Clean and green
Spring is upon us, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for a little indoor and outdoor spring cleaning. Back in the day, Auntie approached the task with a cabinet full of toxic household cleaners and an arsenal of gas-powered lawn equipment. Of course, that was before she learned she was wiping down her countertops with poison and her 5-horsepower lawn-mower engine produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than a 200-horsepower car. At first, Auntie was reluctant to change her ways. It all seemed so daunting. Then she discovered that being green and sustainable isn’t only easy, it makes good common sense.
Consider household cleaners. Do you really think Lysol actually freshens the air? No—exactly the opposite, says Canadian indoor-air expert Dr. Virginia Salares, who notes that Lysol is 79 percent denatured ethanol. According to workplace studies, denatured ethanol can cause irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes and may lead to central nervous system depression if it is inhaled or ingested. Although denatured ethanol in the workplace occurs in much higher amounts than with the home use of Lysol, researchers have become increasingly concerned about the negative health effects these cleaning products might have, especially on developing children. Now here’s the good news: Some vinegar, baking soda and a little elbow grease are all that’s required to thoroughly clean the entire interior of your home.
Nothing has thrown your Ruthness more for a loop than what to do with her leaves and lawn clippings. She used to deposit them curbside and wait for the city’s yellow loader to come by and scrape it off the street. Then she found out how much that pollutes the storm drainage system, so she started putting her clippings in the regular garbage can. Then she learned that putting the lawn debris in the garbage takes up too much space in the local landfill. What to do? Although Sacramento County provides “green waste” containers to all residents in unincorporated areas of the county, the city of Sacramento’s “containerized yard waste collection program” is strictly voluntary and available only in limited neighborhoods. Participants in the program are given a 24 percent discount off the garbage, recycling and lawn debris portion of their utility bill. For more information, call city services at 311 or (916) 808-5454.