I recently saw a commercial for a certain trash bag company, in which they claim that by purchasing their new stretchy trash bag you would need to use less bags over the course of the year. In fact, I believe they made a claim that if everyone used their stretchier brand of bags, the left unused regular bags could cover the top of a mountain. Now, who knows how accurate their claims may be, but it got me thinking none the less.
Properly disposing of trash is something that everyone must do. In order to do this, we all must use trash bags. What we do have a choice about, is what kind of bags to use. There are tons of environmentally friendly trash bags out there, all you have to do is look. We all ready have one example of how a more flexible bag can reduce the overall number of plastic trash bags you use per year, therefore decreasing the number of bags that end up in landfills.
Recycled bags are also an option. One company, Seventh Generation, claims that if every home in the U.S. replaced a 30 count package of kitchen trash bags made from virgin plastic with ones made from 55% recycled plastic, the U.S. could save over 50,000 barrels of oil. Another choice may be trash bags that are made from a corn based material. One company, BioBag, is making trash bags out of vegetable oils and Mater-Bi (corn based material), and claims its product is 100% biodegradable.
So, if these eco-friendly trash bags can do the same job as a regular plastic bag, while helping the environment, why wouldn’t you switch?
Bleach is used for so many different jobs that it is hard to imagine not having any in your home. While bleach may be rather inexpensive and effective when it comes to cleaning certain things, it can also be harmful to your family, pets and the environment. Overexposure to bleach can cause irritations to your skin, eyes and even lungs. Bleach can also trigger an asthma attack for individuals who have asthma. In fact, if mixed with certain other household cleaners, bleach can actually create toxic fumes!
Luckily, there are a few natural alternatives to bleach that can be just as effective at getting certain jobs done. Not only are these alternatives effective but they are safer for your family and the environment. Here are a few examples.
“Vinegar”- Ahh yes, vinegar. The “do it all” cleaner is a great alternative to bleach when it comes to sanitizing and disinfecting countertops. Vinegar actually kills E. coli and salmonella, which makes it a good choice for kitchen counters. Just mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle and go to town (adding baking soda to the mix works well on tile).
“Hydrogen Peroxide”- Hydrogen peroxide may not be the best alternative for sanitizing countertops, but it can be used as bleach alternative for your laundry. A cup of hydrogen peroxide will help brighten your whites, and is not a threat to the environment.
“Tea Tree Oil”- Everyone knows how effective bleach can be when it comes to killing mold and mildew, but tea tree oil can be just as effective. By mixing a couple of tablespoons of tea tree oil to two cups of water in a spray bottle can give you an effective mold and mildew killer. The down side to tea tree oil, however, is it can be a little expensive and has a very strong smell.
All of these are safe and effective alternatives to bleach.
Salt can be used for many jobs, in many different ways. It can be used to prevent noodles from sticking to the pan while cooking, it can add a little bit of flavor to a bland meal, and it can even be used to melt away snow. Now you can add “natural cleaner” to the list of things salt can be used for. Here are a few of the cleaning jobs you can do when you add a little bit of salt to the mix.
“Cleaning Pots And Pans”- For cleaning a cast iron pan simply fill the bottom of the pan with cooking oil, heat up the oil for a bit and then add a few tablespoons of salt. The oil and salt will create a paste, which you can then scrub away whatever may be stuck on there. Then, just rinse off with water and dry.
“Clean Your Coffee Pot”- To clean out your automatic coffee maker’s pot, simply add a few tablespoons of salt to the water in the pot and bring it to a boil. For cleaning coffee stains out of mugs, scrub them with a sponge and a paste made from vinegar and salt.
“Cleaning Out The Fridge”- If you need to clean a little spill in your refrigerator, or just want to give a wipe-down, a combination of salt and seltzer can get the job done.
“Carpet Stains”- If you happen to have a pet who left a little stain on your carpet, or maybe some dragged a little dirt in on their shoes, take care of the stain with a paste made up of two tablespoons of vinegar and a quarter cup of salt. Just rub the paste onto the stain, let it dry and vacuum it up.
So there you go, one more natural green cleaner to add to the arsenal. The next time you have a cleaning task, add a little NaCl!
Unfortunately, I may be a day late and a dollar short on this one. In this article from Destination Green, there is a list of ten ways to enjoy a green Valentine’s Day. The original article was actually written by Stephen Ashkin, of The Ashkin Group. The article not only gives you tips for a green Valentine’s Day but any special occasion that you would like to turn “green”. So, although these tips may be a day late for this year’s V-Day, keep them in mind for next year and many year’s after.
Bloomington, IN – Feb 13, 2013 – Stephen Ashkin president of The Ashkin Group, known as the “father of Green Cleaning” and the cleaning and building industries’ leading advocate for sustainability, suggests ten way ways we can all make this Thursday, Valentine’s Day 2013, warm, romantic…and Green.
According to Ashkin, “it’s actually quite easy. [In fact,] there are so many ways to make Valentine’s Day, and every day for that matter, Greener and more sustainable, I actually had trouble listing just ten.”
Nevertheless, here are Ashkin’s Top Ten Ways to Make This a Green Valentine’s Day:
1. Make a card out of recycled materials or, instead of a traditional card, send an electronic card.
2. Light candles. “Valentine’s Day is a great time to smooch by candlelight.”
3. Turn down the thermostat, and snuggle under the blankets.
4. Make homemade cake, candy, and treats instead of purchasing them.
5. Make a home-cooked meal using locally sourced food and wine.
6. Give a gift of a potted plant instead of cut flowers; better yet, plant a rosebush or crab apple tree (symbol of love or friendship) in an open area or forest.
7. Forget balloons; give your special person a long-lasting item such as a framed photograph.
8. Leave the car at home; take a walk in a local park or at the beach.
9. If giving chocolates, make it organic and fair trade chocolate.
“And the tenth tip is not so much ‘Green’ as it is important,” says Ashkin. “Just don’t forget this day. Valentine’s Day is all about kindness and love—something we all need a lot more of.”
There are several myths out there about green cleaning, and green products in general. In this awesome article from Green Lodging News, they help you weed out fact from fiction. They focus on three examples of where you may have been misled when it comes to green/natural alternatives. Hopefully after reading this, you can put these myths to rest.
Debunking Three Green Cleaning Myths; Discerning Fact from Fiction
Environmental awareness otherwise known as “going green” is a broad philosophy deeply rooted in the concept of environmental conservation and improvement. In recent years, the concept of going green has certainly made its mark on popular culture, and as direct consequence has revealed a darker side to the movement.
Cultural myths have made it difficult for the average consumer to discern fact from fiction. This is especially the case when it comes to the green cleaning industry. Below is a list of three commonly held misconceptions related to green cleaning.
Myth 1: All cleaning products labeled “green” are non-toxic.
Reality: Words like “green,” “natural” and even “biodegradable” are marketing tactics used to put an eco-spin on a particular cleaning product. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t regulate the use of these terms, which makes it easy for niche marketers to perpetuate false or misleading claims.
To try and combat this problem, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of recognized labels and partners who are committed to manufacturing environmentally responsible cleaning products. The list is by no means all inclusive, but consumers can search for products here.
Third Party Certification
Another way to verify if a product is actually green is to seek out products that have been certified by third party organizations like Green Seal. Green Seal only certifies cleaning products that are non-toxic and non-corrosive. The products must also be free from carcinogens and mutagens, and truly biodegradable. The biggest problem with third party certification is that many of these organizations do not cover smaller manufacturers.
When all else fails, it is also possible to confirm that a product is actually green by doing independent research. A good place to start is with the ingredients list. The list of potentially dangerous cleaning chemicals is endless, but here are some chemicals to avoid: Alkylphenol; Ammonia; Butyl Cellosolve (Butyl Glycol, Ethylene Glycol, Monobutyl); Chlorine Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite); Glycol Ethers (Ethylene Glycol Mono-butyl Ether, EGBE or 2-butoxyethanol); Monoethanolamine (MEA), Diethanolamine (DEA) or Triethanolamine (TEA); Phenols; Phosphates; Phthalates (fragrances); and Triclosan.
Myth 2: Green cleaning equals higher costs.
Reality: Many business owners feel pressure to “go green,” but worry that green cleaning products will end up increasing costs. In actuality, going green can be good for a company’s bottom line in more ways than one.
Most industrial cleaning products contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals that can easily compromise the health and well-being of employees, especially cleaning staff. According to a recent review of workers’ compensation by Washington State, six out of every 100 custodians must take time off from work each year to recover from job-related injuries. Eighty-eight percent of custodial injuries involve skin or eye irritation, skin burns or chemical inhalation.
Opportunity to Reduce Workplace Injuries
By switching to less toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products, business owners have the potential to reduce on-site injuries (and subsequent sick days), decrease workers’ compensation claims and even lower insurance rates.
Another key cost-saving component of green cleaning involves packing and shipping costs. Green products are typically sold in concentration (they must be diluted prior to use) with minimal packaging. When ordered in bulk, this can significantly lower shipping fuel costs because more of the product can be shipped at once. The minimal packaging also takes up less storage space than conventional products.
Green cleaning can also reduce hidden cleaning expenses. Because most conventional cleaning products are highly toxic, they (along with rags, brushes, gloves, absorbent pads, etc.) cannot be simply thrown in the trash. Instead, they are subject to strict disposal regulations that often require extensive employee training. Using non-toxic, environmentally friendly products can minimize both disposal and training costs.
Myth 3: Non-toxic cleaning isn’t as effective.
Reality: There is some truth to the above statement because not all green cleaning is created equal. The relative effectiveness will ultimately depend on the type of cleaning being performed, how much product is being used and the type of surface being cleaned. These same rules exist for most cleaning products (green or commercial).
Green Cleaners Not Disinfectants
Green cleaning products are highly effective in a variety of home, work and lodging settings, but it’s important to note that green cleaning products do not serve as disinfectants. As a result, certain environments such as healthcare settings, cannot be 100 percent green. However, these environments shouldn’t completely eliminate green cleaning. Many cleaning products can still be made “greener” by reducing harmful chemicals without compromising safety in sterile environments. Additionally, the use of certain cleaning supplies, such as microfiber mops and wipers, can also be used to reduce the spread of hazardous chemicals.
What some people fail to realize is that green cleaning is a combination of both cleaning products and procedures. Even in instances where a facility cannot go completely green, there are a variety of procedural steps and programs that can be implemented to minimize human and environmental hazards, improve indoor air quality and protect the health of employees.
Although the number of people with asthma seems to be increasing each decade (if not each year), many people still believe the cause for the respiratory disease is strictly genetic. In this article from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, they explain the link between the rise in the number of people with asthma and chemical exposure. If you or a family member suffer from asthma, as I did as a child, you should read this.
The number of people in the United States with asthma roughly doubled from 1980 to 1995 and continues to rise. Between 2001 and 2009, asthma prevalence increased 12.3% from 20.3 million to 24.6 million Americans. By 2009, nearly 1 in 12 people suffered from the disease.
Asthma is one of the most common childhood chronic diseases, and a higher percentage of children than adults have asthma. Nearly one in ten (9.6%, or about seven million) children in the U.S. have asthma. Diagnoses are especially high among boys. The greatest rise in asthma rates from 2001 to 2009 was among black children, with a nearly 50% increase in prevalence. Seventeen percent of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.
The annual costs associated with asthma grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, an increase of 5.7%. These costs include medical expenses ($50.1 billion per year), loss of productivity resulting from missed school or work days ($3.8 billion per year), and premature death ($2.1 billion per year).
The link to chemical exposure
The doubling of asthma rates over the last two decades has prompted researchers to examine the role that various environmental factors may play in this trend. Genetics alone cannot explain such dramatic increases in prevalence over such a short time.
Asthma is highly likely to result from the interaction of a complex mixture of underlying risk factors. Maternal nutrition, exposures to environmental contaminants, and stress can alter fetal lung and immune system development, not only prenatally but also after birth during infancy and childhood. Post-natal exposures to allergens and indoor and outdoor air pollution also can increase asthma risk. One theory holds that altered bacterial composition in the intestine and living in environments that are “too clean” can increase risk as well.
But whatever the explanations of this troubling trend, extensive evidence from occupational and general population epidemiological studies and medical case reports documents that hundreds of chemicals can cause asthma in individuals previously free of the disease or can put asthma patients at greater risk for subsequent attacks.
A 2007 literature review found 21 studies linking indoor residential chemical emissions with respiratory health or allergy problems in infants or children. The study identified formaldehyde (in particleboard), phthalates (in plastic materials), and recent interior painting as the most frequent risk factors. Elevated risks also were reported for renovation, cleaning activities, new furniture, carpets, and textile wallpaper. Table 3 provides an overview of the indoor sources identified in this study.
A 2004 Swedish study compared 198 young children with asthma and allergies to 202 healthy control subjects. The home environment of every child was examined, with air and dust samples taken in the room where the child slept. The children whose bedrooms contained higher levels of the phthalate DEHP were more likely to have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. Current studies are reexamining the possible association between phthalates and asthma with more rigorous prospective study designs.
How chemical policy reform can help
Consumers, retailers, and other downstream users of chemicals—including manufacturers and distributors of toys and other products—have a problem in common: they cannot gain access to basic information about the chemicals used to make their products. Because federal law does not ensure the right to know what we are exposed to, we don’t have the information we need to identify all the sources of indoor air pollution that may be causing asthma or triggering symptoms.
How can an expectant mother determine if there is formaldehyde in the particleboard used to make cribs and other nursery furnishings? How does a new father decide which baby shampoo may contain phthalates? Why should new parents have to worry about whether potentially dangerous chemicals are in the products they choose for their newborn children?
To be effective, TSCA reform should include a requirement that chemical manufacturers publicly disclose information on the uses of and health hazards associated with their chemicals, and the ways that people could be exposed in their homes, schools, or places of work.
If you happened to have hosted a Superbowl party this past weekend, chances are pretty good that one of your guests may have spilled a little bit of a beverage, dropped a chicken wing or a number of other foods onto your upholstery. Before you run out to the store to buy chemical cleaners, a new couch, or find new friends, try these natural concoctions to clean your upholstery.
Cleaning Fabric Upholstery- You’ll need: White vinegar, liquid soap, spray bottle and a lint free cloth.
-Combine 1/4 cup of vinegar, 3/4 cup of warm water and 1/2 tablespoon of liquid soap in the spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients. Lightly spray the soiled area, then scrub the area in a circular motion using the cloth (you can repeat this process as many times as needed). Let dry or blot the area with a dry cloth.
Cleaning Leather Upholstery- You’ll need: White vinegar, olive oil, spray bottle and a lint free cloth.
-Combine 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil in the spray bottle. Shake the bottle to vigorously to mix the ingredients. Lightly spray the surface and rub with the cloth. Buff the leather with a dry cloth until the olive oil is absorbed into the leather (which will soften it), the vinegar will evaporate after it has cleaned.
Cleaning Synthetic Upholstery- You’ll need: White vinegar, warm water, spray bottle and a lint free cloth.
-Combine 1/2 vinegar and 1 cup of warm water in the spray bottle. Shake the bottle until the ingredients are mixed. Spray the soiled area and scrub the area with the cloth in a circular motion. Repeat the process as needed.
Try these natural solutions out before your next trip to the cleaning isle at your local grocery store.
Besides freshening your breath, fighting cavities and of course fighting against the gum disease known as GINGIVITIS, there are other uses for your mouthwash. As long as you use a mouthwash which contains alcohol, there are plenty of jobs you can do around the house using mouthwash. Here are a few examples of how that same mouthwash that cleans your teeth and gums can also take care of these household issues.
“Clean The Toilet”- Simply toss a cup of mouthwash into your toilet bowl, scrub with the toilet brush, and you’ve not only killed the germs in your toilet but you’ve given it a nice shine as well.
“Laundry”- Adding a cup of mouthwash to your regular load of laundry will help freshen the laundry and help kill germs. (Use mouthwash in addition too, not in substitute of detergent)
“Computer Screen Cleaner”- Instead of going to an electronics store and spending money on “specialized computer screen cleanser”, just put a little mouthwash on a soft tissue and get rid of dust and finger prints on your computer screen.
“Clean Grout”- Usually a toothbrush and mouthwash are used to help clean your mouth. You can also team them up to clean mold off of grout in your bathroom. Simply dip an old toothbrush into a cup of mouthwash and start scrubbing.
There you go, several alternative uses for your mouthwash. So, the next time you find yourself at the supermarket, instead of buying several different items for several different jobs, maybe you should just get the extra large bottle mouthwash (make sure it contains alcohol).