Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogging for Change - Blog Action Day '09: Climate Change

Today I am blogging for Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change. What does that mean? Thousands of bloggers everywhere are blogging about the same issue on the same day, writing based on our individual interests/knowledge/experiences/etc. Learn more about it all here.

My take isn't going to be an in depth discussion about something complicated. No, I think in order for many of us to get involved, things need to be simple, easy. So....in light of that, I want to post on the many different EASY ways to get involved. Lots of little things that can add up to make a big difference. That's how I started...with one little change here and there. Before I realized, we had made MANY changes. I thought I would share some of those little changes for those interested. Please comment with your own to add. I'll try to keep it short and sweet by listing the things we do.

First of all, cleaners are easy to start with... Keep those toxic, bad-for-the-environment as well as bad-for-your home/children/etc. out of your home. It's easy to get non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners that work and work well. I'll share some things we do/use. Some of the things listed might make you wonder what they have to do with the climate...but think in terms of packaging, transportation, waste, etc...

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Homemade green cleaner. This is our go-to cleaner. It is so easy and quick to make; you probably have the ingredients in your home already; and it works so well. Many have told me how much they love this after passing on the recipe. Recipe here.

Biokleen Bac Out. This is the best stain remover I have ever used. I've used it on carpet stains in our old aparment -stains that were there before we moved in and remained there after being professionally cleaned. I put this stuff on and followed the directions, which said to let sit for 5 minutes and blot out. I didn't think it would work, but thought this was a good test. Ummm...totally came out. I've gotten out berries, tomatoes rubbed into clothes by a baby, and so much that otherwise would have never came out. You can even use this with cloth diapers. This stuff works - without scrubbing. You can get it at Kroger's, Whole Foods, many other places.

Dr. Bronner's Soap. What a cleaner this stuff is!!! You can do so much with this stuff - from washing hands, cleaning clothes, household cleaning, body wash, even use it as a toothpaste. Now - I have not personally used it for anything other than cleaning in my house, but I have heard of others who have used it for all of these things. It cuts through it all. We use it to clean the tub by mixing it with a little baking soda to make a paste. You don't ever have to scrub - rub it all over, wait a while, then wipe it off...sparkling clean. You can get this in all sorts of scents. I like citrus. We get ours at Whole Foods. I've heard it's at Target near the makeup aisles.

Baking Soda & Vinegar. These two cleaners can take care of most of your household needs. Really, they can. You can even unclog drains with these two and some boiling water. Try it. No need for those highly toxic cleaners to do that. There is so much you can do with these, I won't even bother going into detail. Try a simple google search - you'll find more than you need to know!

You'd be surprised at what you can use to naturally get rid of pests, too. Any time a single ant has come around, we've used my homemade cleaner to keep the area super, super clean. It works well because it has borax in it. We also sprinkle borax around the area they are coming in - and they stop! They hate that stuff. Here in NC, we can get some really huge spiders in our home. Spiders scare the crap out of me. A friend suggested this to get them out, and it works. Plus, it's fun for the older kids - Camden immediately wanted to use it outside to see spiders and other bugs. No need for a spray in the home, which I wouldn't want around the kiddos.

Green Clean. This is a great book, taking on each room in the house and telling easy ways you can clean your home using green methods. The book itself is waterproof and stain-resistant. Throw it in with all your cleaning products and always have it on hand.

Laundry - We use Country Save, a great biodegradable laundry detergent. Works great, doesn't have ingredients that might irritate those with sensitive skin (e.g. someone with eczema, like some in our family). It's even a top one recommended for cloth diapers. Instead of fabric softener in the dryer, we use dryer balls. Do you know about all the stuff that is found in laundry detergent and softeners...stuff that stays on your clothes. Read up on it sometime. You might want to switch, too. If you really don't want to give up fabric softener, I've heard Ecover is great and can even be used with cloth diapers.

Dishes - We recently made the switch to ecofriendly dish detergent for both handwashing and in the diswasher. We use Ecover. I looked into this a lot before settling on a brand to try, after hearing negative reviews about many brands (from what I've heard, Seventh Generation is not a great one...just fyi). Ecover consistently had wonderful reviews. Even skeptical Ryan admitted - after the very first use in the dishwasher - that the dishes came out CLEANER than they ever had before, even with something like Cascade. We also use the Ecover soap for handwashing dishes, and they both work really well.

Get some of these for your liquid hand soap. Foamers make the soap last longer, which is nice for you and your pocket book, but they also help keep extra plastic bottles from being used, keeping more of them out of the landfills. They also keep the kiddos from using too much - and the foam makes washing hands a bit more fun and easy (and less messy). You can actually put other kinds of soaps in them, as well - for the shower or other areas in the home. And get those big bags to refill soap bottles...and these will save even more money, plastic bottles, and last quite a long time.

If your neighborhood collects recycling, then there you go. No reason not to join in. It's been made easy for you - simply put the reyclable items in the garbage can for those items instead of the other can. If your neighborhood doesn't collect recycling, like our old apartment complex, you can get containers to collect them and then take them to the recycling center once a week. Sound like tough work? It's not. Really. This is what we used to separate our recycling when we lived in the apartment. There are three different bins that stack and open easily to toss things in. To take them, simply put each container in the car, and drive it on over to the center. Easy peasy. (I can't stand that phrase, but it's true.)

Biodegradable garbage bags?? Yes, there is such a thing. These are great! Order them with the amazon.com's subscribe and save to get free shipping and a discount. When you recycle, you end up with lots less garbage to toss, so the tiny extra cost for these bags aren't even noticeable.

Speaking of bags, get some of those reusable ones for your groceries. Everywhere sells them, usually for 99 cents or so. I like the ones from Whole Foods that are made from other recycled plastic bags. And in case you always forget them, put one of these in your car/purse/diaper bag (that's where my extra is). We put the bags in a location we will see when on our way out the door - and a couple left in the car, too. After a while, it becomes second nature. And keep in mind, this doesn't just go for groceries...but any kind of shopping!

Ok, getting kind of personal here... But for the ladies, try using the Diva Cup instead of tampons/pads. Why? None of the chemicals/bleaching agents (yes, those are in tampons/pads...which go where?! Exactly...), they're reusable (not gross - you clean them, duh), and save a TON of money and keep a TON of tampons/pads from landfills (which IS totally gross...think about it!). Find out more info here. Please try it. You'll never look back.

In line with that, check this facial cleansing method out, too. I've been doing this since I first became pregnant with Aiden. Save $$, do good for your face, improve your skin quality, quit using harsh cleansers that aren't good for you anyway, and reduce waste (get rid of many other items you use with this one method). Try it for a month and then see what you think. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

Groceries... Buy local and organic when you can. Why? Save the earth from some of that fuel. Support local sources. And help keep some of those pesticides from being used - from the earth and from the food that goes into your mouth. When you can't do both...try to decide which is more important. Check out this site to see what the Dirty Dozen are (the top foods to buy organic b/c they are most affected by those nasty pesticides) and the Clean 15, those lowest in pesticides. Try to buy the Dirty Dozen foods organic when possible. Have a local farmer's market - visit it!! You'll get fresher items at a great price. (But not always organic, so decide which is more important.)

Diapers - go cloth. It's easier than you probably think. And there are so many styles and types available! I assure you, these are not the cloth diapers your mama (or grandmother or greatgrandmother...) used. Not ready for that kind of leap? Try gdiapers. Biodegradable insert, non-plastic liners, no chemicals or bleaching agents (yes, those are in disposable diapers...the part that goes against babies bum)...better for baby and the earth. Can't lose there. We actually use cloth liners in our gdiapers. It's a great method b/c we can switch to the flushable inserts if we need to for some reason, which doesn't happen often but it a nice option to have. Another thing you can do...use cloth wipes. We add our own soap solution to help clean baby's bum, but you can just use water. Disposable wipes include fragrances and other ingredients that can actually irritate, while we choose what we use with the cloth. And cloth is super cheap.

Outside, we use recycled rubber mulch in our flower bed. Sure, it may cost a bit more upfront than other store bought mulches, but it doesn't need to be replaced as often, so it lasts much longer. The color doesn't fade. It's ecofriendly and looks great!

Paper towels. We still use them some but barely. We reuse washcloths and towels. Easy.

Food - buy in bulk instead of smaller packaging. Instead of getting individually packaged items, like snack pouches, juice boxes, small yogurts, water bottles...buy those in larger quantities and divide them up in reusable containers, especially when packing a lunch, like both Camden and Ryan do each day. Not only will that save money, but it keeps the extra packaging from the landfills. Also...cook! Buying less premade foods, prepackaged, and processed foods is less costly, better for you, and better for the environment.

Baby food - make your own! Not only is it very healthy, and you get to have complete control over what you feed your little one, but there are many benefits. You can use all organic foods and still pay less than buying already made baby foods. You have fresher food. Many think babies that eat homemade baby food eat a better variety and aren't as picky, as well. That's been true for us (and I have my first child that was fed baby food to compare, too). You don't have to deal with all those little jars/plastic containers, as well. Your baby, your pocketbook, and the earth will thank you. You don't need those books with fancy "recipes." Just steam and puree or mash. Some foods..you just mash. ;) Here is a great website for tips; we used this site a lot.

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I know there are more things we do. Some of it has become second nature at this point. Little things here and there easily become habit. Now it's your turn.... Please share some things you do, little or big! And then be sure to head on over to these sites to check out more about climate change.

EPA - http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/

We Add Up - enter the huge giveaway that includes tons of awesome prizes... http://www.weaddup.com/climategiveaway

Blog Action Day - find other blog posts and learn what BAD '09 is all about http://www.blogactionday.org/

Looking forward to seeing your comments and tips!


Becky said...

I've been using eco cleaners for a while, but I still haven't found something that works as good as my old (crazy toxic) cleaner on the mildew that forms in the grout in my shower. In my former life I made an old disgusting rental apt tub and tile sparkle after years of neglect on the grout.. I probably decreased my lifespan by a few years in the process..After we moved I have a new neglected tile and tub but no way to make them sparkle.. Any suggestions?

Daisy and Ryan said...

Try using the Dr. Bronner's and baking soda. Seriously, that stuff surprised me! When we moved, the tub wasn't so hot. And I kept hearing about using those two together... I put a small pile of the baking soda in the tub, poured some of the Dr. Bronner's into that, and rubbed it all together to make a paste. Not sure about the amt of each - just make a paste that you can smear all over the tub. I use gloves to do all of this. Maybe a little water if you need it to go farther. Let that sit for a while before wiping off. I use a scrub brush but don't really have to scrub. It cleans really well. I also use the mixture for cleaning toilets now (except I use the brush to spread it on the inside...not my hands! haha!).

Also - try Tea Tree Oil for the mildew. I've heard it works wonders on that, though I haven't really used it for that purpose myself. It's supposed to be a great disinfectant. That stuff is STRONG, though, so you won't need much. You can put a few drops in a squirt bottle with water, and use that on the area that gets mildew. You could use that as an after-shower spray to leave on.

Here are some websites with info about using tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract (which is something we use in place of bleach with diapers, laundry, and in Aiden's wipes solution - great stuff!!)


You'll have to let me know if it really works, if you try either of them. Neither are cheap...but they both last a LONG, LONG time. And there are many uses for both, so...hopefully you wouldn't feel it was a waste. :)

Anonymous said...

This is the best site I have found, will be trying some of your suggestions for sure + the face cleanser.

However, my old towels never come out very soft from the dryer. I no longer use fabric softener or sheets, tried the rubber balls and they smelled really bad and made such a noise I was afraid they would damage the dryer. Other than vinegar (which I use for everything I clean) I havne't found anything else that worked well on old towels. I will look for E cover products.

Any more suggestions? Marilyn

Daisy and Ryan said...

Thanks for the compliment, Marilyn! :)

I had heard of some other nontoxic "sheet" you could use in dryers, but the online store is temporarily down...not sure the timeline on that or why. It's not something I have ever used, either. After doing a short search, here are a few things I found... The first mentions a type of sheet (not sure if it's the same thing I had seen before or not - could be). And vinegar and/or baking soda comes up a lot. I have heard that before with cloth diaper inserts. And the brand that comes up most is Ecover. If you're looking for something better than vinegar - I would check that out. Whole Foods carries it - or prob most other health food stores. Not sure what other places do. Also - you can find it at amazon.com. We'll be ordering a case of the dishwashing detergent soon, now that we know we like it and it's a better deal that way. :) Seventh Generation comes up quite a bit, but I haven't heard as good reviews about them. Ecover consistently gets great reviews, though. Not only from sources online but from the folks I've asked at Whole Foods and others I know.

Here are a couple links I found, if you're interested.




This last one has a lot of different product replacements and recipes listed. For the fabric softener, just scroll down a bit. Might find some other useful ideas there, too! :)

Amy said...

I love your suggestions, thank you sooo much! I keep wanting to use simpler, healthier cleaners but haven't done the research. I'm going to bookmark this post.