Well, it is that time. Time for spring cleaning. This week I did a lot of thinking about what exactly I need to do and I will have my hands full for sure. This is that once a year time when my house gets scrubbed until it looks like brand new inside and out. I’m talking about being on my hands and knees with a toothbrush in hand. ;) I also use this time to get organized (or try), fill up Freecycle donation boxes, gather stuff to host a yard sale, and make my own yard sale wish list. This year I need to spring clean especially bad. This spring marks one year in my house and we were in such a rush to move in after more than a month in a hotel that we didn’t clean much upon moving in and the house had been empty for well over a year.
I have boxes of stuff in my basement that I never opened and went through. I have an unorganized laundry room (read: clothes all over floor), my bed linen closet is a horror, I have many walls that need a coat of zero VOC paint, a light on a vaulted ceiling has been burnt out since we moved in, my kitchen cupboards are so stuffed they won’t close, and dagnabbit I can’t find my darn sewing machine and I want to sew some stuff! This is the tip of the iceberg.
So…I am putting my feet to the flame here. I am starting a big green spring clean and I will chronicle the journey here and yes I will be posting BEFORE pictures so you can know my shame. :(
What I plan to accomplish:
1. A clean home using green and natural cleaning products.
2. An organized home with less clutter.
3. A more simplistic home with less stuff I don’t need.
4. A clear idea and list of stuff I DO need. Then I plan to shop at yard sales, estate sales, and thrift stores as much as I possibly can and not buy new.
5. More organized play/fun/crafting/art areas set up for myself and the kids so we won’t be constantly running out of supplies or making such a mess. And of course more fun is good too. :) We also need areas for homeschool projects.
Want to join me? Blog along with me and document your own “Big Green Spring Clean!”. Feel free to grab the banner at the top of this post if you want to. I have a smaller one too. Let’s see what we can accomplish together…
Many readers have been asking my opinion of the new Clorox Green Works cleaners. I hesitated to try them because what I am already using to clean my home is natural and working just fine. I also hesitated to enter the debate. It seems many environmentalists are up in arms about Clorox (synonymous with bleach and chemicals) coming out with a “green” product.
Trust me I get it. I always like to spend my dollars with the most reputable and ethical companies. As more huge corporations buy up our beloved products though this will become increasingly hard to do (remember Clorox just bought Burt’s Bees too)…but not impossible. Buying a green cleaner from a company that primarily produces chemical cleaners might be likened to buying a hybrid from GM, whose VP just went on record as saying that global warming is a crock of sh*t.
So what is my verdict? I like Clorox Green Works.
I have been using several Green Works products for the last few weeks and they do a great job cleaning. And while they seem to be only 99% natural (Clorox claims that they are listing all ingredients on the labels of the Green Works products, something they do not do with their conventional cleaning products) I think this is an awesome accomplishment for mainstream, highly affordable, and highly available cleaner. According to the San Francisco Chronicle the remaining non-natural 1% contains the preservative Kathon (derived from petrochemicals) and a couple dyes to tint the cleaners those lovely shades of green.
My opinion? Not bad. You see when I go to my local Kroger store I don’t see any Dr. Bronners, or Seventh Generation, or Method, etc. If they did have them I am guessing that most mainstream people would scoff at the price tag compared to a bottle of 409. But along comes Clorox Green Works…a MUCH safer cleaner in comparison and priced just as affordably as other cleaners. Now all the consumer has to do is decide between the regular cleaner they always get or this new cleaner from a company they recognize as being efficient, and it says “natural”. How many people might now be motivated to buy the safer product? How many mainstream people will be converted and end up ditching the majority of the chemicals they were using? The potential to convert is a powerful one and one big reason I support this product. I live in a VERY economically depressed area and I think moms here deserve safer products too and they won’t care a lick about greenwashing or supporting the most ethical companies. They will care about feeding their families and if they can now afford to buy safer, conventional cleaners….they are happy and I am happy for them. You won’t see me slapping that Green Works out of their hand to lecture them about not supporting Clorox and their other “toxic” products. A safer home is a safer home…anyway you slice it.
Green Works products worked extremely well for me and did not cause me to break out in hives…which I will certainly do if I pick up a bottle of Windex or 409. I also adore the scrumptious smell and that surprised me because I am very sensitive to fragrance. Green Works smells very lightly of limes…yum.
These products are made from renewable resources, they are biodegradeable, sustainable, and 99% petrochecmical free. They are also not tested on animals. It is not the “perfect” natural cleaner but hey that’s okay…baby steps. I hope that more moms will make the switch to a more natural cleaner thanks to Green Works.
As for me, I will probably stick with what I already use. Why fix what isn’t broken? But I will enjoy using up what I have left of my GW products.
[tags]Clorox, green works, natural, cleaners, greenwashing[/tags]
I just wanted to let you all know about two new or new-to-me resources for natural families that I like.
First off the Holistic Moms Network, of which I am a fan, has released a new cookbook. It is called “Growing Healthy Families”. The cookbook is comprised of recipes submitted by holistic and health conscious moms and compiled to make an awesome resource for other moms wanting to cook healthy meals for their family.
Growing Healthy Families showcases a variety of nutritional philosophies and flavors, from vegetarian, vegan, raw food, and gluten-free (for those with ethical or dietary sensitivities), to ethnic and meat-centered dishes. “We don’t all agree on what we should eat,” says Nancy Massotto, HMN’s Executive Director, “but we find common ground in the value of eating simply and eating unprocessed whole foods,” Massotto says.
Indeed, many of the recipes in Growing Healthy Families emphasize the use of wholesome ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pastry flour for baking, and flax seeds which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. But more importantly, this cookbook contains mom and kid-tested recipes which prove that healthy doesn’t mean bland or boring.
Hearty recipes such as Red Lentil Roast or Fennel-Crusted Salmon on White Beans to Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies and Vegan Banana Oatmeal Cookies are sure to please every palate and dietary need.
What makes Growing Healthy Families truly unique, however, is the last section called This & That. Readers will find recipes for homemade baby wipes, play dough, non-toxic household cleaners, body care products, and holistic remedies for everything from sore throat and chest congestion to insect bites and allergy relief. Growing Healthy Families is reasonably priced at $15 and can be ordered from the HMN website.
Second, I recently joined a new membership site called The Homemaker’s Mentor. It is really an awesome concept. The membership price is $5 a month and for that price you get 2 lessons a month in the lost art of homemaking as taught by a wife of thirty years and a mother to 11 children! If you have ever wished for a friend or older woman to hold your hand and teach you skills you have always wanted to learn, The Homemaker’s Mentor is for you.
Right now the down-loadable lesson is all about baking pies from scratch….regular pies and mini-pies or turnovers. It has pie crust recipes, filling recipes, full color picture instructions, and even video about making pie crusts in bulk and freezing them. The recipe for strawberry pie has my mouth watering. Last month there was a huge lesson on beans and all the ways you can prepare and cook them. Members also get to chat in the private homemaker’s forum. It is really one awesome resources for moms and for $5 a month it is a steal too. Check it out!
And lastly, I want to send a shout to all my readers…Thank you!!! You all rock and you are the reason I maintain this blog. Much love! – Tiffany
Spring is just around the corner and pretty soon we will start seeing the first of springs harvest. I can almost taste the fresh leafy greens. It is time to start planting seedlings for your garden. Or if you cannot garden or don’t have a desire to it is perhaps time to send in your CSA share money. This will be one of the first years I will not be joining a CSA because I will have my garden and I have one awesome farmer’s market about 2 minutes from my home. But it was hard to come to that decision because I absolutely LOVE the concept of a CSA and being a member of one. :(
What is a CSA? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture.
You may have heard of farm sharing programs or Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) before. They are gaining popularity and getting a lot of media exposure in recent years for their ability to help bring real and local food back to the table every night and support local economies. They are instrumental in helping people to eat their meals from farm to plate.
All those small scale farmers in your area are at a serious disadvantage these days. They simply cannot compete with large agri farm operations that sell to major grocery markets. Small farmers usually have to sell to their neighbors, at roadside stands, and at farmer’s markets. They have had to work hard to find a loyal customer base and unlike large agribusiness operations, small farmers might find themselves out of business the very first time their crops are destroyed or fail to thrive. It is such a sad state of affairs. So….realizing that smaller farms serving the locals might soon be gone with the wind some of them have gotten creative and decided to extend an invitation to their local communities in the form of CSAs.
I am happy to see that many have answered that call.
So how does it work? CSAs work when the farmers sell a portion or a share of their harvest to their neighbors. For a seasonal fee they get a box of fresh farm fruits and veggies every week. I remember being giddy on delivery days each week…just waiting for my box of farm fresh goodies. The CSA that I belonged to in Arizona was run by a gal named Kelly and she included pertinent recipes every week so I was in culinary heaven each week. It was that first year that got me hooked on Kale…because I was swimming in it, LOL. Before that I had never even tried it so being a CSA member also exposes you to new and exciting foods. I did an interview with my local CSA farmer in Arizona at Desert Roots Farm if you want to read about it.
Here was Kelly’s definition of a CSA:
Community Supported Agriculture is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. Members help pay for seeds, fertilizer, water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. In return, the farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of seasonal fresh produce throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it.
As Kelly touched on, the farmers have more freedom, security, and flexibility when their costs and products are paid for up front. The consumer benefits by having continuous access to local and healthy foods that don’t have to cause planetary destruction on their way to you. The consumer also absorbs some of the risk involved in farm management because if the crops fail for whatever reason the farmer has already been paid and he or she will not be forced out of business. The consumer, although unhappy to see no food that season, is satisfied in supporting his local community and protecting his or her local food sources.
There are some CSAs that allow you to pay for your farm share or a portion of it in trade for labor. You might be put to work weeding, harvesting, packaging CSA boxes, or delivering the food. This arrangement keeps costs down for both the farmer and the consumer. In my area (Ohio) a whole share from May to October costs about $650 and that pays for a box of farm fresh goodies every week. You can also do a half share for a smaller family. In Arizona it was a bit more expensive.
You may also be able to find CSAs that raise livestock and thus offer shares of beef, raw milk, chicken, eggs etc. There was nothing like that in my area but I get fresh eggs from the local Amish farms and hoorah….I found a herdshare program nearby that offers a share in a dairy cow and I will be getting 2 gallons of raw, organic milk every week. For the first year the price works out to be $3.65 a gallon and every year thereafter it is $2.65 a gallon. I have to pinch myself that is such a steal….I was paying $8.00 a gallon in Arizona.
Other benefits of joining a CSA include the fact that the whole family starts eating healthy veggies and leafy greens more frequently. It also makes eating raw easier. Joining a CSA in your area might be one of the best things you can do to support your local economy and make a commitment to healthy eating.
So where do you find one? Try Local Harvest for a listing in your area. And if there aren’t any don’t worry, you might be able to do what I am doing which is take a blended approach with a little grow-your-own, farmer’s marketing, shopping with the Amish, pick-your-own day trips, and herd sharing. You would still be eating healthier, eating local, and supporting your community by keeping your dollars local.
Other important links:
Real Milk – To help you find raw milk, raw cheese, and herd share programs.
Pick Your Own – A farm directory where you can visit local farms and pick your own food.
Here is a video I did last summer of our berry picking adventure. Doesn’t it make you long for spring????!
[tags]CSA, community supported agriculture, local food, farms[/tags]
I have not been a fan of conventional laundry detergents for a long time. My general fondness of natural detergents and laundering methods was cemented when I did the research for a cloth diaper detergent chart on one of my other sites. You should check out the chart…it was meant for cloth diapers in particular but it is a good resource for detergents for ANY kind of laundry. I have basically taken a ton of different detergents and rated them based upon their use of enzymes, optical brighteners, dyes, fragrance, and fabric softeners….which are pretty much all bad news and I explain why at the bottom of the page.
Something always bothered me about even the most natural detergents though…..the packaging. It is very wasteful…especially the big plastic bottles of liquid detergent.
So I was jazzed recently to get to try Dropps Liquid Laundry Pacs finally. They are tiny little packs of natural liquid detergent with no enzymes, optical brighteners, or fabric softeners. The scented version has dyes and fragrance but the unscented has neither. So the detergent is healthier for humans and for the planet right off the bat but the packaging is also very cool.
A regular plastic jug of liquid detergent is only 2 times concentrated. That means it is 75% water. What a waste! The Dropps on the other hand are 6 times concentrated…so you aren’t paying for a teeny bit of detergent and a bunch of water. Also only 75% of that plastic jug is made from recycled plastic and the cap is not recyclable so 100% of those end up in the landfill.
The Dropps are tiny little baggies of detergent and you throw the whole thing in the wash. The plasticy film completely dissolves like those Listereen breath strips so there is no waste. The Dropps do come in a larger plastic bag but I hear they are changing that aspect of the packaging so I am excited to see what they come up with. Overall this detergent means far less waste and after a few weeks I find that they clean just as effectively as my other detergents and without residue build-up, so Dropps are a big winner in my book. They are good for people with sensitive skin in my opinion too, because that is me for sure…I get hives when things irritate my skin.
Hi there! I am a green, paleo, crossfit mom of three. I am concerned about health, wellness, and sustainability issues. This is my life. This what I am passionate about. Come get to know me and feel free to connect. Enjoy!