baby steps to a green(er) home

I remember the first time my Aunt Rebecca showed me the movie What About Bob? and claimed it was hysterical.  For the first ten minutes Bob made me very uncomfortable. Or maybe it hit a bit too close to home, all the crazy germophobia and anxiety disorders. Who knows. Then of course, I fell in love with Bob, and Gil, and Dr. Leo Marvin. A friend of mine had “must love What About Bob” on her husband-to-be checklist. I thought that was smart, and not overreacting at all. Simply put, if you do not love that movie, what is wrong with your sense of humor?!?! Furthermore, it is insightful.

I can’t tell you how many times I, like Bob, tell myself, “Baby steps, Jessica…baby steps.” But this post is not about Bob Wiley, although clearly he does deserve his own one day. This is about bringing natural, clean living inside your home.

Now look.

If you are already clean and green (and you know who you are), then do not read this post. Better yet, do. Because you’ll feel really good about how you are ten years further away from cancer than I and the other novice environmentalists.

Because let’s be honest, I am at least 12-24 months behind any semblance of a current trend, and whatever music I am listening to is – well, first of all, on a CD (?!?!) – and second, is already annoying the uber-trendy teenagers who have moved completely on. (And, for the love, is it Avett Brothers or Averrt Brothers??? Whatever.)

So anyway, the point is, I am new to being green. And it’s not easy, being green. (Ugh, ignore me! No self control today.) So these are some very beginning tips of things I am implementing around here. I would love to know what you are doing? (And also, what music are you listening to? and on what? ipod? ipad? itouch? always so curious what the cool kids are doing.) ANYWAYS, the list:

  1. My new best friend: (sorry, Todd.)


It is truly amazing how God made vinegar so wonderful. {interjection: I officially am a senior citizen at heart. Who says that?!?!} But really, it is. It is harmless, kills mold, disinfects, cleanses, freshens, I could go on and on. Here are the things I clean with a spray bottle of vinegar:

  • my shower (I’ve heard to add a spritz of DAWN in with it to get it really sparkling clean)
  • my kitchen sink (Which is gross. Really gross. No, not mine, yours. Seriously, if you haven’t disinfected your sink recently, RUN, do not walk, to your sink right this minute and clean it. Now, isn’t that better?)
  • produce, especially non-organic. I add about a cup to a big bowl and fill the rest with water, soak my produce for 15 minutes and then rinse clean. I swear it tastes better after!
  • My windows. Bye-bye weirdly blue Windex!
  • Ty’s high chair. I know you’ve just gotten comfortable, but probably you should get up right this second and go disinfect your smunchy munchin’s high chair, also, if you have one. They get real gross too.
  • Kitchen counters.
  • Kitchen floors.
  • And I’ll be honest, I have also used vinegar to clean out my nasal cavities. And wow, let me assure you, it works.
  1. limit/eliminate bleach – this is supposed to be number 2, but I can’t for the life of me figure out to get number 2 down here. So, number 1.5…Bleach is known to be very harmful to us and the environment. I always try to find an alternative, such as vinegar for mold, and hydrogen peroxide or baking soda for laundry. {Although – disclaimer – back in the days of Norovirus ’11, when I read bleach was the only thing that killed it, I sloshed that stuff around here like it was water. }
  2. Replace antibacterial soaps with plain hand soap. I was surprised to learn that the FDA recently expressed concern that the ingredient triclosan in anti-bacterial soaps could in fact be harmful. There are oodles of recipes online to make your own soap, but that sounds like a really messy hobby for moms of toddler boys. Anyone? Confirm/deny? In the meantime, Dial and most stores produce plain hand soap you can use.
  3. Replace this :with this:
  4. Stainless steel is much safer than non-stick surfaces, which can release chemicals when cooking. Although I thought I would miss that nonstick surface, I have been completely pleased with how mine cooks.
  5. Get one of these for everyone. Glass is another good option. I love this one I got for Sam. And throw out those Nalgenes. Or use them for bath toys.  Or vases, if you’re the earthy, chocco-type.
  6. Limit/eliminate microwave usage. At the very least, never ever use plastic to heat up your food, which can release carcinogens. But I’ll be honest. At 11:37 in the day, if there is a half of a chicken enchilada calling my name, I wait 90 seconds and not 25 minutes for the forever oven. So there. I’ve confessed. But I do use my tea kettle for water, my saute pan for the boys’ breakfast sausage, and a sink-ful of cold water to thaw meat.
  7. This is super-simple, but open your windows for 20 minutes a day! Invite in some fresh air! I try to do this no matter what the temperature, even for a bit.
  8. Lastly, I have not implemented this yet, but it is my next step… I am going to get some house plants! And try not to kill them! I found a list on pinterest of air-purifying plants. I’m going to buy them all. I mean it’s pinterest, people! They are never wrong!

So there are my beginner tips! What cleaner, natural alternatives have you found?


5 thoughts on “baby steps to a green(er) home

  1. I know a woman who found out that vinegar is a great weed killer!! She accidentally threw out some vinegar water and it killed the plants she threw it on. From then on she always used a spray bottle of vingar/water to kill the weeds in her flower bed.

  2. Jamee, use it on your weeds carefully! My hubby used it to clean out our water softner on the yard, and 3! years later there is still a bald patch because NOTHING will grow there!!

    Jessica, did you know you can add some essential oils to the vinegar mix to make it smell really good when you are cleaning? Also, I keep my gallon jug under the sink and put all of my orange peels in it, and it makes it smell very citrusy.

  3. Hey Jesse. Great article. I need to remember to read your blog! Just wanted to tell you that I drink apple cider vinegar in a glass of ice water. It is really healthful for many things and I truly love the taste. Put a teaspoon or two, ( or if more if you can stand it. I put about a tablespoon or more), in a glass of ice water and just sip on it! Also add 2 cups or so of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath. Sounds crazy put I do it if I am feeling sick or if I my body is kind of achey. I remember Grammy rinsing our hair in white vinegar when we were little girls. It made our hair so shiny and soft. God is so Good! Thanks for vinegar!

  4. Pingback: a budget that finally worked for us (the “crazy budget post”) | Smartter Each Day

  5. Pingback: a budget that finally worked for us (the crazy budget post)

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