I firmly embrace the concept of green living. I have, however, not completely converted to living green. But I'm working on it. I finally realized that living this way is one of my life's purposes and it's a culmination of a lifetime of experiences.
As a child I was interested in ecology. I dreamed of being a biologist, ecologist, or marine biologist. (Back then the term environmentalist wasn't being used yet.)
I used to chastise my father for littering. He would throw an apple core on the grass after eating it. When I would say something about it he would respond by saying that an apple tree will be growing there the following year. Even at the tender age of 8, I didn't believe him.
I collected aluminum cans and soda bottles on the street and take them to the mobile recycling center on Saturday to get a few cents in exchange.
My mother came from an extremely poor country and grew up in poverty. Although both of my parents worked outside of the home, our family had two cars, we lived in a three bedroom home, and I was the only child, my mother was extremely frugal. From her example I learned to shop at thrift stores, not to waste, eat simple foods, and to live on a minimum amount of homemade clothes and one pair of shoes. In her eyes, no matter how little we lived on, our relatives in her homeland considered us wealthy and fortunate compared to their impoverished situation.
Finally, my family teemed with creativity and the pursuit of knowledge. My father loved to eat and taught himself how to cook as a child. He would frequently experiment on us with new culinary concoctions. He went to college when he turned 40 and eventually earned his Masters degree. My mother was a talented seamstress who could make complicated apparel without using patterns. She would also crochet elaborate bed spreads, table runners, and doilies using thread instead of yarn. This environment fostered a love for being creative, to explore, and to constantly yearn to learn.
Fast forward 40 something years and a light bulb goes off in my head. All of these experiences have taught me to embrace frugality, creativity, reuse, appreciation, and improvement. Green living is the perfect way to live in sync with these core values. This year I have reignited my drive to convert to a more green life.
Do you remember the media focus on the dangers of BPA? That was enough to motivate me to purge my enormous stash of plastic containers and use glass and stainless steel instead. My favorite glass jar are canning jars. I also get the latching jars. Although you can buy them new and use them for generations, the best places to get them are at yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for .10 - .40 each for the screw top jars. Buying used helps in so many ways by lowering the amount that goes into landfills, reducing the use of resources and energy required for producing new items, and eliminating the waste that's associated with packaging, delivering, and merchandising products. Converting to using glass containers also reduces the toxic load on your body.
I am converting to natural cleaners by using vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, borax, and essentials oils. These are safer for you and the environment and are cheaper than off the shelf household and laundry cleaners. Vinegar is a disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain remover. This site has 1,001 uses for vinegar. Baking soda is a deodorizer, scrubbing powder, medicine, toothpaste, and stain remover. Here are some uses for baking soda. More uses can be found at the Arm & Hammer web site. Washing soda is a household and laundry cleaner. Here are some ideas for using washing soda. Borax is another household and laundry cleaner. Finally, essentials oils make the powder cleaners smell nice, add more disinfectant properties to your natural cleaners, and have many more uses.
Using the naturals cleaners mentioned above, I made my own laundry powder. I only use about 1/4 cup, it works wonderfully removing odors and stains, and my clothes smell like they just came off of the clothes line. Here are some easy laundry liquid and powder recipes.
I still have many commercial cleaners in my cabinets. Once I use them up, I will replace them with natural, less toxic alternatives. More frugal, creative, and green tips will be posted later.