Monday, 5 July 2010

Taking some baby steps ...

We try to live lightly on this earth but we are a long way from perfect, the fact that we fly long haul will attest to this!  But I think we have come a long way and take for normal what other people would see as, well not abnormal but more effort than they are perhaps willing to put in - does that make sense?

Whilst visiting a variety of blogs I like seeing what other people are doing in their efforts to be greener (not that I really like that word but I think you all know what I mean by it).  Some people seem so far down the road that I think I could never catch up.  But it's not really a race is it?  In my opinion it's about doing what you can, when you can and fitting it into every day family life.  I know that something that doesn't fit into the rhythm of our day won't last for long.  We tend to have spurts of improvement and then reach a plateau doing all those 'normal' things until I read or see something and then I get motivated all over again to make some more changes.  I'm always fascinated by those things that people find easy to do without/find an alternative for and those people struggle with - they are all so different, something I find easy and normal is difficult for another family.

I have been reducing our exposure to chemicals for many years and this took a huge step forward when we had children.  I periodically go through the house trying to reduce our chemical footprint but then some do slip back in and some I have never tried to substitute before.  I have two products which I don't like having in the house and I don't let my children anywhere near due to their toxicity, and that is dishwash powder and washing powder.  I've just realised, as I've typed that, how weird it sounds: 

"I don't let my children anywhere near them"


I use one to wash our dishes, which my children eat off, 
I use one to wash our clothes in, which the children wear each day.

Doesn't quite add up eh?!

So inspiration has come from blogland once again.  I have seen various recipes for household cleaners over the years but this one from ecoMILF caught my eye last Friday and on Saturday I went and bought the ingredients.  It's nice to know someone's using it and likes using it so I thought I would give it a go.  It will also be interesting to see how much it costs as that is a factor for us.  However, even if it does cost a little more but we're reducing chemical consumption then that has to count.  Of course I've also got to make it!!!

So, on the shopping list were bicarb of soda, washing soda, borax and Dr Bronner bars of soap.  I made a substitution - the Dr Bronner soap was $8.49 each and the ecoSTORE were $3.50 each.  I guess they'll do the same thing - we'll have to wait and see.

The other item in the photo is my knitted dishcloth, which I made over a year ago and haven't used yet!!  I was so pleased with it that I didn't want to get it dirty - pretty silly really as that's why I made it.  But now that I am a knitter (in the loosest sense of the term) I have decided to use it and make some more!  And I also want to make some scouring clothese which I have seen recently over here, via Norwoods Walkabout (who by chance is making her own deodorant which I will have try later), and here.

So I have decided that for the month of July I am going to try and take some baby steps on my journey towards living lightly, or at least a little lighter


As I mentioned earlier, each person and family is unique and each do things in different ways so I would love to know what you do to make your environment less toxic, to reduce your waste, to live lighter?  It might just take a different slant on the same issue to make me see that it is something I could incorporate into my daily life.  Maybe you have already posted about some issue and could leave a link in the comments, maybe you too are incorporating some new changes to your life - I would love to know how you get on.

I'll post again once I've made the products and costed them out and then again once we're using them - I have to say I am very excited by it all!!! x


ms lottie said...

I think I'm a bit like you; I make little changes then live with them for a while till they become normal. Like recently I've been diluting my dishwash powder by half with baking soda and it works just fine. I've stopped using tissues and use old flannelette shirts cut up into hankies (but hubby won't, that's ok, his choice) and I've found you can use teatowels and clothes for most of the stuff you use papertowels for. I'm aiming to make some more netting bags for buying veges and fruit from shops, then I just need to remember to take them!

lovestitches said...

I've never though about the effects on kids since I have none. But on the few ocasions when I get either of those two powders stuck under my fingernails I can just FEEL how masty and toxic they are.
Soulemama blogged about making laundry powder recently and it's well worth going to her blog and having a read of what she said:

I use tulle bags for produce, they were so easy to make and surprisingly strong. I use vinegar for cleaning too after the regular stuff nearly knocked me out!

Tammy James said...

I like this post and think the same way. We use mostly home made washing powder in our top loading machine. This is something that does not irritate my sons potential for Eczema too.
4 cups lux flakes, 2 cups washing soda (lectric) and two cups of borax mixed together well. 1 to 2 tbsp per load.

nzgreenbuttons said...

I've been making my own washing pawder for some time now and I was amazed the difference when we used some store bought recently, the chemical smell was enough to make me feel the little effort was worth it. I haven't bought paper towels for ages and have made a return to hankies (but my husband prefers tissues too). I don't use jiff like products anymore, I just add some baking soda to a damp scouring pad. We are slowly making other changes too, a little bit at a time is a great way to make changes, every little bit helps.

Gina said...

I've been inspired by the same ideas as you and I just need to get shopping for my borax and lectric soda. I've already switched to bicarb/vinegar for cleaning, use mostly facecloths and tea towels for wiping and cleaning around the house, and cloth pads has been my other main shift in recent years. I've plateaued a bit in recent times, but am trying now to tackle some food consumption habits as a way of living more sustainably. We eat meat but I'm sourcing biodynamic cuts and we're eating a lot less. I'm trying also to make much more from scratch, with a view to making most of our bread, sweet snacks and crispbread as well. But slowly, slowly... new habits take a while to stick.

Ange said...

For us, it's all about walking as much as possible, using eggshells to deter slugs and snails in the garden, and cleaning the windows with newspapers and vinegar. Like how Nana did it, as it happens ... Little things, but they add up, I reckon.

ecoMILF said...

oh so sweet. i hope you enjoy the detergent- i adore it and funny that- just made up a big batch today. The grating is a bit of work, isn't it? But well worth it. I think the little changes are so important. We also fly longhaul at least once, usually twice a year to visit my family, so my carbon footprint will never be tiny unless I choose not to see those i love. So my consumer choices are very important to me and make me feel that I am not lessening our family's waste but teaching my children to have less of an impact as well for their future. xo m.

dash robin said...

i like your thoughtful, gentle post here...i agree-it's not a race and it's not helpful to compare, everyone is do what you can and do better when you know better and when the time is right. i finally decided to stop buying dish cloths this year and have been using old clothes cut up...which works just fine, is free and doesn't require packaging, etc, etc. am interested to know how your stuff turns out...I use bicarb sometimes for washing dishes and find its great as a grease cutter!

I wanna be creative said...

Can't wait to hear results/ costings! I use Soule Mama's recipe for general cleaner (Baking Soda, Vinegar, Water - bit batch) and vinegar for rinse aid in the dishwasher - but am generally pretty lazy - eek!

On another note- received your fantastic bunting in the mail yesterday - totally gorgeous, love the colours. Thank you so much. It feels great to look around the house and see more and more hand made stuff, thanks for contributing, feel very lucky.

Heart Felt said...

Just catching up on everyone's posts. I tend to be like do what you can and strive to do one better. We have a 'carless' at least one day a week. Last week when it was sunny we actually had three carless days and used the bikes and walked. It felt so good for so many reasons. Great post to get one thinking. xx

Crafty Mermaid said...

Thanks for posting this. Its getting me thinking. I really liked ms Lottie's comment and will thinking about doing that in future. Especially as the other filler of the dishwasher keeps over filling it with powder.