Ready, Set, Green: My Eight-Week Journey To A Greener, Guilt-Free Me

Ahhhh, relief. After three weeks of chagrin as I am reading my way through Ready, Set, Green and have realized I have some pretty intractable non-green habits, i.e. meat and plastic, Chapter 5's "Greening Up Your Act: Cleaning and Interior Decor" feels like a lot of fun. I am happy to report that I no longer have any conventional household cleaners in my house. So I can whip through Meaghan O'Neill and Graham Hill's "Save The Planet" tips in this chapter with no sweat. Switch to Earth-friendly cleaners, already done. Crack the windows when cleaning, no problem. Vinegar and water in spray bottle, been there done that.

Vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner's
Two things helped me in my attempts. My cleaning bible Better Basics For The Home by Annie Berthold-Bond, and my collection of different sized spray bottles. Also the common trio of vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner's together cover nearly all of my cleaning needs. Vinegar is the best cold-water laundry booster I've found in the absence of bleach of any kind here in Sweden, (new tip!) and pressing cornstarch into grease stains in clothing and letting them sit overnight before washing is showing pretty good success. So, no suspicious bottles under my sink...or so I thought, until I came upon troubling news about dioxane in my dependable Ecover dishwashing liquid.Though Ecover took a lot of the initial heat, Seventh Generation and others are also not immune from the dioxane controversy. In spite of Ecover's reassurances, my gut feeling is now to switch to something else. Dr. Bronner's hasn't worked for dishes for me in the past, I felt there was a bit of a residue left. But I am determined to try again - using just a drop in the dishpan - and trying to get over my need for lots o' suds. If I can find washing soda locally, perhaps I'll try to make my own. Any good (easy!) suggested recipes? Maggie's Soap Nuts are also in my future.

Also, in going through the extended tips, I had to go down to the basement where there lurks a cache of paint cans (albeit eco-labeled) and a few bottles of toxic-looking thinners and other clear liquids. As always, the green path really is a process, doing a bit here and there and trying not to be discouraged that you can't seem to get squeaky green overnight. So I loaded up the crustiest paint cans to the local large recycling center, left the scary bottles for another day and made a resolution I hope to keep - my next painting project, our stairway - will be an experiment with milk-based paints.

Coming next: Traveling Light: Transportation.

More "Eight Weeks" entries
Ready, Set, Green: My Eight-Week Journey To A Greener, Guilt-Free Me
Chapters 1-3
Chapter 4