Tuesday, May 8, 2012

'green' updates

I wish there was another word for going green but since I can't think of another one right now, it's just going to have to do. :) I mentioned in this post we are starting to boost our efforts to just make our home a safer place as far as toxins are concerned.

The first thing I thought had to go was the household cleaners... no more clorox wipes, windex, pledge... I knew I was not okay having my kid around all of those yucky chemicals. So I started to make my own. And I love it - you can find so many good recipes of homemade cleaners online or on Pinterest but I still thought I'd share just a few of my favorites.

Window/Glass cleaner

50% water 
50% distilled white vinegar

Just spray onto glass. It works THE BEST out of any store bought cleaner out there. I wipe off with a cloth but leave it just a little damp, then I take a coffee filter and wipe it down once more to pick up any leftover water/vinegar as well as any lint the cloth may have left behind. (Sometimes I use this as an all-purpose cleaner if I don't have any made up)

Furniture Polish

Olive Oil with a splash of lemon juice, could also add orange oil to give it a nice smell, but not necessary

Simply mix together, pour onto cloth and wipe down furniture. A little bit goes a long way! Again, this ends up being way better then the store bought stuff. You've just got to trust me.

Drain/Disposal Cleaner

1/2 c. baking soda 
1/2 c. vinegar 
hot water

Pour baking soda down the drain and let it sit for a few minutes - add vinegar and let it foam up a bit, then pour hot water (either from the faucet or heated on the stove) down the drain. I usually run my disposal at the same time as this step

All Purpose Cleaner

2 c. water
1/2 c. distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's unscented, but I've heard really good things about the peppermint scented kind!)
3/4 c. hydrogen peroxide
20 drops tea tree oil
(optional) 20 drops lavender/lemongrass oil

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle. I use this mixture mostly on our bathroom counters, the shower and tub, the kitchen counters and cabinets, wiping down the washing machine... most everything! I've never added any essential oil but I think I'm going to need to buy some! There isn't much odor but I think it'd be nice to have it smell like lavender or lemongrass or orange or just something when I'm finished cleaning! :)

Okay and the second thing we I realized had to go was all of our body and skin care products. After reading through the list of ingredients and knowing very, very little except for ten especially toxic chemicals to watch out for - I saw that not one of our items in this department was safe. Not one! A book I really love is Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano. It's an eye-opener for sure! 

So after feeling an enormous amount of guilt for lathering my son in all of those beautifully scented baby washes and lotions and learning they weren't safe, I started with his items - and replaced it with one. Hugo's Naturals baby shampoo wash. And I can honestly tell you his hair (while being super soft before) is ridiculously soft after using this after only a week or two. He also had dry patches on his elbows and one on his leg that I would put lotion on after a bath - I don't need to do that anymore. His hair and skin is just so soft. It's amazing what our bodies can do when we give them room to do it - without lathering ourselves in unnecessary chemicals. I'm definitely open to trying other brands, this one happened to be on sale the week I decided to make the switch. He loves bubble baths, so I knew I wanted to find a safe option for that, too. I picked Yes to Baby Carrots bubble bath. I love this stuff. I've not found a diaper cream yet. Honestly, we use the stuff so rarely I'm not sure I'm going to spend more money on this just yet. I might try some coconut oil though - I hear it's possible to replace diaper cream with it. Definitely worth a shot!

We switched shampoo and conditioner to a brand called Nature's Gate (it was just on sale at Kroger). I'm not a big fan, though so I'm excited to run out of it so I can try something different! I found some Dr. Bronner's castille soap in the clearance section at Kroger a while back and bought it on a whim. Now this took some getting used to. My skin felt very dry after rinsing it off... but I knew I wanted to stick with it because my skin just needed to get used to the lack of some of the chemicals it was used to. After two weeks, I really love this stuff. I feel like my skin is so much softer! I think I'll definitely try something different whenever we run out... something with lavender or just any type of natural scent (one ingredient to stay away from is fragrance... which is in absolutely everything. So at least look for petroleum and paraben-free if fragrance is an ingredient).  

I threw out my cocoa butter lotion and replaced it with this that I use for C, too when he needs it. It doesn't have much of a smell and is just nice. 

Michael did try shaving with coconut oil and he didn't mind it. He said he would need to shave every other day as it hurts if your hair is too long and you try to use it. And it's more of a process - but his face was super soft and smelled faintly of coconuts afterward. :) He used it for about two weeks, and then after a weekend of no-shaving went back to the regular shaving cream and that's his preference. We just bought some fragrance-free Kiss My Face shaving cream - it doesn't lather the same but it was a good switch! And I just use a little conditioner when it comes to shaving my legs... it's just what's easiest for me. :)

And about my make-up. One thing I new I wanted to get rid of was my mascara. It's the only makeup I  use everyday and I always buy the really, really cheap stuff. I replaced it with this. It is definitely more expensive but as it's something I use every single day - it's worth it to know it's a safer option! Plus, they donate one tube of mascara to a cancer patient for every tube that's bought. Pretty neat. I use Bare Minerals make-up and while I haven't looked in too it in too much detail yet - I feel like it's a pretty good choice.  

We decided to use California Baby sunscreen. Last summer we bought a certain type of more natural sunscreen and that stuff was so thick and impossible to rub in. We're really happy with the California Baby kind. It's pricey ($20 for a little bottle) but we just have to tell ourselves it's worth it. 

It's hard to remember we vote with our dollars... and therefore really should be researching every company we purchase from! But sometimes that's overwhelming and I know it's something I rarely do... But it's definitely something I want to get better about. At least we're starting to make better choices with a few of our purchases. Anyway, these are just a few of the switches we've made. It's so refreshing to step into the shower and just have three bottles now that we're sharing everything (rather than the 6 or 7 we had before!) It's just incredible to see how many things aren't really a necessity. I know the organic route is not for everyone (my mom still rolls her eyes at me whenever we talk about it) but it's something we definitely feel good about ourselves with making the switch. If organic isn't your thing - you could still simplify just by sharing more instead of each person having their own shampoo and body wash. Just a thought. :)

Also, my little challenge for April about not using the dryer... our energy bill was $20 less! Not a crazy amount, but I was excited that it really did make a difference. Definitely something I'll do more often - but not all of the time.

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