Sustainable Spring Cleaning: Embracing Latine Traditions for a Cleaner Planet
Growing up in chilly Chicago as transplants from Mexico, the winters felt so long and dreary. But as soon as the weather got warmer, we remember seeing the señoras on our block get their brooms out and start sweeping the sidewalks. We remember our mama telling us not to make plans on sábado because it was time for a good spring cleaning.
The ritual of spring cleaning holds particular importance in our community as it signifies a time to reset our lives, shed the old and welcome in the new.
At VOLVERde, our mission is to honor and celebrate the sustainability and eco-friendly traditions within the Latine community.
Our traditions, including spring cleaning, are both deeply personal and cultural, but also good for the planet.
Let’s dive into the spring cleaning themes from our cultura.
Spring Cleaning Como Las Señoras
In many Latinx households, spring cleaning begins with a deep clean of every room in the house. The entire casita is getting a pick me up, and mama does not hold back her judgement if we don’t do it right. In our house, this involved mopping floors, washing windows, and organizing cluttered spaces. As kids, we dreaded the day full of chores.
We would come up with creative games to stay in the cleaning game for hours. Monica once bribed our laziest sister (who shall remain unnamed!) with a game involving a pretend robot and candy. We pretended the lazy sister was a robot that functioned on candy, and when its battery ‘died’, we would feed it candy so it could keep folding the pile of clothes our mama left us. And we wonder why it would take us hours to clean!
But now as adults, we laugh at these memories and appreciate the ritual and discipline of clearing out our space. We’re also a lot more conscious of the chemicals we bring into our homes during this process.
Many of our mama’s favorite cleaning products contain toxic, carcinogenic chemicals that are harmful to both our health and the environment. We’re bringing a healthier twist to this family tradition by opting for low-waste, nontoxic cleaners.
Adiós a la Basura y el Mal de Ojo!
But the traditions don’t stop at cleaning the house. The Latine community also has unique spiritual customs when it comes to spring cleaning. For example, some families incorporate religious elements into the tradition by cleansing their homes with sage or palo santo to ward off negative energy. Others may perform a spiritual cleansing with the use of eggs, which are believed to absorb negative energy.
Donating to the Primos Instead of Trashing
Another aspect of spring cleaning in the Latine community is the practice of donating or giving away items that are no longer needed. Rather than throwing things away, many families choose to donate them to family members in need.
This practice not only helps our communities, but also reduces waste and promotes sustainability. This culture of giving is deeply cultural and widespread in our community. A recent study found that Latinos give a larger share of their family wealth despite having less wealth than white Americans.
We remember taking bags of clothes to Mexico for our younger cousins or neighbors with younger kids.
Our mom always found creative ways of reusing or gifting clothes or toys we no longer used to ensure each item in our house was used to its full potential.
She taught us to take care of our items because we had to leave them in good shape for the next round of users. She considered it rude and offensive to give away things that were in bad condition, so we had to take care of our stuff.
To this day, our tias happily take clothes that are too big for our kids back to Mexico for others to enjoy. We love keeping the donation tradition going and teaching our kids to respect and care for our things.
At VOLVERde, we're here to make leading a sustainable lifestyle easier and more culturally relevant. Here's a recap of our tips as you embark on your spring cleaning:
- When cleaning your casita, make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products. The last thing we need is more toxic chemicals in our home or single-use plastic that end up polluting our communities. We've curated the best planet-friendly, effective cleaning products sourced by responsible, diverse brands.
- When cleaning with sage or palo santo, we suggest looking for sustainably sourced, ethically produced options to avoid contributing to deforestation. Buy it from small business rather than a large corporate retailer. Look for a supplier that is transparent and doing its own legwork in sourcing palo santo.
- When donating items, seek out local organizations that promote sustainability and reuse, such as thrift stores, upcycling programs, or local charities.
By incorporating sustainability into our spring cleaning traditions, we honor and preserve our traditions while positively impacting the environment.
At VOLVERde, we believe that our traditions and our planeta are interconnected, and by practicing sustainable spring cleaning, we can create a better future for generations to come.
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