My Greener, Cleaner Bathroom

A few weeks ago, I posted about the book Healthy Child, Healthy World as part of a blog tour for Mother Talk. In that post, I talked about wanted to go greener with my cleaners, and I am posting today to say that I have!

Today I cleaned the 1/2 bathroom (a miracle in itself, really) using entirely green, home-made concoctions and it was easy-breezy.

Here’s the low-down:

The mirror: 1:2 solution of vinegar/water in a spray bottle, wiped down with newspaper (no streaks!)

The sink/toilet: the green multipurpose cleaner listed below in a spray bottle, wiped down with a cloth rag. It works really, really well.

The toilet bowl: I was too lazy to search for a specific recipe, so I just squirted some multi-purpose cleaner and then used the bowl-brush, and wa-la–it’s clean!

The floor: I have a Swiffer mop, but ran out of Swiffer cloths long ago. So I just attached a microfiber cloth and swept away. You still get that “ew! look what was on the floor!” satisfaction, but get the throw the cloth in the washer instead of the trash.

Multipurpose Cleaner from Healthy Child, Healthy World
1/2 tsp washing soda (I used baking soda, you can also use Borax)
1/2 tsp castile soap (available at Trader Joe’s)
2 c. warm water

Honestly, this stuff works just as well as my 409, and it’s basically FREE to make, and non-toxic.

So that was my foray into green cleaning, and I think it shall continue. I’ve got several bottles of Windex around the house (one for each bathroon, one in the kitchen, one in the garage) and as they are used up, I’m reusing the bottle to hold the vinegar/water solution. The HC/HW book even says you can do a 50-50 concoction with a little essential oil to do walls, floors and cut soap scum.

I’ve also followed Heather’s advice from her comment on the HC/HW post, and I’ve added vinegar in the dishwasher’s rinse aid compartment. My glassware is now BLINDING. I kid you not. As soon as I’m done with my current d/w soap, I’ll be switching to the Borax/baking soda duo.

Are there any other easy, cheap concoctions out there that can encourage the green cleaning I’m trying to implement?

Healthy Child, Healthy World

I can’t stop talking about this book. Maybe it’s because many of my friends are also moms of kids who want to do the best thing for them, maybe it’s because not only I am a mom, but a teacher as well. I have mentioned this book to almost everyone I’ve had a conversation with for the past two weeks.

Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home, by Christopher Gavigan is a book I will refer to again and again. In a nutshell, it outlines a variety of environmental dangers and how to avoid/minimize them. There are recipes for homemade cleaners, guideline for buying baby gear, and the reasoning behind making sound ecological choices.

Many of the topics have been in the news lately-lead in children’s toys, toxic baby bottles and the dangers in our food supply are just a few recent headlines that come to mind. This book goes deeper than a three-minute segment on the evening news, and explains why each of these things are a danger, and more importantly, what to do about it. There are short essays by a few Hollywood types, including Brooke Shields and Tom Hanks, covering a range of green topics. The book also includes a lengthy “healthy resources” section, which includes sources for products as well as websites for further information.

For awhile now, I’ve been bringing my own grocery bags to the store for shopping trips, and I’ve been toting my own travel mug to the coffee shop. The price of gas keeps me fairly close to home and not foolishly driving my car around for fun. This book, challenges me to do more, and to do it for the sake of my child.

A major theme throughout each section of the book is how assorted toxic exposure obviously isn’t good for anyone, but that it is particularly bad for children. Children roll around on the floor, put things in their mouths and their smaller body mass means that chemicals they are exposed to stay more concentrated in their bloodstreams. The thought that the anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner I use might actually leave behind a residue that may make my daughter ill makes me eager to try something less toxic. Now that I know that half of our lifetime exposure to pesticides occurs in the first five years of life, I’m more motivated to seek out organic, regional produce for my fruit maniac.

I could go on and on–I have learned so much from this simple, easy-to-read, 300 page book. At the beginning, there is a sort of warning–not to be too overwhelmed by the information presented. To tackle a few things at a time, and that once something becomes a habit, conquer the next thing you’d like to change.

So as a result of this book, I am declaring here that I am not going to be buying any more toxic household cleaners. And I will divert the money I’ll be saving (face it, vinegar, Castille soap and baking soda are cheap) and put it toward organic produce (which is not cheap). Those are the two things I will be starting with this month. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

See what other reviewers are saying at!

Works for me Wednesday: BYOB (bags)

I’ve been trying to make little steps in becoming greener here on the homefront, thus the coffee mug on the side of my blog. I’ve been ruthless with myself on that–if I don’t have a travel mug with me, I don’t buy coffee when I’m out. I’ve taken to just keeping a clean one in the car, so that I can take advantage of things like McDonald’s free coffee Mondays.

But that’s not really what today’s post is about. Today I’m posting about bringing my own bags to the grocery store to cut down my use of those insane plastic shopping bags. Seriously, on a typically weekly shopping trip, I could easily come home with 10-15 bags.

Anyway,what works for me is to bring my own bags to the store. Many stores these days sell reusable shopping bags. I bought several from the store I frequent most, and store them in a larger tote bag. I also throw in two sturdy plastic bags for frozen foods. I keep these in my trunk so I have them whenever the shopping urge strikes. Here’s the thing–those big box stores just installed those stupid carousels that hold plastic bags so that the overworked cashier is now her own bagger as well. And reusable totes (even those sold by said big box store) don’t fit on those carousels. So in order to use my own bags, I have to be willing to work a little.

1) I arrange the order on the belt so that items can be scanned and bagged in the order they are on the belt (putting packaged goods on first, all the meat together, all the frozen stuff together, etc). I find it’s good to get behind a larger order so that I have a little time to organize.

2) I have all coupons ready to go so that I can hold the bags open for the cashier. It goes faster this way and it keeps the cashier in a good mood.

3) I don’t bag the bigger/heavier items–a tray of clementines, a pack of paper towels, gallons of milk, ets, just get stacked on the bottom of the cart.

All said, with a little practice, it’s not that big of a deal. And of course, at places like Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s, it’s a little easier than at a big box store.

The immediate pay off is that the big box I frequent gives you a 5 cent credit for each bag that you bring and use. Which is peanuts, but it’s like another 25-50 cent coupon, which I never sneeze at.

The bigger pay off? Few plastic bags get used, which is really the whole point.