Tag Archive | green living

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.)

ahhhh….

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?

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ramblings from the deep end

First, I want to answer the obvious question here, the one I am getting all those comments about. (Not the comments below, they text them. I get lots of text comments.) And that question is, Jessica, what’s up with all these blog posts recently? You’ve been MIA, and now three in one week! Well, folks, the truth is, it’s not that anything more exciting is happening here than usual. But there’s an equation concerning blogs, which you might know if you have one. The equation is, the longer you wait between posts, the more important the next post has to be. And thus, the more recent the post, the lamer your next one can be. See, now I can post about my new favorite shampoo now or a funny comment Sam made about poop. But, if it’s been three months, people start to wonder about you. “Three months, and she’s posting about that? She thinks that is important? But once you get that first welcome-back post out of the way, the sky’s the limit. Which is why you are getting this post, which may or may not be full of helpful/odd tidbits of life here (off in the deep end).

Sometimes, I feel bad for Todd. When he calls me, he really never knows what he’s going to get. I could giddy about a surprise I just made him. Sometimes the whole family is giggling and tickling each other. Sometimes I share my amazing (next) idea to make a million dollars and be famous. Of course other times, I am screaming my head off at someone who is unravelling/shredding/eating the toilet paper. Sometimes I am on hold with the credit card company and about to rip someone’s head off. Sometimes I am weeping, and, moping, and forloin about how untan and mushy I’ve gotten. It’s a shot in the dark.

The point is, I waffle. Here is the latest little experiment Todd got to witness. I am sure, for not the first time, he was sure his wife was jumping face-first off into the deep end. Basically, I have self-diagnosed myself (here is Todd’s cue to groan and roll eyes) as being overloaded with toxins and irritants to my sinuses. So I’ve determined there are ways to reduce my body’s toxic and/or stress levels. I know that phrase sounds funny coming from me, sort of like when I heard my sister Jenny talking about the Giants’ defensive strengths. It seems odd. But really as the purpose of this blog is to entertain and inform, I am sure that my clever little list of life and body cleansing tips will do either amuse or help someone. Here are the things I have tried.
– Eliminating additives and dyes. Now this includes all the obvious fun stuff – oreos, pudding cups, bacon, coffee creamer, mayonnaise, etc. etc. But darn it, you can also find these stupid things in places that should never be black-listed. In the name of purity I also said goodbye to Colgate, Motrin, mouthwash, my precious Bath and Body works body wash, lip gloss, hand soap, emergen-C packets, fabric softener, and foundation. In what world should one feel guilty about brushing your teeth and taking vitamin C??? I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But read the labels!! It’s shame!
– In the process, here are all the things I’ve discovered you can wash effectively with vinegar: kitchen floors, my hands, the bathroom sink and toilets, unorganic produce, clogged drains, kitchen counters, and, my sinuses. And judging by the overall stinging sensation I got from that last one, I’m pretty sure the rest of them are clean. real clean.
– Here are some “greener” substitutes I have found for aforementioned items: Dr. Bronner’s body soap bars (found them at Trader Joe’s… But, as my cousin Sarah pointed out, great soap, WEIRD guy), baking soda and peroxide for toothpaste (this one was not fun), and coconut oil for lotion/lip gloss.
In case you’re curious, I’m back now, from that brief retreat into the life I should really be living. There are a few things I will leave in that life. Things like baking soda in my mouth, unless it is minisculey mixed with sugar, flour, and chocolate chips. Also, the vinegar in my sinuses routine. I think Sam thought I was a crazy person when he kept seeing me with an afghan over my face at the kitchen table.
However, I do plan to continue utilizing vinegar to clean everything other than my nasal cavities. I read somewhere how a lady cleans her bathroom with three paper towels and a squirt bottle of vinegar. Intruguing, is it not? Additionally, I found those natural soaps quite pleasant, and I plan to research natural makeup products. But you know, here is my conclusion. In the words of the very wise Bob Wiley: “Baby steps.” As wonderful as my week-long toxic fast was, and as many things as I learned, I think am going to baby-step my way into Green Land. This is essentially my tactic to buy a few more years of Oreos in my life, but whatever. Baby steps.