April 22nd marks World Earth Day, where people in more than 175 countries worldwide make a conscious effort to reflect on their energy consumption habits and how it affects the environment. By doing so, we, as individuals can make positive changes towards contributing to protecting our Earth and it’s natural resources.
To contribute to the environment, Helpling Singapore has provided some tips on how to select eco-friendly products and clean green, for a less polluted world:
How green are your cleaning tools
On a bi-weekly basis, sponges and rugs should be replaced for sanitary purposes. However, by doing so, we are using a massive number of sponges per household, in our lifetime. Consider extending the usability and cleanliness of your sponges by soaking them for a few minutes in vinegar water solution, before rinsing them with water. Look out for materials base on their durability and re-usability, for example, choose biodegradable products such as wooden handle mops and cellulose sponges. If you are unable to find biodegradable cleaning tools, you can also buy products made from recycled plastic, which contributes to the market for recycled materials.
Avoid hazardous ingredients
Most cleaning agents are made with chemicals that are harmful to your bodies. Such as formaldehyde, a carcinogenic ingredient, chloroform, which is found in chlorine bleach and is a suspect carcinogen and Triclosan, which can be found in antibacterial product. Always read the labels properly and stay away from such ingredients, together with flammable or poisonous products.
There is a misconception that strong cleaning agents are essential for deep cleaning. In reality, these chemicals work faster and are more powerful to dissolve the dirt. However, you can also achieve similar cleaning results with a milder or natural products if you put in more time and effort.
There are 463 Eco labels in the global market. In Singapore alone, there are around 10 different Eco or green labels carried by 3,000 certified products.
Make your own natural cleaning products
There are plenty of natural cleaning methods that do not require the use of chemicals.
Vinegar and lemon: Due to their high acidity, they act as sterilizing agents that help to eliminate bad odours and clean surfaces. Just be be careful which surfaces you use these acidic products on as some materials do not respond well to it.
Baking soda: This ingredient is perfect for deep cleaning and can be used for oven and even toilet cleaning. Simply dilute it with some water to make a paste and scrub away. Let it rest on the surface for half an hour before wiping it off. This method can be used to clean most surfaces, however, avoid colored surfaces.
Olive oil: Olive oil can be used to polish steel kitchen tops, door handles and even your wooden furniture. To make the polish, mix olive oil with vinegar and a teaspoon of table salt. Tip: For dark wood, substitute vinegar with red wine. Other than polishing, olive oil also works well for stinky sinks: Mix olive oil and a few drops of essential oil in a cup and rinse it down your sink – your kitchen will begin to smell fresh again!
Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds is also an excellent odour eliminator. Find the source of the odour and place the coffee grounds where the smell is the strongest, such your your fridge, beside your garbage or even in your closet. Allow the coffee aroma take over and be greeted to a nice smelling house within a few hours. Tip: Coffee grounds also serve as a a natural scrub, simply mix coffee grounds with water and scrub away.
Refrain from using synthetic air fresheners
Returning to a nice smelling home after work is what we long for everyday. To achieve that, most of us are guilty of using synthetic air fresheners. These chemical fragrances often contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are harmful to your health and also to the environment.
As an alternative, why not make your own natural aroma home fragrance? Simply add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and a few droplets of essential oil of choice into a spray bottle filled with warm water. This natural freshener can be used on almost everything: carpets, rugs, kitchen, sofa, bathroom, bedroom etc.
Recycling items for cleaning purposes
Found some expired coffee grounds in your cupboard? Don’t throw it away, instead, use it as coffee scrub for your greasy pans. Stale bread can be used as a surface cleaner. Simply roll it up into a ball and rub it across your wall or more delicate surfaces like paintings. Lastly, if you have a few sips of beer left from the previous night, you can use it to revive wooden furniture and even to clean your jewellery.
Have other tips to share? Feel free to comment below!