When we were kids, Marc was always trying to find a way to dodge household chores. On one particular day, Marc was trying his best to get out of cleaning the bathroom, and started to notice the warning signs on all of the bottles of cleaning products.
Marc's attack on toxic cleaning products
Feeling triumphant, Marc yelled "Toxins can stunt my growth!" and quickly announced he couldn't clean the bathroom because of the harmful ingredients in our cleaning supplies.
Although it was an attempt to avoid chores, Marc backed up his refusal by showing us all the signs and symbols — Danger! Hazardous! Caution! — on the bottles during a thorough search through our bathroom cabinets.
Natural cleaning products in Grandma's bathroom
Marc couldn't shake what he saw on the bottles, and headed to our grandmother Mimi's house to hunt through her bathroom cupboards. Instead of bottles warning "corrosive," "poisonous if swallowed," and "flammable," however, all he found in Mimi's cupboards was lemon juice, borax, baking soda and vinegar.
These tried-and-true combinations, plus a little elbow grease, were all Mimi needed to keep her house – and the water supply – sparkling clean.
All his research helped Marc develop a winning Grade 8 science project. It also led us to examine the ecological footprint of the Kielburger household.
A lifestyle of greener choices
We were harming the planet because we'd never stopped to think about the consequences of our everyday actions. For a time, Marc even became a vegetarian to lessen his own personal footprint. His eating habits weren't necessarily cleaning up our house, but they were cleaning up the environment by avoiding all the by-products that come from eating meat.
Page 1 of 2 – Discover more green living tips, plus resources on page 2.
Now adults, we often remember lessons from Marc's project. We still try to duck out of chores – Craig's bachelor pad could use a good scrubbing, and Marc's wife takes issue with his habit of leaving half-eaten bowls of chili out too long – but we never forget the simple things we learned and try to limit the resources we use every day.
Every day is Earth Day
Spring also brings to mind Earth Day, a collected effort to protect our environment, and it's the perfect time to remember that Earth Day isn't about picking up litter on one day in the year. It's about integrating environmental practices into our daily activities.
Simple things like using baking soda and vinegar as cleaning products is just one of the many things you can do to clean your home and help clean the environment at the same time.
Every green step counts
Remember, too, environmental actions aren't about being perfect. Heck, we sure aren't. Marc's bowl of chili is still sitting there. Just like spring cleaning catches up with the dust that accumulates throughout the year, it can also be a good time to dust off your cleaning habits with the environment in mind.
So when you're scrubbing your countertops and dusting off your furniture, consider using environmentally friendly cleaning products and building your muscles to help make this summer, and every summer afterwards absolutely beautiful.
Green living tips and resources
1. Get ideas: Think of simple things you and your family can do every day to help the environment. Visit websites like 1 Million Acts of Green to get ideas for easy and impactful actions.
2. Get audited: There are tons of fun online tools that measure everything from energy use to household water footprints. Check this one out from WaterFootprint.org.
3. Get involved: Communities all over the country host city clean-ups, tree planting, and other environmental events throughout the year. Get involved with one in your neighbourhood or organize your own.
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