March 20, 2010

Eco-Cleaning How-To Week: Kickoff

A little over a year ago, while Marley was still just a wee thing - I began assessing not only how I wanted to raise my daughter - but what kind of environment I wanted to raise her in. Amongst the myriad books that I read as I descended into my exploration of homemaking, was one with the credible title, "Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home" by Christopher Gavigan. 

Well that seemed like the book for me: I knew I wanted my daughter healthy; I figured it couldn't hurt to learn a few more tips and tricks - but figured I already pretty much had the "green" part covered (i.e. recycling, compost, biodegradable diapers, "green" products like Mrs. MeyersSeventh GenerationBurt's Bees, and the like). And I most definitely wanted Marley growing up in a healthy world! So I read on...and quickly realized that my home was in fact overrun with chemical toxins and pollutants. Not only were they bad for the environment-at-large, it turns out they are incredibly toxic to our bodies - particularly little bodies.
I don't want to freak you out and turn you off to reading on - but I admit I experienced my own panic attack at this point. The Environmental Working Group has a great list on their site of popular consumer products, and the effects of those formidable-to-pronounce ingredients, on our bodies. When I took a look at this list, I went on a zealous tirade and disposed of all offending products immediately. Whew! We were safe at last.

And then I was in a real conundrum: I still had to clean my house. How was I going to wash my dishes? Deodorize and vacuum my carpets? Mop my floors? Wash the laundry? Good God! How was I going to get tough on grease and grime? Keep my bathroom sparkling clean?! Would we all need protective suits? Gas masks?

As it turns out, my brief moment of panic was easily subdued when I realized that I already owned nearly all of the ingredients necessary to make my own, tough-on-grease-and-grime, sparkle-inducing, non-toxic cleaners; and they were all in my kitchen pantry. O Happy Day!

Without further ado, here are the raw materials for your basic eco-cleaning kit:

  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Light Olive Oil
  • Club Soda
  • Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemons
  • Purified Water (only necessary if the water in your tap is too hard/soft)
  • Borax
  • Washing Soda (cleans as well as Borax; but also softens the water - optional)
  • Castille Soap
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil (antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic properties)
  • Organic Lavender Essential Oil (antimicrobial, antiseptic properties)
  • Organic Lemon Essential Oil (antimicrobial, antiseptic, insecticidal properties)

You can purchase these ingredients at your local supermarket, but some of them (essential oils, castille soap, vegetable glycerin) may be more difficult to find. Try looking in your local Whole Foods or any natural foods/health market. Since I end up using so much of the stuff, particularly baking soda, vinegar, castille soap, and those beloved essential oils - I try to buy in bulk. 

While they don't have the vinegar - they do carry just about everything else - and maybe other products you'll be wanting from other recipes later this week. I highly recommend my beloved Mountain Rose Herbs. They carry primarily certified organic products, and if it's not organic - it's sustainably harvested. And their business practices would make Rachel Carson proud. (You can also click-thru to their site directly from the banner ad at the bottom of my blog).

Now that you know the ingredients for a well-stocked, merciless-on-funk and gentle to your bodies and the planet, cleaning kit are so simple - feel free to go on your own zealous disposal tirade. Just make sure to check with your local waste provider as to the proper disposal method for these chemicals. 

Never flush down the toilet; and especially never mix bleach and ammonia, it's a lethal combination.

Later today, I'll be back with the agenda for the week, so you can know in particular which days you definitely want to check in, if not all - not to mention: what's ahead.


1 comment:

man and van London said...

This is a very interesting blog, very instructive and informing in all. This post, in partucular, has been very helpful.