“Green laundry” does not refer to what happens to your whites when you wash them with colors. Or maybe that is only my laundry. We have three people in the house (including myself) whose fave color is some shade of green or aqua. Green laundry actually means eco-friendly washing practices that emphasize biodegradability and less waste. Why is this important? Well it matters what we pour down the pipes and put against our skin and many conventional laundry products are heavy on the toxics. Laundry products are also heavy on the plastic (think huge laundry detergent tubs and bottles) and all of that goes into the waste stream. Plastics are forever you know.
For more natural and green laundry I want to highlight three alternatives…soap nuts, dryer balls, and wash balls. If you’ve never heard of these things, read on - they get the job done and they don’t harm the planet. And for those who suffer from chemical allergies or sensitivities, these natural alternatives are much safer for you.
Soap nuts are the nuts/fruit from the Chinese Soapberry Tree (Sapindus mukorossi), which grows in the mountains of India and Nepal. They may be a new idea for westerners, but these soapy nuts have been used to clean fabrics for generations of local people.
After the seeds are removed from their shells and dried in the sun (they look kinda like huge raisins), the soap nuts are ready to use in your laundry. For modern washing machines, soap nuts come packaged in a cloth bag. You put the nuts into this bag, close it, and toss the bag into your washing machine. They can be used for several more loads before you need to replace them with fresh nuts. And the used nuts can be tossed into your compost pile.
Bonus Tip: You can use the nuts to make liquid laundry soap as well, if you prefer that.
These specially-designed, rubber or wool balls, help dry your laundry and keep static down. They are said to take the place of fabric softener and/or dryer sheets, and to reduce drying time. They help to separate fabrics, keeping them from balling up into a wad in the dryer which lengthens drying time. (If you have ever had to unwind a ball of sheets/blankets in the dryer only to find it still wet in the center, you know how valuable keeping fabric separate in the dryer can be.)
Lots of people prefer dryer balls to regular fabric softeners and dryer sheets because they don’t contain fragrances and chemicals. Reduced drying time saves energy, and fewer chemicals in your laundry make dryer balls part of a green laundry.
Called laundry balls or wash balls, these make use of the cleaning power of water to wash your clothes. Say what? Yep, it works. I am a long time user. The secret is in the design and materials – the clay-based balls are housed in a permeable plastic cover. The balls react with the motion of the washing machine agitator and the water itself to produce an ionization cleaning process.
Wash balls are used instead of liquid or powder laundry detergent, and are said to last anywhere from 60 to 120 loads. Some can be used for much longer though by re-energizing them in sunlight. However, the plastic part Is also supposed to be recyclable.
Ready to try some of these products or have you already done so??
I have been using castile soap around my home for about 10 years now. I loved it then and I love it now. I use it straight up for all kinds of cleaning and I also use it as a base for several of my favorite green cleaner recipes. I like that the same product I use to scrub my toilet and wipe down my walls is the same product I use to clean my carpets and wash the dishes. I also use it in the bath, on my hair, in the garden, and on my food even. How is that for simple and easy?! The best part though is that a single bottle lasts and lasts making it a great value for the money. Here are some of my favorite ways that I have used castile soap in my home.
Uses for Castile Soap
Laundry - Use 1/4 cup for top-loading machines or an 1/8 cup for front loaders.
Dishes - Great for hand washing dishes and for dishwashers.
Homemade Fruit and Veggie Wash – Add a teaspoon to a spray bottle full of water and spray as needed. No need to buy veggie wash products in the store.
All Purpose Cleaner – Add water and perhaps some essential oils and you have a great all purpose cleaner to clean just about any surface in the house.
Soft Scrub – Add to baking soda and you have a great abrasive paste with which to scrub sinks, toilets, and tubs.
Carpet Cleaner – Add a tablespoon or two to the water container of your carpet cleaner and skip the conventional carpet cleaning detergents. Castile soap works just as well and it makes your whole home smell divine if you use a scented variety like peppermint. I also have a natural carpet cleaner recipe if you want to give that a try.
Washing wool – Use castile soap to wash and lanolize wool diaper covers and longies for cloth diapers.
Garden Pest Control - Mix 1 tablespoon of peppermint castile soap with a 1/2 gallon of water. Spray the solution on plants being eaten by insects.
Shampoo – Use a small amount of the liquid and let it lather in your hands. Apply to your hair as you would regular shampoo.
Body Wash – Add a small amount to a loofah or bath sponge and scrub a dub. Also great for a baby’s bath water!
Shaving Lubricant – Mix with a bit of water and rub onto your legs/arms/face and shave as usual. Makes your skin all slippery so that shaving is a cinch.
Dental Care – Okay, so I have not personally used castile soap for this as I have an aversion to any kind of soap in my mouth but I have heard others swear by it. A drop of Peppermint, tea-tree, or citrus on the toothbrush or a drop or two inside a rinse cup for a rinse is usually how I hear it recommended.
How do you use castile soap??
Is less really more? Actually the surprising answer is yes. At least it can be if you have the right attitude and outlook. So many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to acquire ”stuff”. They think that having more stuff somehow makes them more. They think that acquiring wealth or the things that it buys will bring them happiness and they spend most of their lives chasing that carrot when in actuality happiness is more of a choice than a destination.
My decision to stop accumulating so much stuff was based in environmental ideals. As a society we Americans use and waste way too much, more than our fair share. I decided to try and better myself by reducing the amount of waste and excess in my life. One small change lead to another, and another, and another. Soon my life was nothing at all like it had been and yet I was happier than ever. Having less brought us more happiness than tons of stuff ever did. When you have fewer items, you appreciate them more and, ultimately, those items are used more fully and add more to your life. This is the essence of the “less is more” principle.
When you have less stuff in your life, you have the potential to have more of the following:
1. Meaningful relationships - When you are not distracted by clutter and things and the latest demands being made on you, you have more time for people. Relationships are more fulfilling than inanimate objects and by choosing to live simply you find that you work harder to develop and maintain relationships.
2. Simplicity - Gadgets and toys require responsibility. First you have to trade in time (aka years of your life spent working) to be able to afford them. You also have to clean, maintain, and store all of these things – cars have to be washed and taken in for oil changes and other maintenance, electronic gadgets need to be upgraded, and toys take up space in your home. Things complicate your life.
3. Gratitude - When you can’t just throw something away and replace it with the latest, greatest thing, you develop a sense of appreciation for what you do have. You are more likely to take care of your possessions and be more selective about what you buy.
4. A clutter-free home - Your home should be your refuge, the place where you invite people or spend time alone, where you reconnect with family and relax. It can also be your workplace. If it’s messy, you may find yourself distracted and frustrated and unable to relax. Your life may resemble the chaos that it is your home. Sound familiar? Less stuff equals more inner peace, basically, since you have fewer stressors surrounding you.
5. Contentment - It gives you a sense of relief and great liberation to know you are not trying to keep up with anyone or spend too much money on things you don’t really need. It is great feeling to be able to step back from the materialistic world around you and think “I am not buying into that”.
6. Closeness to nature - Having a bigger television, video games, an awesome laptop, and the latest version of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy (even though there was nothing wrong with your old one) means you are spending large amounts of time indoors. Without those distractions you’ll get bored indoors, so go outside! Live life instead of watching it on a screen.
7. Better health - Stress affects our health, and stress can be greatly exacerbated by excessive stuff. Letting go of those sources of stress is good for your physical and mental health. Peace, contentment, gratitude, simplicity, and health all go hand in hand. And then there is the practical health issue – many items can be toxic to our health directly. Plastics for instance, can be cause for concern, possibly causing illness and disorders. New products and furnishings also off-gas for a time. The less plastic and new stuff in your life, the healthier you’ll be.
8. Financial security - One of the most compelling arguments against consumerism is that it promotes debt. Debt equals big time unhappiness. Think carefully about your wants and needs BEFORE you buy. You can also save money by making gifts yourself or employing other creative gift-giving ideas. The drive to have more and more – either for yourself or for giving to others – can set you up for financial difficulties and even financial ruin.
Our peace, contentment, and satisfaction with our lives can all be undermined by the pursuit and accumulation of “things”. Hopefully you will consider these eight reasons to change all that.
This infographic highlights stats from a different region of the world but it is still very interesting to see just how much money can be wasted foolishly if we aren’t vigilant about our energy usage. Leaving a wireless router or a microwave plugged in all night for instance. I don’t know anyone who microwaves in their sleep and its just plain wasteful. This graphic a great reminder to stop throwing away money while we catch some ZZZZZs. I know I have one or two of these things I need to remember to turn off nightly, how about you?
Brought to you by Ovo Energy – the cheaper, greener and simpler energy supplier
I have made no secret of my adoration and fascination with subscription box services. I have tried many… green mom products, eco friendly products, healthy snacks, supplements, etc. The idea is that each month you get a box filled to the brim with sample products to try, all of which fit within a larger theme. An eco friendly products box for instance might be filled with organic fair trade snacks, natural toothpaste, green cleaner samples, soap samples and the like. Every month you get a different box with different treasures inside it. It is a fantastic way to try new products without paying full price for each and you get exposed to products you might not otherwise have tried.
So yeah, I love subscription boxes. My latest find tops them all though.
This box leaves all other boxes in the dust. It manages to integrate homesteading/homemaking/homegrown love and put it all in a box. You not only get to TRY new things you get to LEARN new things. Holy moly! I also have a bit of an obsession with homesteading and homemaking skills long since forgotten in this day of modern convenience and this box manages to capture all of it perfectly. A box of food and eco products pales in comparison to a box of new skills hand delivered to your door….skills that will make you more self sufficient, reduce your environmental impact, and save you money. This is an ingenious product concept and I simply ADORE it.
It’s called The Homegrown Collective. The box for month of June had the theme Vim & Vinegar and it came packed with artisnal balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, organic dried blueberries, organic dried orange peels, a mason jar, baking soda, a glass quadra bottle, a pourer, and a spray nozzle.
With all of this the idea is to make some useful products from scratch. First up is Blueberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar… a yummy vinaigrette to put bottled and processed dressings to shame. Perfect for summer!
There were also instructions for making a couple different all natural cleaners including a citrus spray using vinegar and organic orange peels. The box has recipes and instructions but also useful knowledge in the form of facts sheets. It empowers you with information and teaches you how to make the products you see in stores at home and with healthy ingredients. It encourages self-sufficiency and promotes environmental stewardship and sustainability. Rather than a box filled with stuff you will use once, you get knowledge and skills you can use from then on if so choose. Past boxes have included items such as a mushroom growing kit, heirloom seeds, water kefir supplies, DIY cheese kit, DIY herbal tinctures, DIY homemade cough syrup, kombucha bewing kit, raw honey, beeswax, gourmet treats and more.
I am in love…
Try it yourself and use code GREENMOM10 for $10 off your first box!
Find them also on Facebook and Pinterest.