Friday, April 24, 2009

Vinegar - the almighty green cleaner

Lately, I've been using more natural products to clean my home instead of buying pre-made cleaning products. I've been astounded by the power and versatility of vinegar. A little vinegar in the rinse cycle is a great natural fabric softener. Some vinegar on the cutting board is a natural antibacterial agent. Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and you have your own glass cleaner. Vinegar is also great at removing coffee and tea stains and hardwater spots.

While vinegar doesn't have toxic fumes, you'll probably want to open a window because it does have a strong smell if you use it undiluted.

So far, the only caution I've found is that vinegar can strip the sealant off of marble or granite, so don't use it on natural stone counters. Also be careful with it on vinyl floors with a wax finish. (Remember, spot testing is always your friend when you're trying any new cleaning method.)

The best part of using vinegar - you can buy a gallon bottle of store-brand vinegar for a few bucks. Much cheaper than pre-made cleaning supplies.

Friday, January 16, 2009

No more plastic beverage bottles!!

I gave up buying drinks in plastic bottles as my New Years' resolution. So far, so good - though it's a challenge. I found out that recycling plastic bottles isn't as efficient as I had hoped, so plastic drink bottles are still pretty bad for the environment - even if you recycle.

The big problem is that even though more people are recycling, the uptick in recyclers isn't keeping pace with the uptick in canned and bottled beverages - 216 BILLION drink containers sold in the US in 2006.

Refundable deposits on recyclable beverage containers really help increase the number of containers that get recycled. Right now, only 11 states collect refundable deposits on recyclable beverage containers. If you're interested in a national bottle bill, you can sign the petition here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Get your kids involved in recycling

I'm lucky that my city has a great recycling program. They pick up recyclables at the curb each week, and I don't even have to sort them.
Despite this terrific program, I told my kids that if they sort and bag the recyclables that have redemption values, we'll take those recyclables to the local collection point, and they can keep the money.
This has turned my kids into great recyclers. If we're out and they have sodas, they bring the cans home to recycle rather than just throwing them away in the trash at the park.
I'm a firm believer that habits formed in childhood will last a lifetime. Now I'm trying to help my kids develop greener habits.
How are you developing greener habits in your kids? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Say no to paper Christmas cards

You can save time, money, and the planet by saying no to paper Christmas cards. Each year, 2.65 Billion holiday cards are sold in the United States.** The majority of these cards quickly find their way to our landfill. In addition to the waste involved in manufacturing these cards, there's also the added resource costs of delivering them all over the world.

You can still send holiday wishes to your friends and loved ones and be environmentally conscientious. I recommend sending e-cards. E-cards are often less expensive than paper cards (some are free!), and you can incorporate pictures and music if you want to. Plus, they're fast. No stamps, no addressing envelopes. Just select a design, paste in your pictures, enter your email addresses and you're done!! They're also perfect for procrastinators as they're next to instantaneous.

Here are some services to try out: Smilebox, Hallmark, Blue Mountain, and eGreetings. Compare prices.

Be aware that if you send the free cards, they usually appear with advertisements next to them. You might want to try sending a free card to your self from each of the services to see if you like what you see.

Creating your family's holiday ecard is even a fun activity to do with your children.

Show your creativity. Avoid waste. Wish your friends and family well. You can have it all!


** Medical University of South Carolina’s Green Holiday Tips and Recycling

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Your guide to green products

Not sure which laundry detergent, sunscreen, shampoo, or tampon is best for the environment? Want to make sure that the products work as well as being environmentally friendly?

I just found GoodGuide, a website that rates over 60,000 household and personal products based on impact on health, safety, the environment, and societal factors. Every product has a rating between 1 and 10 and you can sort by rating within each category.

In addition, this site provides user ratings for products, so you can make sure that the products are actually effective before you buy.

Happy shopping.
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