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 Volunteers Maria Teodoro, of Wixom, and Kelda London, of Detroit, unload a variety of waste during the past event.

Volunteers Maria Teodoro, of Wixom, and Kelda London, of Detroit, unload a variety of waste during the past event.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Make your spring cleaning green

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 27, 2019


SOUTHFIELD/LATHRUP VILLAGE — When you break out your sponges and mops for spring cleaning this year, local recycling experts are encouraging you to go green.

According to officials at the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of South Oakland County, there are a few ways to reduce resources while cleaning.

RRRASOC General Manager Mike Csapo said a big way to help the environment during a spring cleaning session is to eliminate the use of paper towels.  

“If you can minimize the amount of single-use paper towels, you can reduce the need to manufacture more of them. Some paper towels are made from recyclable material, but some are not,” Csapo said.

Tracy Purrenhage, the recycling coordinator at RRRASOC, said it’s estimated that more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in the U.S.

“It requires a lot of natural resources to produce paper towels. Millions of trees per year, billions of gallons of water, as well as huge amounts of energy are required to manufacture paper towels and deliver to the store,” Purrenhage said in an email. “After a single use, it goes into the landfill, estimated at 3,000 tons each year. The convenience of using paper towels comes with a big price far above what we pay in the store.”

Csapo said it’s best to go with the “old school” route when cleaning — using cloths.

“If you can eliminate your use of those ... to the greatest extent possible or use a reusable cloth or towel, that’ll minimize the use of resources and energy it takes to create the paper towels,” he said.

Another way residents can go green with their spring cleaning is by using eco-friendly or natural cleaning products, such as vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda.

Purrenhage said natural cleaning products can be made by using sustainable manufacturing practices, and not only are they naturally derived, but they’re also safe and nontoxic, and contain biodegradable ingredients that are safe for the environment.

“This is in contrast to conventional cleaning products that contain ingredients that are toxic, hazardous, nonbiodegradable and made from nonrenewable natural resources like petroleum. These types of cleaners negatively impact human health and our environment when improperly used or disposed,” Purrenhage said in an email.

Once the cleaning is done, Purrenhage and Csapo said, residents can make a few small changes in their daily lives to stay green throughout the rest of the year. One way to do this is through meatless meals.

“In general, animals are a more land-intensive and resource-intensive food source, so if you shift some of your consumption habits to more fruits and vegetables, that requires less land and resources,” Csapo said.

However, you don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan to make an impact.

“A small reduction in one meatless day a week can go a long way to help the environment,” Purrenhage said. “A large amount of grain is needed and produced to feed livestock. When animals are used as food, this is like feeding food to food. This is an inefficient use of resources. The resources used to create that food could be used to feed people directly instead.”

Purrenhage also said residents can reduce their consumption of plastic, and they should remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.

For more information on RRRASOC, visit