Spring is in the air… all the ways to “green clean”!”

sprng clnSpring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything feels new and there is something very refreshing about sitting back and seeing things literally spring to life.  One thing that does need our assistance, however, is our home. Unfortunately there is NOTHING refreshing about a house that has been closed for months on end.

The problem is that, while we attempt to do our spring cleaning, we can be tempted to grab the commercial cleaners and create a lot of waste too.  Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls:

  • Open windowslet the fresh air come in. It does wonders!
  • Buy distilled white vinegar – and lots of it.  The uses are amazing… everything from cleaning and sanitizing to disinfecting and stain removal.  Check out vinegartips.com for ideas, but whatever you do, do NOT use commercial household cleaners… they are harsh, harmful and unnecessary.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide – you may not have considered this as an option before, but it’s a great alternative to bleach.
  • Buy baking soda – fantastic for cleaning but also for removing odors from rugs and carpets.  Sprinkle some on, let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum it up… nice and simple.spry bttl
  • Make your own multi-purpose cleanerI have a recipe and I use my own cleaner daily.
  • Make your own furniture polish – I have another recipe for you!
  • Skip paper towels and sponges – gather old t-shirts and towels (not suitable for donation) and put them to work.  Skoy cloths are another favorite of mine, and they can all be washed and used again for later cleaning projects.
  • Recycle – magazines, mail, catalogs, any needless papers, packaging….the list goes on and on.  And don’t just put them in the garbage can.  Put them in the recycling can. All of these papers are recyclable!
  • Food cupboards – you thought you’d need it, use it, want it, but alas you did not.  Donate it to a food pantry if it hasn’t expired; otherwise make sure the packaging, cans and containers get recycled as well.
  • Donation boxes – inevitably you will find lots of things that no longer have usefulness for you but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for someone else.  Clothing, shoes, household items, books, furniture, toys, anything and everything. Pack up these items and donate them to a charity, list them on Freecycle or Craig’s List.  But never throw away anything that still has “life” left in it.sprng cln rag
  • Proper disposalmotor oil, paint cans, aerosols… check Earth911 to find out where these toxic products can be dropped off for proper disposal.  Same goes for electronics.  If they can’t be given away, check local resources (Best Buy has a fabulous program) or again Earth911.
  • Consider air freshening in a less harmful way – if you MUST put the scent of spring in the air, forgo the aerosol air fresheners and instead fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and essential oils, and “spray away!”
  • Buy a plant – some household plants will actually help to purify the air in your home!
  • Consider some “Spring Resolutions”no more antibacterial soaps (their harmful effects can be greater than their benefit), no more harsh cleaners and chemicals.  Vow to replace them with eco- and health-friendly products.  Put CFLs on your shopping list and use them for every bulb that needs replacing from here on out!  And when you buy these products, make sure they get placed in reusable bags!

Start stretching, limber up and let the “green cleaning” commence!

Earth Hour 2011: The lights dimmed all over the world!

earth hr + 11I hope you participated in Earth Hour! On Saturday, March 26th, 2011, from 8:30-9:30 pm, lights did dim all over the world!

The Mom Goes Green family turned off the lights for the third year and this year was no less exciting.  We started our day with a visit to The Rainforest at our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to really kick-off a day of appreciation for our planet and the wonders of nature.  For dinner we stopped off at a local Indian restaurant to feast on cuisine from yet another part of our our world.  And when we got home our kids rushed to take nice short showers (water conservation, right?) before we got started.EH Lond

The lights went out, the soy candles were illuminated and our celebration began.

We were thrilled to once again look out at the Cleveland skyline from our backyard and see it mostly dark (Thank you, Cleveland!).  Our hour (which actually stretched to an hour and a half!) included venturing to every corner of the house and plenty of silliness along the way.  The kids’ flashlights (equipped with rechargeable batteries) were a great source for “The Shadow Puppet Show” and we snuggled under blankets on the floor to read stories from The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales.

EH EgyThis year’s Earth Hour had record participation (134 countries) and I wondered how many children from my kids’ school were participating with their families. Last week I sent home a notice with all 465 of them(!) announcing Earth Hour.  If they sign the pledge that says they participated, some of them will be randomly selected to win an eco-prize reward including BPA-free water bottles, pencils made from recycled newspapers and TerraCycle pencil bags (made from upcycled drink pouches)!

If you participated, you literally joined families from all around the globe… Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Singapore, Beijing, Moscow, Sydney, Athens, Jakarta, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Oslo, New York City, Abu Dhabi, Bucharest, Capetown, Mumbai and Cairo (just to name a few!). When else can you imagine these cities and countries banded together in a unified cause? Earth Hour brought the world together in support of our common thread… Planet Earth!

You can still experience the magnitude of this event.  Boston.com allows you to click the images and see the lights go off in locations around the world.  BuzzFeed shows you the before and after from 40 notable cities and AolNews gives you the grand tour of the entire spectacular event.EH NYC

Quite powerful, I’d say.

Now, let’s see what we can do to take this momentum and not allow this event to become just ONE hour in an entire year… what can you do to make every hour Earth Hour?

The glass IS half full… but broken, it’s trash!

glass halfThe other day a friend of mine mentioned that she recently had a horrible bout with “fumble fingers”… while emptying her dishwasher, she managed to wipe-out four glasses from her countertop.

Knowing that I am Mom Goes Green, she commented:  “Well, at least I put them in the recycling can!”

Oh, beloved friend, I appreciate the gesture, but wrong! (… and I mean that with lotsa green love!)

In actuality, drinking glasses CANNOT be recycled.  The content is a bit different than glass jars, bottles, and containers. These glasses are, unfortunately, trash.

The same goes for windows, mirrors and glass cookware.  While other glass can be recycled indefinitely, these cannot.  Adding them in with your recycling risks ruining an entire batch of recycled glass and you certainly want to consider the danger created when your recyclables are being sorted… glass shards everywhere don’t make for a great work environment at your recycling facility and they can seriously damage equipment.glass brkn

Years ago I managed to completely destroy a door on the front of our entertainment center.  It shattered to small bits and I actually used the pieces to fill the bottom of some clear vases for floral arrangements. (See, some creative license to upcycle still exists!)

So, while I agree with the idea that we should go through life with a “glass half full” mentality, if fumble fingers strikes you too, don’t risk it.  Thank the glass for its service, but you’ll need to put it in the trash.

Earth Hour 2011: March 26 (can you spare the time?)

earth hr + 11I hope you’ve circled the date on your calendar! This Saturday, March 26th, 2011, from 8:30-9:30 pm is Earth Hour!

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning off their lights for one hour as a “vote” FOR the earth, and a “vote” AGAINST global warming.  By 2010, this movement had grown to hundreds of millions of people, and even darkened the Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Parthenon in Greece, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square and landmarks around the globe.

Last year people from all around the world switched off their lights in a unified vote because, regardless of where you live, we all depend on the same planet! This is the perfect time to turn off the lights, discuss global warming and the importance of “being green” as a family.  Consider taking actions to assure that we aren’t polluting our earth and overusing resources in our everyday lives.

For more information, go to www.earthhour.org and sign-up to be “officially” counted!

Need some inspiration?

Or want to know what we did last year?… click here

now…

Will you “vote” with me this year?

Got rust?: Aluminum foil, remove, recycle…

alum foilYesterday we were gifted with some fantastic warm weather and bright sunny skies (an anomaly around Ohio these days!).

After school, all our daughter wanted to do was jump on her Razor scooter and scoot around the neighborhood.  But when she pulled it out of the place in the garage where it had been propped up, for the better part of winter, we were mortified… rust, rust, and more rust!

It’s only a year old and it had been well cared for, but it looked like it had literally been left out in the elements for weeks.razor

Fortunately, I had exactly what we neededNot a chemical, not a commercial cleaning concoction, just plain old aluminum foil waiting in our pantry.  Before my daughter started to panic, I got “the supply”.

All you need to do is tear off a sheet, roll it into a ball (shiny side out, preferably) and start rubbing away the rust. And voila… shiny and new!

This works wonderfully on chrome and many types of metals.  For the tougher spots, you can also saturate it in distilled white vinegar for a few minutes and then put the aluminum foil to work.

The beauty of it all?  When you’re done, the aluminum foil can go in your bin for alum flrecycling!

Mom saved the day!  The scooter was scootin’, “green principles were intact” and everything (and everyone) was bright and shiny!