The wonderful Amy McKnight suggested I share some of the ways I try to be ecologically responsible around the house and in the playgroup.
My all-time favorite household cleaner (given to me by Kristen Ossmann):
1/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (or other of his liquid soaps)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
Mix together and put in a spray bottle. I call it Dr. Vinegar’s. It’s very concentrated. The vinegar smell is a little strong, but it goes away almost instantly and doesn’t need rinsing. It has replaced almost every cleaning product I’ve ever used. And, of course, it’s safe around children.
I use rags instead of paper towels. One-time use when washing the kids’ faces and hands after lunch, blowing noses, etc. I keep a bowl of wet (with water) rags at the table. The kids are learning to wash their own hands and mouth and then put the used rag in the dirty rag bin. They really take pride in this. They also help wash the work tables before and after doing a project, like gluing or painting. They love helping. (It does help to have a washing machine and dryer.)
While I use them less and less, I wash and reuse zip-lock bags. They come in handy for freezing food, but I also use and reuse them for delivering my compost to the farmer’s market.
I’ve switched from plastic bags to cloth ones and always carry them in my purse or backpack. I also use reusable net bags for shopping for fruit and vegetables.
Plastic sandwich bags have been replaced with brown paper, waxed or not. These can go right into the compost if they haven’t contained meat or fish. Composting rules vary. Some parents use cloth reusable bags for their kids’ lunch and snack.
I use recycled tinfoil, which can be washed after use and put right into the metal, glass and plastic bin for re-recycling. What a concept!
I use a dry microfiber floor mop (washable many, many times), which cuts down on vacuum cleaner use. I also use microfiber cloth to clean with. They are also washed over and over again. They are pretty amazing.
I wash dishwashing sponges with the rags. In between washings I pour a little boiling water on them when making tea.
And finally, I use ecologically responsible dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent. You’ll be very surprised at the price comparison, remembering that these products are often much more concentrated than a lot of commercial products. And, by the way, it feels really good to be part of making our planet a better place for us, for our kids and beyond.