Air Quality and Spring Cleaning
With the beginning of spring in full swing, and temperatures finally becoming more enjoyable, it’s time to get cleaning! While you’re working on your clean air habits it’s important to know you can help our air quality by changing how you clean your home this spring. Nobody likes a stuffy or dusty home, and with it being the perfect time to get your spring-cleaning fix, we’ve got some tips to get you there. Continue reading to find out how you can get into spring cleaning sustainably and mark your calendar for Air Quality Awareness Week.
What is Air Quality Awareness Week?
Each year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), hosts a week dedicated to education and awareness of air quality and its impact on health. This year, Air Quality Awareness Week is being held from May 2 - 6, 2022. Topics will include: Wildfires & Smoke, Asthma & Your Health, Citizen Science & Sensors, Environmental Justice Communities & Air Quality, and Air Quality Around the World.
Now that you’ve marked your calendar for Air Quality Awareness Week we can move on to the fun stuff. We’re going to learn about making your own safe and environmentally friendly cleaners and the best way to approach spring cleaning!
Swap to Easy Homemade Cleaners
Did you forget to buy cleaning spray at the store the last time you were out? Have no fear, there are plenty of effective and environmentally friendly options to replace it! By switching to homemade cleaners, you’ll be doing three things:
You’ll reduce the emissions you contribute by heading to the store to buy more cleaning supplies.
You’ll reduce plastic waste contributed by the bottles cleaners come in.
You’ll deal with less noxious fumes from chemical cleaners, meaning it’s easier for you to breathe while you clean.
Here are some recipes for household cleaners you can check out.
Stick With What You Have
It can be tempting to go and pick up extra paper towels and wipes to clean with but check to see if you have any old shirts or pillowcases first. Keeping trips to the store at a minimum reduces vehicle emissions and allows you to be creative in your cleaning. Using old clothing as rags is an easy replacement for new towels, sponges, or other items that may contribute negatively to your carbon footprint.
Conserve Water While You Clean
Make sure to turn off any water source when you’re not using it and remember to do laundry only when you’ve got enough for a full load. This will conserve water and electricity required to heat the water.
Start Composting Food Waste
This might not be something you’d consider when spring cleaning, but it’s an equally important part of keeping the house clean and improving our air quality.
Composting reduces food waste that can contribute emissions and take up space in landfills. That means less trips for waste collection trucks, lighter loads, and less fuel consumption as a result. Nobody likes a smelly trashcan, and composting can help deal with that too!
So, what is composting and why should you consider it? Composting is the natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants. Anything that grows decomposes eventually; composting simply speeds up the process by providing an ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and other decomposing organisms (such as worms, sowbugs, and nematodes) to do their work. The resulting decomposed matter, which often ends up looking like fertile garden soil, is called compost. Fondly referred to by farmers as “black gold,” compost is rich in nutrients and can be used for gardening, horticulture, and agriculture. Some more environmental benefits of composting include:
Water and soil conservation.
Protects groundwater quality.
Avoids methane production and leachate formation in landfills by diverting organics from landfills into compost.
Prevents erosion and turf loss on roadsides, hillsides, playing fields and golf courses.
Drastically reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
Want to know how to get started? Look here.
Donate or Repurpose Old Clothes
Textile waste is just as much of an issue as any other environmental pollutant, as it takes up space in landfills, and tends not to be biodegradable. This spring, if you’re looking to get rid of old worn-out clothes, consider turning old shirts into rags and other items into crafts or other useful options.
If you’re not intent on crafting or repurposing, consider donating textile materials that are in acceptable condition to local drop boxes, shelters, or other charities. Here’s a resource to find out where you can donate.
By taking these steps, you’ll help reduce your carbon footprint and improve the air quality in North Texas; so take advantage, it’s cheaper than a trip to the store. Remember, if you’d like air quality alerts for the region, you can sign up at airnorthtexas.org/signup.