Go Green This Spring: 7 Healthy Ways to Prepare
The long days of winter are coming to a close – and that makes this a perfect time to go green! As we welcome this life-giving season, we can take earth-friendly steps to clean, refresh, and renew our living spaces.
Need help gettings started? Here are 7 simple, eco-friendly ways to prepare for spring.
1. Boost Your Mindset
Wintertime is hard on the mind, soul, and spirit. Longer periods of darkness can give way to doldrums and depression. Inclement weather has kept us couped up and our bodies long for sunshine!
If you’re feeling down this time of year, you may have very low levels of vitamin D. In fact, research tells us that 40% of adults in America may have a vitamin D deficiency!
The good news is that you can recoup proper levels of this vitamin simply by spending 15 minutes in the sun at least 3-4 times per week. The sun is highest at noon and according to research, this may be the best time to absorb the sun’s rays so that you can minimize your time in the sun. Ditch the sunscreen but be careful to play it safe in the sun.
As spring approaches, you should reduce screen time for your family as this, too, has been linked to depression especially in kids. Start planning weekend escapes, visits to your local park or playground, nature hikes, and other outdoor activities.
2. Go Green When You Clean
There’s nothing more cleansing that the feeling of eliminating junk, garbage, and dust bunnies from our homes. This is also the optimal time of year to work on home improvement.
Take these safety precautions when you work:
- Check your home for leaks and mold before remodeling or sorting through old items. You can get very sick if you’re not careful. If you are concerned, call an expert to evaluate your space.
- When cleaning dusty or mildewy areas, use a mask.
- Be sure to have fans going and windows open to air any dust or chemicals.
- A fresh coat of paint seems nice but beware: they may contain toxins like VOCs. These emit low levels of toxins but over time, can be harmful. Look for low- or no-VOC paint options.
- However, I will caution you that even no paint without VOCs can make you sick. Paint dye is another factor that can contribute to illness or a physical reaction. Your best bet is to search for mildly-colored paint to reduce exposure.
We encourage you to upcycle or recycle the items you clean, or donate gently used clothing to a charity that supports the homeless!
3. Ditch Nasty Cleaning Fluids
Benzophenone, propanediol, polyethylene glycol: These are just a few of the scary-sounding compounds in brand name cleaning products, and they are as bad as they sound. But the worst chemical in products? Fragrance!
That’s right. That so-called “clean scent” can be derived from tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals. Most companies keep those ingredients secret, claiming it’s a “proprietary formula.” In the U.S., the government allows firms to keep these ingredients secret so that their competition can’t find out.
Worse, many brands feature the label “green” or “non-toxic” but still contain chemicals that are bad for your health. This is called greenwashing and it’s rampant in the industry. Why are so many brands unregulated? In the U.S., the federal agencies use a standard called, “GRAS”: Generally Recognized As Safe. This means that if no known serious problem has arisen from prior use or testing of the chemical, it’s assumed to be safe.
The real challenges come with chemicals that cause mild reactions (eczema, allergies, etc.) or when regular exposure to compounds in cleaning products accumulate your body, causing unseen damage over time. This may contribute to serious diseases and chronic conditions.
To truly go green with your cleaning, we recommend using reliable natural products for cleaning: lemon, white vinegar, and baking soda, scented with essential oils.
4. Green Your Lawn and Garden
Sadly, the most toxic and most popular type of lawn care is available on all the shelves of your local home or gardening store. It’s called RoundUp by Monsanto and it’s full of glyphosate. This herbicide has been linked to numerous health problems. Monsanto has lost several lawsuits and paid out millions to defendants who claim to have gotten cancer from their exposure.
What can you do? Go green by taking a natural approach to weed control, pest reduction, and gardening. You can use natural fertilizers, composting, and organic pesticides such as neem oil, diatomaceous earth, or insecticidal soap. I recommend you check out Mother Earth News’ organic gardening section to learn what to do.
If this proves too challenging, another option is to find OMRI certified products for your lawn and garden. They only certify products that meet organic standards – and that means no glyphosate!
5. Eco-Friendly Pest Control
Mosquitoes, flies, and bees can really put a damper on outdoor activities but brand name pesticides are incredibly harmful. In addition to the damage these chemicals can do to your body, many pesticides have been linked to the rapid decimation of bee populations over the last few years. In fact, in 2019 the EPA approved another pesticide that may be harmful to bees.
What can you do? There are many environmentally friendly actions that you can take to support the environment and our winged friends, while also keeping pests at bay.
Start with the basics: don’t leave any standing water or “holes” where pests can set up a home. Also, make sure to throw out or compost all edible trash as soon as possible. Finally don’t swat at bees and other stinging insects - and teach your kids to be careful!
Plant bee-friendly plants in your yard as far away from your eating areas as possible. You can even plant a pollinator garden to help your plants thrive! Great choices include lantana, zinnia, and lavender.
One of the best ways to go green and avoid getting stung is to create a fake nest in an unused area of your yard to attract wasps.
Did you know that the CDC claims that oil of lemon eucalyptus is as effective as DEET for repelling insects? And one study shows that turmeric essential was even more effective than DEET for reducing bites and killing mosquito larvae. Be careful not to use these oils around children, however, there is one brand - Buzz Away - that is EPA-recommended, safe for children, and made with essential oils.
6. Detox Your Air
If you live in a cold climate, your air may be “stale” from days of inclement weather. There are several ways to detox your air:
Go Green Indoors!
Indoor plants can clean your air but did you know they could also boost your mood? Bonus! Plants can remove carbon dioxide, VOCs, and other forms of air pollution. There is no downside to adding plants to your home!
If you absolutely cannot grow plants, we advise that you decorate your living space with photos of trees, mountains, and other nature photography. Studies show that pictures of the great outdoors are just as soothing as real-life exposure.
Use Essential Oils
It’s no surprise that air freshener products are loaded with toxins. Instead, you can scent your home by diffusing essential oils, especially those best known for their soothing properties, like lavender. Be careful diffusing around pets; some oils are toxic for animals especially cats. Be sure to buy high-quality oils.
Use Technology To Your Advantage
A HEPA vacuum and allergy-removing air filters are safe ways to eliminate dust and microbes from your home.
7. Practice Grounding
What is grounding? Grounding, also called “earthing,” is the practice of getting skin-to-earth contact with Mother Earth. Walking barefoot in sand, soil, or grass is one way, gardening with your hands is another.
This practice doesn’t just boost your mood and mental health, it may even be good for your health! At least one study suggests it may benefit cardiovascular health. So when you get outside, be sure to get physically connected to nature by making contact with your feet or hands!
These are 7 simple ways that you can go green and enjoy an eco-friendly and uplifting spring season! Do you have more ideas? Share with us how you transition from winter to spring.