Cutting down on chemicals: Many of the chemicals we use around the house are harmless, some are not. But in either case there is still a huge footprint made by all the factories producing the millions of gallons of cleaning products we go through every year. You can make a difference by using more natural cleaning products. On this subject I have one word: Orange Oil. It is multifunctional, 100% natural, biodegradable, very safe and it smells great (think of all those times you had to turn on the exhaust fan after cleaning the bathroom with other cleaners.) You can buy it in most grocery stores and also get by the gallon online. I have been using orange based cleaners on counter tops, windows, sinks and much more. I love it. But make sure to read the directions for what it can and cannot be used for. Also be careful to get real orange oil, there are plenty of products out there with “orange” in the title that are normal cleaning chemicals with an added citrus scent.
Don’t use, reuse: One of the biggest sources of needless waste in your home are paper towels. Replacing disposable towels with reusable rags has a number of benefits. It reduces the amount of trash you produce and you will have one less item on your grocery list. I find rags to be much more useful overall. It was always an annoyance for me when I had to return to the paper towel dispenser again and again to clean up a big spill.
I recommend getting good quality shop rags. These can also replace the expensive and quick to wear out sponges you use on your dishes. Toilet paper is a wasteful product too. But lets not get too gung-ho here.
You can, of course, get a new energy efficient washer and dryer. These will save you money over time, but it takes a long time to offset the cost of the initial purchase. If you are already in need
of a new washer and dryer I recommend buying a new energy efficient model. But buying a new one if you don’t really need it will actually increase your ecological footprint.
Don’t forget about how some general environment saving techniques can apply to cleaning as well. Don’t run appliances and vacuums longer than you need them. Think about letting your washer and dryer run at night when there is surplus electricity on the grid (using the same amount of electricity at night costs slightly less than in the day and uses power that would otherwise be wasted.)
These are just a few of the many ways that you can reduce your impact on the environment. Be creative and remember that any time you use less of a disposable product you are making a difference.