The growing world of planet-friendly clothing will soon have your closet boasting some green along with your old duds. Here's what you need to know about eco-conscious style.More >>
By Amy Levin-Epstein
Ready to make some eco-friendly changes, but not sure where to begin? Start with the things you do each day: chores!
Yes, even small shifts in your daily cleaning routines can have positive effects on the planet -- no extra elbow grease required. "People have a sense that with green cleaning there is more scrubbing, or it is more expensive, or it doesn't work. These are all myths," says green-cleaning expert Annie B. Bond, author of Clean and Green and Better Basics for the Home.
Add these simple tips to your daily chore toolbox and you'll be a green, clean, dirt-fighting machine in no time: "Going green takes some time to figure out, but once you get it, you're set for life," says Bond.
Go Green: Use a detergent designed for cold water. Choosing cold water for each load saves energy (good for the planet) and money (good for your wallet). Cold-friendly detergents are formulated to fight dirt and stains just as well as their warm-water counterparts.
Go Greener: Ditch your bleach for a better brightener, like sodium percarbonate, found in many common laundry products. While bleach pollutes our water systems and is a lung irritant, sodium percarbonate is a natural mineral that's just as effective at getting out stains.
Go Green: Save water by using a dishwasher instead of sudsing your plates by hand. If washing by hand is the only option, look for foam-based soaps that use less water.
Go Greener: If you're buying a new machine, go for one with the ENERGY STAR rating. Then, run it only when full and skip the pre-rinse cycle. For energy-free drying, simply open the door!
Go Green: Place a stylish and sturdy welcome mat at your door. You and your guests will track less dirt into the house, which means less vacuuming later. Taking your shoes off at the door also helps control dust and dirt.
Go Greener: Try a steam cleaner. Cleaning with steam kills bacteria and dust mites, and it makes your floors sparkle without the use of additional cleaning agents.
Go Green: Bring your own reusable totes to the store. There are many cute options these days, and most grocery stores also sell them near the register. Leave a few in your trunk and stash one in your purse for unexpected trips.
Go Greener: Buy in the bulk section of your favorite store. You'll get the same great products without all that waste.
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who's been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com.
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