Posts filed under ‘housekeeping’

Pine Sol without Pine

cleaningWith all the gardening and soil hauling that I’ve been doing this week, my floors have gotten really nasty and muddy. Yesterday I attempted to address this problem with a little mop action. Of course, my floors are already muddy again, but that’s not my point. My point is this: what the F am I doing with a bottle of lemon-scented Pine Sol under my sink?

Pine Sol, on its own, is really not that bad. Its active ingredient is pine oil, which is a natural cleaning agent that comes from distilling the needles and wood of pine trees. The cleanser also includes alkyl alcohol ethoxylates, which are toxic if you consume them and hazardous in large quantities but also totally biodegradable, as well as isopropanol, which is basically rubbing alcohol. The cleanser also has some sodium petroleum sulfonate, which is basically oil-based soap. While you wouldn’t want to drink Pine Sol, or rub it on your skin, it’s probably not the worst thing (from an environmental perspective) to clean your floors with.

But still – lemon scented Pine Sol? I can’t even remember buying this stuff. I generally clean my house with vinegar, lemon juice, and the occasional “natural” cleanser that I buy from natural foods stores when I’m feeling fancy (note: the Seventh Generation bottle pictured above is about 3 years old and currently contains a vinegar-water solution). Pine Sol is a product of the Clorox Company, which is on the cutting-edge of greenwashing after having bought out Burt’s Bees and with its “Green Works” products (CLOROX: disposable wipes will never be “green”, please stop making them!). (more…)


April 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Flies are fuel

flytrapI just wanted to link to something really really cool. And kind of creepy.

It seems that a design firm is making household furniture/robots that make their own electricity by attracting and then digesting household pests. I don’t know how it works, but it seems to involve lights, holes, and something called “microbial fuel cells”. Soooo cool.

April 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm 1 comment

Lazy blogger, mediocre environmentalist


It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and I don’t really have an excuse. I think it’s because I keep coming up with blog topics that are kind of hard to research and/or comply with. Someone recently told me that it actually slows down your boiling water if you add salt to it first – I always have added salt in the beginning because I thought it sped up the process. Does anyone know what the truth is? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would really like to know whether I’m wasting a ton of energy trying to heat up salty water all the time.

I’ve also been thinking about greening up my cat’s litter situation, but I’m totally hooked on Fresh Step (which is clay-based and not at all green, plus it costs about $10 a box). I’m not at all interested in potty-training my cats, (more…)

April 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Clean, Green Bum

toiletpaperI’m always looking for ways to cut disposable products from my lifestyle. I don’t use paper towels or tissues, having replaced them with dish cloths and hankeys. I use cloth grocery bags and try my best to avoid buying foods and other products that come in lots of packaging that can’t be re-used or recycled. I’ve even swtiched from tampons to the keeper. The goal is to never throw anything out, unless it’s going into my compost or recycling bins.

But there is one thing I’m just too chicken to live without – namely, toilet paper.

I have heard of people who use water and wash cloths to clean up after using the toilet, but I don’t really feel like joining them at this point in my life. In college, when living abroad in West Africa, I learned how to wipe like the locals – with my left hand. It didn’t take long before I’d made a habit of carrying little packets of tissues with me at all times just in case I had to “go”. I simply can’t give up the satisfying feeling of a dry bottom.

So in lieu of giving up toilet paper all together, I’ve done the next best thing: buying Marcal toilet paper. I’m not big on brand loyalty, but Marcal toilet paper is my very favorite, because even though they just recently started packaging their TP in fancy “gree-looking” wrappers, they’ve only ever offered 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper. And it’s just as cheap as all the low-end paper products you’ll find in the cleaning aisle at the grocery store.

Brands like Scott and Kleenex usually don’t use recycled paper – and when they do, they charge extra and less than half of the paper comes from recycled sources. Recycled toilet paper may not be as soft as first-generation paper, but that’s a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? A much smaller price than, say, not wiping.

February 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

Fancy Glassware

jarsLook at these snazzy glasses I bought at Pier One. Or Ikea. They only cost $10 each. Can you believe it? What a deal.

Gotcha! I actually didn’t pay anything for these glasses, and they’reĀ  not even glasses at all – they’re jars. But I’m using them as glasses, because every time I buy glassware it ends up broken (thanks, Boyfriend), and it’s not worth buying new ones. Instead, we just look for peanut butter and jam and pickles and whatnot that come in glass jars, and when they’re empty we wash them out and use them for drinking. They’re free, durable, and sometimes even attractive. The big ones are good for water and the little ones work well when we’re treating ourselves to a cocktail or glass of wine.

So forget buying new glasses at the store. It’s a waste of time, money and resources. Next time you’re shopping for food, think about the container that it comes in and whether or not you can re-use it. Be cool like me and drink from jars!

February 7, 2009 at 9:35 pm 4 comments

Elbow Grease


Allow me to introduce you to my fabulously understated tea kettle. Boyfriend and I use this every day to boil water for his coffee and my tea, and after over three years of use and abuse, our poor, chickenesque kitchen implement developed a thick coating of greasy stuff that a normal dish washing could not penetrate. Many of us would merely toss out an old pot or kettle once it reaches this point of stuck-on greasiness, or else turn to some harsh grease-dissolving chemical cleanser or magically toxic eraser. Neither of these options is very green, but applying a little elbow grease to the problem is always an eco-friendly option, and it’s cheap too.

The key to cleaning up my nasty old kettle was the age-old practice of scrubbing. Using the scratchy-side of a normal dish sponge, plus a dollop of dish soap (I’m using this brand these days), I was able to rid my kettle of all that goo in about 15 to 20 minutes (I forgot to check the clock before I started). Pointer: don’t run the water while you’re cleaning like this (you shouldn’t run it when you’re doing dishes anyway). Water will wash away the soap and make it way harder than it should be, so just wet the sponge, add the soap, and keep the water turned off till you’re ready to rinse.

I won’t deny that my little exercise in scrubbery took a toll – I warmed up pretty fast and had to take off my sweater in order to avoid sweating – but overall it was pretty quick and painless. For the final bits of really tough stains I sprinkled about a teaspoon of baking powder on to give it a little extra abrasiveness, and pretty soon the whole thing was as shiny as the day I bought it (except for the chipped enamel and burnt plastic that I couldn’t change if I wanted to, and I wouldn’t change because they give the kettle character).

So if you’re considering trashing, replacing or chemically-treating your kitchen tools, think again! A little elbow grease can go a long way.

January 26, 2009 at 7:24 pm Leave a comment



If you haven’t seen the ads for Shamwow, it means you probably haven’t been watching as much TV as I have over the past month. But it also means you should go to their website and be amazed. Watch the video of Vince (who’s an exceptional salesman and housekeeper) using this magnificent, German-made device. It soaks up wine and other spilled beverages in mere seconds, and even pulls liquid up through carpeting. Truly amazing.

But what’s even better is that the ad for Shamwow is telling people to stop using paper towels. Any advertisement that encourages Americans to use fewer disposable goods is a friend of mine (yes, I have friends who are actually commercials), and even though I don’t intend to buy the Shamwow, I am a huge fan (but if you’re reading this, Shamwow people, feel free to send me a free sample and I’ll give it a try). And if you don’t have a drawer in your kitchen that’s full of dish cloths, you might as well drop the $20 and try it out. It will save you bundles in paper towel costs.


January 5, 2009 at 10:57 pm 1 comment

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