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!

10 things you overlooked to “go green” in your bathroom

bth room 2Everyone knows the standard list of ways to go green in the bathroom (and I’m not talking about all of those green beers you’re planning to drink next week for St. Patrick’s Day!).  I’m talking about turning off the water while you brush your teeth, low-flow shower heads, water efficient toilets, chemical-free cleaners, short showers and low-volume baths… okay, you’ve heard them all, but what about those little things you overlook?

Think there aren’t any?  Well, think again… here are some things you may have missed:

  • Soap – choose bar soaps over liquid shower gels and avoid excess plastic packaging. Although many of the bottles are recyclable, the caps often aren’t.
  • Cosmetic foundations & eyeliners – choose foundation sold in glass bottles or jars over those in plastic tubes and containers so they can be recycled. Choose wooden pencil eyeliners over plastic tubes too.grn soap
  • Shampoos – (if you must use a conditioner) choose a 2-in-1 product where the shampoo and conditioner are combined.  You will use one less container but also shorten your shower by skipping an extra step.
  • Razors – choose a refillable razor versus disposables.  Plastic razors simply become needless trash.
  • Toilet paper – choose recycled content toilet paper… a simple choice.
  • Q-tips – choose those with a paper spindle instead of plastic… plain and simple also.
  • Towels – choose bamboo options.  They’re soft, snuggly and (most important) sustainable!  Organic cotton towels are another great choice.
  • Greywater – Add a bucket in the shower with you and capture it!  Showers actually account for over a quarter of a home’s typical water usage, and there are plenty of uses for this greywater.
  • Shower curtins – avoid the additional plastic liner.  Instead choose a curtain that is waterproofed on the inside without the plastic.

Now, what you consume on St. Patrick’s Day is all your own business, but with these tips you can “go green” in the bathroom the more natural way!

Giving thanks as Thanksgiving goes green!

thanksgvg tblTo me, Thanksgiving has always felt like the holiday with the greatest “green potential”. There are no gifts, costumes, candy or extra, elaborate frills.  It’s simply about family gatherings, feasting on the bounty of the season and giving thanks for everything we have.  There are so many ways to avoid over-abundance… (well, with the exception of over-eating!)

Everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.

Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead.  You’ve probably already handled this task, but this rule goes for any gathering!  And if you do need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
  2. Decorations – in many cases, you need only walk into your own backyard: leaves, acorns and twigs can be turned into amazing arrangements. Combine them with colorful gourds, indian corn, squash and apples and you’ve just captured the season!  Afterward, compost or add them back to nature.
  3. Food – visit your local farmer’s market for all of the most amazing produce.  Go organic.  Think acorn squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, apple and pumpkin pie! And seek out an organic, hormone-free, steroid-free turkey (if it will be a part of your feast).
  4. Drinks – serve organic drinks or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!crncopia
  5. Tableware and serveware – stop saving “the good dishes” and silverware!  Use them!  Glasses, cups and stemware?  Get them out! Forget the disposable “anything”.  You can even score inexpensive cloth napkins and table coverings at any dollar store.
  6. Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house quite quickly… and so do lots of people… so turn down the thermostat or, in warmer climates, keep ceiling fans circulating or windows open to keep the indoors comfortable.
  7. Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen.  Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
  8. Don’t waste leftovers – keep only what you know your family will eat.  Send the rest home with your guests.  Start thinking about containers now (no styrofoam plates or plastic-wrap, please!).  You can even ask guests to bring their own glass or ceramic dishware… why not?! And if you compost, toss in those food scraps.
  9. Clean-up – use your dishwasher, but make sure you fill it first.  For the big jobs, you’ll need to use some elbow-grease, but be sure not to leave the tap running endlessly.  And get out your green cleaners.  You can get back to “shiny & clean” without harsh chemicals.
  10. Although it has nothing to do with being green… give thanks. Ask everyone at your table to share a thought. It will certainly put happiness in the air, and that’s absolutely free!

Now, if you need some of those ‘leaf, acorn and twig’ decorations I mentioned, email me… and then back up a truck… I have enough in my own backyard to supply your whole neighborhood!

The “Toxic 10” … everyday products to avoid…

toxcWhen making the decision to “go green” the list of “should nots” is equally as important as the “shoulds”…

I recently ran across a fabulous list of the should nots that are very much worthy of a mention.  This list comes from Healthy Child Healthy World and includes the top 10 toxic products that you DON’T need in your home. Without further ado, start checking the checklist!:

  • Air fresheners – they’re full of chemicals, synthetic fragrances and even anesthetics that can be inhaled into our lungs (ewww!)
  • Bottled water – this water is no less contaminated (and sometimes MORE contaminated) than your tap water… add the BPA content of the plastic bottles and they are simply bad news.
  • Canned goods – their epoxy resin linings often contain BPA, linked to hormone disruption, heart disease and obesity.
  • Couch cushions – avoid anything containing foam that says it meets California TB 117 because they contain toxic fire retardant (like those horrible mattresses!)  They’re linked to cancer, birth defects, and thyroid, reproductive and neurological disorders.generic bottles
  • Drain, oven and toilet bowl cleaners – they contain lye and acids that can burn skins, eyes and internal tissues.
  • Dry cleaned clothes – even though the chemical perchloroethylene (or perc) is applied elsewhere, it is linked to a number of cancers and even bringing home those clothes (and wearing them!) dramatically increases your exposure.
  • Oil-based paints and finishes – they can contain up to 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens … enough said.
  • Perfume and cologne – one formulation can contain literally hundreds of chemicals that can absorb through the skin and accumulate in the bodies.
  • Pesticides – these chemical poisons linger and contaminate the air and undoubtedly get dragged into our homes.
  • Rubber duckies! – okay, and ANYTHING that contains PVC or vinyl.  They can leach phthalates (linked to hormone distruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant).

Please check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s original post for more great information on all of these “toxic 10”, as well as important suggestions for substituting better options…

So, how many are still in or around your home?… I’ll bet you’re about to change that, aren’t you?!?

Going green in the bathroom: 10 things you overlooked…

bth room 2Everyone knows the standard list of ways to go green in the bathroom – turning off the water while you brush your teeth, low-flow shower heads, water efficient toilets, chemical-free cleaners, short showers and low-volume baths… okay, you’ve heard them all, but what about those little things you overlook?

Think there aren’t any?  Well, think again… here are some things you may have missed:

  • Soap – choose bar soaps over liquid shower gels and avoid excess plastic packaging. Although many of the bottles are recyclable, the caps often aren’t.
  • Cosmetic foundations & eyeliners – choose foundation sold in glass bottles or jars over those in plastic tubes and containers so they can be recycled. Choose wooden pencil eyeliners over plastic tubes too.grn soap
  • Shampoos – (if you must use a conditioner) choose a 2-in-1 product where the shampoo and conditioner are combined.  You will use one less container but also shorten your shower by skipping an extra step.
  • Razors – choose a refillable razor versus disposables.  Plastic razors simply become needless trash.
  • Q-tips – choose those with a paper spindle instead of plastic… plain and simple.bamb towels
  • Towels – choose bamboo options.  They’re soft, snuggly and (most important) sustainable!  Organic cotton towels are another great choice.
  • Greywater – Add a bucket in the shower with you and capture it!  Showers actually account for over a quarter of a home’s typical water usage, and there are plenty of uses for this greywater.
  • Speaking of showers… shower with someone special…. (Ooo, Mom Goes Green just got naughty!)