Challenge 4 – A Green Clean

Challenge 4 – A Green Clean

Published —
Writer —

Hello again challengers! Welcome back to The Green Place.

Easter has been and gone. Along with it came the browns of chocolate, the yellows of chicks, as well as pink bunny noses and fluffy white lambs and the fresh greenery of a spring that has finally sprung. Oh, and speaking of spring – this month’s challenges are a little spring cleaning for the home, for the soul, for the Earth. 

Each challenge is like squeezing lemons; easy peasy. And the impact of them is like making lemonade out of said squeezed lemons – because we’re taking the knowledge we’ve gathered from our devastating impact on the Earth, and endeavouring to turn it into something much, much better. One green change at a time.

There are five in total, four of which are centred around rooms of the house, as though you truly are spring cleaning your home – except it’s this planetary sized abode that we all share. So, pull your green Marigolds on (Marigreens?) and get ready to make some creative changes to the way you live. 

Because Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared was wrong: green is a creative colour. 

  1. Switch your shampoo bottles for shampoo bars (bathroom)

This green-clean begins in the porcelain palace. A tiny change you can make in the bathroom that will have exponential benefits to both the environment – and your hair. 

Introducing: shampoo bars. 

This, much to our dismay, is not a nightclub bar where you can go for a pint of Herbal Essences (but, to be fair, nobody is stopping you from doing so at home. Though we wouldn’t recommend it), but it is a far better way to wash your lovely locks in a manner that is eco-friendly. 

520 million shampoo bottles worth of plastic are binned every year in the UK – and a single plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose. That’s a global graveyard of Goldilocks’ goods, all so that we can flip our glossy hair and confirm, “we’re worth it.” But isn’t the Earth worth whatever “it” is, too? Shouldn’t we treat our beautiful green and blue with the same adoration and respect that we treat our blondes, reds, brunettes? 

With shampoo bars, we can do just that.

They come in recyclable or biodegradable packaging, so nothing gets wasted. No plastic pollution, no damaging effect on the environment, nothing but a cost-effective (these bars can last for months, so you get more than your money’s worth) and gentler (they’re made only of natural and chemical-free ingredients and they’re cruelty free, so they’re better for your body and for the bodies of thousands of innocent creatures) means of washing your human fur. 

So you see? Shampoo bars are a way to clean yourself from head to toe – starting with your hair, and ending with scrubbing away the stains of your carbon footprints. That’s win-win, less shampoo bottles in the bin bin. 

  1. Don’t mow the lawn (garden)

It’s springtime. The season of bees and daisy chains and hayfever tablet sales skyrocketing. It’s the time when sheds are unlocked and lawn mowers are unleashed and the garden gets its first haircut since Christmas. Recommendations actually suggest that you should trim your garden grass every week for half the year during the warmer months, to keep it tidy, neat and fresh. 

But next month, that’s all about to change. We’ve gone from The Earth Hour switch off in March, to No Mow May. 

No Mow May is an initiative started by Plantlife in 2019, encouraging garden-owners up and down the country to leave their gardens be for the entirety of May, transforming them into a green utopia of biodiversity. 

“A healthy lawn with some long grass and wildflowers benefits wildlife, tackles pollution and can even lock away carbon below ground.” – Plantlife. 

There are over 20 million gardens in the UK, and if we stop mowing the lawn for even just a month, this will allow wildflowers to grow and thrive, providing a substantial source of nectar to our precious pollinators; bees, butterflies, and other bugs. Because British pollinators are in rapid decline. Therefore, so is our food production availability. Did you know that one in three bites of everything we eat exists because of our pollinators? Letting our lawns grow wildly, watching as daisies and buttercups, as white clovers and bird’s-foot trefoils spring back to life – it revives the ecosystem. 

Now, we’re not asking you to scrap your mower and don a machete as you slash your way through the thrush of your ever growing garden just so you can clear up the dog poop. We’re just suggesting to try out No Mow May a little early, giving it a go and letting it grow. 

After all, what is a garden but the beard of the home? And beards are so in right now. So. Let your garden thrive and keep the bees alive. 

  1. Environmentally friendly cleaning products (kitchen)

This challenge begins in the kitchen, right there in the cupboard beneath the sink where stacks of plastic chemicals stand sentinel, ready to butcher bacteria and destroy dirt with a plethora of poisons. Do any of us really know what the hell it is we’re spritzing onto our worktops and scrubbing into our carpets? Most of which is unsafe for pets and forewarns us to “keep away from children” and honestly, whatever it is, it’s made to kill. That doesn’t sound like the best thing to keep in our home. 

Which is why, for this part of this month’s green swaps, we’re recommending eco-friendly alternatives. Products that clean, in green. 

There are more available than you might think. Ones you might have heard of or seen advertised, things like Smol, who have created everyday cleaning products that are better for the planet, and Method, who use plant-based and cruelty-free biodegradable ingredients in their 100% recycled plastic bottles, and Ecover, who’ve also harnessed the effects of consciously chosen ingredients and encourage not just recycling, but refilling their products, to reduce waste. Each of these brands sources, manufacturers and lives with green cleans in mind.

But there’s a whole range out there. Many that are affordable, that contain only natural and cruelty-free ingredients and still get the job done – meaning we don’t have to fog our homes with harmful and toxic chemicals, cleaning our counters only to dirty our insides and our Earth. From refillable items to recyclable packaging, this is the cleaning revolution, with sustainable and safe products striding to the forefront of our green-floored (polished to perfection) stage.

So, wipe away any environmental stains and choose eco-friendly cleaning.

  1. Go paperless (study)

Whether it’s in your study or in that miscellaneous drawer where wires are knotted and paperclips are bent and a wormhole has opened up, suckling away your dried up pens; this challenge is for the place where you store all your Important Bits™, your paperwork, your love letters, your receipts and your existential ephemera. 

And it’s telling you to stop.

Around 420 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are produced, globally, each year. And as we all know, paper is sourced from trees, so the more we make, the more devastation we cause to forests, to wildlife, depleting natural resources and polluting the world around us. 

But we can change that – one sheet at a time. By keeping them online. 

The benefits of going paperless are innumerable:

  • It reduces waste – paper makes up 25% of solid landfill waste. Let’s run those “waste paper baskets” into extinction.
  • It reduces deforestation – the less paper made, the less trees slayed. Instead, ecosystems can continue to thrive and our forests can continue to survive.
  • It reduces the use of water – “producing a single sheet of paper requires more than 3 gallons of water.” The Earth is drying up enough as it is. Paperless means water preservation.
  • It reduces CO2 emissions – your average tree can produce 17 reams of paper, but will release 110 pounds of CO2 to produce it. Plus the emissions from transportation and distribution. The thing is, trees actually absorb around 2,000 pounds of CO2 in their lifetime. When we cut them down, not only are we creating pollution, but we’re preventing them from helping us lessen it. 

Here are some tiny ways you can go paperless today:

  • Do your invoices online
  • Get your bank statements via email
  • Sign documents digitally
  • Make your shopping list on your phone
  • Digitise any existing documents by scanning them onto your computer

Don’t just take a leaf out of our book – keep that book as the leaf from whence it came. 

  1. Bonus challenge: plant a tree

Trees are a timeline of existence. Layers of life engraved into the trunk, bearing witness to the fruits of human endeavours spanning the ages. Not to mention trees are just generally epic. Some loom, some teeter, some are vast, some are stick-thin, some wind together, some defy all odds by protruding at an awkward angle out of a cliff ledge; and all of them protect us, protect the planet.

A tree is a home; to thousands of species of wildlife. It’s a garden; a means of growing and harvesting our own food. It’s a protector; producing oxygen, absorbing CO2, improving soil, preventing flooding, and providing shelter for crops and creatures. It’s a healer; just leaning against one can soothe our mental wellbeing. Lining this life with trees benefits us, other species and the very Earth herself.

So, for this challenge, we’re asking you to plant a tree. Or at least consider planting one. It’s really easy! All you need to do is:

  1. Dig a hole (or ask your local Labrador to do so for you)
  2. Soak the roots before planting (with a watering can, or Super Soaker. Your call)
  3. Loosen the roots if they’re tightly packed (the sequel to Footloose: Rootloose)
  4. Position the tree in the hole (this would make a really weird type of golf)
  5. Refill the hole (with soil. Not just any old thing. I know storage is tight these days, but…)
  6. Water and mulch (it means “a layer of material applied to the surface of soil.” Don’t worry. We didn’t know that either)
  7. Insert a stake (not a steak. Unfortunately, meat does not grow on trees)

There you have it. And in decades to come, you’ll still have it. So give it a go. Plant a tree. Or at least read up on how to. Give it a name. Sit beneath it. Feed the birds, the squirrels, the bugs. Pluck an apple. Hag lanterns on the branches. Stare at it, wide eyed – and breathe green.

Our ethos

Ethos is a magazine for and about people who embrace new and innovative ways of doing business. We cover stories about the most progressive business leaders, their teams, ethos and ideas to give you a unique insight into how they’re changing how business is done.

Privacy policy

Studio A, 49 Jamaica Street,
L1 0AH

green hosting logo
Email us