Going Greener

10 Apr

I have always been interested in finding ways to be more earth-friendly, but now that Little Man is sharing our four walls, it is certainly more of a priority.  This topic has come up a lot in conversations with various people and I thought it would be good to tell you all about what we are doing to be more “green”. 

I read recently that since WWII, more than 80,000 (EIGHTY THOUSAND!!??!!) new synthetic chemicals have been introduced to our environment.  That is an overwhelming number and you can completely get lost in something of that magnitude.  The one thing that really bugs me is when I tell people about the changes I have made and then they say “Oh yeah, well what about…this, that, or the other thing”.  I am very comfortable with the changes I have made and am aware of the fact that because of those 80,000 chemicals, there are some things I can’t change and don’t have control over (like my 1950’s era house built and painted with God knows what).  I am just trying to do the best I can with what I have access to and what fits in our budget, with the thinking that every little change can help.  Some of these ideas I have come across on my own, and some I have learned from other blogs so I don’t want to take all the credit.  Thanks specifically to The Girl and Le Petit Owlet for some great ideas that are helping make my home a better and greener place for me, my hubbs, and Little Man.

I thought it would be easiest to look at the changes I have made in each room of the house. 

In The Kitchen
I clean the countertops with Method spray.  Upon doing further research, I think the Method line is not the greenest choice and is marketed to the unsuspecting customer who thinks he or she is making a good choice.  Once I run out of this bottle, I will probably be switching to Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner or Mrs Meyers Countertop Spray.

I have just switched to Seventh Generation dish soap.  It made me nervous thinking about what kind of stuff the other brands were leaving in Little Man’s bottles!  It seems to be working pretty well.  It smells very good–Lavendar Floral & Mint.  One of the first things you must let go of if you plan to go green is smells!  The “clean smell” that most people use to know if something is clean is really just a bunch of chemicals.  I challenge you to find a green apple that smells like “green apple” scent.  Clean should really have no smell OR a smell derived from natural sources–like lavender and mint.  Now, the dish detergent still has its flaws: SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) isn’t a great choice.  But again–any small changes you can make are a step in the right direction.  If you are trying out something new at home, here is an easy rule: Any brand that doesn’t tell you everything in its product right on the label is best left on the shelf!!  I have also switched from grody, germ-filled sponges to coconut husk scrub pads.  They are long-lasting and work great on the dishes.  They aren’t as great on wiping down the countertops.

I use straight baking soda to clean our white sink.  Baking soda is one of the best and cheapest cleaners out there!  I buy a 5-pound bag at BJ’s for around 6 bucks!  It lasts for months.  Just shake some baking soda around the bottom of a damp sink and scrub!  A little elbow grease and it is sparkling like new!

To clean our black and white tile floor (ugh, white tiles, what was I thinking??) I use about a 1/4 cup or less of baking soda and Mrs. Meyers All Purpose Cleaner mixed in with alot of water.  You can’t use too much baking soda or it will leave a film, so be careful.  But nothing cleans my white tiles like the baking soda!  I also use this to clean the bathroom floor.

I just ordered 2 insulated reusable sandwich bags from Etsy (I HEART Etsy…you can find ANYTHING you want there!!).  For about 10 bucks each, we will be significantly cutting back on our waste AND cutting back on money spent on Ziploc bags.  I am VERY excited for these to come in!!

In the Bathroom:
The shower gets a lot of baking soda and elbow grease.  The bathroom cleaners on the market are so chemical ridden, it is sickening.  Yes, it requires a little more work, but the baking soda will get rid of your worst case of soap scum, I promise! 

The toilet gets a scoop of baking soda and a quick pour of the Mrs Meyers All Purpose Cleaner.  Keep a reusable toilet scrubber, because those one time use scrubbers just add to your trash output!  I then use a sinkful of water and Mrs Meyers All Purpose Cleaner to wash the rest of the bathroom (toilet, sink, etc…).  Invest in some cheap washcloths to use for this, so you can just wash them and reuse them–no waste!

So, you know that smell when you open a new shower curtain liner?  Yup, that’s chemicals!  How gross is that?  We just switched to a cotton shower liner.  No smells, looks great, and when it gets scummy, you can just throw it in the wash.  If you are feeling REALLY green, go for an organic cotton one. 

For myself, I am currently using products from Raine Boutique, which is a business owned by a high-school classmate of mine.  It is a new business, so she is working on the website but you can email her if you are looking for something in particular and she will be sure to help you out!  (fyi–product reviews for Raine Boutique coming soon!!)

In the Laundry Room:
So, you know that even the “Free” detergents are full of chemicals, right?  Well, with Little Man sucking and chewing on everything in sight, that doesn’t make me feel great.  Also, he has been battling a nasty case of neck eczema for months…so…We are a Soap Nuts family now!  I am shocked how much I love soap nuts!  They are berries grown on trees in India & Nepal with saponins, which are natural soapy substances found on the outer shell of the soap nuts. These saponins have the effect of detergent when mixed with water.  You take 4-5 soap nuts and put them in a little cloth bag (provided) and throw it right in the drum of your washer.  You can use this one bag for 4-5 loads of laundry.  They also act as a natural softener.  Soap nuts are great for HE washers, because they don’t make a lot of suds.  My clothes come out smelling clean (by “smelling clean” I really mean they don’t smell like anything at all) and are softer than ever (we never use softeners because they are basically just all chemicals).  You can buy a 1 kg bag of soap nuts for $40, which is good for 300-400 loads of laundry!! (If you do the math, that works out to $0.10 a load!!!  Going green doesn’t get much cheaper than that!!).  When the soap nuts are done, you can compost them because they are all natural–that’s zero waste!  Soap nuts are great for people with any skin sensitivities because they are 100% natural.  You can also boil soap nuts and use the liquid for pretty much anything: hand soap, dish detergent, etc.  I plan to try that out, but haven’t yet so I can’t tell you how it works.  I also read you can use a wet soap nut and rub it on stains as a stain remover!

Recycling:
Our town just switched to single stream recycling, which I have been eagerly anticipating and much too excited about!  We are now able to recycle almost everything (I never understood the point of only being able to recycle #1 and #2 plastics) and all in one giant container.  I feel so much better about our waste output, and it is saving our town money. 

I think that covers most of our green ways.  I am planning another blog covering other changes I am hoping to implement soon, as well as things that I have just resolved to live with for now. 

I am very anxious to hear what you do to make your house a cleaner, greener, safer place for you and your family!!

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7 Responses to “Going Greener”

  1. Suzanne April 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I am so impressed! I am terrible about making environmentally friendly choices, but since having the baby I’ve become more willing to at least try. I’m fascinated by the soap nuts – do you know if there’s anywhere to buy them in person? And I am definitely going to try baking soda on my white sink!

    • michgal18 April 11, 2010 at 7:41 am #

      I don’t think you can buy the soap nuts anywhere…but if you go to that website, you can buy sample bags for $1 each plus S&H. I bought like 5 to try them out and now I am waiting for my kilogram bg to come in the mail!! I also forget to say (I am going to edit the post) that you can use them for almost anything else too. I haven’t done it yet…but you can boil them and use the liquid for dish detergent, hand soap, pretty much anything. I also found that you can take a wet soap nut and use it as a spot remover and rub it on stains. Who knows how they work for those things, I haven’t tried them yet. Let me know what you think about the baking soda–that is easy and cheap, and works great (I think)!

  2. Tarynn April 11, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Ofcourse I love reading this blog! lol. I actually use liquid sunshine to clean just about everything. Its concentrated to clean floors, including the bathroom, and there is a spray for cleaning counters etc. I also use it as my dish cleaner, and use a bottle brush, which doesnt harbor germs, to scrub my dishes, the bottles, etc. 🙂 (not in the dishwasher, thats still a chemical :P) I did just find a source for natural cleaners for the house specifically, including the toilet, and laundry! So I will be adding that soon. 🙂 OH and fruit and veggie wash is a must to wash the grime off food from the grocery store. 🙂 I think thats it. Chlorine free diapers… those are awsome, cotton wipes. Yup. Im working on getting essential oil blends that smell more unique than just lavender, but are still plant based. 🙂 Okay thats all for now. As long as you aren’t using baby oil, all is well with the world. lol.

    • michgal18 April 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

      I was thinking of doing a separate blog about green baby stuff. Also, let me know what you think about the soap nuts!! And ps–I am LOVING all your stuff. I will be doing a review once I use everything! Can’t wait!!!

  3. ellejay419 April 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    I love this idea, I have been trying to be greener in the past few years, and am in the process of switching over all our cleaning supplies to a greener brand. Thanks for the Seventh Generation recomendation also, I started to buy the Clorox Green Works but I got to thinking how green can *that* brand be when it’s made by clorox?!

  4. Alex April 16, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    We use cloth diapers and cloth wipes… and when we do have to use disposable diapers we use Seventh Generation of Earth First. The lotions we use for Raf are also environmentally friendly, and we always try to buy toys that are not toxic, etc. But he loves LOVES his plastic.. !! One of our most expensive purchases was his crib mattress – which was the most environmentally friendly and non toxic that we could find. Of course this hundreds of dollars purchase has barely been used as he sleeps on our horribly old and toxic mattress 🙂

    • michgal18 April 16, 2010 at 6:19 am #

      Alex–I think I am going to do a Baby Green blog too, if I can find the time!! We really try to buy non-toxic toys as well…well, minus his huge plastic exersaucer, which I thank God for every day b/c he loves it soooooo much and it keeps him busy! We get a lot of our toys at Papoose, which is a local natural maternity/parenthood/baby store here in CT. (www.shoppapoose.com)

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