What’s on your to-do list as fall and winter head our way?
This year, many of us have spent most of our time inside, trying to minimize the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. As a result, it’s been a year full of high energy bills — and lots of daydreaming about what projects or tasks to take on next.
Feeling ready to set some new goals for the weeks ahead? While many people think about going green in the spring and summer, the coldest months of the year actually make for a great opportunity to refresh yourself on sustainable practices — and try out some new green cleaning products and ideas.
Looking for a little inspiration? Here are five green home goals to try out this fall and winter:
1.) Cut Down on Single-Use Products
Single-use products are a major waste of energy and space — and end up clogging up our landfills and oceans with tons of harmful waste each year. To do your part all fall and winter long, look for ways to cut back on single-use products. There are lots of simple and sustainable swaps you can make, such as replacing single-use paper towels with reusable bamboo towels; storing your homemade cleaning solutions in glass or metallic bottles; switching out plastic or paper bags for reusable cloth totes; and picking up reusable cleaning supplies, such as microfiber cloths and melamine sponges.
2.) Make Your Own Green, Earth-Friendly Cleaning Solutions
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go “old school,” and clean like our grandparents used to? The more you learn about cleaning, the more you’ll find that some of those old school methods really work. In fact, whipping up your own cleaning products can provide a more effective and lasting clean than some modern chemical solutions — without all the unnecessary waste and disposable packaging!
Dish soap, water, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and your favorite essential oils can all be used to make your own handy cleaning agents, which you can use on everything from your windows to your crown moldings. For more ideas — and important safety information — be sure to check out our guide to preparing and storing your own cleaning solutions, available here.
When you do need to purchase store-bought cleaners, we always recommend buying concentrated products — which deliver a more powerful clean, and last a lot longer (which means fewer trips back and forth from the store). Look for earth-friendly brands with minimal packaging, to help reduce the amount of waste you throw away. We are firm proponents in buying the products you truly love, and not just the products that happen to be on sale. When you sacrifice quality for quantity, you’ll throw away money, time, and energy on wasteful products that don’t work; instead, stock up on the time-tested products that get the job done the first time.
3.) Start Composting
Composting is an earth-friendly hobby that you can pick up in winter, spring, summer, or fall. Composting refers to collecting organic materials that we’d normally throw away, which can be used to produce a nutrient-rich material that can be added to gardening soil for hearty, healthy plants.
You can start composting by signing up with a local organization, or by purchasing the supplies you need for yourself. The more active you are about composting, the better. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compostable materials currently make up more than 28 percent of what we all throw away each day!
Do a little research, come up with a plan, and before long, you’ll be diverting an enormous amount of waste away from landfills, from banana peels to houseplants to cardboard egg cartons!
4.) Find Ways to Recycle and Upcycle Household Items
The end of the year is often known as the season of giving. Why not get into this generous spirit by finding ways to donate, recycle, or upcycle some of your unwanted household goods?
Many people welcome fall and winter by leading a decluttering spree around the house, especially in high-volume storage areas such as the garage or attic. As you sort through these items, think about what you can safely donate or give away. There are many Chicago-based organizations that collect, donate, or resell common household items, from computers to musical instruments and everything in between.
At the same time, think about what you can upcycle — that is, transform into something new and useful. There are lots of ways to update and reuse items that may otherwise go to waste. Could those old shirts become a comfortable blanket? Might that old box become a planter for the garden? Is it possible for those broken dishes become gorgeous new furnishings? It’s all up to you, and how thrifty and creative you want to be!
Finally, think about refreshing your everyday recycling routine. Brush up on what can and cannot be recycled here in the Chicago area, and post your house’s guidelines in a place where everyone can see them.
5.) Go Energy-Efficient Before Winter Settles In
Fall and winter bring famously cold weather and dark days to the Chicago area. Fortunately, many of the items that you can do to get ready for fall and winter can also help you save big on your utility bills — and help save the planet along the way! Here are just a few items to consider adding to your energy efficient home to-do list:
- Seal up and winterize windows and doors. This can help prevent drafts, saving you big on heating costs at the end of the year.
- Repair cracks and seal up gaps. The more air you can keep inside, the more comfortable you’ll be — and the less you’ll need to run your heater!
- Focus on your water heater and plumbing. Wrap up your water heater and pipes to help minimize heat loss, so you can spend less time waiting for hot water when you shower or wash your hands. Consider lowering the temperature on your water heater just a few degrees. You can also prevent thousands of gallons of water from going to waste by repairing any leaky faucets or running toilets around your property. Consider swapping out your shower heads and faucets more efficient low-flow models.
- Swap out your lighting. Replacing your conventional lighting for energy-efficient LEDs can make an enormous difference. In fact, you may be able to save up to $75 on your energy bills each year by making this swap in your five most-frequently used light sources.
- Go “smart.” Making some simple smart home automation upgrades can allow you to seamlessly take control of your property — and your energy usage. Set your lights to go on and off on a timer, or use a smart thermostat to effortlessly raise and lower the temperature for maximum efficiency and savings.
Looking for a Little Help Before the Cold Weather Settles In?
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, our primary goal is to make cleaning less stressful for our clients — especially when this means getting ready for the frostiest, chilliest, windiest days of the year!
While 2020 has been a year like no other, you can count us to make fall and winter feel truly magical. Our experienced teams can help you take care of your most important spaces, so you can spend more time focusing on what matters most.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We’re always eager to talk about how to make taking care of your home a more sustainable and enjoyable practice — because we know that the more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off our oceans, lakes, and rivers will be!
To keep the discussion going and become part of our eco-conscious community, connect with us on social media today! Curious about how to put green cleaning practices into place in your Chicago home? Reach out online today for your free service estimate!