Saturday, September 25, 2010

No more disposable mops!!

I have a major pet peeve that I'd like to get off my chest: disposable mops.  I hate them.  I dislike many disposable products but can understand why it's easier in this society to use something and then throw it away.  Unfortunately, though, that means more waste in the landfill, and more resources needed to create new disposable products.  There are alternatives out there that don't require much more work and are just as effective if not BETTER.  They also can save you money by not having to by the refills.

So, today's blog is about the alternatives to disposable mops out there, such as the Swiffer.  There was recently a problem with the chemicals found in the Swiffer being toxic for children & pets, so why put your family at risk and use natural cleaners instead.
Here's what I've found:

Spray mops:
These mops have a container where you can put your own solution to spray on the floor.  This saves you money by either making your own solution, or by buying refills for your favorite cleaning solution (either non-toxic or toxic, your choice.  You know which I'd choose.)  They also feature a micro-fiber pad which is washable and reusable.  I love this idea!  I haven't tried either yet, but the concept is brilliant.  If you have used a Swiffer and are used to this idea, why not try this alternative?
The brands I've seen recently are:
Libman Freedom Spray Mop:  Doesn't require batteries, (about $20-30).  Visit their site for a $5 rebate coupon:
Rubbermaid Reveal: also requires no batteries (about $20-30)
Gaiam Spray Mop Kit (about $60)

The old-fashioned bucket and mop way:
The traditional way of cleaning your floors with a mop and bucket of water never appealed to me, but is very effective.  Lots of work and lots of water used.  It was a headache for me, but I know people who won't clean any other way.  To each, his own.  There are washable, reusable microfiber mop heads that are great such as Casabella or Real Simple.  

Dry mops:
Method oMops are great.  They have different ones for wood floors or all-purpose, and they have great non-toxic cleaners that go with them.  Method mops come in recycled and recyclable packaging for even less of an environmental impact.  How about that!  I've also tried the terry cloth mop heads for hardwood floors that are washable and reusable.

Steam mop:
This is by far my favorite way to clean my floors.  I mentioned this in a previous post about non-toxic cleaning.  All it takes is a little water and a plug.  It steams the floors clean, and cleans especially well on wood floors.  It requires no chemicals (besides water) and has replaceable microfiber cloths that are washable.  The Shark steam mop comes with 3 different types of mop pads: triangular (to clean bathrooms, around toilets), white rectangular (to clean large areas), and a purple one with a different loopy material (for wood floors).  There are 2 of each of these so you can have one in the dirty clothes hamper while you use the other one.  (I just bought the Shark steam cleaner and have mixed reviews.  More on that another day).
I have only used the Shark steam mop, but there are several out there to try such as Bissell, Eureka, Steam Clean, H2O, and others.  I got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% coupon, and it was totally worth the price I paid.

If disposable is still your way to go, then try Method's oMop sweeper duster.  Just like your old trusty disposable mop, you can throw the pads away when you're done.  However, these mop pads are made from corn and are compostable, instead of the petroleum-based pads that clog up the landfill.

So there you have it, all of the different ways to clean your floors using eco-friendly products.  I can't promise that mopping will become your favorite chore in the house, but at least you'll feel better by doing it a little greener.  :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Natural remedies

Today's eco-tip is to try to find natural remedies from every day plants and foods that you would normally buy or use.  I don't have a green thumb, AT ALL, but I'd like to get some of these to clean the air indoors & to get more use than just spicing up my food.

Here are a few remedies that I found online:
Aloe Vera plant:
Just the other day, I finally purchased my very first aloe vera plant.  I am a klutz in the kitchen, but I love to cook. But a week doesn't go by without burning or cutting myself.  This is a plant that will heal these minor injuries without getting medicine from the store and it works amazingly well, the natural way.
This is the plant that most preschools give your kid to plant and bring home.  Remember the movie ET?  It has another use besides looking pretty for about a week.  If you put these in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers & leaves release ethylene gas to ripen the fruit quickly.  How about that!
If you mix the roots and leaves, it can help soothe sore throats.  If you mix the fruit & root bark with honey, it's a great cough remedy.  If you happen to be growing your own blackberries, or just buy them from the store, why not try this before putting all of those pharmaceutical remedies into your body.  It's all natural, so what could it hurt?  I haven't tried this myself, but plan to the next time the need arises.
Peppermint oil:
May have benefits for those with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  Try putting some in some hot chocolate or in chocolate chip cookies.  Tastes great with some added benefits.
Fresh basil:
Antioxidant, boosts your immune system, helps prevent viral infections (like colds and the flu)
Every pregnant woman has heard that ginger helps reduce nausea (think, GingerAle).  But ginger is also good for several other uses.  Check out this site for more of it's remedies:
This spice can be used for everything from memory-loss (boy do I need this one!) to headaches to the common cold.  Here is the link for it's uses:

Other edible remedies:
Artichokes, honey and garlic can reduce cholesterol.  (Individually, not put together).
Tarragon treats toothaches.
Cranberries can treat UTI's in women.
Grapefruit may prevent obesity.
Thyme:  This herb fights viruses, helps menstrual cramps, is a cold remedy, and is a digestive aid.  

Why not try these natural remedies out without going too extreme with potions you've never heard of, or with medicines you get over the counter.  I'm not saying to do without modern medicines completely, just try something made from the earth first and see what happens.  Wouldn't hurt to try, right?

Visit this site for more information on herbal remedies:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pass: eco-products that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

As promised, this week's post will feature products that are both good for the environment as well as great for your daily living.  Last week I told you about those products that didn't make the grade, at all.  These are my favorites that have been tried and I love.

Beauty products & toiletries:
Burt's Bees.
Their products feature everything from lotions, to shampoos, to men's products.  I especially love their tinted lip gloss which moisturizes as well as give you a polished look.
Ecotools makeup brushes.
These are made from natural & recycled materials, like bamboo, and work great.  They range from eye brushes, to foundation, to powder brushes.  Guilt-free beauty.
Eco-dent toothbrushes.
These are made from 100% plastic and have replaceable toothbrush heads.  If you think about how many toothbrushes are thrown away in your own household each year, it makes sense to get these to reduce your waste.  They have adult and kid's sizes, but I'm having a hard time finding the kid's ones these days.  Anyway, I love them so if you can find them, stock up.

Cleaning products:
Simply Green.
This company makes a non-toxic cleaning solution that you dilute with water to clean just about everything.  Besides my homemade cleaners, I use this solution daily to clean lunchboxes, placemats, and anything else that's not granite, wood, or stainless steel.
Seventh generation
I have used their dish soap, laundry detergent, and household cleaners and love them.  It gets pricey which is why I've started making my own.  But a very good product for those who don't want to make their own.
Their tub scrub (le scrub) works great (a lot like soft scrub) and is non-toxic.  Their biodegradable and flushable toilet wipes are great also, as is their toilet cleaner.  As mentioned last week, their tub & tile cleaner is not.
Microfiber cloths.
I buy mine at the Target automotive section that come 8-12 in a pack.  Very economical and in various colors so you can color code which task you want it for.  For example, gray for stainless steel, orange for the counters, etc.  I keep mine in a bin under my kitchen sink so they're always at hand and swap them out daily.  I toss them in the wash by the end of the week with my cloth napkins, dish cloths, and steam mop pads.
Scotch-Brite non-scratch natural sponges & scour pads.
These kitchen cleaning products are made from 100% natural fibers & recycled paper.  It's a renewable resource that will naturally break down for guilt-free cleaning.

Cooking products:
Contessa frozen foods.
These frozen meals are all-natural, minimal ingredients, taste great, and are good for you.  When you're in a rush and don't have time to make your dinner/lunch, this is a great product to try.  And as a bonus, there are coupons included in each bag for your next purchase.
Regency parchment paper.  
This stuff is a God-send for me.  I have been trying to find an alternative to saran wrap to pound chicken cutlets thin and this product works phenomenally.  It's also great for lining your baking sheets for easy clean-up.  And for those of you who like the convenience of disposable living, this is guilt-free since it's made out of plants so it's a renewable resource AND biodegrades!  Love it!

Products I'd like to try:
iPhone solar charger.  As addicted as I am to my phone, I have to charge it daily, so this is a must for me.  Probably going to add it to my wish list.  A little less demand on the power grid from me.
Preserve kitchen products (like spatulas, colanders, etc.).  These will also be on my Christmas wish list for sure.  Made from recycled yogurt containers they are stylish, functional, and eco-friendly.  And I love kitchen gadgets.

So, take it from me.  These products are eco-friendly but are just as effective as their non-eco-friendly alternatives.  And they're better for you and the planet as well.  Test them out for yourselves and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fail: eco-products don't always make the grade

I've started writing this blog to provide people with alternatives to their everyday living in order to become more eco-friendly.  I love promoting green products that are just as good if not better than the regular products in the store.  However, just because something is eco-friendly doesn't mean it's always effective.

Here are a few products that I've tried recently that just aren't good:

Preserve razors: These razors are made out of recycled yogurt containers.  This company makes lots of beauty & home products, such as toothbrushes and razors, from those containers that aren't usually recycled in your local landfill.  (Most landfills except only plastic #1 & 2 located in the triangle on the bottom of your plastic products so I was excited when someone was actually making use of these #5 & 6 containers).  Anyway, these razors are HORRIBLE.  I cut myself shaving the other day so badly that a piece of my skin was in the razor.  Appetizing, I know.  And what's sexier than shaved legs, is shaved legs with band-aids stuck all over.  Oh yeah, that's hot.

Whole Foods brand shampoo & conditioner:  I bought these thinking that since they were biodegradable and don't effect the water eco-system that I was doing my part, but my hair looked like crap.  I'm not at the point where I can sacrifice beauty for the environment, so it's back to looking for a better alternative.

Tom's natural toothpaste: I don't recommend it.  My teeth did NOT feel clean, nor did my breath smell any better.  Again, beauty (& hygiene) over the environment.  Looking for an alternative.

Method Tub & Tile cleaner: This does NOT clean my showers to my satisfaction.  I have also tried a steamer as well as baking soda & vinegar.  So far nothing works as well as Kaboom! or bleach alternatives which contain all kinds of toxic chemicals that are bad for my health and the environment. But I'd like to shower in a clean & mildew-less bathroom, thank you.

Method's new tiny laundry detergent in a pump: I wish I could promote this one, as it's a great idea for those of you who use laundromats since it's small and compact and effective.  However, they need to come up with a better pump.  Three-quarters of the way through, the the pump becomes ineffective and it's very frustrating.  I'd rather just use another detergent without the frustration.

Lastly, I do not recommend GE's frontload washer.  They are very stylish and very energy efficient (they use less water to wash your clothes), however they are a headache to clean.  Never thought I'd have to clean my washer, but this one has a slide-out drawer to put your detergent, fabric softener, and bleach in, which you have to open to air out when not in use.  Otherwise it gets mold in it.  Mold.  Yuck.  Also, it has a plastic flap in the door opening of the washer where things like to get caught (like socks, coins, and hairballs).  I'll be going back to the old school washer once this one dies (in 15 yrs or so.  ugh!).

So, unfortunately, I can't just promote a product because it's natural or eco-friendly.  I'd like to recommend the best products to live a greener life, so it's back to doing more research on environmental alternatives to these products.  Hope these tips help save you a little time and frustration.  Next week I'll have suggestions for green products that I absolutely love.

In the meantime, please join my facebook page for eco-mami to receive daily eco-tips, current articles about the environment, and product reviews for green things I've tried.  Thanks for reading!