You know the good old motto of conservation: think globally and act locally. But don’t forget that when you clean your house, this is part of acting locally and you need to remember that it isn’t just your home that needs to be kept clean and in good order. You need to keep your bigger home – the home you share with the other four billion people plus many more plants and animals – clean and running nicely.
Here’s a selection of simple things we can all do when we’re cleaning and doing chores that will help the environment in one way or another.
* When you clean the car, don’t use a hose. Use a bucket of warm soapy water to do the cleaning and you won’t waste our valuable fresh water. You can use the hose to rinse off, if you must, but only use what you have to.
* Another water-saving tip for when you’re cleaning the garden is to use a broom to clean the driveway rather than using a hose. Sweep up all the leaf litter, etc and put it into the compost heap or use it as a mulch.
* When you use the dishwasher or the washing machine, save electricity (and thus reduce greenhouse gases as well as saving a penny or two) by only running a load when the machine is full. If you need something that urgently, wash it by hand.
* When you do the laundry, run the machine on a cold cycle. This saves power and, as an added bonus, means that many common stains wash out without setting (e.g. blood, egg yolk, gravy).
* Start a compost heap if you don’t have one already. Food rubbish is what makes rubbish bins stink horribly and attracts flies. This means you’ll spend less time, energy and money trying to remove the smell and kill flies.
* Switch to using natural domestic cleaning products for doing your household chores. Most natural cleaning products work just as well as commercial cleaners (if not better) and cost a fraction of the price. They also use fewer raw ingredients, release fewer toxins into the environment and usually use less packaging.
* Save work and save electricity by washing laundry less. Honestly, you don’t really need to wear a fresh shirt every day, do you? Unless you do a really filthy job (in which case, you probably wear overalls), then you probably only need to change your shirts every two days or even three!
* When you do the laundry, dry it outside as much as possible – it’s free! What’s more, sunshine is a great disinfectant that also kills mould and helps bleach whites. Sunlight’s bleaching power is increased with a bit of lemon juice.
* Scent your house with what nature provides (fresh flowers, essential oils and home cooking) rather than artificial fragrances. Again, this releases fewer toxins into the environment (your immediate environment and the wider one), reduces packaging, etc.
* Set up a system for collecting and putting out recyclables. It’s easier than you think, and if you know that what you’re getting rid of via the recycling stream is doing good, you’ll be less likely to hoard clutter that you don’t have to, which makes your home easier to clean.
Nick Vassilev is the founder of successful domestic cleaning London business delivering quality cleaning services to thousands of clients.