Posts tagged ‘sustainability’
It’s finally starting to look and feel like spring. Hopefully the trees can start budding in the next couple of days/weeks. To go with the theme of spring cleaning that we started with the last post, in this week’s blog, we’re going to focus on green cleaning supplies. You have to be able to do more than just remove junk from your house, and green cleaning suppies can clean your house while maintaining an air of sustainability.
Some people will say, “What’s wrong with the conventional cleaning supplies that I’m already using?” These days, the stores have aisles full of cleaning supplies and many of them are full of things that no one would want in their home. We listed some examples of the toxins that are regularly found in conventional supermarket cleaners.
- Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners, are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
- Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners, depresses the nervous system.
- Phenols found in disinfectants, are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylate, a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe; it has been shown to biodegrade slowly into even more toxic compounds.
- Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners, damage mucous membranes.
- Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
- Butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver.
The list could fill a book. And it’s a book that would include thousands of other chemicals — some so dangerous that they’re found on lists of chemicals associated with Superfund toxic waste sites and in the toxins section of the U.S. Clean Air and Water Acts.
Reducing the amount of non-natural cleaner used in your home will reduce the amount of potentially hazardous chemicals while at the same time improving your local environment by preventing contamination to the outdoors.
So now you’re wondering, “well if I can’t use those cleaners, what do I use?” There are still natural products on the market that you can buy in stores. Consumers must be wary though because not everything marked with words like “natural” or “green” actually follows their namesake. To help buyers out, websites like GoodGuide.com were started.
The goal of Good Guide is to help consumers find safe, healthy, green, and ethical products based on scientific ratings; to get these ratings, the website uses chemists, toxicologists, nutritionists, sociologists, and lifecycle analysis experts. Each of these groups rate products and companies on the different aspects listed above
Likewise, there is also the Green Seal Label that people can look for while at the store. Green Seal creates sustainability standards for products and offers certification for companies or products that meet the standards. You can trust that products marked with the Green Seal label are helping to create a greener marketplace.
There will be some of you who want to take another step toward ‘green’ cleaning and try to make your own cleaning supplies. This is a fantastic idea because not only are these products simple to make, but they are also very effective and safe. If you think about it, they also cut down on the purchase miles by starting their shelf life in your home as opposed to in a factory. We listed 3 easy cleaners below, if you search online, you can find a ton more:
All-Purpose Spray Cleaner: Combine ½ teaspoon washing soda, a dab of liquid soap and 2 cups hot tap water in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.
Tea Tree Mold Killer: Nothing works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Note the smell of tea tree oil is strong, but it will dissipate in a few days. Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.
Window Cleaner: Put ¼ – ½ teaspoon liquid detergent, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 cups water. Shake it up and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe cuts the wax residue that many commercial brands leave behind.
If you’re having difficulty finding recipdes for cleaning supplies, try looking on Care2.com in the “Healthy Living” section.
I hope your Spring Cleaning goes phenomenal and your house feels a little fresher when it’s less cluttered and all scrubbed down
EnAct Intern Adam
“What percentage of the food in your fridge is locally grown?” asked Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm.
The question was a simple one but one that all the attendees at the EnAct CSA event had to think about deeply. I personally had no idea. I liked to think of myself as a local food supporter, but did I really had a handle on exactly how I was supporting them? Numbers between 30 and 50% popped up as answers.
The next questions was “What percentage of locally grown food do you want in your fridge?”
Now that was one to think about.
The benefits of getting involved in CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture are numerous, but above all you are showing support for local farmers. It is a way to reconnect with your food, to interact with those producing it, and to learn about the variety of produce out there that isn’t the usual grocery store line-up. It is a chance to renew the relationship between farmer and consumer. One touching story shared last night told about a CSA member’s young son, who states regularly that their CSA farmer “grew this food for him”. The interaction is an excellent way to teach children hands on about food and nutrition. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that many health insurance companies offer rebates for subscribers due to the many health benefits of eating farm fresh vegetables.
Of course with anything new, becoming a CSA subscriber takes some time and energy to adjust. Eating locally takes extra time and planning ahead, says MACSAC, or Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, volunteer Angie Fuhrken. When she first signed on, she was a bit nervous after receiving a box full of vegetables she barely recognized. There are of course the usual favorites, but a lot of times the CSA box contains new items. After researching places to get recipes based on ingredient and with the help of MACSAC’s cookbook, she quickly adapted and now has a bigger variety of dishes to share with her family. With a little extra energy, you can adjust and figure out a system that works for you. She also shares her CSA with a neighbor, helping to reduce waste. One week the box is picked up by her, and the next week, the neighbor. Both Kay and Angie made other suggestions such as choosing a farm with a convenient pick-up location for you, making a plan ahead of time if you are sharing with someone, and to be patient in the transition period while learning how to use all of your new vegetables.
So what percentage of local food do you want in your fridge? Is it there now? Do you have a plan to get it there? When considering all of your options, make sure to include CSA.
For more information on CSA, visit http://www.macsac.org.
Thank you to all who came out to the event last night and to Kay and Angie for giving us their time.
~EnAct Intern Kayla Baake
Spring is almost here, and that has many of us thinking about ways to make our homes greener when the weather takes a turn for the better!
These days, one of the best ways to keep up on the latest in green home ideas is to keep tabs on the myriad of blogs on the subject. If you are like me and have no idea where to even begin sometimes, check out this blog from re-nest, a green design blog, entitled, “The Homies: Best Green Home Blog of 2011.” Re-nest polled its readers to determine the best of a strong group of blogs that included A Way To Garden, Baby Green, Frugal Kiwi, Pretty Little Things, and The Design Confidential, with A Way To Garden coming out on top.
A Way to Garden is pretty cool. Author Margaret Roach has a ton of advice for current or aspiring gardeners trying to make their homes (and in turn, their lives) more sustainable. This includes posts about tools, techniques, and strategies for getting the most out of your organic garden, as well as recipes for what to do with the food you grow. It’s a great resource for trying to Live Green.
Check out some of the other blogs as well! You never know when you will see something that inspires you to make the most of the coming spring and turn your home green.