spring cleaning

Crack the windows and break out the vinegar—it’s spring and time to clean!

Besides brushing up mothballs and sweeping away spiderwebs, we can also look at the top 5 ways we pollute the Earth, and choose to “clean up” our actions by reforming a heavy environmental impact.


1. How to reduce your industrial impact

garage sale

  • Don’t upgrade tech products more than necessary
  • Support local clothing designers and manufacturers
  • Research a company’s sustainability efforts before buying
  • Buy secondhand, used or consignment
  • Sell your used stuff before trashing it
  • Learn to do your own repairs
  • Check out garage sales and community markets
  • If you don’t need it, don’t buy it!


2. How to reduce your transportation impact


  • Walk, take public transport or bicycle
  • Carpool or share a vehicle by using car-share services
  • Travel by air only when necessary
  • Keep your car maintained to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize emissions
  • Telecommute if it’s an option
  • Lobby your local government to spend on sidewalks and bike lanes


3. How to reduce your food impact

compost bin


4. How to reduce your energy impact


  • Inch your thermostat a few degrees lower
  • Choose energy-saving light bulbs
  • Unplug appliances, phones and computers when not in use
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible
  • Use a drying rack or clothesline instead of the machine
  • Buy low-flow shower heads and commodes, and energy-efficient appliances
Related:   Eco Inspired Design: Stephen Shaheen's MetroCard Bench


5. How to reduce your trash impact

recycle reuse bag

  • Recycle and compost
  • Donate items or hold swaps
  • Repurpose or upcycle items
  • Refuse to use items that are disposable or single use
  • Buy bulk and avoid items in heavy packaging
  • Wash and re-use produce, Ziploc and plastic bags
  • Print & photocopy on both sides
  • Sign up for electronic bill statements
  • Create a newspaper, magazine and book exchange in your community or workplace


This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.


  1. Some of this is workable; I upgrade my computers by recycling, and ride a bicycle, and I won’t fly until the TSA is dissolved. I use CF lamps in light fixtures and LED flashlights to reduce battery comsumption. I fix my own stuff . Other things are much less so; I set thermostats for comfort, not some pseudo-economy scam that results in more cold-enabled illnesses and I eat meat because humans are omnivores and meat is as necessary as vegetables.


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