Sometimes I realize one simple yet overlooked thing:
The easy way out sure is easy, but there is always a price to pay– like ickiness and increased toxicity in your home environment.
Bear with me.
Lately I’ve been cleaning more and more with white vinegar, baking soda, lemons, limes, and loads of elbow grease. I would love to come up here and blog about just how awesome it is and how good I feel about doing something that is not only dirt-cheap but good for the environment and good for little bodies who love to touch everything and big bodies who don’t want to get horrible lye derivatives on their clothes or unmentionables and et cetera.
I would also love to write on here about how awesome it is to recycle –by type of plastic or paper and correctly too, breaking down boxes, removing labels and washing everything thoroughly– or how divine it is to compost or how good it feels to clean using rags instead of disposable wipes.
Alas, I realize that the satisfaction to be derived from doing all that is more in the long-term benefits of body and soul. Long, LONG term.
Five years from now I’ll be telling you how much money I saved by stopping buying all those lovely noxious chemicals.
Ten years from now, I’ll cheer because my surfaces lasted longer thanks to the old-fashioned care I gave them.
Fifty years from now, I’ll think of the landfill I didn’t fill with disposable paper towels or poorly-recycled stuff (but I will think about the landfill I helped out with all of Herr Meow’s diapers… sigh).
Doing right by yourself and by the planet isn’t about knowing exactly what your contribution alone made. And yet, your contribution is also needed. And in the meantime, things take longer to clean and take more effort.
More laundry. More scrubbing. More wiping. More work. More hassle.
More, more, more. Exhausting and thankless.
This "yet" is what makes this whole blog entry have a point, by the way.
Yet. More consciousness in each step.
It does make you feel good.
There is a something inside of, well, at least me, that feels happy doing this despite the frustration and the sudden realization that THIS is why all of the everyday super toxic chemicals were created to clean your house in the first place: because they do the job in a fraction of the time and kill everything dead (including you, slowly and poisonously).
Being green is not just about empty blather: it actually IS about buying the efficient car because you don’t take long trips and it IS about buying from local farmers so your produce doesn’t take millions of dollars in storage, ripening, shipping and packaging (think about that the next time you see your apples came from New Zealand. D’oh! *hides the Breaburns*). It’s not just about hippies anymore. And it’s certainly not about celebrities who preach and whine and make people feel guilty but won’t even fly commercial.
It is also about cleaning the old-fashioned way.
It is also about blogging about cleaning the old-fashioned way. Because if you like things with fake lemon scent, you should try the real kind. Now THAT is clean.
In fact, let’s clean your microwave oven– an easy way to go green while quite obviously not:
Go get a lemon from the kitchen; chop it in quarters; stick in a small bowl of water (not too full now).
No lemon? Use some lemon juice. No! Don’t use lemon soda– what are you thinking?
Heat up for however long it takes for your microwave oven to boil water.
Pull the bowl out carefully, wipe the steam off, and inhale the lemony goodness. You’re welcome.
This may not work as well as your caustic cleaners, it’s true. But if you do it more often (because it’s fun and it smells good), your oven will be clean and won’t release zapped leftover toxic fumes from your old cleaner. So there.
Go forth and strive to be a little green today. And don’t tell anybody about my apples.
Pee Ess: Want to learn a little more? Here is a good collection of tips I found at a great blog called Sew Green.
Nice post. 🙂
Don’t sweat the paper towels. They’re … you know … paper. They biodegrade nicely. Get the ones without any fragrance or printing on them if you can help it, though.
your post is so good i feel totally guilty. because i hate cleaning and i love to cut corners with pre-soaked-in-whatever-cleaner-is-most-efficient wipes. but you’re right. it’s all about the long-term ramifications of your actions, which can be said about a lot of things besides the environment.
I LOVE this post! Every little bit helps… I get so annoyed with the environmentalists that say its “all or nothing”…
I’ve been cleaning more and more like this, too… I even have a stack of kitchen towels I made from hemming flannel I cut from the backs of old shirts to use instead of paper towels for some things, but I still buy and use paper towels, too… It’s worth a little more time and work, I think…
I don’t do much cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, though I do use it some. I do use mostly Method cleaning products, though. Being a paper product, I would think that paper towels would decompose quickly and without much harm to the environment.
I don’t usually recycle at all, though. I’d like to, but it’s just too much time and trouble.
We’re taking baby steps. My son & his dad just left in the car pool. My coffe filter was unbleached. And, I won’t print today.
You rock! Going green is sexy! Good for YOU and good FOR you 😉