Eco-Friendly Cleaning

We can finally look forward to warm temperatures because spring is here! For many, the blossoming of flowers and the budding of trees renew our dedication to cleanse our homes of all the dirt, dust, and any other debris we’ve accumulated during the winter.

There are several cheap and sustainable alternatives for household cleaning, which allow us to get away from chemically driven cleaning products. Dirt and dust aren’t the only culprits for indoor air pollution, the off-gassing of chemicals in cleaning products are also to blame. Time to make the switch!

Look at what you have on hand, and what you use it for. This will help you find eco-friendly substitutes for any harsh chemicals you may have.

Baking soda effectively cleans, deodorizes, and cuts through grime.

  • For a heavy-duty toilet and shower cleaner mix ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of water. Put the solution in a spray bottle, let it sit for several minutes, then scrub and rinse after applying the solution.

Lemon juice annihilates bacteria, mildew, and mold.

  • Tired of bleaching your cutting boards? Lemons are a great alternative to disinfecting wood or plastic cutting boards. All you need is to cut a lemon in half, scrub over the desired surface, and let it sit for ten minutes before rinsing. Talk about a non-toxic solution!
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The EcoFellowship Experience: Jonathan Ruiz

Hello! My name is Jonathan Ruiz and I am an EcoFellow at the Center for EcoTechnology. I graduated last April from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Science. My desire to work in the environment started when I took an Environmental Sustainability class in high school. From then on I wanted to learn everything I could about environmental practices. My senior year of college I went back and forth on how I could make an impact, but also find a career I would enjoy being a part of. Upon finding the EcoFellowship, I knew I had to apply since it was everything I was looking for. Over the course of the last five months I have developed a plethora of professional skills: project management, direct installations, and outreach and education development. In the coming months, I hope to find more ways I can make an impact in the natural and built environment. The skills I have attained so far, through the EcoFellowship, have helped me progress not only as a professional, but as an individual.

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New Uses for your Christmas Spruces

Each year there are around 25-30 million fresh cut trees being purchased for the holidays, creating a lot of waste to be disposed of. Fortunately, there’s no need to get the winter blues since there are various ways to spruce up your life and make use of the trees after you take down your decorations!

Mulch Party

Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly making them excellent moisture and mold-free mulch. Strip away the needles on the branches and sprinkle them in your yard! You could also rent a wood chipper to get even better results! It might be a bit pricey to rent a wood chipper, if you don’t already have one, so you could get a couple of your neighbors together and split the cost, that way everyone could use it!

Bough Blankets

Cut off main branches and lay them over your yard. During the winter your plants can be severely damaged by frost heaving- an expansion of the underlying soil, which alters the nutrient composition. Laying the branches over your yard will give your spring plants a warm blanket!

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5 Ways to Repurpose Fallen Leaves

The leaves have started turning beautiful colors and fall is under way! With the new season comes new opportunities to find creative purposes for your fall leaf litter. We have five tips to help you get the most out of your fall leaves!

  1. Add your fallen leaves to your compost pile!

The carbon in leaves is essential to a healthy compost pile by adding nutrients and keeping moisture. You can pile them up next to your compost and add them in gradually all year. Don’t have a compost pile? Get started here, or check out your local farm to see if you can donate your leaves to their compost pile!

  1. Use them in your potted plants.

Mix dried leaves in the top two to three inches of soil. Overtime the leaves will decompose and increase nutrients, giving your potted plants a healthy start!

  1. Feed your lawn by just mowing over leaves!

Instead of raking up your leaves, just go over your whole yard with your lawn mower, this will chop up the leaves, spread them out, and allow them to decompose throughout the winter. Shredded leaves are also a cost effective alternative to store bought mulch and will help protect grass, flower buds and seeds in your yard.

  1. Create art projects with your fallen leaves!

Pick the most beautiful fall leaves to preserve and use for seasonal decorations. Leaves are a versatile art material. You can use them to stuff scarecrows, make a pretty fall wreath, and even for leaf rubbing art. If you would like to make leaf rubbing art, place dried leaves under a sheet of paper and shade over each leaf with a colored pencil!

  1. Gather leaves and help the critters.

Many wildlife species live or rely on the leaves to find food or make habitats. If you want to keep your yard clean, but help with wildlife then rake up the leaves and pill them up in a far corner of your yard. If you have a woodsy area on your property you can place them there!

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