Home Eco-Friendly Organizing
Geralin: Julie, what residential systems have people developed to maintain their housekeeping chores in more earth-friendly ways?
Julie: Great question! When working with clients after we organize and/or declutter, my next suggestion is to use green cleaners. Since 1950, at least 70,000 new chemical compounds have been invented but only fraction have been tested for human toxicity.
Indoor air pollution is now as much of a concern (if not more) than outdoor air pollution. DIY green cleaners are easy, save money, smell better and you can find many recipes on the internet. Some of my favorite cleaners you can buy: Simple Green and eco-me.com products. Mrs. Meyers and Method are also widely available in most stores.
Geralin: Any tips on places to store both clean and dirty rags, types of rags to use (instead of paper towels)?
Julie: Americans produce more than 3,000 tons of waste every day from paper towels alone so by reducing your use of paper towels you can make a big difference! I use reusable cloths and it has been my experience that if doing a lot of dusting and or cleaning, they are ready to be thrown in the wash after one use.
I use kitchen towels in my kitchen and simply hang them on the stove oven handle. I know these are “dirty” and “in use”. I throw them in the wash weekly. I keep clean ones in the drawer next to the kitchen sink. This is really the only area I need to worry about dirty rags.
I also keep a bottle of cleaner and rags in all the bathrooms so that I can do smaller cleaning jobs instead of the entire home. If I have it where I use it, I am less likely to be lazy! I also color coordinate the cloths so I know what is for the bathroom, kitchen, dusting. However, you might prefer keeping all your items in one central location. If so, then I suggest as easy a system as possible. Why not repurpose a coffee can and label dirty to keep rags that are in use? You could keep under the kitchen sink. You could keep clean rags in a drawer next to the sink to avoid any confusion or label another coffee can “clean.” Or you can use a reusable grocery bag for clean rags and hang in the pantry—no need to fold in a drawer, just toss them in!
Geralin: Are there alternatives to plastic garbage bags?
Julie: As far as alternatives to garbage bags, my first suggestion is going to be composting and to focus more on reducing your trash. Food waste comprises a lot of our trash. Learn how to compost! I love this guy’s site; I saw him speak and he really knows his stuff: compostmania.com
- Do you know what you are able to recycle in your town? Many times I find people don’t know. Become familiar with you can recycle and reduce your trash.
- Be more aware of packaging. Can you make your own hummus or salsa instead of buying it in the store? Buy in bulk if you are able. Purchase products that are returnable, reusable or refillable. Take your own reusable bottle to Starbucks!
- You can opt out of using garbage bags, but that is going to require weekly hosing out and depending on your garbage and the amount, probably not a viable option.
- You can purchase green/biodegradable plastic garbage bags at most health food stores (Whole Foods, etc.). There’s also a site I like letsgogreen.biz that carries green garbage bags and other household items. (I am a huge fan of their all natural weed killer!) Greenpaperproducts.com also carries a variety of biodegradable bags.
Geralin: How about alternatives to using plastic bags for cat/dog poop?
Julie: BioBag makes compostable and biodegradable cornstarch doggie bags (They also make garbage bags). You can repurpose a coffee can to scoop the poop and get rid of bags. Amazon also sells a sanitary pooper scooper that eliminates the need for bags. Here is a great way to compost dog poop if you want to take it to the next level: http://cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html
Some green alternatives for cat litter: World’s Best Cat Litter, Swheat Scoop and Feline Pine. Each is green in a different way.
Julie Seibert is a Professional EcoOrganizer and the owner of Healing through Organization. She is the 2011 NAPO LA Green Award Winner for Most Eco-Friendly Organizing Service and the 2011 Triangle Business Journal’s Honorable Award Winner for Green Entrepreneurial Effort/Innovative Idea of the Year. Because she believes that de-cluttering and getting organized is a holistic endeavor, she encourages clients to examine what is happening in all areas of their lives and how it influences their current situation. Because she so passionately believes in this, she created the weekly internet TV/radio show Reawaken Your Brilliance which features body, mind & spirit experts to help people reach their full potential.