American Cleaning Institute - For Better Living

Family Sustainability Challenge

Going Beyond Green®

btn sustainabilityAs you get ready for back to school activities, or turning over a new leaf for fall, you and your family can do your part to make less impact on the environment by choosing not to buy everything new. Check out this list of clean ideas for families who are ready to take a big sustainability step forward. Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President, Meetings & Education at the American Cleaning Institute has created this list for going beyond green with your cleaning routine.

Proper cleaning and/or storage of the following things so they do not need to be replaced year after year:

  • Cell Phones, Tablets and Other Electronics – Keep the keys from sticking (pun intended) and extend the life of your electronics by keeping these away from food and drinks (also see Tips for cleaning your keyboard, mouse and monitor).
  • Sneakers – If the shoes still fit, clean off the summer grass or dirt stains to get them ready for school. Check the label to see if they are machine washable and apply a dose of stain remover or stain booster. For leather shoes, spot clean with a leather cleaner and rag.
  • Sandals – After carrying sweaty toes over the summer months, be sure to clean before storing in the closet so they don't make everything else "fragrant" and also can be used again next summer. For flip flops and jellies, add dish soap to a bucket of water and scrub clean with a stiff brush. Air-dry completely before storing.
  • Lunch boxes - If you were able to use last year's, kudos! If you bought a new one, here's how to clean it so it doesn't smell like an elementary school cafeteria after a food fight, or worse, harbor bacteria. For metal or hard plastic lunch boxes, wash like you would wash dishes, in the sink or dishwasher if your lunch box says its dishwasher safe. For soft sided sacks and foam sacks, check the label you may be able to wash with your clothes. No matter what it is made up, be sure to clean spots and spills as soon as possible and completely wash weekly.
  • Backpacks (so THAT'S where last spring's homework assignment was!) Instead of buying a new backpack, clean last year’s. After checking and emptying all the pockets, hand wash or machine wash if the label says it is safe.
  • Bathing suits, beach towels – Chlorine, salt and sand can do a number on these, so be sure to wash after each wearing to get the most use. Before you put these away at the end of the season, make sure they are clean and completely dry and store in a cool dry place to keep your suit fresh for next summer. (You're on your own when it comes to fitting into it!)
  • Hand me downs – What kid - or parent - doesn't love hand me downs? Shop for "new" clothes in your other child’s closet.
  • School Supplies – Shop for school supplies like pens, pencils, crayons, rulers and 3-ring binders from last year’s supplies. You may find you already have many items on your list.
  • Jackets/coats – As we head into cooler months, here’s how to maintain your winter wear for many seasons of snowy weather. How to care for your winter coat will vary, depending on the coat's fiber content. Check the care label for specific instructions from the manufacturer. For the most part, ACI recommends you follow these general tips to keep your coat looking great during the winter months:
    • Wear scarves to avoid soiling the collar, especially for leather and suede. Oily stains from hair and skin can permanently stain the head fabric.
    • When storing coats, use a padded hanger and store it in a well-ventilated closet. And, be sure that it is clean before it goes in to hibernation.
    • Avoid hanging coats by their neck or on a coat rack.
    • Treat stains immediately to keep them from setting.
  • BYOB – If you need to buy new items, don’t bring home more plastic bags; bring your own reusable shopping bag!

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