Sustainable Home Cleaning and Paper Products

My own Chicken Little’s funloving, guitar wielding chicken raising Montessori teacher gave me some great handouts today from a workshop she attended on Eco-Healthy Child Care.  It goes along great with a post I’ve been meaning to make for quite some time now about making your own cleaning products using mostly essential oils, borax, baking soda and vinegar.

Now that we don’t shop for food at the grocers most of my purchases are dried goods.  It’s so much easier questioning your product choices when you only have a few items to think about!  When Chicken Little was first born I had a dedicated cleaning closet – toilet bowl cleaner, sink scrubber, floor cleaners, windex, wall cleaner – you name it. 

When he started crawling and we had to baby proof I took a good look at what I had purchased over the years.  I weeded it out and pared it down to just a few products.  Over the years I’ve tested those products against more natural products, then finally against baking soda, vinegar and sometimes even plain water.

In very few cases were incredibly toxic products like 409 that much more effective then just plain old soap and water.  In some cases baking soda outcleaned clorax products.  And the more I’ve read about disinfectants the more leary I am of them.  I do still occasionally use bleach – judiciously.  I use it mostly to sterilize cheesemaking equipment that can’t be otherwise boiled clean and I do use it to sterlize my meat cutting board.  There is evidence, however, that even bleach needs contact for at least 30 minutes before it’s effective, and even then may be less effective then a combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.

So what do I do then? I personally make my own cleaners using mostly alcohol and essential oils from recipes from a favorite website, Flutterbye Aromatics. The Oregon Environmental Council has some great simple recipes for housecleaning and so does the Washington Toxins Coalition. Last week Cheeseslave posted a great recipe for homemade laundry detergent as well.

One last point about paper products – ancient forests are being used to wipe your bottom and blow your nose. The Greenpeace website has got a list of brands of household paper products ranked by how destructive their production practices are to help you make more informed buying decisions. Don’t think your toilet paper choices make a difference in the bigger picture? Greenpeace states that “Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper – just once.”

I used to make fun of my grandmother for misering the toilet paper. Jokingly, I came out of the bathroom at her house one time and said “Grandma, I used the toilet paper.” She quipped back – “how many squares?”

I find as I become more aware of the consequences of my buying choices and consumer behavior that I’m adopting many of her same attitudes. If more of us treated our buying power as voting choices things would change. Finally – your vote counts! Make it the right one.

2 Responses to Sustainable Home Cleaning and Paper Products

  1. Love this! I am not “guitar wielding”, but I am a chicken loving (and raising) Montessori teacher. I’m not ready to make my own TP. Yet. But, I have considered it. I do buy Green Forest a lot, but I’ll have to check out that list.

  2. We love the chicken loving Montessori teachers! Funny, last summer when we grew so much corn I joked with my dh we should save the husks for toilet paper. But then I wouldn’t want to put them in my compost…it’s a little tough being country in the city, eh?

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