Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#48 Don't spoil the foil

Since I'm on the topic of reusing things, I thought I'd post about reusing your aluminum foil. In this case it pays to get heavy duty, good quality foil. After it is used, carefully wash the foil in soapy water, or even tent it up and stick it in the dishwasher.  If you are careful with it, it can last a long time.  I've had a roll that was given to me about 3 years ago and it's still going strong.    When the peices get too small or holey, I still wash them and then put them in the recycle bin.

Pros:  Aluminum is expensive, so conserving it can save you a lot of money especially if you use it a lot.    It's also a resource worth conserving.

Cons:  You really do have to be careful with it when washing it.  That's why I recommend the super heavy duty stuff.   Sometimes stuff just gets too stuck to it and it's hard to get clean.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

#47 Don't toss 'em 'til they're sad and holey

Know what I'm talking about?  Yes, that ever-so-useful zipper plastic baggie.  They are everywhere, aren't they?  Even if I didn't purchase any (which I haven't since 2007,) they end up in my house.  And lets face it, although I'd like to be rid of such plastics they are extremely useful.   From freezing stuff to holding stray crayons.   So in order to get all the use that I can out of them, I wash them.  It really is simple.  Rinse them out, turn them inside out, and put them in the laundry. Easy, no?  Okay, you have to take them out before they go into the dryer.  But still.  I have not purchased any bags since I started going green, and yet it seems that I have more bags than I used to.  They come home from school, from goodies from friends, and my husband even brings some home from work when they were just going to get thrown in the trash.  
I throw them away when they get holes, will no longer close, or when they've been used for raw poultry.

Pros: Reusing plastic means less plastic waste, while still retaining the convenience of the bags.

Cons:  It is plastic, and they do wear out eventually (the more expensive brands last longer.)  I have to make sure they don't get washed in loads of laundry with diapers.  I have occasionally missed one and sometimes they will get melted in the dryer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#46 Avoid dry cleaning like the plague

People are becoming more and more aware that the main chemical used in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene, a known carcinogen.  Why expose yourself to this?  And why pay so much money to do it?  My solution to the dry-cleaning problem is mostly to NOT OWN DRY-CLEAN ONLY CLOTHES!   Simple, isn't it?  Okay, I confess that I have a couple of very nice articles of clothing that slipped in somehow and must be dry cleaned.    But really, any mother of small children knows that it isn't worth owning nice things in the first place.  They end up covered in some sort of goo-- and the nicer the clothes, the more stuff that ends up on them, right?

There are beginning to be some greener dry cleaning options out there, unfortunately there are none locally for me.  Also, some clothing that claims that it is "dry clean only" can actually be washed in a gentle cycle and hung to dry.  I have had success with this with a few items that were hand-me-downs from my mother.  (It's a little easier to take the risk when I didn't pay for the clothes in the first place.)  

Pros: Avoiding the dry cleaners is avoiding a huge expense!   Non-dry-clean-only clothing means more practical clothing.  Staying away from carcinogens is always a good thing.

Cons: If you do want to dry clean at a "green" dry cleaners, it's bound to be more expensive.  No dry cleaning may mean limiting your clothing choices.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

#45 Make your own detergent

Back up to the wash cycle again.  I have been wanting for a while to try making my own laundry detergent, and now I've finally gotten around to doing it!  It was really easy and so far has been working great.  Here is the recipe I used:

1/2 c. borax
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 bar soap, grated
about 2 gallons water

Place part of the water in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Add soap (I used Lever because that's what I had around) and other ingredients until dissolved.  Take off heat, add to the rest of the water.  Stir.  Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load, depending on how soiled your load is.   I estimate the cost for this entire batch at $0.40.   I used an old cat litter bucket to put it in.

As a side note:  a lot of recipes for laundry soap include Fels Naphtha soap.   I was going to try this, as it has been praised for it's effectiveness.  However, the ingredient list for this soap is "cleaners, soil and stain removers, chelating agents, perfumes, and colorants."  Can it get any more vague than that?  What is really in that stuff??? Sorry, don't trust it.

Pros:  Cheap, effective, much less packaging than prepared soaps.  No added chemicals, dyes, or perfumes (or at least you can choose what you want to add by what kind of soap you use.)

Cons:  Doesn't really have any stain removal power, so I must be diligent in my use of oxi-clean as a pre-wash stain treater.  Also, homemade detergent must be stirred before use.