Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simple Green Switcheroos


Unlike what many greenwashing campaigns may try and convince you, many green changes are easier, less expensive, and less time-consuming than the traditional methods they replace.

Some of these I've implemented include:
  • Instead of plug-ins and other airfresheners, try essential oil.  We use essential oil in a diffuser - the boyfriend loves this so much, he bought his own diffuser and oil for manland (aka his basement domain). Putting a drop or two of oil on a q-tip and putting it in the toilet paper roll works to freshen the bathroom for days.
  • Instead of dryer sheets or fabric softener, try nothing (my preference), or add vinegar to the rinse cycle
  • Instead of buying rinse aid, use vinegar in your dishwasher dispenser.
  • Instead of buying dish washer detergent, make your own with washing soda and borax. Add some unsweetened, lemon drink mix if you have hard water.
  • Instead of bottled water, filter your own and bring a reusable bottle with you. Just think, no more lugging home heavy packs of bottled water each week. Less items for recycling and think of the savings! I prefer stainless as my bottle of choice.
  • Instead of stopping for your morning cup of joe on the way to work, brew your own and take a travel mug and thermos with you.
  • Instead of pricey facewash, try plain ole soap - this was a tough one for me until I tried it with Trader Joe's oatmeal soap. Now it's enjoyable, most of the time at least.
  • Instead of lotion, try coconut or another oil. Coconut oil feels and smells great and is much cheaper than pricey organic, nontoxic brands. Coconut oil is great for a lot of other uses too.
  • Make your own cleaners! Here's one to get you started: instead of all-purpose cleaner, use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. If you hate the smell of vinegar try adding a few drops of essential oil. I added some lemongrass last time I cleaned and not only did it mask most of the vinegar smell, but after the vinegar smell faded, the lemongrass remained and it smelled de-lish.
  • Instead of tossing your food scraps and yard waste, compost them! Composting turns your waste into nutrients soil needs and can be as simple as a pile in the corner of your yard.
  • Lighten your yardwork load. Save money, time and the planet by letting mother nature take care of your garden. Switch regular pesticides for organic ones and use only as critical. Use your newly created compost instead of toxic fertilizer and stop watering your grass. Purchase plants suited to your unique growing conditions and water only to get plants established and when critically needed.
  •  Replace disposable menstrual products with reusable ones. I'm a fan of the DIVA cup.
What simple green changes have you tried?


  1. What is the difference between washing soda and, baking soda?

  2. I have done all those things at our home and it has all been for the better. We recently had an environmental inspection at our farm and when I was showing her around and she was asking about different chemicals, cleaners etc and I kept telling her I make all my own things and I don't use chemicals for anything, she was amazed. We had a lengthy conversation on the subject and she was surprised at how easy it is to replace things with non-toxic, homemade versions. I am proud of the efforts we have made at our house and that my boys think it's totally normal and can not fathom how people spend so much money on unnecessary things every month.
    Keep in mind, this was a gradual process for me (probably over the course of a year) and I started out as the queen of chemicals. Anyone can do this stuff!

    1. My phasing-in took way longer than a year, but I agree using simple items to clean instead of toxic chemicals is best. And what a boon to your boys, to know about this little secret from the start!

  3. I have done a few easy green things:
    * Use Dr. Bronner's instead of shampoo and vinegar/water mix instead of conditioner. Of course the vinegar doesn't get your hair nice and gooey like conditioner, but somehow my hair is still easy to brush and still gets soft when it dries.
    * Use re-usable bags instead of paper or plastic. Once I learned to remember to bring the bags to my car, then to store, then to actually pull them out at the check-out line, this became easy.
    * No fertilizers, no pesticides, and very little watering. If things won't grow in my yard naturally, I pick something else. Obviously, I mostly go native.
    * Combine trips.
    * Walk when possible instead of driving. Exploring the stores within walking distance, I learned that Staples is a good place to look for a lot of things where I used to try Walmart or Best Buy first. And free exercise.
    * Bicycling to work. I found that I really missed reading (which I do on the bus), so this one didn't stick.
    * Buy used. Many things are just as easy to buy used as new (especially if you don't like the current styles).

    1. Good tips! I use reusable bags about oh, 40% of the time.

  4. @Betty, washing soda is a slightly different chemical than baking soda. If your store has it, it's usually next to the laundry detergents in a much bigger box than you usually find baking soda in, usually by Arm and Hammer.

    I've also read that you can make your own washing soda.

    1. Thanks Debbie, you beat me to it! :)

  5. Vinegar is the most miraculous thing ever. It is insane how many things it can replace and replace better than the chemical-laden expensive alternative.

    We regularly use it as a rinse aid in our dishwasher and whenever our clothes washer starts getting musty. (Or worse... we leave the clothes in the washer and the clothes get musty... wash again with plenty of white vinegar!)

  6. I got a diffuser (I think) for Christmas. (A small bottle of oil and some wooden sticks.) I'm embarrassed to admit this, but how do you use it? Just put the stick in the oil and leave it there? Dip it in and then set it out? Help!

    1. Kandice - Yes, it sounds like you got a reed diffuser in which case you stick the sticks in and leave them there. I use a ceramic diffuser with a tealight candle in the bottom.

      Not to poo-poo your gift, but unless you received essential oils, there could still be toxic chemicals in the oil. Not everyone worries about that, and I didn't either until I tried essential oils and found out they smell just as good as the candles, etc. I was buying. I still use perfume though, so I haven't kicked the artificial fragrance habit entirely.


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