How To Reduce Waste And Clean More Sustainably
Sustainable living is becoming far more than a buzzword or marketing statement. It’s becoming a national movement, embedding itself in our everyday lives. Living a sustainable life is now far more likely to be the ‘norm’, compared to a few decades ago when anyone wanting to live a greener lifestyle was considered an eco-warrior or tree hugging hippy.
We are making careful choices about where our food comes from and even trace our eggs right down to the farm they are collected. Consumers can live stream farms where animals are raised for dairy or meat and supermarkets are leading the way in sow free stall farming and the phasing out of battery hen farming practices. We are also moving away from ‘fast fashion’; instead, we choose well made, locally produced clothing and soft furnishings to reduce waste and minimise negative impact on the environment. We are looking at bringing cleaner, greener practices across all areas of the home, even in our daily housework and cleaning practices.
How do you reduce waste and clean more sustainably in the home?
Today’s commercial and office cleaners approach companies with innovative green cleaning programs. They provide commercial practices and processes which funnel waste streams, diverting waste from landfill and offer environmentally friendly chemicals which are kinder to both the environment and the health of employees. However, how do we implement green cleaning practices and ethical waste management in the home? Is it as easy without a program and infrastructure in place? We are here to tell you, yes it is!
Let’s start with reducing waste
The phrase purchasing power is commonly attributed to the dollars spent in retail, and the influence consumers have on the market. Purchasing power is a valuable tool to influence change when it comes to reducing waste and packaging, and consumers already see changes at the supermarket checkout. For example; the banning of single-use plastic bags in Australia and the introduction of cheaper ‘ugly fruit and veg’ has had a hugely positive influence when it comes to addressing throw away consumerism.
When you’re in the grocery aisle, opt for loose fruit and veg, avoiding the prepackaged, pre-cut and portioned items wrapped in cling film. You may also want to consider avoiding your local supermarket chain entirely and opt instead for the local farmers market or wholesale food stores which are growing in number. Not only will you instantly reduce the garbage heading to your waste bin, but you’ll also find that buying these items saves you money when it comes to the weekly grocery budget too!
Finally, do you need to purchase at all? The current craze of ‘sparking joy’ with Marie Kondo has transformed cluttered homes to minimalistic, pleasing, harmonizing places to live. Do you need to buy a cheap plastic toy every time you hit the store with the kids? If you have five little black dresses, do you really need a sixth, all because it’s on sale? Every item you buy will at some point end up in the garbage, so it’s worth thinking about which waste stream it will fall into before you commit to buy.
Second Hand Is Fashionable
Shows such as American Pickers and Pawn Stars have made it cool to re-use, recycle and search out flea markets, collectors and garage sales for bargains. Vintage and secondhand furniture is highly collectable, and upcycled chairs and ‘shabby chic’ tables are in demand to furnish contemporary homes. Before you throw out any household items, consider if they can be sold, donated or upcycled to give a new lease of life. Can your sturdy kitchen table be given a new look by replacing the top only? Do you have a friend, or know a charitable organization that would welcome a set of mismatched draws or bed frame? Do you have boxes of books residents of your local aged care home may devour, or could you set up a community lending library? Before you buy new, see what has already been manufactured and keep the product life cycle moving.
Waste isn’t always seen
Reducing waste makes us think in terms of the amount of garbage bags heading to the kerbside bin when, in fact, not all waste is visible. Are you letting the tap run while you brush your teeth or clean the shower? Are electrical items left on standby? Are your white goods and light bulbs guzzling power when there are low energy products on the market? What you consume isn’t always visible or tangible and when it comes time to replace your dishwasher or washing machine, think about which appliance will impact the environment the least.
Are you bringing toxins into your home?
You can’t control what happens out there in the world when it comes to toxic chemical usage and mass consumerism, but you can control what comes over your doorstep and into your bathrooms, kitchens and living spaces. The term ‘toxic chemicals’ may make you think of nuclear power plants and sprawling toxic waste dumps which seem far removed from your laundry room or bathtub. However, the truth is, powerful chemicals are making it onto supermarket shelves and into our homes.
Global brands know that consumers want a greener product, but often smart marketing showing green fields or vague wording on packaging can lead you to believe you are buying green when you aren’t. For example; terms such as ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘all natural’ mean absolutely nothing when it comes to harmful chemicals, ammonia is derived naturally and so can quite legitimately make its way into your floor cleaner or multipurpose spray cleaner. Search for brands accredited by environment agencies and ones which are phosphate, chlorine and bleach free ensuring that what goes down your plughole isn’t harming you, your family, or waterways.
Ditch convenience when it comes to cleaning
Most of us lead busy, chaotic lives and the last thing we want to do is housework at the end of a working day, and so we tend to choose convenience when it comes to cleaning. This can mean purchasing single disposable use cleaning wipes or grabbing the multipurpose spray and wipe spray to clean down the kitchen and brighten up the bathroom. Rolls of kitchen towel can be used in a day in a busy family home, and plastic toilet bowl fresheners are used and then tossed when the toilet water stops turning blue. Consider moving away from convenience when it comes to household cleaning products. Cut up old shirts to make surprisingly effective polishing cloths, choose in cistern, environmentally friendly toilet cleaners and swap the kitchen paper towel for washable microfibre cloths.
Simple switches in both consumer thinking and habitual behaviours can make a positive difference when it comes to reducing waste and cleaning sustainably.
Lara is a culture happiness centric individual with the belief that happy teams make happy customers, which in turn makes everyone happy. She also know a thing or two about cleaning 🙂 .