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Cleaning With Baking Soda

When it comes to cleaning your areas of your home using natural alternatives instead of traditional cleaners, few things can be used for so many different jobs quite like baking soda. In fact, this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, has 6 cleaning tasks you can take care of using baking soda as the main ingredient. So, grab a box of baking soda and tackle those cleaning jobs without having to use any harmful chemicals.

6 Ways to Clean with Baking Soda

green cleaning with baking soda

Commonly known as baking soda, Bicarbonate of Soda is a highly effective cleaning agent that also happens to be eco-friendly—and safe to use in your home.

It is one of those everyday household products that can actually be used on practically every surface in the home. In addition, baking soda is an affordable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly cleaning alternative to conventional cleaners.

One of the best ways to clean with baking soda is to mix it with vinegar. Baking soda gently wears away at stains so is most useful as a regular cleaner to keep dirt at bay rather than as part of a deep clean. However, if you mix it with vinegar then you create carbonic acid which is more bubbly—and better to scrub with—and also more corrosive and therefore tougher on stains.

This old-school cleaning product can be used for a variety of different cleaning tasks (and on a variety of surfaces), including the following 6 ways to clean with baking soda:

Toilet Bowl: Toilet bowls can stain even if they have a stain-resistant coating. Strong cleaners can wear away at the enamel on the bowl when removing the stains and, consequently, a less-abrasive cleaning alternative will keep stains at bay while also keeping your toilet in mint condition. Sprinkle baking soda into your toilet and leave it. Moisten with vinegar. Scrub and flush.

Shower Doors: Baking soda effectively cleans shower doors plus mirrors. Just sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe. The granules in baking soda will not scratch surfaces and, if you are careful and diligent with sponging technique, you can remove the unsightly soap scum, toothpaste, and general dirt without leaving cleaning streaks of your own.

Unclogging the Drain: Baking soda is also a non-toxic and pleasant-smelling product that works to unclog your drains. Pour in a decent amount of baking soda, vinegar, and a dash of lemon juice for a sweeter smell. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the significance of the blockage, and then flush it through with very hot water.

Tiles: If left unattended, tiles can harbor mildew and mold—tiles are a part of the bathroom or kitchen cleaning routine that is often ignored. Mixing baking soda and water together to create a paste is a fantastic way to gently get at all the stains without ruining the seal. Scrub away with a toothbrush or other small cleaning brush to make sure you really get in there. You can mix some bleach into this paste if you end up discovering mold growth.

Shower Curtains: A simple mixture of baking soda and water can be used to get rid of the dirt and marks on your linoleum floors, shower curtains, and other wipe-clean furnishings in the home.

Cookware: Baking Soda can even be used to clean a stained saucepan. Sprinkle it on the base with a little water to moisten it or with a little vinegar for tougher stains.

These are just a few of the ways that Bicarbonate of Soda can be used in everyday house cleaning but there are many more. Feel free to experiment yourself and use it on a variety of surfaces and in a variety of combinations to achieve your optimum cleaning results.

Say Goodbye to Microbeads

I remember the first time I washed up using soap which had microbeads, it almost felt like I was cleaning myself with sandpaper. While I’m sure there are many people out there who love the little pieces of plastic added to certain soaps to help with exfoliation, I was never really a fan. Apparently, people concerned with keeping our waterways safe and free from contaminants aren’t fans either. As you’ll read in this article from Seventh Generation, those tiny pieces of plastic, while maybe good for your skin, can be harmful to the aquatic life, that mistakes it for food, which live in our rivers and lakes. So, say goodbye to microbeads, and say hello to cleaner, safer waterways.

Keep Microbeads Out of Our Waterways

Thanks to new laws, exfoliating microbeads—tiny grains of plastic in soaps and toothpaste that can’t be screened out of wastewater, and now pollute lakes and rivers—are on their way out, but maybe not soon enough for waterways throughout the continent.

Most water treatment plants in the country aren’t equipped to filter out objects at the tiny scale of plastic microbeads. For years, that exfoliating plastic grit from face and body soaps, toothpastes, and more flowed down the drain, right through treatment plants and into lakes, rivers and bays. The organization 5 Gyres found concentrations of up to 600,000 microbeads per square kilometer in samples taken from the Great Lakes.

The plastics don’t degrade—they accumulate. Small wildlife may mistake these bits for food, but they can’t digest the plastic. Mussels and other filter feeders—organisms that act as kidneys for bodies of water—get clogged with microbeads, which can remain in their guts for as long 48 days. The plastics that make up microbeads also attract poisons in the water, including diluted polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and DDT. Microbeads accumulate these toxins and concentrate them at levels up to one million times the level in the water around them.

Further up the food chain, larger animals that eat small fish and invertebrates may inadvertently consume an indigestible meal of microbeads. They ingest all the attached toxins and accumulate all the plastics in their own guts, too. The plastic doesn’t go away.

In early June, Illinois became the first state in the country to formally ban microbeads. Several other states have bans in the works, but individual state bans may not be necessary. A nationwide ban may pave the way to phase out microbeads altogether. Major manufacturers that produce microbead products have agreed to cooperate with the bans, and some will voluntarily eliminate microbeads even without a ban.

Unfortunately, between the bans and manufacturers’ phase-out timelines, microbead products will still be available until at least 2017, and as late as 2019 in some places. That’s another 3-5 years of toxic accumulation in the Great Lakes, and in rivers and bays all over the country. Fortunately, no one has to buy microbead products. Avoid body care products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients, as these are the primary plastics used to make microbeads. Even better news, exfoliation is as close (and free) as your own kitchen.

Salt and sugar each offer their own properties for skin care, while being much more gentle on skin than harsh microbeads. Mix two parts salt or sugar with one part oil of your choice— try one of our Boosts, or olive and coconut oils both work well. Use handfuls to scrub your face and body, and wash away the residue with your daily cleanser. (Bathtubs may get slippery if you use the scrub in the shower, so take care getting out!)

For now, there’s no way to scrub these plastics from our waterways. But we can keep more from flowing in, starting with our own sinks.

 

 

Make Your Summer Travels Green

The summertime is a great time to plan a little family get away. Kids are out of school, the weather is (hopefully) beautiful, and there are are a few holidays which mean long weekends. However, getting away from the everyday routine, doesn’t mean having to get away from your sustainable lifestyle. Before you plan your next family vaca, give this article from Seventh Generation, a read. The article gives some tips on how to have a more sustainable summer vacation.

 

Sustainable Summer Travel

Travel can be a balm to the soul, opening us up in ways that we could never imagine. Thanks to modern air travel, we can venture around the globe, absorbing other cultures and broadening our worlds. But travel can also be incredibly damaging to the environment. The carbon footprint of air travel is huge, and traveling to environmentally delicate locales can put those places at risk. For instance, coral reefs around the world are being destroyed, in part because of a careless tourism industry.

So should we eschew travel altogether? Should we give up the chance to toss a penny into Rome’s Trevi Fountain, to marvel at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or to feel the warm waters of the Caribbean on our feet?

Luckily, there are ways to make our travel more environmentally friendly. Here are a few of them:

Buy carbon offsets: Travelers can purchase carbon offset credits, which allow people to make up for their carbon emissions by investing in programs that reduce carbon emissions. Check out websites such as Conservation.org and CarbonFund.org to learn more.

Stay in a hotel that has a good “green” track record: Anyone who’s stayed in a hotel remembers the ubiquitous signs imploring guests to save water by using their towels more than once. But these days, hotels are taking more significant steps to reduce their environmental impact. For example, Kimpton Hotels Chain has implemented dozens of eco-friendly standards and policies through its EarthCare program, which are listed in detail on its website. Travelocity.com maintains a list of green travel partners, such as the California Area Green Business Program and New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging program, which help travelers find hotels and other lodging with green certification and programs.

Choose environmentally friendly locales: Aruba’s tourism board recently announced that the island is “on track to becoming the world’s first sustainable energy economy and achieving the goal of running on 100 percent sustainable energy by 2020.” And Costa Rica is regarded as a pioneer in environmental protection, according to the World Bank. Sustainable Travel International says, “Sustainable destinations reinvest the profits from their tourism activities in environmental conservation and historic restoration and preservation.” Visit sustainabletravel.org to read more about which destinations are working to improve sustainability.

Rent a hybrid car: Next time you’re trying to decide between the sedan and the SUV at the rental car desk, why not choose a more eco-friendly ride instead? Ask the car rental company about their hybrid options.

Embark on some eco-travel: Give back on your next global jaunt by choosing an eco-volunteer opportunity. Lots of organizations exist to help travelers find trips where they can contribute to sustainable projects. For example GoEco has projects that send travelers to help out at a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, work at a center for underprivileged children in Guatemala, or pitch in at a refugee health clinic in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Bathroom Cleaning Mistakes

When it comes to cleaning your home, no room requires more of a hard scrubbing, deep clean, quite like the bathroom. I usually leave the bathroom as the last room to clean, just because it’s such a pain. Even though, most people bust hump trying to get their bathroom as clean as possible, there may be some common mistakes being made, which can mean your bathroom may not be as clean as you think.

This article from Enviro Maids, lists several of the most common mistakes you make when cleaning your bathroom. Check it out, and see if any of these mistakes are being made in your cleaning routine.

 

Mistakes you make when cleaning your bathroom

Mistake #1: Cleaning only part of the toilet

The inside of your toilet and the seat always get cleaned, but what about the other parts of your toilet — the outside of the bowl, the base, and the back of the toilet? According to Goodhousekeeping.com these areas get just as dirty. Don’t forget to clean the outside of the tank, the top of the tank, the bolt caps, and the handle, as well.

Mistake #2: Not giving your cleaning products time to do their job

Do you give your cleaning solutions time to work properly? The pros at Prevention.com find that many people spray the surfaces of their bathroom with a cleaning solution and immediately start wiping away. When you prematurely wipe the cleanser away, you’re not giving it time to do what it’s supposed to do — dissolve dirt or kill bacteria and germs. Read the labels of your cleaners and follow the directions carefully. The manufacturer of the product has done extensive testing on how to properly use their product.

Mistake #3: Neglecting the “high touch areas”

Don’t forget to clean the areas in your bathroom that you frequently touch, but rarely clean. Cabinet handles, light switches, shelves, faucets, towel racks, toilet paper holders, and toothbrush holders all fall under this category. These areas should be routinely cleaned, especially when family members are fighting the cold, flu, or stomach virus.

Mistake #4: Not washing your shower curtain liner

Mold doesn’t only grow on your shower tiles and grout, it also grows on your shower curtain liner. When you notice a buildup of mold on your curtain liner, simply toss it in the washing machine.Readersdigest.com suggests adding a ½ cup of baking soda during the wash cycle, followed by a ½ of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Use the gentle cycle on your washer and air-dry the liner. A great tip from Goodhouse Keeping is to remember to pull the curtain closed each time after you shower. If the liner is bunched accordion-style, it’’ll exacerbate the growth mold.

Mistake #5: Wet toilet brush

Bacteria, mildew, and mold all thrive in warm, dark environments. That’s why you shouldn’t place a wet toilet brush back into its holder immediately after use. Goodhouse Keeping suggests setting the wet toilet brush across the toilet seat, where it can drip into the bowl. The brush should be completely dry before putting it back. Be sure to disinfect your toilet brush after each use, and don’t forget to disinfect the holder, too.

Mistake #6: Not using your exhaust fan

This is more of a preventative tip, than a cleaning tip. Your exhaust fan is meant to be used regularly when you shower to help prevent the buildup of mildew. Once you’re done showering, leave the fan running for another 15 to 20 minutes to help absorb as much moisture in the air as possible. If you have a window, you can open it partially and it’ll work just as well.

Mistake #7: Mixing multiple cleaners

Many cleaners are made up of toxic chemicals that may pose a health risk to many. When you use two or more different types of cleansers at the same time, the combination can be extremely hazardous. According to Prevention.com, combining two or more chemicals together — such as bleach and ammonia — can damage the lining of your lungs. Use a solution of 10 percent vinegar and water instead; it’s 99.9 percent effective in killing bacteria and doesn’t pose a health risk.

Vacuum More Than Your Floor

When it comes to cleaning your home, vacuuming is probably one of the most common/frequent jobs. Of course, when you think of vacuuming, you probably think of mainly just doing the floors. However, your vacuum could be cleaning a lot more than just your floors. This article from Enviro Maids, lets you know of a few other cleaning jobs where your vacuum should get the job done.

Areas in your home you’re not vacuuming but should

Computer Keyboard

Your computer keyboard falls under the category of “most neglected” when it comes to cleaning. If you’re like the average person, you’re tapping away at your keyboard daily — sometimes for hours at a time. Keyboards are notorious for getting dirt, dust, food particles, and other tiny items stuck in between the keys. Your vacuum is a great way to grab all those little particles. Just be sure none of your keys are loose before going near them with a vacuum.

Drawers

You may not think about vacuuming inside your drawers, but you’d be surprised at just how much dust can be found inside a closed drawer. According to Goodhousekeeping.com, you’ll want to take some precautions before you aim your vacuum nozzle inside your drawers to prevent accidentally sucking up items (socks, pens, coins, etc.) in the process. The pros suggest stretching a pair of nylon stockings over the nozzle. The stocking will allow dust to get through while preventing other objects from getting sucked up.

Dryer Lint Chamber and Vent

Your dryer’s lint chamber and exhaust vent can never be too clean. In addition to making your dryer run less efficiently, resulting in wasted energy, excess lint buildup can lead to a fire. Familyhandyman.com, suggests vacuuming the lint from inside your dryer as well as lint that accumulates in the exhaust vent. Consult your dryer’s user manual for tips on how to properly and safely clean the lint from your dryer as well as how often you should clean your dryer.

Foam Pillows

Foam pillows offer great head and neck support and ensure a good night’s rest, but they pose a problem when it comes to cleaning them. Foam pillows can’t be washed in the washing machine like a feather or cotton/polyester fiberfill pillow can. To get rid of dust mites, skin cells, and dirt, vacuum them often — preferably once a week. According to Goodhousekeeping.com, thoroughly vacuum both sides of your pillow using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.

Mattresses

Just like pillows, mattresses are magnets for dirt, dust, and dust mites. How often should you vacuum them? Experts suggest you vacuum your mattress every six months. The next time you flip your mattress (experts suggest flipping your mattress every six months), vacuum the top, sides, and inside the crevices of your mattress. Don’t forget the box spring!

Heating and Air Conditioning Vents

Heating ducts and air conditioning vents do a great job of circulating warm and cool air throughout your home. But if they haven’t been cleaned in a while, they’re also circulating unwanted dust and dirt throughout your home. Using a soft-bristled brush attachment, go over the slats of your vents as part of your regular vacuuming routine.

Refrigerator Coils

Refrigerator coils (also called condenser coils) play an important role in helping to keep your refrigerator cool. Coils can be found in the back, top, or bottom of your refrigerator. When the coils get clogged with dust, dirt, and clumps of pet hair, they force your refrigerator to work overtime. This adds unnecessary strain on your refrigerator. Goodhousekeeping.com suggests vacuuming the coils each season. Always unplug your refrigerator first and consult your user manual for safety and cleaning suggestions.

Window Blinds

Window blinds come in an array of materials, styles, and designs, but they all share one thing in common: they love to collect dust. While regularly running a microfiber cloth or soft cloth is the best way to clean minor dust buildup, Bobvilla.com suggests using a small brush attachment to tackle heavier dust. For best results, go over the blinds in the direction of the slats on the lightest setting to avoid damaging delicate slats.

Brooms

Using a dirty broom to sweep your floors is counterproductive. Before putting your broom to use, run the nozzle of your vacuum over the bristles to remove stuck-on dirt and hair.

The Dangers of Fragrance in Cleaners

If you happen to see a commercial for a traditional cleaner on television, you’ll notice that many of the products that are being sold have a pine tree scent, or smell like fresh lemons, or whatever else they think will help sell their product. But, what are you actually getting with these added fragrances in traditional cleaners? According to this article from Destination Green, what you may be getting is some potentially serious health problems.

The Fragrance Factor in Cleaning Chemicals

From a News Story Released in 2013

Many Green chemical manufacturers now remove fragrances from their products, according to Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and long considered “the father of Green Cleaning.”

“There is a very real reason for this. For some people, the fragrance found in these and other products can be as problematic to health as secondhand smoke.”

However, Ashkin says it is not necessarily the fragrance that may produce adverse health impacts. “Instead, it is often because some of these product fragrances have been produced from petroleum or made from ingredients such as acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate, and limonene, all of which can harm human health.”

Public health officials report there are four categories of health effects due to fragrances. These are:

1. Respiratory, including allergic asthma, nonallergic asthma, and reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS)

2. Neurological, which includes headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness, and confusion

3. Skin irritation

4. Eye irritation, tearing, and inflammation

Adverse reactions to fragrances also cost the U.S. economy more than $25 billion annually in absenteeism due to illness as well as reduced worker productivity.*

Because of this, Ashkin suggests the following steps that employers can take to help reduce the amount of fragrances found in the workplace:

· Select fabrics, upholstery, and carpets that have reduced “off-gassing” levels, and install them on the weekend, allowing time for off-gassing to dissipate.

· Strongly recommend that employees refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes.

· Limit the use of some automatic air fresheners; increase air ventilation in restrooms and foodservice areas.

· Use office air purifiers.

· Have indoor air regularly tested by an industrial hygiene professional.

· Create scent-free zones and meeting rooms.

· Educate all staffers about why exposure to scented products can be a problem.

· Select Green Cleaning chemicals; most are fragrance free.

“And take fragrance complaints seriously, even if just from one office worker,” adds Ashkin. “It is more likely than not that many others are also being impacted.”

Green Up Your 4th

Today is the 4th of July, the United States’ Independence Day! Like most people, I will most likely spend most of my day eating and drinking at a barbecue awaiting this evening’s fireworks display. If you happen to be like me, and are either planning on attending or hosting a barbecue this 4th, then check out this article from Earth 911, which gives several tips on how to have a more green Independence Day. Enjoy your holiday weekend, and…….Happy Birthday ‘Merica!

8 Ways to Green 4th of July

The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Summer’s hottest holiday will no doubt call for backyard barbecuing, fireworks and maybe even a dip in the pool.

Here’s how to throw a little green into your mix of red, white and blue.

1. DITCH THE DISPOSABLE PARTY WARE

They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side; they’re not so convenient for the environment.

To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.

We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.

The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.

2. GET OUTSIDE!

The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.

Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.

3. USE PROPANE FOR GRILLING

Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?

We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…

According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.

ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.

4. SAVE (AND REUSE) YOUR DECORATIONS

If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.

Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.

5. OPT FOR GREENER FIREWORKS

Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.

Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.

6. GATHER IN GROUPS

This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!

7. USE LARGE WATER CONTAINERS

Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.

8. DON’T FORGET TO RECYCLE

One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.

If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.

If you’re unsure about recycling specific materials in your area, we’ve got you covered. Use Earth911 to find local recycling centers for your common party waste, such as plastic bottlesaluminum cans and glass bottles.

Rid Your Home of Fruit Flies

blog-fruit fliesSummer is a time when delicious fresh fruits and vegetable are plentiful. Unfortunately, fruit flies are also plentiful during this time of year, and they want those fruits and veggies. The problem with fruit flies is, once you have one or two in your home, you know it’s going to turn into a swarm in no time. So, how can you rid your home of these pesky insects without having to use any chemical deterrent?

Well, the first step to ridding your home of any fruit flies, is to not give the flies any reason to enter your home in the first place. By making sure the flies aren’t being attracted by any exposed fruit, vegetables, or meat is how you can avoid these little buggers all together. Here are a few things you can do to make sure the flies don’t come in.

1. Cover or refrigerate your fruits and vegetables.

2. Don’t keep any meat, vegetable, or fruit scraps in your indoor garbage.

3. Be sure to wash all of your dishes and rinse out the sink and drains.

4. Check your windows and screen for cracks or holes.

Of course, if you happen to already have fruit flies in your home, it’s time to make a good old-fashioned fruit fly trap. Making the trap is actually quite easy and not at all time consuming.

To make your own fly trap, all you need are the following things:

1. Cup or jar.

2. Plastic wrap.

3. Cider vinegar, red wine, stale bourbon, orange juice……these are all fine.

4. A few slices or pieces of ripe fruit.

5. Rubber band and a toothpick.

The steps are simple: Pour a little bit of your liquid into the cup/jar, add your pieces of fruit. Cover cup/jar with the plastic wrap and secure with the rubber band. Finally, poke a few holes in the plastic with the toothpick. The flies should fly in but not out. (You can also try adding a drop or two of dish detergent, to help capture the flies in the liquid.)

And there you have it, some simple tips to help you rid your home of fruit flies this summer.