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Spring cleaning your way to a greener home

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It might just be coincidence that Earth Month occurs at the same time most homeowners take on ambitious spring cleaning efforts. Regardless, spring cleaning provides the perfect impetus to think green and lessen your impact on the environment.  (Two birds with one stone, right?)

Before you start pitching a winter’s worth of buildup and wiping down every interior and exterior surface of your home, here are some simple steps to make your home greener:

  • Go paperless. If you find the majority of your trash is coming through the mail, switch to online payment options. As for junk mail, options range from returning to sender or using one of several services to block unwanted direct mail marketing. An added bonus: Checking the mail will be much more pleasant.
  • Can I donate this? That’s something to ask yourself before tossing any item. From clothes and furniture down to magazines and house supplies, you can donate to thrift stores, local shelters or place items on the free goods section on craigslist.com or freecycle.org.
  • Chemical-free cleaning. Depending on the surface, you can generally go a long way by adding a few tablespoons of lemon juice to water. This is also better for the overall health of your home, especially if you have younger children or pets.
  • Towels – cloth, not paper. Ever notice how paper towels disappear  in a hurry? For the price of a dozen rolls, you can purchase reusable rags that will last for years and show much more durability and versatility than standard paper towels. There’s no need to add even more trash to your cleaning process.
  • Baking soda – the miracle agent. No matter the surface, baking soda can get the job done. Cleaning the shower? Make a paste of water and baking soda and dab with a sponge. Scrub the surfaces of the shower and rinse to complete. Mopping? Add a cup of baking soda to a warm bucket of water (and add lemon juice for scent) and mop away. You can even sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of garbage cans to reduce odor. Baking soda is nothing new, but this miraculous cleaning agent is often overshadowed by newer products that can be full of chemicals and toxins.