In mid-July 2015, local volunteers made a special effort to preserve Chicago’s waterways. Experts took samples of various creeks and rivers, and they analyzed the river life.
Although preliminary results for some locations looked promising, areas like Marley Creek showed signs of pollution. Karen D’Archy, chair at the Land Conservancy, suspected that the pollution may have come from floodwater runoff; trash and other chemicals may have spilled into the streams and creeks as well.
To counter this pollution, many residents set aside extra time to remove trash from the riverbanks after a flood. But these efforts were primarily corrective rather than preventative.
If you want to do your part to preserve our waterways, you can stop pollution before it ever reaches our rivers and streams. When you make the switch to all-natural and environmentally friendly products in your home, you ensure chemicals stay out of the water.
Ready to go green? Here are a few ways to substitute chemical cleaners for safer solutions.
1. Clean Mirrors with Rubbing Alcohol
If your mirrors look a bit grimy, don’t reach for the window spray. Many commercial cleaning products contain chemicals like 2Butoxyethanol, which causes nose, eye, and skin irritation.
When these compounds drip into your bathroom sink, they’ll travel with the rest of your waste water to the municipal treatment plant, which will then release the water into nearby waterways. Although most of these ingredients break down during treatment, some chemicals do not, and they have a negative impact on water quality.
But you can fight smudges and hairspray buildup with a spritz of rubbing alcohol. Simply fill a quart-sized spray bottle with Â½ cup rubbing alcohol and water. Spray the solution on your mirrors, let it sit for several minutes to dissolve debris, and then polish with a reusable damp cloth (rather than a paper towel).
2. Polish Wood Furniture with Olive Oil and Lemon
Does your dining room set seem a little dusty or smudged? Forget the furniture polish. As with glass cleaners, furniture polish often contains harmful chemicals such as petroleum distillates. These chemicals irritate the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungsand they’ll wreak havoc on environment too.
For a green alternative, combine 1 cup olive oil with Â½ cup fresh lemon juice. Moisten a damp cloth with the mixture, and gently wipe the wood. You want to apply just enough polish so it soaks into the wood, but not so much that it drenches and warps it.
Have particularly troublesome water stains? Mix salt with vinegar until it forms a thin paste. Apply to the stain, and use circular motions to rub away the spot. Use a damp cloth to remove leftover residue.
3. Clean Toilets with White Vinegar
When you flush the toilet, do you see hard water stains? You might want to skip the bleach and turn to white vinegar instead.
Typical bleach and bleach-based products primarily rely on sodium hypochlorite, which is highly corrosive. Although it’s tough on stains, bleach is also tough on the body. It can cause severe burns as well as respiratory difficulties.
Vinegar, on the other hand, effectively cuts through germs and counteracts strong smells. Just pour ½ cup vinegar to the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Brush and flush the bowl as you would normally. For tougher hard water stains, let the vinegar sit for an hour and then try scrubbing.
You may also want to consider installing a water softener to prevent future stains.
Stay Clean While You Go Green
These tips will help you keep your home clean while reducing the number of chemicals you add to the environment. With a little extra research, you can find more natural ways to fight grime and pollution at the same time.