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1. Hang dry your laundry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn’t just hard on your clothes; it’s also hard on the environment. Don’t stop with natural laundry detergent. Stay green every step of the way and install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a “retractable clothesline” like this one from Gaiam, which takes up virtually no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, cut your energy bill, get more exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and extend the life of your clothes. Plus, they’ll smell like a clean breeze, not a fake “clean breeze scent.”
2. Add a little greenery. Install a living air filter—houseplants! Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies. You’ll need 15 to 18 medium-sized (6 to 8-inch diameter container) houseplants for the average 1,800 square foot house. If that sounds like a lot, place a few plants in the room where you spend the most time.
3. De-clutter your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels. And as you’re packing up your winter sweaters, replace those stinky mothballs with a natural and better-smelling version: Stuff a lonely unpaired sock with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and whole cloves and tie it at the end.
4. Paint your walls green. If spring cleaning at your house involves a fresh coat of paint, consider the VOC content of the paint when choosing your paint. VOC's, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are chemicals that form vapors at room temperature. Some VOC’s, like the ones in many paints, contribute to smog and indoor air pollution, and can cause a host of short- and long-term health problems. The good news is that many paint manufacturers have started making low- or no-VOC paints. The bad news is that many of those manufacturers have simply substituted VOC's with other non-VOC-yet-still-toxic chemicals. For truly eco-conscious safe paint, check out these products: Eco-Spec, by Benjamin Moore; Clarity, by Dutch Boy; Enviro-Pure, by MAB Paint; American Pride Paint; and BioShield Milk Paint.
5. Swap out your Swiffer. Instead of continually buying expensive single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop. Casabella is one brand that’s widely available in health food stores and general stores. Their mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry, and used again and again—well worth their moderate price tag.