Thoughtful Thursdays: A Greener Cleaner

Published June 21, 2012

During the last few months, the National Aquarium's Fishes department has been transitioning all of its cleaning products to eco-friendly options.

Aquarist Beth Schneble said, "As a conservation organization, we feel strongly about the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, and decided to do our part by not polluting the Chesapeake Bay watershed with chemicals. Because we want to promote the use of these products, we are sharing our choices with volunteers, tour groups, interns, and other staff members who might be considering changes for the sake of the environment. The green products are just as effective as the old ones, and they are helping to minimize the amount of chemicals rinsed down the drains daily."

For general cleaning, they use white vinegar and microfiber cloths. Here's a quick before-and-after snapshot of the other changes they made:

Before After
Blue Dawn dish detergent Green Works dish detergent; 97% natural, many ingredients derived from plants
Standard synthetic sponges Scotch Brite Greener Clean scrubs; 50% of the scrubbing fibers are made from agave plants; sponges are 100% plant-based fiber and 23% recycled material
Ajax and Tide floor cleaners Damp mop; biodegradable and phosphate-free floor cleaner
Windex Brillianize Plastic Cleaner (used for exhibit windows); alcohol free, ammonia free and contains no sodium sulfate or ethylene glycol
Plastic spray bottles Recycled spray bottles made from plastic jugs. Staff add a diluted mixture of detergent and water to decrease the amount of soap needed to clean dishes. The containers are reusable, and supplies last longer.

And if you're interested in making a change at home, here's a super-easy recipe for a DIY all-purpose cleaner, which is easier on both the environment AND your budget:

Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Pour into a spray bottle and store.

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