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Written by Kailey Fisicaro

Cleaning & Sustainability Hacks That are Good for the Earth

Eco Friendly Spring

Setting your home up to be more eco-friendly doesn’t have to feel daunting. You may already have the items and tools you need at home to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Beyond the products, it’s often just a matter of picking up good habits to promote sustainability.

Eco Friendly Spring

So, what’s the “secret recipe” for starting sustainable practices at home? “Be realistic about developing new habits and take the time to set yourself up for success,” said Udara Abeysekera, program manager of the Rethink Waste Project at The Environmental Center in Bend. Abeysekera suggests committing to one or two habits a month and adding on as you master each one. There are products that can help us in our sustainability journey, but it’s important to be intentional about what we buy: like if finding a nice soap dish encourages us to stop buying plastic pump soap for good. “Think creatively about how you can use what you already have, instead of rushing out to make eco-friendly swaps. Before you know it, you’ll be a sustainability pro and ready to take your commitment to sustainability out into the world.”

Food containersCut Food Waste

When you get home from the grocery store or farmers market, take the time to properly store your food to keep fruits, veggies and more fresh longer, helping you prevent food waste, Abeysekera suggests. The Oregon State University Extension Office offers great reminders in its food storage guide. Store cut fruits and veggies in the fridge and keep milk, eggs and butter in the coldest part of the fridge, usually toward the back or closest to the freezer. Learn which foods do better with breathable or airtight packaging.

Bamboozle’s Bamboo Composting BinCool Composting

While the goal is to prevent waste in the first place, food waste does happen. Abeysekera recommends composting wasted food in a backyard pile, trying a worm bin or opting into yard debris service with the City of Bend, which allows compostable food scraps. Keep a small compost container inside so you don’t have to run out to the backyard every time you have an apple core or carrot tops to dispose of. Bamboozle’s Bamboo Composting Bin is a beautiful option for your kitchen countertop. Made of biodegradable and durable bamboo fibers, the bin has a breathable lid, odor-blocking filter and comes in four fun colors.

Build Sustainably

If you’re thinking big, considering a home improvement project or working on a new build, one Bend-based company offers thoughtful options when it comes to choosing flooring, countertops, stoves and more for your home. Brilliant Materials considers how products are sourced, their durability and energy use, offering alternative options such as countertops made of paperstone, recycled glass and recycled quartz as well as natural cork flooring and more.

Sustainable flooring

Recycling rightRecycle Right

Hoping an item is recyclable and tossing it in the recycle bin instead of learning the collection service’s recycling requirements and following them can actually end up sending more to the landfill. If too many non-recyclables are mixed into your recycle bin, it can be considered contaminated and put in the landfill pile. Abeysekera said that items like cartons, frozen food packaging and to-go coffee cups are usually made of cardboard that is lined with plastic, wax, foil and other materials that help keep that packaging from falling apart. These materials are unable to be separated back out in our recycling systems, meaning they must go in the trash.

Easy on the Heat

Using hot water takes energy and water, not just when you’re taking a shower or running a bath, but when you’re running appliances like your washer and dishwasher too. Use cold cycles whenever possible and don’t use the heated dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, consider opening the dishwasher door to allow the dishes to air dry.

Loading dishwasher

Soapy Swaps

For the bathroom, swapping to bar soap versus bottled soap can cut down on packaging. “Make the switch from bottled hand soap to locally handmade, zero waste or low-package bar soap,” Abeysekera said. A self-draining soap dish is not only an eye-catching addition to your bathroom countertop, it helps make using bar soap convenient and mess-free.

Handwashing dishes? Next time you’re out of dish soap, try City Maid Green’s Dish Soap Bar, available online or at Bend retailers including The Pantry, Newport Avenue Market or C.E. Lovejoy’s Market. The Bend-based company describes the orange essential oil-infused bar as creating “lush suds” for cutting grease.

City Maid Green’s Dish Soap Bar

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