Eco-friendly products are popping up everywhere. Global warming has more people on "high alert" these days and concerned folks want to do their part to help reverse the damages. We can clearly relate the production of many products to gases being released into the atmosphere. Choosing greener products may eliminate both the use of toxic chemicals in production as well as certain production processes all together. Choose even one green product and you have helped.
Eco-friendly products really play an important role when it comes to your home. From home building materials to decorative bedding, to home cleaning products; you are sure to see options available that are chemical-free and are safer for use, air quality and overall health.
The home cleaning industry has taken advantage of our interest in green products and for that we can be thankful. Household cleaning chemicals are extremely toxic and even contain carcinogens which cause cancer. Green Wiki produced an excellent, informative article about toxins in household cleaning products.
What is your best defense?
Elect to choose some of the greener cleaning products available such as those from Seventh Generation or Clorox Greenworks, or create your own safer alternatives with everyday items you may have around your home.
Some safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly products are:
Get a bunch of clear spray bottles from your local dollar store and mark the contents you will be adding to each. Perhaps you will be making a window cleaner which you can mix-up easily by adding 2 cups of water with a 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent (optional) to cut the wax build-up from prior window cleaners. This solution can last indefinitely and remain usable in your spray bottle. Using crumpled newspaper rather than paper towels supposedly gives you streak-free windows although I have never personally tried this method.
Other "home cleaners" you may want to mix and use "as-needed" so they don't lose their potency. Water mixed with salt and baking soda for instance, creates a quick, non-toxic spray cleaner for use around food, such as in a refrigerator, microwave or on countertops. A vinegar/water solution of equal parts can also be used similarly and may be a better choice for porous surfaces such as wooden cutting boards or butcher blocks. When in doubt, spot test a small area.
The odor of vinegar can be a bit off-putting. In fact, I really do not like it at all. However, when diluted, it's not as bad and the smell dissipates rather quickly as it dries. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer.
Create a mild scrubbing paste by mixing a bit of salt, baking soda and dish detergent or lemon juice in a jar or bowl. Mix as much as you will use for one cleaning. This is a nice eco-friendly soft scrub for stains on porcelain sinks and tubs. Use it to shine faucets. As always, test a small area to be sure it is not causing fine scratches. If anything, the cloth or sponge you may be using to scrub is often the culprit of sink and/or hardware scratches.
Deodorize drains by flushing them with salt and hot water or pour some baking soda followed by vinegar down the drain, let it "work" a few minutes and flush with water.
You may want to use an eco-friendly sponge with your homemade cleaning products. My favorites are Scotch-Brite® Greener Clean sponges. They are made from plant-based fibers, are long-lasting, remain relatively odor-free, and are a neutral tan to coordinate with any kitchen color.
Remember, when purchasing eco-friendly products, look for words and phrases such as:
. . . and of course, "eco-friendly" to name a few.
The household items above are very cheap to purchase in comparison to brand-name cleaners, including the eco options. Create your own and save money.
Cleaning products may have many toxic chemicals but pesticides are as equally hazardous. Have you ever sprayed or sprinkled a pesticide only to worry about how it may affect your pets? I have. Why worry? Treat areas with natural products that are safe for pets, humans and ground water; particularly important if you have well or spring fed water.
Many of the household items listed above come to our rescue again. Ants dislike salt so sprinkle some along doorways, windowsills and cracks or crevices that may be an entry to your home.
Create spray solutions to mist leaves and inhibit insect damage. A spray consisting of 2 teaspoons of liquid dish detergent combined with a teaspoon each of garlic powder, cayenne pepper and water in a gallon sized container will ward off chewing and leaf sucking insects. This solution will need to be reapplied after heavy rains for continued effectiveness. (solution information courtesy of a-garden-diary.com)
Look for eco-friendly products that contain or are primarily made up of horticultural oil, a type of mineral oil. This safe-to-use product suffocates damaging pests. Fully saturate leaves, top and bottom, for best results.
Resist the use of chemical pesticides. They will kill all your bugs, including the beneficial ones that naturally eat those posing a threat to your plants.
Do you have issues with fungus such as powdery mildew on your plant leaves? Mist them with milk for an effective, eco-friendly remedy. Mix one part skim milk with nine parts water. The germicidal qualities of the milk as it breaks down, combats the fungal bacteria. Any fat percentage of milk can be used but skim or non-fat milk will be less likely to produce any sour odors.
Kill Weeds with Rock Salt - Sprinkle it on your gravel driveways
or on your walkways and patios and lightly spray.
Using these eco-friendly products as alternatives,
creates a safer environment for your family.
Many other eco-friendly products are available for home use. Look for products that break-down quickly or are biodegradable. Certain types of garbage bags and food storage baggies are now available which "decompose", breaking down in a year as opposed to 100 years when exposed to oxygenation.
As mentioned early on, many building products for your home are available with an eco option. If you are serious about "going green" ask a salesperson at your local home improvement center or your home builder. There are even contractors and home designers that specialize in green homes. Low or zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints are increasing in popularity and are readily available in paint stores and departments. These paints reduce or eliminate toxins known to be linked to cancer. Is that fresh paint smell really worth it?
Antique furniture or restored furniture is considered an eco-friendly product. It may be reused, repurposed or "up-cycled"; using elements from its former life, such as its wood and combined with newer eco-materials to develop a new piece.
Certain woods for flooring, veneers or furniture are more eco-friendly than others due to their ability to regenerate or renew more quickly. Certain pines and poplars for instance are good choices. Bamboo, the new "wood alternative" can be re-harvested in 3-5 years as compared to 10-20 years for other types of wood. Choose bamboo for your eco-friendly flooring.
Consider reclaiming timber from old barns and structures to repurpose in your new or existing home. Random-width, plank oak flooring can add a certain character to your home that would be impossible to replicate with new flooring.
Look to architectural warehouses for reclaimed building products such as tile, stone, brick, metal, glass and wood.
Many other natural materials and fibers such as jute, hemp, cork and seagrass are often used in green interior design. Any natural product that requires minimal processing to be usable is ideal when it comes to eco decorating. Stay tuned for more information on these products and ways to "go green" when decorating your home.