One fab (chemical-free) furniture polish!

furn polshA friend of mine, Vicky from Askthemama.com, recently ASKED ME a question… what do I recommend as a green alternative to commercial furniture polish?

The answer is worthy of a little sharing since furniture polish contains some nasty toxins.  Not only is it a petroleum distillate, but it also commonly contains nitrobenzene.  This chemical can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.  Because it’s readily absorbed into the skin it can also affect the central nervous system… quite a lot to take for some shiny, clean furniture!

Just like my favorite multi-purpose cleaner recipe, you can whip-up a batch your own (chemical-free) furniture polish:

  • ¼ cup of distilled white vinegarol oil2
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 20-25 drops of essential oil (I recommend lemongrass, lemon or lavender)

Apply it like you would your regular furniture polish but, just like any other homemade concoction, give it a good shake before each use.  If you want to get even greener, use a piece of an old t-shirt for the rag!

As an extra bit of advice, did you know you can remove water stains from wood furniture with white toothpaste too!… ahh, the things we learn.

(And while I’m on the subject) when you purchase furniture try to be conscious to avoid certain hardwoods like mahogany, teak, rosewood and hemlock.  The harvesting of these trees contributes to tropical deforestation.  Instead, look for used, refurbished or antique furniture, or at least furniture made from sustainably-produced materials (e.g. plantation grown).

As is the case with every post about green cleaning, the worst part?it reminds us that it’s time to clean(!), so whip-up a batch and let’s get started!

The A to Z Guide for a Green 2011!

hppy nw yr 2010Well, Hello 2011! For some of us, you couldn’t have come soon enough!

It’s a new year with a new chance to make a new beginning… our chance to make a real difference!

If you’ve been “putting off your greening”, I’m going to give you the A to Z list to get the ball rolling. (I think I’ve put together quite the extraordinary list, if I do say so myself!  Be sure to click on the orange links to learn more!)

Hold onto your “green” party hats, and let’s go!…

AAppliances, Animals – Buy energy efficient appliances when you need to make a replacement.  If you’re looking for a ‘cause’ that needs your assistance, donate to help save an endangered species.
BBamboo, Biodegradable, Baking Soda – Buy sustainable bamboo products (everything from towels to furniture).  Think biodegradable for all product choices (detergents, bath products, cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).  Use eco-friendly baking soda for everything from health & beauty to cleaning your home.spry bttl
CCFLs, Cleaners, Compost, CSAs – Replace your lights with compact fluorescents.  Skip the chemicals in traditional, commercial cleaners and opt for eco-friendly choices. Start composing food scraps and other biodegradable materials.  Consider buying into a CSA for the freshest, organic produce.
DDonate, Disposable, Dry cleaningDonate your usable but no longer needed clothing, books, toys, household items and furniture to organizations that support the less fortunate, so they can be reused.  Eliminate anything intentionally disposable from your purchases. Look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner to avoid toxic chemicals.
EEnergy, EnvironmentTurn off electronics, computers, lights and all household appliances that aren’t in use.  Consider the effect on the environment in everything you do.
FFood – Make healthy choices of organic and natural foods instead of those filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients and chemicals.  Help your kids learn to make great choices too!
GGlobal warming, Glass, Greywater – Accept that global warming is real and we’re the only creature on the planet that can do something about it.  Recycle all glass (it can be recycled indefinitely!). Learn all the ways to put your greywater to work.
HHeating, HomeTurn down the thermostat.  Excess energy equals an excess of pollution. Make your home safe and clean, and simultaneously non-toxic, by cutting out all chemicals.
IIdeas Share what you know and learn with others.  It can have a fabulous snowball effect!  The ideas from our grandparents are excellent principals to follow as well.farmers produce
JJourney – Give yourself credit for the things you are doing and accept that going green is truly a journey!
KKidsGet your kids involved.  When they learn to respect the environment early in life, that lesson will stay with them forever.
LLandfills, Local – Remember that everything you toss in the trash winds up in a landfill, polluting the soil and water.  Buy local at every opportunity and, especially for produce, get the most out of your food.
MMattresses, Meat, Milk – When you replace a mattress, consider organic.  Traditional mattresses are filled with harsh and harmful chemicals.  Choose organic meat and milk to avoid antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones.
NNewspapers – When you need to keeps something hot or cold in transport, newspaper is an amazing insulator.  When you’re done, recycle them, always!
OOrganics, Outdoors, Oceans – Buy as many organics as you can… simple as that.  Getting outdoors will remind you of this beautiful world we are trying to preserve, and even if you can’t see an ocean from where you live, never forget how crucial they are.  Remember that allowing them to be polluted (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the Gulf Disaster) must be prevented.
PPlastic, Paper, Palm oil – Avoid the excessive use of plastics or at least make sure the plastics are truly recyclable.  Same goes for paper.  Be conscious not to be wasteful and recycle every unneeded piece of paper that comes your way.  Learn about palm oil and purchase only products that use the sustainable variety.nature kid
QQuit procrastinating and take the next step!
RRecycle, Reusable Bags, Rain barrels – NOT recycling is inexcusable.  Recyclables should never be thrown in the trash.  Invest in reusable shopping bags and stop contributing to the ‘one trillion plastic bags used annually, worldwide’ statistic.  Set-up at rain barrel to capture water for use around your yard.
SSchools, Shopping, “Shoes off – Get  involved at your children’s schools and put together programs to help them embrace recycling and the environment. Realize that every purchase you make has a greener option… it’s up to you to know the difference and choose wisely.  Adopt the “shoes off” rule and avoid tracking toxins and chemicals through your home.
TTrash, Trees, Travel – Make a conscious effort to reduce your weekly trash by not buying over-packaged products or buy only products in recyclable packaging.  Don’t cut down healthy trees… they are more valuable than just their visual beauty (think air quality, soil preservation, wildlife habitat… the list goes on and on). Don’t leave your green principals at home when you travel, take them with you!
UUn-green, Upcycle – When you see a “wrong”, you can make it “right”.  Speak up, help others and make a change that can make a difference.  Before you throw anything away, consider if it has a secondary use and upcycle.
VVinegar, Volunteer – The uses for distilled white vinegar are endless.  Buy some for cleaning, cosmetic uses, deodorizing, and pest and weed control.  Volunteer your time for an environmental cause.preserve wildlands
WWater, Water Bottles, WildlifeConserve water… contrary to belief, the supply is not endless.  Buy a stainless steel, reusable water bottle to avoid BPA and stop contributing plastic bottles to landfills. Contribute to causes that protect the habitats of wildlife and consider what you are doing to their “home” in your every action.
XXenagogue, Xeriscape – The definition of xenogogue is “guide”, so simply guide others and become a steward of both your home and the earth, and make informed choices.  Xeriscape in your yard by planting only native trees, shrubbery and flowers to prevent the need for excessive watering.
YYou – (YOU knew that one was coming too, right?) but sincerely, the changes you make in your daily life are all up to you.  Take what you know and put it to good use.
ZZoos, Zero-Waste – Support zoos that dedicate themselves to conservation and education.  Buy kits and containers that can be reused for lunchtime (or anytime) so that you don’t contribute to the approximate ‘67 pounds of annual trash created by a child’s lunch’.

globe_treeThere it is: A to Z (and I feel like I only scratched the surface!) But the main mission is to simply get started.  Don’t wait for tomorrow, and don’t expect you have to do it all at once, but do admit that we can all make little changes that amount to one enormous difference!

HaPPy NeW YeaR and cheers to making it (and keeping it) green!

Extraordinary (and GREEN) last minute gift ideas!

christmas globeOh, the ticking clock to the holidays… it’s getting louder and louder!

I have already given you the list of Mom Goes Green holiday recommendations, from gifts to party planning, so I hope you’ve already discovered some great ideas and tips.

But then along comes another list that’s worthy of some sharing! It’s from The Huffington Post and may help you if you’re still really, really struggling for a last minute gift idea! Take a look!

I also realized that there is one VERY important organization that I didn’t mention loudly enough: Kiva!

Kiva is really quite extraordinary… through their gift certificate program you can “loan” your gifted money to a “working poor” recipient of your choosing.  Once they are able to repay the loan, you are given back your donated money to grant to another needy recipient… and this wonderful cycle starts all over again!

We’ve personally supported many families. They’ve including a man in Tajikistan who desperately needed money to buy seeds for farming, to a gentleman in Palestine that needed funds to improve his organic chicken farm! It’s rewarding (and admittedly fun!Kiva holiday) to go through the list of people, see who you would like to help and check on their progress as time goes on, and until their loan is repaid.

Consider giving a Kiva gift certificate to someone (or make a donation yourself) and just a small amount will allow them (or you!) to give again and again and again…

Isn’t that really much better than that lousy sweater you were considering?…

The ultimate guide to keeping your holidays “green”!

christmas bulbThe holidays seem to be moving toward us at warp speed! We’re nearing that two week deadline and, if you’re anything like me, you still have plenty to do.  (Okay, so maybe I am one of the few dragging dreadfully behind but, humor me for a moment and let me feel like I’m not alone!)

There are plenty of ways to avoid the excess and waste of the season, as well as making gifts selections that are fabulously green and giving.  So that we (okay, so that I) don’t waste any more time getting to it, let’s just throw it on the table and get it all out of the way now!

Here are my four must-read posts that will help you through (click below and read on!):

  • My favorite gifts guide – a list of all the tangible gifts that I enjoy giving, because they happen to be great gifts and they are also fabulously green ideas too.
  • My favorite gifts that “give back”: – a list of gifts that give to a worthwhile cause:  wildlife, nature or the environment.  Sometimes we don’t need to give those tangible gifts that clutter the recipient’s home… giving to a cause in the recipient’s honor may be the biggest present of all!
  • Green party planning – a list of all the ways you can keep your holiday soiree goin’ green.  From decorations, to your menu choices, to your clean-up… there are simple ways to keep from abandoning all of your green principals!
  • Wrap it up in a big “green” bow – a list of all the ways those tangible gifts can be given without creating mountains of trash.

FACT: the average household output of trash actually increase by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  There are a lot of opportunities to misstep this time of year…gift w cones

Hopefully, this ultimate guide will help see to it that your household isn’t one of them and the gifts that you give will be useful, practical and, sometimes, just simply serve a cause.

The clock may be ticking, but there is always time to make wise choices.

Happy green holidays, my friends!

Houseplants that can purify your indoor air!

Iareca plm pltndoor plants are a fantastic way to bring the outdoors inside, no matter what time of year it is.  Not only can they breathe life into a room, but did you know they can also, literally, breathe fresh clean air into your home as well?!?

Sadly, our indoor air can become even more polluted than outdoor air(!) due in part to everything from VOCs in paint to all of the horrible things we track in on our shoes and then send airborne!

Just take a look at what some of the most common household plants can “do” for your home!:

  • Areca palm – this one is the top purifier and also humidifies the air as it cleans!  (Lady palm and bamboo palm also do an amazing job!)
  • Peace lilies – also a great all-around air purifier, and incredibly easy to maintain.peace lly plt
  • English ivy – fantastic for removing airborne mold (up to 60% of airborne mold in just six hours, by the way!).
  • Spider plants – great at removing 100% of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide from the air in only 24 hours.
  • Boston ferns – another great over-all air purifier but especially for removing formaldehyde from the air.
  • Rubber plants – great for cleaning out those VOCs.

To reach maximum effectiveness, it’s recommended to have at least one 6” plant per 100 feet of living space.

Amazing, isn’t it? Actually, it’s exactly what I would expect Mother Nature to provide… something to clean-up our dirty work (and dirty air!).