Not to go on and on, but I'm still hoping for more emails of support for my meeting with Representative Nadler on Friday. As you know, I will be asking him to help steer the country towards meaningful climate policy. Click here for details and to see how you can help. Now, onwards...
Here's a no-brainer: One way to stay healthy is to stay away from poison.
For years environmentalists worried about the effect on aquatic wildlife and our drinking water of the toxins that go down our drains in the form of household products. The funny thing is, no one spoke much about the fact that if it was poison to the fish who swam in the tainted water, it was probably poison to the people who used them, too--another no-brainer.
Well, there was a story in the New York Times on Thursday about how Women's Voices for the Earth is both publicizing the health concerns of using conventional cleaners and promoting a way around using them. Women's Voices is organizing house parties all over the country to teach people how to homemake cleaners from products like Borax, baking soda, Dr. Brommer's and vinegar.
You can read about how certain chemicals in common cleaning products have been associated with increased prevalence of asthma, exacerbations of asthma symptoms, and respiratory ailments here. You can also read about how chemicals used in common cleaning products have been associated with reproductive harm such as alterations in sexual behavior, decreases in fertility, menstrual changes, changes in the onset of puberty, cancers of reproductive organs, miscarriage, premature birth and other effects here.
There are, of course, "green" brands on the market but Women's Voices' rationale is: Why pay $5 for a bottle of cleaner from a "green" brand that won't tell you the ingredients when you can make your own for pennies and now exactly what's in it (if you're a business person trying to be eco, you now see why transparency is important).
As you may know, we began making our own household products during the No Impact project, both to avoid the toxicity to both people and the environment but also to avoid buying the same throwaway plastic bottles over and over again. You can find my recipes here and here, but I thought it would be fun to list Women's Voices' recipes.
suggested uses: hard surfaces like countertops and kitchen floors, windows and mirrors
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 or more drops of essential oil (optional)
Tip: Warming in microwave until barely hot will boost cleaning power for tough jobs. Only microwave in a glass container.
Creamy Soft Scrub
suggested uses: Use this creamy soft scrub on kitchen counters, stoves, bathroom sinks, etc.
2 cups baking soda
½ cup liquid castile soap*
4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (acts as a preservative)
5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, rosemary or any scent you prefer (optional)
Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar, shelf life of 2 years.
Tips: For exceptionally tough jobs spray with vinegar first—full strength or diluted, scented—let sit and follow with scrub.
Dry soft scrubs can be made with baking soda or salt (or combination of both) with 10-15 drops essential oil to scent
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
20-30 drops lemon essential oil
Shake well before using
(2 teaspoons lemon juice may be substituted for lemon oil but then must be stored in refrigerator)
Dip a clean, dry cloth into the polish and rub wood in the direction of the grain. Use a soft brush to work the polish into corners or tight places.
Tips: To remove water spots rub well with toothpaste. To remove scratches use 1 part lemon juice and 1 part oil, rub with soft cloth.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, drizzle with vinegar, let soak for at least 30 minutes and scrub with toilet brush.
Put ¼ cup borax in toilet bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Swish with a toilet brush and then scrub. A few drops of pine oil can be added for increased disinfecting. (Note: some people are allergic to pine oil.)
Tip: Let ingredients soak for a while to make for easy scrubbing, especially on persistent stains like toilet bowl rings
½ cup baking soda
½ cup vinegar
Pour baking soda down the drain and follow with vinegar. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Flush with boiling water.
Tip: Prevent your shower form clogging by using a drain trap to catch hairs.
1 cup soap flakes
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
Soap flakes can be made by grating your favorite pure vegetable soap with a cheese grater. Mix ingredients together and store in a glass container. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavily soiled laundry), wash in warm or cold water.
This standard recipe can be adjusted for soft water by using 1 cup soap flakes, 1/4 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. For hard water, use 1 cup soap flakes, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax.
Note: Borax should not be ingested.
Tips: Add 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to rinse as a fabric softener. For a whitener, use hydrogen peroxide rather than bleach. Soak your dingy white clothes for 30 minutes in the washer with 1/2 cup 20% peroxide. Launder as usual.
For more great recipes, visit
Image courtesy of the New York Times.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.