’s important to do your homework before you buy. Review each brand and product to see if they genuinely stick to their commitment to sustainability. While you’re at it, also take the time to see if each product is actually effective according to consumer reviews so that you know whether or not it can get the job done.
Repurpose with Larger Projects
Sometimes that spring cleaning itch can really take off. When that happens, you can find yourself doing more than simply scrubbing floors and swapping out clothes.
The spring can be the perfect time to tackle larger projects like building a porch, repairing a roof, or putting up a fence. If that’s the case for you, make sure to do your best to be sustainable as you do so. You can do this by:
- Repurposing old and unused construction materials;
- Asking manufacturers if there are discarded or overflow material options that will otherwise be thrown away;
- Making sure to use eco-friendly building materials whenever you can.
If you decide to hire a professional contractor to do a larger project, you can still add a splash of green to the activity by looking for an eco-conscious company to hire. Many contractors have made an effort to clean up their act by sourcing materials, improving transparency, and engaging in corporate social responsibility initiatives.
If you do go the professional route, though, be careful who you hire. Many companies will practice greenwashing in their marketing without really making an effort to adjust how they do business. Greenwashing professes to practice sustainable and eco-friendly processes while continuing to use the same harmful ones “behind closed doors.”
Get That Garden Going
Sustainability with your food intake is the number one way that you can lower your carbon footprint. This means patronizing eco-friendly brands every time you step foot in a grocery store all year round.
However, in the spring, there is another way that you can beef up your earth-friendly food sourcing efforts: by planting a garden. There are endless personal and communal benefits of gardening. However, the other natural side effect of a well-tended plot of land is that it can help you operate more sustainably.
By growing food right in your own backyard, you can reduce the number of food miles for some of your groceries to zero. Additionally, the cultivation of plants can improve air quality while simultaneously helping you maintain a more mindful attitude toward the Earth that we all share.
Getting into a Green Mindset This Spring
From cleaning to planting to building, many activities take place in the spring. All of these are very rewarding, but they also have a lot of potential to be harmful to the Earth.
If you want to approach the spring with a sustainable mindset, take the time to do things like purchase green cleaning supplies or hire an eco-friendly contractor. This doesn’t just reduce the impact of each activity. It can also help you reorder your priorities as you attempt to pick back up with the important things in life in a post-pandemic world.
Here’s a resource describing many types of gardens…I’m sure there will be some surprises in there!
You may also enjoy reading Sustainability & Purpose: Living In Concert with Our Ecology and Humanity, by Bill Miles including an interview with Leif Skogberg.