According to the 2015 Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection Survey, only one-third of all plastic packaging in the UK actually gets recycled! Most household cleaning products are sold in plastic packages made from high density polyethylene (HDPE). Even though this type of plastic can be relatively easily recycled, it often still lands in the landfills when you put it in your rubbish clearance bins.
One way you can personally improve this alarming stat is to call Clearabee to pick up your plastic instead of having your local council service pick up your rubbish clearance. Clearabee, a private on demand rubbish clearance company, has a recycle rate of ninety percent or more if you schedule a booking with them. Clearabee will take your HDPE containers to sites that recycle the HDPE plastic and then turn it into more durable products like plastic outdoor furniture and plastic recycle bins. Letting all your friends know about Clearbee’s extremely high recycle rate, and their low cost same day service, is a good way to multiple this positive action.
How To Make Your Own Vinegar Based Cleaning Supplies
Another way you can personally keep your HDPE plastic containers out of landfills is to make your own vinegar based cleaning supplies. This will reduce the number of HDPE plastic bottles and containers you and your family produce very significantly. To get the kids on board with the idea of making your own household cleaning supplies, you may want to sit down with them and actually do the math. Calculate approximately how many cleaning containers you bin each month, each year, each decade, and then over the course of an entire lifetime!
Household vinegar is actually just a really dilute solution of glacial acetic acid (pure full strength acetic acid). It is usually sold in stores as five percent acetic acid and the container will usually just say 5% vinegar. The main reason it is so dilute is there are safety issues with stronger acetic acid which can easily burn your eyes and your skin.
To make a general all purpose cleaner, all you need to do is dilute the 5% vinegar even more. Here’s the base recipe:
1 part 5% vinegar (cheap white vinegar is fine but you can also use other vinegars)
3 parts filtered water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (OPTIONAL)
If you’re dealing with a really odorous problem, such as dog or cat urine, you can use pure 5% vinegar or dilute it less:
1 part 5% vinegar
1 part filtered water
This 1:1 solution works well on glass too.
To store your homemade cleaning solution, try to use reusable glass bottles or containers you would otherwise put in your rubbish clearance bins.
If you want to polish your wooden furniture or shine a metal surface, you can add one or two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to the base recipe.
You can use your basic vinegar cleaner recipe in combination with a little baking soda or table salt to scrub a kitchen sink, inside an oven, or anything else that needs an good scrubbing. Don’t worry. This is a safe combination of chemicals to use (unlike bleach and vinegar!).
The Effectiveness of Vinegar Based Cleaning Solutions
Vinegar diluted in water is a powerful antimicrobial (anti-bacterial and anti-fungal). It has been proven to kill most common pathogenic bacteria lurking in kitchens and bathrooms. These include Clostridium botulinum, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Listeria, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus.
You can also add a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice to make the solution smell better as vinegar can be a bit off putting to some people, although the pungent vinegar smell dissipates quickly. If you make your cleaner far in advance, and have time to let it sit for at least a week, even better a couple of weeks, you can add lemon peel, orange peel, or the peel or any other citrus fruit for a refreshing clean smell. The essential oils released from the citrus peel are also highly antimicrobial! Alternately, for an instant citrusy cleaner, you can add a few drops of citrus essential oil.
The combination of vinegar and the essential oil of citrus will eliminate more than 99 percent of all microbes on the surfaces you clean with this solution! You can also add other essential oils that both smell good and have a powerful antimicrobial effect. These include thyme, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and peppermint. You can also try a combination of your favorite essential oils to come up with your own unique scent! For example, thyme and lemon go well together.
Additional Tips For Reducing Your Rubbish Clearance Even More
1. If you purchase concentrated vinegar, such as 30% vinegar concentrate, also called 300 grain vinegar, you can dilute it down to 5% and then follow them make up the same basic recipe. This way, you’ll use even less plastic bottles. However, you need to be VERY careful when using 30% vinegar concentrate as it can burn your skin and eyes badly. For this reason, it is not a good idea to let small children participate in this step.
2. It can be difficult to find, but in some areas you can actually buy your vinegar in bulk and fill your own container! This eliminates almost all your cleaning containers! Look for this at co-ops, farm stores, and garden centers.
3. If you have a bottle of wine go bad (tastes sour), this means that acetic acid bacteria have gotten into the wine somehow and started their magical fermentation process that converts ethanol to vinegar! Don’t throw it away! Let it continue the process for about 6 months and use the resulting vinegar as a cleaner! To do this, simply cover the top with a cheese cloth or a clean towel or sock, i.e. a breathable material, not a airtight lid. This will allow more acetic acid bacteria to enter the wine from your ambient air and fully convert it to vinegar.
It may sound like a small step to take at first but making your own vinegar based cleaning supplies can significantly reduce your rubbish clearance over a lifetime. You can multiply this positive effect many times over by passing on this habit to your kids, sharing these easy tips with your friends, and posting these ideas to your social media accounts.
There are three major selling points when sharing this with friends. First, it will save them a ton of money! Second, these vinegar based homemade cleaning products work better than the more expensive store bought varieties. Third, they’ll be reducing their rubbish clearance (share the math you did with the kids with them!) and lowering their ecological footprint.