April 18, 2002
Ah spring! This wonderful time of year has inspired poets for eons, caused passion to rise up in the hearts of the meek, and made home dwellers realize just how messy and cluttered things have become through the winter. Huh? Where'd that last one come from? Well, (not so) oddly enough, it's actually the first two that are irrelevant to this article. This week's theme is Spring Cleaning, also known in the student universe as move-out time. There's a lot of area to cover when it comes to cleaning up and environmental lifestyles. I'll see if I can get most of the essentials.
First off, the tidying and chucking out of old paraphernalia aspect. Please, please remember that you still need to sort correctly. Remember that recyclables, garbage, Wet and Dry still exist, even at this time of year. If you are confused about some of the more bizarre items you are trying to get rid of, call up the Wet-Dry facility or the Recycling Coordinator. They love to help.
Of course, the recycling is still only option 3 on the classic list: reduce, reuse, recycle. You know the old slogan "One man's trash is another's treasure" ? (sorry, still looking for a gender neutral rendering of that.) Well, what that boils down to is that your old retro coffee table may seem like the worst refuse from the 70s to you, but to the guy down the street it's positively groovy. Give things away to local thrift shops, charities, reuse centres, consignment shops, pawn shops, friends and family: if the Internet has taught me anything, it's that someone out there likes that weird thing you can't stand anymore.
Then of course we have the actual bane of spring cleaning: the cleaning. The scrubbing and wiping and dusting and washing and polishing can use some pretty brutal solvents and detergents, some of which are harmful to the scrubber's health, some to the environment's health. There are loads and loads of alternatives to a lot of the more caustic cleaners, each of which could merit an entire EcoBit to itself, so I will just toss out a couple of my personal favourites. 1) Vinegar. I can eat it. Any cleaning agent I can eat can't be that harmful. It removes scale, cuts grease and cleans windows and mirrors. 2) Baking soda: an excellent scouring powder that isn't too harsh on surfaces. 3) Combine 1 and 2, and you get a drain and oven cleaner. (Check out the website in the coming weeks for a "recipe" section of tried and true cleaning methods.) 4) Perhaps my personal favourite, a 100% ecologically sound cleaning method: elbow grease. Put some oomph! into it. Pouring and spritzing chemicals isn't half as effective as good old effort. Yeah, it goes against the lazy principle that consumerism is expounding in all the ads out there, but it actually works, and it's good exercise too.