Peroxide vs. bleach: the greener alternative

I pX bleacharted ways with bleach long ago. Even the smell makes me uncomfortable. In fact, chlorine bleach is a caustic chemical and a registered pesticide.  Hydrogen peroxide is formed and dissipated naturally in the environment when it simply breaks down into oxygen and water (… you see where I’m going with this, don’tcha???).

Hydrogen peroxide can act as a substitute for bleach in virtually every way.  Where you used bleach, use peroxide instead… and even far beyond.

It should always be diluted down to a 3% solution but (fortunately!) this is how it is commonly sold in your local drugstore or market, so you don’t need to worry about mixing your own concoction!

Some of the best uses for hydrogen peroxide?… just take a look:

  • Disinfectant – for cleaning toilet bowls, floors, showers, tubs, tile… your bathroom is its disinfecting playground!
  • Dishwasher – add a few drops to your dishwasher detergent for extra sterilization
  • Food cleaner & natural preservative – add a few teaspoons to a large bowl of cold water. Wash and rinse your vegetables and fruits thoroughly to clean them and prolong their freshnessperox
  • Laundry – simply use in place of the bleach or use as a stain remover (but be sure to blot & rinse immediately to avoid any potential discoloration)
  • Oral hygiene – use it to clean your toothbrush, or a teeth whitener (when combined with baking soda, in small quantities, to make a paste!)
  • Sanitizer – put in a sprayer bottle to sterilize and disinfect counter tops, cutting boards, stove tops, sinks, the refrigerator and even coffee pots, blenders and food processors
  • Toy cleaner – combine one part peroxide to ten parts water and soak water-tolerable toys, then thoroughly rinse and dry. (This is especially helpful after a bout of illness in the house!)
  • Window cleaner – add a half cup to four cups of water and create a streak-free window cleaner

The toy cleaner appeals to me, especially.  I recall when our daughter was in daycare (for a brief, fleeting moment, until I decided being a stay-at-home mommy “was for me”…) and I was horrified that they cleaned the toys with bleach!  AUGH! My baby was probably putting those toys in her mouth the very next day!

Say good-bye bleach, hello peroxide. Nothing lost, but “a whole lot of peace-of-mind” gained!

It takes only one stop to (r)e-cycle your e-waste!

ecycleWhile I’m on the topic of electronics, I must mention my trip to Best Buy this weekend and a fantastic service that I discovered.

I need to preface this with pointing out that electronics, unfortunately, create an amazing amount of e-waste when they have run their course of usefulness or get replaced.  Our TV has seen better days, and that was the reason for the trip.  Our “outgoing” TV is 17 years old and has reached the point where words on the TV were difficult to read and scrolling type is nearly impossible.

That TV will still be donated to a local charity that assists recovering addicts in setting up a home and, although it’s feasible for us tBB ecycleo replace it, I know someone in need of assistance will appreciate our donation when they have “nothing”.  On top of that, our donation keeps it from needlessly being tossed away… it DOES work, afterall.

Okay, back to my original story… Best BuyMy discovery? They have these new FANTASTIC kiosks just inside the entry to their stores that allow us to drop-off all of our e-waste for recycling, repair or repurposing.  I’m talking everything… cellphones & chargers, CDs & DVDs, game controllers and components, remotes, printer cartridges, power cords, and even ‘empty’ gift cards!  I… LOVE… IT!!!

These kiosks are available in EVERY store around the country, and there happen to be about 1100 of them!  Find your store here.

BB kiosk 2While I believe that an electronic or ‘gadget’ still in working condition should be donated, this is the best source I’ve seen so far for a central drop-off location when they’ve run their course.  Check out their site for more details and to learn about their program for the “big” electronics too.

In the meanwhile, sort through your house, fill a box of e-waste and know that you’ve FINALLY found a place for them!

Simple tips for cutting your electric bill (and emissions!)

(This article originally ran on Money Minded Moms, Suze Orman’s online community, where I’m a featured writer.  I wanted to  post it here also since the underlying theme of my articles are not only money-oriented but always address issues that relate to the environment.  We know that the environment gets the brunt of the greenhouse gas emissions created by excessive energy usage, so I hope you can take these tips to not only save money but also do something good for our planet while you’re at it!)…

powerstrip 2Have you ever received an electric bill that caused you to gasp? Or does your bill seem extraordinarily high every month? You might find yourself wondering what you did to create such an expense.

The problem may not be what you’re doing, but what you aren’t doing.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20-25% of the energy used in our home is actually consumed by electronics in stand-by mode or even “turned off”. They still consume energy as long as they’re plugged into an outlet. They also estimate that this collectively costs us $7 billion per year.

Here are a few simple tips to cut those costs:

  • Use power strips – plug-in computers, printers, scanners, monitors, TVs, DVD players, TiVos/DVRs and game systems. (Up to 75% of the energy they pull is actually consumed when they aren’t being used!) With the flip of one power strip switchcphone chrgr you can nearly eliminate this “phantom” power. To cut consumption completely, unplug the power strip once you’ve flipped the switch.
  • Keep it unplugged – this includes microwaves, radios, clocks, lamps, etc. that you don’t often use. Consider even unplugging your washer and dryer. When you need them, just plug them back in.
  • Computers – your monitor consumes substantially more energy than your hard drive. Instead of letting it sit idle while you temporarily move on to another task, turn off your monitor or put it in rest mode.
  • The little things – constantly leaving your cellphone charger and infrequently used appliances plugged laptp compinto an outlet consumes energy, even when they’re not in use.

Survey your home. Use power strips or simply pull the plug from the outlet to reduce excessive energy usage. By not doing this, you could be allowing your electric bill to skyrocket (and remember, the environment pays the price right along with you!).

Plastic bags + animals = heartbreak

Some of the first things everyone says to do in a “mission to go green” is to switch to CFLs, or eat organic, or switch all of your products to eco-friendly formulas, or buy a reusable water bottle. To these things I say: yes, yes, yes and yes.

But I STILL cannot get over how many of us haven’t switched to reusable bagsI… hate… plastic… bags. And when it’s obvious that you can buy a reusable bag just about anywhere (for 99 cents, I might add), I wonder why so many of us hesitate to use them.

I ran across some images that, although they show only a portion of the problem, to me this problem is heartbreaking.

Some you may have seen before, some may be new. But I think they speak for themselves…

plastic bag & sea turtle

plastic bag & bird

plastic & sea turtle

ottr w bag

(Sea otter mother & baby photo by photographer, Terry McCormac)

dolph w bg

(The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil is considered a wildlife sanctuary but today, even in this isolated archipelago, dolphins are victims of the bad habits of consumption. Photo and caption by João Vianna)

If you don’t already use them (and after seeing these images), would you please consider buying (and using) some reusable bags instead?

Do you know what your PLU produce labels mean?

PLUOkay, another “confession”… until recently, I had no idea either!  I’m talking about the little stickers on the produce we purchase.  They’re actually called PLUs, (“Product {or Price} Look-Up” labels), and would you believe the numbers actually mean something?… they aren’t just random numbers.

(*Insert a look of surprise from me too!*)

The important number is actually the first digit and they can tell you a whole lot about the produce you purchase.  It tells you exactly how it was grown.

Here are the digits you need to remember:

  • 3 or 4 – indicates conventionally grown produce (grown with pesticides, herbicides & fertilizers)
  • 9 – indicates that the produce is ORGANIC

The next time you pick up a piece of produce: (1) look at the first digit of the PLU label, (2) remember these numbers, (3) know what you’re buying and then (4) rest assured that they’ll tell you everything you want to know about the food you’re buying for (and serving to) your family.

(*Yes, continue that look of surprise from me too!…*)