Tag Archives: Learning to be green

7 Homemade Cleaning Recipes | Non-toxic and Cheap

May 4, 2012

Non Toxic Homemade Cleaning Recipes

 

Are you looking for safe and cheap homemade cleaning recipes? Cleaning your home with natural, non-toxic cleaners helps keeps your ecological footprint low, saves you money, and creates a safer home for children and pets. Consider how much money you can save by utilizing eco-friendly substances already on hand (which you can also purchase in bulk!), rather than purchasing a specialized cleaning product for each part of your home.

#1 – White distilled vinegar

  • Use undiluted or diluted vinegar to disinfect and deodorize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, floors, sinks and tubs.
  • Use on carpet stains to effectively blot out color or burn marks.
  • Add a cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener and to remove soap residues.
  • Clean windows with diluted vinegar (then dry and buff with crumpled newspaper).
  • Soak dishcloths and dishtowels in equal parts vinegar and water overnight to remove stains and prolong fiber life.
  • Avoid using undiluted vinegar on marble, as the acid can corrode it!

#2 – Baking soda

  • Sprinkle over carpets to deodorize, leave for an hour and then vacuum.
  • Sprinkle inside garbage cans before putting in a bag—swill with water after removing a full bag.
  • Add a tablespoon to cut flower water to prolong life—change water every few days.
  • Substitute half of your laundry powder soap with baking soda—this will use fewer chemicals, make your detergent powder last longer, as well as make the detergent more effective.
  • Place a saucer of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors, change regularly—pour the old baking soda down the kitchen drain and follow with a kettle of boiling water to clean and deodorize drains.
  • Combine with water and soak in teacups and teapots to remove tea stains.

#3 – Lemons

  • Swirl lemon juice around to deodorize glass water bottles and jars.
  • Use juice to disinfect and clean wooden cutting boards (wooden boards are more ecologically sound than plastic ones).
  • Make lemon-scented dusting cloths by wrapping peeled lemon rind up in a clean, dry rag and then placing in a closed glass jar until use.

#4 – Eggshells

  • Crush and combine with baking soda and water to make a fantastic abrasive cleaner for hard-to-reach places such as glass decanters and long bottles.
  • Eggshells are also a great fertilizer for plants because of their mineral content; they are easy to crush up and sprinkle in pots of household plants or in gardens.

#5 – Mild, natural bar soaps

  • Use a bar of Castille or ivory soap as a stain stick to treat stains before putting into the laundry.
  • Use as a gentle and eco-friendly hand soap in the kitchen & bathroom.
  • Any natural bar soap works wonders for skin—try Burt’s Bees brand, or handmade soaps from a market.

#6 – Epsom salts

  • Use mixed with a little water as an abrasive scrub in the home.
  • Also does wonders in the garden as a commercial fertilizer substitute—Epsom salts are high in magnesium and give natural nutrients to flowers and edibles without adding petroleum to the soil.
  • They are also proven to promote a greater yield in both flowers and edible fruits and vegetables than commercial fertilizers.

#7 – Beeswax

  • Purchase natural beeswax polish to use as a polish/wax for wooden furniture and tabletops. Furniture polish sprays create a shiny, impenetrable glaze over wood, whereas beeswax feeds the grain of the wood with a deeper, richer luster.
  • Another alternative is a drop of olive oil.

Bonus household cleaning tips:

  • Soft cotton cloths
    • Keep old white cotton shirts, dresses and towels to clean with.
    • Cotton is a reusable and natural fiber, and is a far superior alternative to paper towels.
  • Newspaper
    • As mentioned, a great way to reuse old newspaper is to buff glass windows with it after spraying with vinegar water.
    • Newspaper absorbs oils or remaining residues and leaves windows free of streaks, with a nice sparkle.
  • Essential oils
    • Adding a small drop of essential oil to homemade cleaners or after deodorizing surfaces offers a pleasant lingering scent.
    • Nice and comparatively cheap scents are lavender, citrus or clove.

Additional resources and references:

  • A Guide to Green Housekeepingby Christina Strutt
  • Non-Toxic Housecleaningby Amy Kolb Noyes
  • Green Housekeepingby Ellen Sandbeck
  • Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Ofby Vicki Lansky
  • Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of by Vicki Lansky

Grubbin’ the Green Way: How to Dine Sustainably

January 27, 2011

If you are like me, you like to eat out…A LOT! More and more, I am seeing restaurants advertising local, sustainable food sources, and energy-saving practices on their menus. This got me thinking….how do you dine sustainably?

Below are just a few steps to pique your interest in eating environmentally.

1. An important first step in eating out responsibly is choosing a green restaurant.

The Green Restaurant Association is a great start! Through their website, you can locate local eateries that meet green certification standards. Over 300 restaurants in 30 states have met minimum standards in the following areas:

  • Water Efficiency
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Sustainable Furnishings and Building Materials
  • Sustainable Food
  • Energy
  • Disposables
  • Chemical and Pollution Reduction

In addition to sustainable restaurants, several guides exist to help you navigate your way to vegetarian, organic, and local dinner sources.

Happy Cow Compassionate Eating Guide

Local Harvest

VegGuide

2. Remember to eat local.

Try to support restaurants that rely on local farmers, farmers’ markets, and food co-ops to stock their pantries.

3. Be sure to order with a conscience.

Consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide before ordering seafood. The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides “best choices,” “good alternatives,” and those fish to “avoid” in order to help sustain wild, diverse, and healthy ocean ecosystems for the future.

EarthEasy also has a sustainable seafood list by type.

4. Make responsible water choices.

Only ask for a glass of water if you’ll actually drink it. If the meal is coming to an end, decline last minute fill-ups if you won’t be staying to finish them off.

5. When eating on the go…

Refuse extras like condiments or plastic utensils if taking your food home.  Or, if you know how much ketchup or napkins you’ll need, be specific and request just one or two. Be sure to reuse the bags and cups you get as many times as you can afterward.

6. Doggie Bag?

If you are really hard-core, bring your own reusable container for leftovers. Make doggie bags a thing of the past!

Just a side note – Throughout my childhood, when visiting the buffet, my grandma would hide plastic bags in her purse to bring home “leftovers.” Some may say she was ahead of her time sustainably. But the reality is that she was frugal. :)  I would politely remind her…although it doesn’t explicitly say, “All you can eat HERE,” it should be implied.