Save your Money and Live Green
In 2010, the U.S. green cleaning products market became a $655 million industry, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts. The category is still considered niche, making up just 3% of the total market for household cleaners and laundry products, according to Packaged Facts, which predicts the green cleaning products market will remain "niche for some time to come."
Here are a few do-it-yourself natural home cleaners to try from Pryor and Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning:
Mix 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt and 1 cup oxygen bleach. Reichert said her "green scrub" can clean grime inside of toilets, tubs and sinks. If using on fiberglass, use less salt to avoid scratches.
Reichert's recipe: Mix 8 ounces white vinegar, 4 ounces lemon juice, 4 ounces vodka (or rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol), 8 drops essential lemongrass oil and 2-3 drops Castile soap.
Mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise (yes, mayo!), 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Use just a small amount of this concoction for a hardwood gloss. Rub into furniture, let sit for a few minutes and wipe off with a microfiber cloth. Reichert swears by it.
Vinegar diluted with about 25% water is Pryor's floor cleaner of choice.
Other ideas to save $ :
l Fix any plumbing leaks – sinks, tubs, showers and toilets all should be inspected for drips and leaks. The tiniest drip can add up to a lot of wasted water.
l Install a programmable thermostat to save energy.
l Turn down the heat at night, during the day if no one is home and any time you leave the house.
l Use LED light bulbs. They’re more expensive up front, but they last several times longer than the old-fashioned kind (another benefit is reducing your time on the ladder to change the bulb!).
l Many utility companies perform home energy audits for their customers. This will let you know where you’re being wasteful, and where you can save energy and money.
l During the winter, change the filter in your furnace every month. If the filter is allowed to collect dust, it will make your furnace work harder, use more energy and potentially shorten the life of this expensive appliance.
l Use non-toxic cleaning alternatives in your home, such as baking soda, vinegar, etc. per the 'recipes' above.
l Read the labels of the items you’re buying and avoid the use of polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl). It can creep up in toys, flooring, shower curtains, etc.
l Compost your food waste and use as nutrient-rich soil for your lawn.
l Cut down on paper products. Paper towels and napkins can be replaced with cloth rags and napkins.
l Bite the bullet and start depending on reusable items, such as water bottles, food containers, batteries, pens, razors, etc.
l Whenever possible, think globally but buy locally. Transporting food across country uses up an obscene amount of fuel. An added bonus is that it’s good for the local economy.
l Cut down on your battery usage. The hazardous waste created by the lead in batteries is a danger to the environment. Instead, use rechargable or solar-charged batteries.
l Avoid products with excess packaging. Reward companies who use packaging sparingly.
l Stop using plastic bags! Plastic grocery bags are a quadruple whammy: they never decompose, they’re hazardous to wildlife when they inevitably end up in their habitats, they’re made from petroleum products and they can be a danger to the folks in your own household.
l Avoid the use of aerosols.
l Instead of lubricants containing solvents, use castor or mineral oils to lubricate switches and hinges.
l Use water-based latex house paints instead of oil or solvent-based paints. Many paint companies like Sherwin Williams makes paints which are low or no VOC.
l Be very mindful of what you throw away. Never dispose of paint, solvents, motor oil in your garbage can. Talk to your garbage collection company for proper disposal procedures of hazardous wastes.
l Never throw away a computer. The lead is a hazard to the environment. Most cities now have specialty companies that recycle computers. Look in your yellow pages under computer disposal.
l Living green will make you into a giver. Instead of throwing away old books, donate them and share the love.
l Give last season’s wardrobe to Goodwill or ARC. Likewise, check them out when you want to add to your closet! Consignment stores and Habitat ReStores have lots of 'finds'.
l Don’t want your old photos and/or letters? Don’t heap them on the landfill – donate them to your local historical society.
l Don’t take that old dishwasher or refrigerator to the dump, donate it.
You'll feel better for giving and having a healthier environment for you and your family, while saving money too.