Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tip Seven: Go Green with Cleaners

It doesn't do any good to buy superlative organic produce, or grow your own, if you're going to bring them into the kitchen and dose them with toxins from your cleaning supplies. Which of course you would not do on purpose, but can occur when food and utensils and countertops are co-existing in a kitchen.

When we eat food dosed with toxins, you know what happens.

You are what you eat.

And it's not just our food, but our air that can be contaminated by household cleaners. EPA studies show we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, yet concentrations of many volatile organic compounds are up to ten times higher indoors than out -- and even low levels of toxins in common household products can contribute to health conditions from allergies and asthma to birth defects and learning disorders.

Green cleaning solutions are easy and -- unlike many sustainable practices -- much, much cheaper than the conventional products. Baking soda, which is alkaline, is a cheap and versatile cleaner, as is vinegar, an acid that can dissolve dirt and gummy buildup to be wiped away.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

- a friend in New Zealand advises using hot water, half cup vinegar and dash of commercial detergent for bubbles to clean the floors. She recommends the book Just Add Vinegar for more green clean solutions, which is not available here, but I did find Vinegar, 400 Uses You Never Thought Of, by Vicki Lansky, who also penned Baking Soda, 500 Uses You Never Thought Of.

- stick your sponge in a pan of boiling water or run it through a dishwasing cycle every now and again. This zaps germs, so you're not just smearing them back on your food.

- clean your countertops with a 1:3 solution of vinegar and water; for buildup try sprinkling a little baking soda first to remove grit. Try adding 20-30 drops of an antibacterial essential oil, such as lemon, peppermint or eucalyptus, to cut the vinegar tang. Also does windows, though my Latino friend says they use newspapers to shine glass, backed up by a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water for tough grime.

- pour baking soda down a clogged drain, followed by boiling water, to clear.

- sprinkle baking soda on carpet and vacuum up to deodorize.

- make a thick paste of baking soda and water and spread in the bottom of the oven. Keep damp with a spray bottle of water, let sit over night. The next day, scrape up the baking soda crust and the oven grime comes with it.

-take your shoes off when you come into your home. Stop the dirt, germs, chemicals and grime before they are carried around your house. [PS -- this one is FREE!]

-soak vegetables and fruits in water then scrub with a vegetable brush to remove any chemicals used in packaging or transport. [Also FREE!]

If you're not into do-it-yourself cleaners, there are a lot of products claiming to be environmentally friendly on the shelves now. My friends and I love Mrs. Meyer's countertop spray -- and there's a fragrance for every mood. Method is a brand that is easy to find, though it is not as subtly scented,

The EPA has a program called Design for the Environment which is working to remove chemicals of concern, succeeding in reducing hundreds of millions of pounds of chemicals of concern each year. Their label, below, certifies a reviewed product.

No comments:

Post a Comment