Weekly Challenge

Week 11: Sustainable Spring Cleaning

The arrival of Spring brings fair weather, blooming flowers, and the urge to refresh our households. This week, before you head out to stock up on traditional cleaning essentials, we challenge you to spend some time exploring how to tackle your spring cleaning checklist with sustainability in mind.

When it comes to applying the Five R’s, household cleaning certainly isn’t something we can simply refuse, but let’s consider the impact of the common cleaning supplies we use to rid our homes of dust, allergens and germs, and then discuss sustainable swaps to reduce the eco burden of this necessary task.

Pollution Pitfalls

The EPA provides an in-depth explanation regarding the pitfalls associated with the use of common cleaning products, but here are a few highlights:


During normal use of cleaning products, thousands of residual chemicals from cleaned surfaces, cleaning sponges, scrubbing brushes, etc. are washed down the drain into streams and rivers. Some persist in the environment, where they have been known to cause harmful algal blooms, impact wildlife, and taint our food chain.


The evaporation of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in traditional cleaning products can affect indoor air quality and add to outdoor smog, and research suggests exposure to VOC can cause skin and eye irritation, increase risk of asthma, and disrupt the function of our endocrine system.


Many cleaning products are classified as hazardous materials with special labeling and requirements. This results in increased energy consumption to safely manufacture, transport, and dispose of these products compared to sustainable alternatives.

landfill + beyond

Most cleaning products are not only toxic, but are sold in single-use plastic containers and contain added product packaging and shipping materials made from non-recycled materials. The most recent data from the EPA shows that these products, containers, and packaging contribute to the more than 82.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated each year. After recycling and incineration, landfills receive 30.5 million tons of this packaging waste that will take a minimum of hundreds of years to break down, releasing micropollutants into the air, land, and water along the way. 

Pollution Solutions   

Although you can’t refuse cleaning outright, you can vote with your dollars and refuse to purchase some conventional products.

Next time you are running low on household cleaning essentials, be on the lookout for the following to reduce your eco footprint:

Squeaky Clean

By making any of these simple changes, you’re putting the “clean” back in spring cleaning. Now, go #shareyourshift to inspire others!