By Alisa Reckinger
Earth Day is often about big acts or events focusing on the planet as a whole, but it can be more personal than that. You can make small changes in your little corner of the world that will contribute to the overall well-being of the planet the entire year. Step one is reducing the number of toxic chemicals in your home!
Whether participating in a community clean-up event, attending an educational function or donating time or money to an environmental cause, people celebrate Earth Day in big ways every April. However, the best way to celebrate the earth is in small ways every day. This year, making a small change in your little corner of the world can produce a big impact.
One in a Billion
You can reduce, reuse and recycle your way to a greener life. The steps you take in your home contribute to a greater push to help the environment and the planet. A major campaign of the Earth Day Network is Billion Acts of Green, which depends on individuals doing their part to go green. If we all make little changes in our lives to go greener, our green acts will join billions of other acts from people around the world.
Live Less Toxic
Do you have hazardous products in your home? The answer is bound to be yes. Household hazardous waste can be found throughout your home. Many cleaning products, yard and garden chemicals, automobile fluids, aerosol cans, batteries, oil-based paint, electronics, and more all contain chemicals or components that are hazardous and have to be disposed of properly. Many hazardous chemicals can cause serious problems for you and the environment if not properly managed.
While you may not be able to get rid of all traces of household hazardous waste, you can certainly reduce the toxins in your home. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has great tips to reduce toxicity at home including identifying the hazards, recycling fluorescent lights, and reducing mercury and lead-based products.
Read, Reduce and Replace
Become a label reader when purchasing products for your home. Products in your cabinets with the words caution, warning, danger, or poison may contain hazardous materials. Reduce the number of toxic chemicals in your home by seeking out green alternatives or making your own cleaning solutions. Some cleaning products advertised as “green” or “natural” still contain many of the same ingredients. Look for labels like Green Seal Certified and Safer Choice that certify products are environmentally friendly. You also can look at the resources provided by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. They test household cleaners and chemicals and track their findings to help people find a less-toxic alternative.
If You Want Something Done Green, Do it Yourself
Green home cleaners contain products that are already in your home, like baking soda and white vinegar. They can be used for a variety of jobs around the house. There are several household products you can replace all together by making them yourself with natural ingredients. Hennepin County has a great Green Cleaning Recipe book that will help you create several effective and inexpensive solutions for everything from carpet stains and furniture scratches to oven cleaner and laundry detergent. To download the brochure, visit www.hennepin.us/green-disposal-guide/items/cleaners; these recipes will help you do more with less.
Get Rid of it the Green Way
Don’t put household hazardous waste in your recycling bins! These products have to be properly disposed of so they don’t cause problems for facilities or the environment. Bring them to your County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off sites. If you have questions about what is accepted, call your county. Safe management of household hazardous waste includes following instructions on proper storage, usage and safe disposal. Empty containers can usually be placed in the garbage. Spring cleaning and Earth Day are great times to think about reducing the number of hazardous chemicals in your home, reusing what you can, and safely getting rid of them.