Monthly Archives: September 2007

Homemade Stain Removal

My daughter and I went through her clothes yesterday because my inlaws got her a bunch of new clothes and some of what she has is looking a trifle worse for wear, if you get my drift. The kind of stuff that happens when clothing is worn by a highly imaginative and active 5 year old.

She’s quite typical for her age in some ways. Very reluctant to get rid of any of the old clothes. The shirt in the very worst condition that she of course adores I showed her the exact problems, and she finally agreed that it didn’t look too good.

But we still had a lot of clothes that she doesn’t want to get rid of, but have obvious stains. So today I’m going to have her help me work on stain removal.

I’ve been looking around for good homemade stain removal options. The one I’m thinking on is a very simple recipe:

1 squirt dishwashing liquid
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 quart water

Mix and store in a squirt bottle. Spray on stains and allow to sit for a half hour or more before washing as usual.

Hopefully this will help to revive some of my daughter’s favorite clothes. One shirt was stained on its first wearing, so I really want to get it looking good again.

I just love doing this with products that are safe enough that the kids can participate. It’s good for children to learn how to do basic household chores from early on.

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What Do You Do When You Can’t Avoid Plastic?

I hate buying plastic, but sometimes it’s really hard to avoid. But at the very least you should make sure to do the best you can when you can’t avoid buying something plastic.

Reusing is of course the first option. I was pretty delighted the other day when I found out plastic #6 is the same as the Shrinkydinks I did as a kid. I’ve found little bits of it around the house (little cup that came with liquid Nyquil), but haven’t tried using it yet. Now I know what to use it for when I’m stuck with it. Why throw it away immediately when it could be so much fun?

And of course you may be able to come up with other ideas for other kinds of plastic.

You can come up with uses for other kinds of plastic too. Some can be reused for the same job they were bought for originally. Squirt bottles, for example. If they once had cleaning chemicals you do have to be careful about how you clean them and what you reuse them for, but generally they’re good for a long time.

Other times recycling is your one choice. Here, of course, the key is to remember to actually do it and to know what is recyclable in your area. If you’re stuck buying plastic, odds are that you don’t have a choice about which variety, but do the best you can. They only recycle plastics #1 and #2 in my area, which is quite a pain.

While avoidance of plastic is best, some products pretty much only come in plastic containers. Think about yogurt? Do you ever see it in anything other than plastic? There’s a good read on plastic yogurt containers over at Green Options today. It actually makes good sense for the manufacturers to use it, compared to other potentially suitable plastics. And of course there are a lot of other places in life where plastic is just about unavoidable. It’s pretty much a fact of modern life.

The trick, as always is to remember the rules of reduce, reuse and recycle. Don’t buy plastic products if you have to, reuse plastic when it’s reasonable to do so, and educate yourself on how to recycle it in your area. I don’t know that anyone can really cut it out entirely these days, but you can limit how much you use.

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National Public Lands Day

I love the idea of this and wish I could take part, but it’s definitely the wrong time for me. National Public Lands Day takes place the last Saturday of every September. For me, the lack of participation comes down to other obligations and lack of transportation.

The other obligation amounts to dog-sitting my mother’s dog, a complete stress case if she’s left alone. The dog is a complete sweetheart, but is so distressed when left alone that she gets destructive.

The lack of transportation comes down to the usual thing of being in a one-car family. There are a lot of things I can’t easily do.

But for those of you who can, this is a really great idea. Participants go and help care for our public lands. From the site:

Volunteers will build bridges and trails, improve habitat for wildlife, plant trees, remove invasive plants that threaten fragile natives, protected natural, historic and cultural resources—and much more. Volunteers will work in parks and forests, at rivers, lakes, and wetlands, at cultural and historic sites and in their own neighborhoods.

There are a lot of opportunities to participate here in California, including some which would in other years be reasonable for me to participate in, which doesn’t really come as a surprise. Big state with plenty of public lands.

Anyone planning on participating?

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What Are You Using Too Much Of?

Most of us have some habits we aren’t too proud of in an environmental sense. It may be that you feel you aren’t doing enough recycling, reusing, that you use too much electricity, that you shop too much, etc. But whether you’re light green or dark green you can keep working on those habits.

Shopping is the one I suspect is one of the most common bad habits have even when they mean to be environmentally friendly. We’re in a very consumeristic culture, and giving up those habits can be difficult. It can be of mixed benefit, such as green consumerism helping to drive the production of more green products while still encouraging people to buy things they don’t exactly need.

Along those lines, one of the more difficult habits to pick up can be buying and using reusable bags for your shopping. This can be made more difficult by the fact that many store employees aren’t used to people using such bags, and so they can sometimes bag items anyhow for you, or even throw out the rejected bag.

Batteries are another topic near and dear to me, as a mother of two children who are all too fond of electronic toys. Rechargeable batteries are quite a delight once you get past the initial investment. They’re a huge savings overall.

Another tough area can be cutting the paper napkin and paper towel habit. Some people may include paper plates into this mix of hard habits to break, but for me it’s the paper towels. When you have small children it just feels so convenient to use a paper towel for the chronic small spills. But my paper plate use is down to when there are just more people around than I own dishes for, which I figure can’t be too bad.

Repairing broken electronics rather than simply replacing them can be quite a tough decision. It makes more sense environmentally, but with the current low costs of electronics and high costs of repair I can see where many people feel that it is not worthwhile. However there are things to do other than just throw out old electronics. Some places will take them as donations, for example. You can also search online for repair tips when something breaks down.

Similarly, take proper care of your electronics and your car. Clean them and keep up with any maintenence required. If it’s worth it to you, even consider buying a service contract when you buy electronics. Sometimes it will be worth it (mine on my computer certainly has been), but other times you’ll have to decide if it will pay for itself in terms of how often the item will need repair during the contract term.

Cutting down on how much you consume is a big part of being more environmentally friendly.Sometimes it’s not the most comfortable thing to do, but you can build up good habits over time.

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