March 23rd, 2010 - Laura Klein
Who says green cleaning is expensive?! Not when you follow my tips and use one of my easy do-it-yourself recipes. Any time you want to freshen up your eco-friendly home and give it a fresh, spring feel, follow these tips.
Because budgets are tight, why not start using the ingredient that doubles as a natural antibacterial cleaning product? If you are concerned about going green with your cleaning products and feel you need a product with the “antibacterial” label, think again. Michael Mullen, a Heinz company representative, references numerous studies that show straight 5 percent vinegar kills 99% of all bacteria, 82% of all molds, and 80% of germs and viruses. The only reason vinegar manufacturers cannot put the antibacterial label on their product is that it is not registered with the EPA as a pesticide.
Why buy pesticide-laden, triclosan-filled antibacterial products when this super inexpensive cleaner awaits your use? Make my Green Goodness All Purpose Cleaner with simple, affordable ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet.
Green Goodness All Purpose Green Home Cleaner
1 spray bottle
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups of water
10-12 drops of your favorite essential oil, i.e. lavender, eucalyptus, jasmine (optional)
Fill your spray bottle with all ingredients. Shake to combine (and give a little shake before each use). Use to clean surfaces in and around the house like kitchen counter tops, refrigerator handles and appliances, to keep porcelain and fixtures shining bright. Follow with a clean cloth for a bright shine!
You can use the above recipe for some of the following household duties. Tougher jobs may call for straight vinegar:
- Clean and wipe down kitchen countertops, cutting boards and refrigerator and freezer handles.
- Clean bathroom surfaces (If you need some scrubbing action, put some baking soda in a bowl and pour some of the above mixture in, stir to combine and scrub away!)
- For stubborn hard water deposits on faucets/shower heads, fill a plastic bag with enough distilled white vinegar to completely cover the fixture and let it soak overnight or eight hours.
- Vinegar is a natural weed killer. Get rid of unwanted grass and weeds with vinegar. Simply spray straight vinegar (with a high percentage of acetic acid) on grass or weeds and watch them die! If you use culinary vinegar it may not work as fast and may need repeat applications.
- Freshen air and remove odors. When you cook fish put out a small bowl of vinegar and it will devour the smell by the next day!
Bonus Eco Tip: Do you want your home to smell like a spa? Dump the conventional air fresheners and grab your essential oil burner and burn your favorite oil like lavender or eucalyptus.
Eco Friendly Vinegar Shopping Tip
When shopping for vinegar, look for distilled white vinegar brands made from grain (there are several organic versions on the market). Some white vinegar comes from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, so be sure to avoid those.
Read More:5 Easy Green Cleaning Tips That Use Vinegar
February 28th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Martha Stewart has introduced a new line of green cleaning products, which will be sold in partnership with The Home Depot and Giant Eagle supermarkets.
Martha Stewart Clean includes 10 environmentally friendly products:
- Dish and hand soap
- Dishwasher detergent
- All-purpose cleaner
- Glass and mirror cleaner
- Carpet cleaner
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric softener
- Bathroom cleaner
- Toilet cleaner
- Wood cleaner
The products are 99+% plant- and mineral-based, and they’re certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program.
Each product also carries the Eco Options label, a Home Depot certification for products that meet specific environmental performance criteria.
The products provide “safe and effective cleaning solutions for those who are concerned about the environment in their home and in the wider world beyond it,” Stewart says.
Read More:Martha Stewart Cleans Green
January 23rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Eco-conscious editors at Woman’s Day magazine recently shared a new use for aluminum foil: Wad a sheet into a hand-sized ball, and toss it into the clothes dryer.
While the foil ball won’t scent or soften clothing, it does remove static cling—and it’s a great alternative to dryer sheets.
For an even greener solution, use Reynolds Wrap 100% Recycled Aluminum Foil. A 50¢ store coupon is available here.
Read More:A Great Way to Re-Use Aluminum Foil
November 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has introduced The Household Product Labeling Act (S. 1697), which would require household cleaning products to carry labels that list all of their ingredients.
“Moms and dads have a right to know whether harmful chemicals are present in their kitchen cupboards,” Franken says. “When my wife, Franni, and I were raising our own kids, we were constantly concerned with what we used to wash their cribs, their pacifiers, the floors and surfaces they played on. This is just a commonsense measure to help parents keep their kids safe and healthy.”
Current law requires product labels to list immediately hazardous ingredients, but there is no labeling requirement for ingredients that may cause harm over time.
Toxic chemicals in household products produce harmful health effects—the main reason we recommend natural and organic options.
The bill would make information readily available to consumers. HR 3057, the House companion bill, was introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY).
From the Mind of Al Franken
Read More:Franken Introduces Household Product Labeling Act
September 28th, 2009 - Laura Klein
We don’t need yet another seal when it comes to food safety – we need real change in the production process that creates a safe food system, (especially when it comes to contamination-causing manure!) not another seal to trick consumers. The so-called Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement doesn’t guarantee safer food for consumers. Worse, it could actually harm small and medium size vegetable growers.
The proposed marketing agreement would allow corporate leafy green handlers to attach a USDA-backed “food safety seal” to lettuce, spinach, cabbage and other vegetables while prohibiting organic and local farmers at farmers markets, CSAs and roadside stands, and those selling directly to retailers, from using the same seal.
The California Certified Organic Farmers (COOF) and The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy group, are just two organizations that have expressed concerns about the agreement’s transparency and validity.
Clearly, consumers who see a USDA-seal on some veggies and not another’s will assume the first is safer, when in fact, most likely the very opposite is true! In fact, in an ironic twist, one of the signatories to the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Industry, Ippolito International, recalled 1,715 cartons of spinach due to salmonella contamination just the other day.
“This proposed food safety agreement will do nothing to tackle the root cause of the food safety problem, which is, in most cases, manure from confined animal feeding operations that is tainted with disease causing pathogenic bacteria,” said Will Fantle, of the Wisconsin-based farm policy group, The Cornucopia Institute.
I’m passionate about poor animal conditions and its impact on food quality and safety. Clearly, the focus should be on the cause of most food contamination outbreaks: improper handling of mountains of manure containing pathogenic E. coli and salmonella that are generated on livestock factory farms that contaminate our surface water, groundwater and farm fields.
“I am concerned that organic, and small and medium sized local growers like myself, will become marketplace ‘second-class citizens’ in the eyes of some consumers, by implying that my produce is less safe – when the very opposite is likely to be true,” said Tom Willey, a certified organic vegetable grower from Madera, CA.
Growers and consumers are being encouraged to show up at one of a series of hearing sessions in September and October across the country – the USDA isn’t accepting comments in writing. Read the entire Leafy Greens Marketing Proposal for yourself, and stay tuned to OA.com for updates.
Read More:Corporate-Backed and Bogus: The Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement
September 22nd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
My dog-niece Charlie, now 4 months old, enjoyed several baths over the summer.
There have been only a few days of that familiar “stinky dog smell.” Luckily, Charlie enjoys a good shampoo and fluff, so there’s no battle in getting her into the sink or tub.
Many dog shampoos contain toxic chemicals, so it’s important to purchase green products.
Kimberly Delaney, author of Knack Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, offers these recommendations:
- Shampoo products should be made from plant-derived ingredients, with nontoxic preservatives.
- If the product is scented, make sure natural oils are used.
- Product labels should list all ingredients.
- Shampoos should be 100% biodegradable.
- Whenever possible, select a product with recyclable packaging.
If your dog has any acute or chronic skin conditions, consult with your veterinarian before selecting bath products.
5 Natural and Organic Dog Shampoos
- Aubrey Organimals
- Spot Organics No More Itch Shampoo
- Richard’s Organics Deodorizing Dog & Cat Shampoo
- Earthbath All Natural Mango Tango Shampoo and Conditioner in One
- TrueBlue Pure and Sure Puppy Shampoo
Read More:You Can Lead a Dog to Water…
September 19th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve talked about different ways to soften fabrics when you wash and dry your clothes (plant-derived dryer sheets), as well as products to avoid (toxic, beef fat-infused dryer sheets and laundry balls).
I’ve also reported on ways to green your washing machine, the importance of ENERGY STAR-rated washers and eco-friendly dryers.
Today, I’ll conclude this series with a look at two of the most low-tech, yet effective, ways to soften fabrics:
- Organic distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
According to Deirdre Imus (yes, she’s Don’s wife), author of Green This! Volume One: Greening Your Cleaning:
Distilled white vinegar, preferably organic, is the best and healthiest softener. Just put a tablespoon in the rinse cycle, as you would any of the toxic fabric softeners. (Don’t overdo it—you don’t want your clothes to smell like vinegar!) Your clothes will come out soft every time.
In lieu of vinegar, add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle, she says.
If you want your clothes to smell nice, add a few drops of your favorite organic essential oil to your washer’s rinse cycle, notes Imus, founder and president of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. As an alternative, place a few drops on a washcloth, and toss it into the dryer with your clothes.
Also by Deirdre Imus
Read More:Drying with Deirdre
September 17th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
While researching Monday’s piece on laundry balls, I came across another interesting bit of information on dryer sheets.
According to Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, authors of Squeaky Green: The Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home:
Beef fat (aka tallow) is the secret ingredient that makes your clothes so soft. The very stuff you cut off your steak so you won’t gain weight or clog your arteries is coating your sheets, towels, shirts, jeans, even your underwear.
Ryan and Lowry, who founded the Method brand of nontoxic cleaners, recommend eco-friendly vegan dryer sheets that are made from plant-derived substances like canola oil. You can even reuse the sheets as dust cloths after you’ve finished your laundry, they say.
Method makes Squeaky Green Dryer Cloths. Another option is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer Sheets. Both products are available at natural and organic food stores.
Read More:Beef Fat in Your Laundry?
September 15th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We want our laundry to feel soft and smell fresh, but traditional dryer sheets are not the answer. As noted in A Partner in Grime:
Dryer sheets contain artificial fragrances and carcinogenic chemicals ranging from ethanol to formaldehyde, so avoid using them. In addition to posing health hazards, they can leave a film on your dryer’s filter that reduces air flow. Over time, this can impair the motor’s performance.
You may have seen laundry balls and discs at your local natural and organic food store, which are promoted as long-lasting, eco-friendly solutions. But there’s a catch, according to Jill Potvin Schoff, author of Green Up Your Cleanup.
“Dryer balls used as fabric softeners do work,” she writes, “but they are made out of PVC, a plastic you want to avoid.”
Click here for more information on the perils of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Read More:Laundry Balls
September 11th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo knows a few things about washing dishes.
Seo has written several books, including Conscious Style Home: Eco-Friendly Living for the 21st Century and Simply Green Parties: Simple and Resourceful Ideas for Throwing the Perfect Celebration, Event or Get-Together.
In a recent Better Homes and Gardens column, he discusses eco-friendly dishwashing:
A full dishwasher uses half the energy and one-sixth the water of washing by hand. Go greener by choosing a phosphate-free detergent.
Seo likes Method’s Smarty Dish cubes, which are naturally derived, nontoxic, bleach-free and biodegradable. The cubes are available in several scents, including pink grapefruit, lavender and cucumber-lemon.
Ingredients include natural mineral cleaning salts, fragrance oil blends, nontoxic anti-spotting agents, a seaweed-derived dispersing agent and cleaning enzymes.
You can find Method products in supermarkets, superstores like Target, and natural and organic food stores.
From Our Organic Blog
Read More:Dishing with Danny