Strangely, it feels more like New Year’s Day than the day after a typical election. After months of momentum and drama — of proving how much can be accomplished when people work together and believe — it seems strangely slow and quiet, almost like a hangover after the big party. We’ve achieved something of a new start. How shall we honor it and continue the work? Obama called out, “Yes we can!” in his acceptance speech — and we did, but what do we do now? Here’s what I think: If we can clean the White House of its toxic leadership, don’t you think we can clean our own houses of their toxins once and for all? I don’t mean, go polish the silver or scrub the toilet bowl. I mean put your scrub brush where your politics are and get rid of the toxic cleaners that are still lingering in your home. Yes! In honor of this historic victory, go buy a gallon of white distilled vinegar and a box of baking soda! Don’t Be a Swing State We know that we most likely will not die from breathing fumes from one toxic glass cleaner or spraying a little weed killer. So it may be tempting to practice mostly green cleaning instead of truly green cleaning. You may think, “Vinegar’s fine for the floors, but give me the neon blue stuff for my windows.” But it’s important to think in terms of “exposure.” We’re not just spraying one chemical cleaner or one pesticide on any given day. In fact the average person is exposed to 100 different chemicals a day in personal care products alone! Add cleaning to that, and you get the picture. Unseat the Incumbents Just because a product has been around for a while doesn’t mean it’s safe. Only a small number of the 85,000 chemicals found in products today have ever been tested for safety. And many of those that have been tested for safety and failed are still found in products we buy. Yet, some scientists believe that toxins in household cleaning and other products are one of the big reasons why asthma and allergies are on the rise. Vote With Your Pocketbook While there is clearly a lot we don’t know, there is also enough that we do know about these toxins to limit our exposure. We already live in a world where babies are born with over 200 industrial chemicals already in their bodies and some of that comes from our cleaning products. To create some more change we can all believe in and benefit from, all it takes is a little education and making good choices. Don’t wait for some day. Take advantage of this time of historic change and make some changes yourself!
My latest conspiracy theory is that clothing companies stick the “Dry Clean Only” label on clothes because they think we’re all a little dim when it comes to doing the laundry. The label might more honestly read “Dry Clean Only Unless You Really Know How to Hand Wash.” But that label would have to be triple in size and, thus, itchiness.
You’ve probably read enough to know that dry cleaning isn’t the healthiest or greenest way to clean your clothes. The main culprit is the chemical perchlorethylene or “perc” which is used by most dry cleaners. The EPA calls perc a hazardous air pollutant and the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists it as a probable carcinogen.
The easiest, do-it-all, eco-friendly stain remover just involves cold water and a couple of towels. But, some stains call for more extreme action. Here are a few tricks.
First, it’s a good idea to keep an eco-friendly stain removal kit on hand to help you act fast. Here’s a great one:
By now we all know that hucking your old stuff into the landfill and buying shiny new “green” stuff is not the way to solve any of the planet’s perils. With clothes dryers this is especially true because the technology in new machines hasn’t improved enough for substantial energy savings. Even the EPA seems to have thrown up its hands by not including clothes dryers in its Energy Star program that certifies energy-saving products. After the refrigerator, which is on all the time, clothes dryers are the second biggest energy drain among household appliances.
You’ve chosen your eco-fashion line-up for the coming season — and that’s no small investment. Now it’s time to keep those clothes looking bright and clean for as long as possible without harming the environment. No, that doesn’t mean we should all meet at the river with our washboards. But, if we really want to reduce our impact, we do need to do things a little differently
There’s a make-your-own salad chain here in Atlanta whose tagline is “healthy as you want to be.” It’s a pretty apt slogan, because I’m sure that I’m not the only guest who’s tempted to load up on bacon, cheese, nuts and rich salad dressings.
But in these hot days, a salad is just the thing for a quick, cool and healthy dinner (as long as you nix those aforementioned bacon bits).
As I’ve mentioned before, living clean and green is more than just scrubbing and mopping with nontoxic solutions. It’s about making choices to buy products that don’t dirty the environment or maintaining what you already own so you reduce what you do buy. That means rethinking everything from light bulbs to flooring and food to sporting equipment.
I used to love those disposable dusting wipes you attach to a plastic mop. With just a few of these wipes, I could clean our floors quickly and quietly, using just one hand with the other free to juggle my daughter, my extra-needy Weimaraner, or even run a phone meeting.
OK — you’ve taken the steps to stop the uninvited clutter coming into your home and the soon-to-be clutter that you buy yourself. Great job. But your greatest challenge is before you and it’s not for the faint of heart: It’s time to reduce the clutter you already have.