Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Healthy Decisions

My uncle passed away recently, after battling cancer for the past five years. He, and my aunt and cousins, were much braver through all of this than I think I could ever be. But he is not the only member of my family who has been touched by this illness. I heard a recent statistic that said that one in every three people will develop cancer.

Perhaps it is the undeniable proof of our mortality, and my belief that it may be due, in part, to the various toxins and pollutants that we are exposed to in our daily lives, but I have been worrying about my family's health, and anxious to make sure that we all do everything we can to live as healthily as we are able.

The first thing we can do, of course, is to try to buy organic produce as much as possible, and to avoid processed foods. To that end, I am a full supporter of buying locally from farmer's markets, taking advantage of any natural food supermarkets, joining CSAs, and growing your own food organically.

Green Clean

Recently, however, I have been thinking a lot about house cleaning. Women used to clean their houses without the dozen different cleaners that we keep in our cupboards today, and they used to clean them with things that we could safely eat. I've decided that I want to switch back to natural methods of cleaning, and I did some research at the bookstore for books that could help.

Green This!

If you want to read about why it's a good idea to return to natural cleaning products, and what kinds of nasty chemicals and toxins are contained in most commercially available cleaning products, I would recommend this small volume, Green This!

Green Housekeeping

Green Housekeeping contains lots of "recipes" for making natural cleaning products that are quite simple, along with generally good advice on how to make your house cleaning more environmentally friendly.

Better Basics For the Home

And, if you are interested in finding the right recipe for every possible cleaning application, as well as homemade skin-, pet- and everything-care recipes, Better Basics For the Home probably has everything you could want, and more. You can also check out the author's website.

Although I think each of these books is useful in its own way, and there are many other similar titles available, since I'm living in a small apartment and don't have that much time (or space) for mixing a large variety of cleaning recipes, I chose the well-organised but fairly comprehensive (and stain- and water-proof) Green Clean (pictured above). None of the books is very expensive, and I figure that the money I will save in cleaning products will quickly recover the cost of purchase.

And it's so simple. All you really need to clean most things in your home are:

  1. white vinegar,
  2. baking soda and/or washing soda,
  3. hydrogen peroxide,
  4. lemons,
  5. salt, and possibly
  6. borax

That's it. I will still buy environmentally friendly dish soap (I am currently using Sun and Earth dish soap, although other brands might be Seventh Generation, Ecover and Method) and laundry detergent (I am currently using Biokleen's powdered detergent, which is available in a cardboard carton, instead of in a plastic bottle).

I am thinking of sending weekly e-mails to my family members with recipes and information I can glean from the book I ordered, others at the library, and the numerous organic/natural cleaning websites. There are so many advantages to switching over (it's healthier, less expensive, more environmentally responsible), I hope that they will all be interested in and able to do it.


Anonymous said...

Ever tried soap nuts as a laundry detergent? They grow on trees over in India & Nepal, and have been used for centuries as a natural laundry detergent & all-purpose cleaner. They are also cheaper per load than your conventional laundry detergents.

greeeenwithenv said...

I'm so sorry about your uncle. I don't think I've met him, but if he's anything like the rest of your family (warm, generous, friendly), that's a huge loss.