Level of Commitment: Baby Steps
Watching some people clean up is like being the unfortunate witness to another mother’s child’s screaming hissy fit: I’m embarrassed and pained to watch, and the memory can be seared into my brain in the “ugliness” folder. I can still picture an uncle grabbing literal handfuls of non-absorbent brown paper towel to try to clean up a little water spill from my son’s cup last Christmas. Yes, a whole year ago. I was becoming so committed to using towels and avoiding waste at that point that it nearly killed me to watch the waste, the amount of paper towel that was just bunched up in his hands and didn’t even touch the liquid anyway. *sigh*
I know it’s a small improvement on the world’s waste to avoid a few paper towels here and there in your own home, when schools and businesses are filling dumpsters daily with bathroom papers towels and paper waste, when we throw away more bags of wrapping paper at one Christmas gathering than I would use in a year’s worth of spill clean-ups with paper towel, but I believe that every bit counts.
I trust that even if I’m making the tiniest of impacts on the health of the Earth, my God will know my intentions and (1) honor my effort with His grace in my family’s life and (2) use my sacrifice, if there is one involved, to make a greater impact in the spiritual life of the world. Let us all offer up our green cleaning for the soul-cleaning of our society and double our influence.
Today, as many of us make resolutions for the New Year, let’s consider what we’re leaving for our children. I want to teach mine to be “green” and to take care of the Earth God has entrusted to us.
What do you throw away when you clean?
For many of us, it’s paper towels, sponges, Swiffer cloths, and whatever incidental cleaning solutions go down the drain or into the garbage.
I think we can do better than that. I’m challenging myself to see how long a roll of paper towel can remain around before I reach the center. It’s going to be like the old question: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll in a Tootsie Roll Pop?” I’m positive I can have more self control than that old owl!
What to Use Instead of Paper Towel for Cleaning
- Old towels, washcloths, etc. for mopping and wipe-ups
- Old T-shirts are great for dusting
- Holey socks for cleaning the toilet (this is a new idea for me, but I’m thrilled to 1. not have to wash rags that I’ve used on the toilet – ew. and 2. feel better about throwing away holey socks – I just can’t craft with them all!)
- Skoy cloths instead of sponges, paper towels for wipe-ups (win them here!)
- Microfiber cloths for dusting, wiping down the shower, cleaning mirrors and counters (more on how to clean with microfibers)
All of these ideas apply to those “convenient” new wipes that are pre-moistened with a cleaning solution for whatever job you’re doing. In my opinion, they generate more waste because they’re easier to grab, in a plastic container that has to be disposed of, and you always have to use a whole one.
Now about those chemicals we might be washing down the drain and allowing in our indoor air…
They don’t exactly fit into the disposables theme, but if you’re still using bleach to clean up (or cleaners containing bleach or other toxic chemcials), be sure to read about my three frugal, eco-friendly cleaners…that people even give to me for Christmas! With the microfibers, I don’t even need to use any sprays to clean my glass, including baby fingerprints.
Think about what you have in your home right now that you could use as a rag, and implement a system for storing, using and laundering. (For example, where will you put the rags when they’re dirty?) Make it easy, make it work for you, and pat yourself on the back for saving the Earth a little bit today.
What other ways can we avoid tossing “stuff” into the trash while we clean up? Any ideas for my son’s twin-sized sheets that are totally threadbare? I’m not sure what to do with the fabric…
See all of Decreasing Disposables in December here.
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
I was part of the All things Eco Blog Carnival this week.