Tag Archives: green cleaning

How to Be Green

How to be green

Being green seems like a big deal to many people… too hard, requires giving up too much, just in general an awful thing. It doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of things you can do to be green, big and small. Just how far you commit is up to you. Here are some ideas that may help you learn how to be green.

Rethink Your Food

Not every eco friendly family goes vegan or even vegetarian. You can improve your food in other ways if that’s what you’d like. There are healthier and more eco friendly ways to buy meat than buying factory farmed meats, for example. You can also pay attention to the sources of your produce, going for organic at least on some of your foods, if not elsewhere.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is cut way back on processed foods. Eat more foods that you’ve cooked yourself, so you can avoid high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and so forth. They’ll generally be better for you, especially if you cut back on sugary foods.

Simplify the Easy Stuff

A big part of being green is simplifying. Cut back on the stuff you buy, and you’re doing better by the environment.

You don’t have to simplify everything. Look at what you can do easily first, and what will work for you. Not everyone can take mass transit of whatever sort to work, for example. Your family may need two vehicles. Don’t feel bad that you can’t cut back in some areas. Look at where you can.

Lightbulbs, for example. CFLs are more efficient than traditional lightbulbs, and will save you money in the long run. You could also switch from paper napkins and towels to cloth. The difference in laundry is pretty small, in my experience, but the difference in waste is clear.

Buy a Houseplant

Houseplants are wonderful for your indoor air quality, plus they look nice. Pick something that grows well indoors and find a place where you’ll remember to take care of it. I love my orchids.

Plant a Garden

Vegetable garden, flower garden, doesn’t matter. Vegetable gardens are wonderful because you have control over the pesticides and fertilizers you expose them to. Flower gardens can be great for the bees in your area. I particularly like wildflowers for that.

Rethink Your Lawn

A big, green lawn is appealing to most people, but it’s also hugely wasteful in many ways. Lawns use up a lot of water, and have to be mowed regularly. For most people, mowing involves either gas or electricity, but you can consider a simple push reel mower. You can also reconsider the fertilizers and weed control you use on your lawn. Runoff from lawns can be an issue downstream.

But a lawn isn’t your only option for an attractive yard. You can xeriscape, often quite attractively. You can replace parts or all of your lawn with other plants that require less care. You can add a tree to your yard, which can increase the shade in your yard so it may need less water, and if it’s close enough to your house, may help keep it cooler in summer too.


If you can spare the space, composting is a wonderful way to limit the food waste you throw in the trash. From the traditional compost bin to bokashi composting, there are options to go in many different spaces and situations. Best of all, compost goes wonderfully with your garden.

Rethink Your Cleaning Supplies

There are all kinds of chemicals you may be using to clean your home. Many of them can be changed for more eco friendly options. You can buy green cleaners at the store (beware of greenwashing – not all are what they seem!) or learn to use simple ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda for different cleaning jobs.

Look For Secondhand Items

There are all kinds of ways to find secondhand items. Thrift stores, garage sales, family, Freecycle, Craigslist… the list goes on. Some of it will be in great condition still, and you’ll save money. The selection can be rather random, of course.

Family is great if you have kids of the right age. My sisters and I have handed down clothes from child to child for years, and I can’t begin to figure out how much that has saved us.

Do It Your Way

None of these are absolute musts to live a greener lifestyle. You may find other changes easier to make than these. Just keep the general concepts of making your life simpler and using fewer resources when you can in mind, and that’s a start.

7 Ways to Live in a Greener and Cleaner Home

One of the best ways to live a more eco friendly lifestyle is to get rid of toxins in your home. The fewer toxins you use, the fewer get into the environment. It’s great for you and your children too. Best of all, a greener and cleaner home doesn’t have to cost a lot.

7 Ways to Live in a Greener and Cleaner Home1. Avoid pesticide use

Pesticides don’t just kill bugs and rodents. They’re not good for your kids or the environment in general. I know very well how nice it is to have a great looking yard and home, but there are alternatives to pesticides.

Indoors, keeping things clean will take care of most pests. They don’t stay where there’s no food for them. Ants may be discouraged by spraying white vinegar to remove their scent trail or by placing bay leaves or cloves near where they come in. Yeast mixed with sugar and molasses can be used to kill ants. A fly trap with a couple inches of apple cider vinegar and a quarter teaspoon of sugar can catch and kill flies.

Mice can be more difficult to handle. A cat can do the job pretty well if you’re up for a pet. Traps also work, and there are humane traps for those who don’t want to deal with dead or injured mice. I don’t like glue traps, however, as the mouse can suffer quite a bit on those, as they may injure themselves trying to get free. There are also plug in repellers you can try.

2. Open the windows

This may not work all year, but when you can, open your windows for a while. In summer, we wait until evening or even after sunset, when the air flow is really nice to have. Not only does this help to clear the air in your home, it may even help cool it if you choose the times right. You might be able to run your air conditioner less if you learn to appreciate your evening breezes during warm weather. No need for air fresheners with questionable ingredients.

3. Grow indoor plants

Indoor plants make your home look nice and help clean the air inside your home. I like my orchids, but there are plenty of other wonderful houseplants you can choose.

4. Use less plastic

In general, plastic isn’t good for you. Many types can release toxins over time. Use it as little as possible. There are plenty of alternatives, such as stainless steel water bottles rather than plastic ones, and glass or ceramic dishes rather than plastic.

That said, there’s only so much you can do sometimes to avoid plastic. Just keep it down as much as possible.

5. Avoid convenience foods

Most convenience foods really aren’t that good for you and your family, containing many additives and preservatives. Try to cook for your family when you can. It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy.

You can make this easier by preparing some ingredients in advance. Some vegetables will stay good even after being chopped for a few days, which is helpful if you have limited time for food preparation. It also makes them more available for snacks if you prepare ones your family enjoys. That would be bell peppers for my youngest, for example.

Try to eat more organic foods when you can. At the very least, be aware of the “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that tend to be the most contaminated by pesticides. These are the most important ones to try to buy organic rather than conventionally grown.

6. Clean with nontoxic products

Cleaning supplies can release a lot of toxins in your home. Fortunately, it’s easy to clean with much safer products. Baking soda and vinegar will clean many surfaces, either on their own or mixed together. I also like citric acid for cleaning.

Steam cleaning works well also. We use a steam mop on our tile floors rather than your standard cleaning chemicals. Our current one is a Eureka Enviro steam mop, and it does a great job using only water. One of these days I’d love to get a more general purpose steamer for other surfaces.

7. Reconsider your personal care products

So many personal care products are filled with chemicals you really don’t want your skin to absorb. If you want to avoid toxins, it’s better to use simpler products. I like the no-poo method of washing my hair, for example.

A good resource is the Skin Deep database. They review a wide range of personal care products and rate them for safety. Care2 offers some good tips on ingredients to avoid.

How to Quit Using Paper Towels

Paper towels are almost ubiquitous these days in the United States. Most families use them because they’re just so convenient! No extra laundry, just use that quicker picker upper and throw it in the trash.

Only trouble is that it’s a bit wasteful. How wasteful depends on the source of your paper towels, whether they’re made of post consumer recycled materials and so forth, but overall, they’re probably on the wasteful side of things. At the very least you have to keep buying them.

But they’re so convenient, how do you quit?

1. Warn your family

Your spouse and children are the most likely to resist the switch. It can be a bit difficult to get buy-in on getting rid of paper towels, even if you’re the main one doing the laundry.

On the other hand, my oldest was delighted to see that a microfiber cleaning cloth was indeed as good at absorbing water as the one on the commercial. Made paper towels a bit less interesting.

2. Pick other cleaning cloths

You have a few options for other cleaning cloths. The most eco friendly is to use rags made of cloths you’d be throwing out otherwise. Think of bath towels that have gone bad and are ready to be torn into smaller pieces. Think of t-shirts with holes that really shouldn’t be worn anymore.

These are great, eco friendly and really kind to the budget.

But if you’d rather buy something, microfiber cleaning cloths are popular with good reason. They do an amazingly good job, and good quality ones last a long time.

They’re made of synthetic materials, so they aren’t perfectly environmentally friendly, but the good ones last very well and are strong enough to help you get surfaces clean even without conventional cleaners. I use vinegar and/or baking soda for much of my cleaning, and those products get along great with my microfiber cloths.

Microfiber cleaning cloths are soft, but are textured well enough to scrub. They can absorb a nice amount of liquid, so one cloth can go pretty far when you’re cleaning.

3. Finish off, store or give away your remaining paper towels

You have the paper towels, you may as well use them. You have a few options for what exactly you’re going to do with them.

You could just finish off what you have, trying to slow down their use rather than making the family go cold turkey on paper towel use.

If you have an emergency kit, you could put the rolls in there. You will need such convenient supplies if you ever have the sort of emergency where you need to use an emergency kit, so having paper towels in there is really not a bad thing.

You could also give your excess paper towels away. Just tell the people you’re giving them to what you’re up to. They might want to follow along eventually.

Greener Cleaning Supplies

Finding environmentally friendly cleaning supplies has become much easier of late. Brands such as Method and Seventh Generation are available in many areas, and sometimes even in big box stores like Target. It’s pretty nice.

cleaning supplies

Method’s products are pretty nice. I use their wood floor cleaner and it does a good job. And like their other products, it’s biodegradable and non-toxic. The packaging is nice and simple, and the products are affordable. Very nice for a stay at home mom’s budget.

I haven’t yet tried Seventh Generation’s products, although I’ve spotted them in my area. Heard plenty of wonderful things about them. I fully intend to give them a try one of these days, though.

There are two main reasons why I haven’t used a lot of these products. Number one is simply that I haven’t run out of my old, nasty chemical cleaners. Much as I dislike them, I can’t see just throwing them away too. So when I need a little extra cleaning power I drag them out.

My supply of those is slowly running down. We had a lot because when we moved here a bit over two years ago we had two different people give us very complete housecleaning kits.

But my main cleaning supplies are baking soda and vinegar. I do a lot with these. My husband thinks I’m kind of nuts, but he at least did understand when I pointed out that the large bottles of vinegar at the grocery store were just a tiny bit more than the regular size bottles. He struggles with the green side of things, but tell him I’m saving money and he’s fine.

For laundry I have my eye on Bi-O-Kleen. It would mean retraining my husband on the quantity required, since it takes about 2 tablespoons for top loading washing machines, but that also means a smaller box does a whole lotta laundry. Since my son is going through one of those “leak through the diapers each and every night” phases, a greener laundry detergent would me most welcome.

All in all, I’m enjoying my steady switch over to greener cleaning. It takes some time, but I like my combination of using environmentally friendly cleaners now and eventually using up the chemicals rather than just throwing them out.