Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Make your 4th of July red, white, blue and GREEN

I look forward to 4th of July every year. We get together with friends and family. Have great food. Oh, and let’s not forget the homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh blue berries! Oh, my goodness! It’s like Christmas, without all the stress!

As you are planning your 4th of July, and other summer celebrations, put a little thought into adding some GREEN to your fun by reducing your waste. Here are a few tips to make your celebrations fun, waste-less, and satisfying!

1)      Think durable and reusable. Instead of going out and buying paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic utensils, and those cheap plastic table cloths that rip after one use, remake your celebration with durable and reusable goods! If you don’t want to use your good dishes, you can find some inexpensive plastic or melamine dishware and cups at many stores, with refreshing summer themes and colors. Or, better yet, check at second hand stores and garage sales for plates, utensils and cups. Pack your metal utensils along for the outing. I simply put all of my reusable goods in a plastic tote or wicker laundry basket, and we’re off. Top it off with a colorful table cloth.

2)      Rather than buying individual condiment packages, provide condiments such as mustard, ketchup, relish, and sugar in containers.

3)      If you are decorating for your gathering, use decorations that can be reused in future years. Or, consider borrowing decorations from a friend. Consider using alternatives to balloons, such as fresh-cut-flowers.

4)      Bring a bag for your own recycling. If you're spending the day somewhere that you know won't provide recycling opportunities, pack a bag for those couple of aluminum cans you and your party will empty while there.

5)      Look around for a recycling container at the event site or park. If there aren’t any, take your recyclables back home. Write a letter to event coordinators encouraging them to think about recycling next time.

6)      Offer to set out boxes or bags for recycling if you are at a friend or family member’s house, and they have forgotten to provide a container for recycling. Label the containers so you don’t end up with garbage in them.

7)      Got leftovers? Think about all of the unemployed and less fortunate individuals in our state. Oregon ranks 3rd in childhood hunger rates in the nation. So, rather than throw out your extra food, find out if one of the Community Meal sites or Food banks in your community can use the extra. Usually they can. Chances are you even have a neighbor who could really use the extra food right now.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Green Cleaners

I decided to clean out the bathroom cupboards recently. By the time I was done, I was surrounded by bottles. My husband was amused and I was irritated at the proliferation of cleaners that I found under the sink alone.

At $3.00 to $5.00 per bottle, I probably had close to $30 worth of cleaners in my bathroom alone. The one thing most of these cleaners have in common is the caustic smell that induces burning in my lungs and brings tears to my eyes. Many commercial cleaning products use ingredients that can be harmful to people and the environment.

I have found that I can save money, protect my family and the environment, and still achieve a clean home by using safe, simple ingredients to make my own non-toxic green cleaners. Here are just a couple of simple solutions for your household:

Drain Cleaner: Did you know that frequent use of caustic commercial drain cleaners can eat away your pipes? Instead, pour ½ Cup baking soda down the drain. Add ½ Cup Vinegar. Let it “fizz” for a few minutes, and then pour a tea kettle full of boiling water down the drain.

For stubborn clogs, use a plunger or mechanical snake. My plumber even recommends the baking soda and vinegar method!

All purpose cleaner: In a spray bottle, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Sodium Carbonate Washing Soda (found in the laundry section), 2 Cups of hot water, and ¼ Cup liquid vegetable soap, also known as castile soap (such as Dr. Bonner’s, found in most health food sections).

For more Green Cleaner recipes, visit and check out our recommendations for Creating a Healthy Home.