Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Spring!

Hope everyone enjoys this first weekend in spring!  Here are some interesting articles/links:

A wonderful study by Mother Jones on the toxicity of BPA-free plastic.

More reasons to avoid Keurig and single-brew coffee pods.

How to green your spring cleaning.

5 spring gardening tips. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Green your laundry routine

What is clean supposed to smell like?

For most of my life, clean meant synthetic fragrances like "Mountain Fresh" or "Spring Rain."  Fragrances that lasted a long, long time and were pretty strong.  I became sensitized to them.  Two dryer sheets must be better than one!

Now, clean just smells like clean.

Instead of dryer sheets...

The synthetic fragrances in dryer sheets are overwhelming.  And potentially toxic.  A University of Washington study found that a total of 25 volatile organic compounds, two of which are highly carcinogenic, were released from a dryer vent in which synthetic dryer sheets were used.  And what else are most dryer sheets coated in?  Tallow, or animal fat.  Why don't these ingredients have to be listed on the label? Because they are protected as "trade secrets" of the companies that make them.

...try dryer balls

So how can you make your clothes less static-y?  Personally, I use wool dryer balls, and they're great!  Not only do they cut down on static, they cut down on drying time.  Etsy has many good options, but my favorite are the ones from Bog Berry.  If you still miss the fragrance from the dryer sheets (but not the toxicity), then you can put a few drops of essential oil on your dryer balls before you thrown them in the dryer.

Another benefit to not using dryer sheets is less waste.  Most dryer sheets are not biodegradable, and contribute to landfill waste and pollution in our environment.

Instead of detergent in a plastic bottle...

Detergents also have a slew of synthetic fragrances, and even the "fragrance free" versions aren't innocent.  See articles here, here and here 

(Personal sidenote about fragrances: While going through old clothes, I found some that I haven't worn in over a year, and I wanted to wash them before donating.  When they were in the wash, the whole laundry room stunk from the detergent I had washed them with MORE THAN A YEAR AND A HALF AGO).

...try soap nuts

My favorite detergent is not a detergent, it's a berry!  Soap nuts (which are berries, not nuts) contain natural saponin, which works to break the surface tension of water and clean your clothes. (Here's where I get mine) There is no plastic packaging, which is another benefit.

How do you use them?

1. Throw 4-5 soap nuts in the little cloth bag that comes with your box of soap nuts.

2. Put it in with your laundry.

3. When you take your laundry out of the wash, take out the little bag (don't worry if you accidentally throw it in the dryer, it won't hurt anything!), and reuse the soap nuts up to 10 times.  It's pretty easy to tell when the soap nuts are used up, they are dry looking, and shriveled, and no longer have the faint "fruity" smell that they do in the beginning.

4. When the soap nuts are used up, throw them in the compost.

Instead of chlorine bleach...

This is more about the plastic for me.  At household concentrations, bleach is generally considered safe. (Though you should make sure never to mix it with ammonia or vinegar!)  But in an effort to create less waste, I have found another solution to keeping our whites white.

...try lemons

I squeeze one lemon into a load of whites, and let it soak in the washing machine on hot or warm water for 30 minutes to an hour.  Afterwards, I wash normally.  This has worked well for us, and keeps all of our whites looking how they should.