An alternative guide to your cleaning disposables
House cleaning agents:
– Castile Soap (in bulk): a gentle natural soap that can be used on floors, kitchen sink, dishes, hands, dog, body, hair.
– Homemade all-purpose Cleaner (see recipes) for the weekly house cleaning, baking soda in a Parmesan shaker ($1.99 unpackaged at Cost Plus) for scrubbing jobs hydrogen peroxide for mildew (use sparingly since it’s not available in bulk)
House cleaning tools:
– Metal Scrubby. It works wonders on stainless if used in the direction of the grainloofah, natural brush, or a homemade scrubby knitted out of sisal twine for light scrubbing (loofah is a veggie, and you can grow your own!)– Feather duster for speed dusting. Use an old toothbrush for hard to reach places.– Microfiber cloths for every thing else (counters, floor, fridge, mirrors, etc.).
Cleaning Household Items:
Windows: Microfiber cloths are great, just add water. No window cleaner needed.
Un-washable messes: Turn clothing items you can’t donate into rags to clean up wax,auto grease,glue,caulk (use sparingly since they end up in the landfill!)
Air: Let plants absorb toxins and clean your air. I do not like to have objects sitting on the floor since they make floor cleaning more painful, but I have found a vertical wall planter that is ideal (picture above).
Laundry: Wash once a week only (to save time and dryer energy costs) with eco-friendly detergent (the one that has worked best for us is powder from a recyclable cardboard box such as Seventh Generation), using cold water cycles as much as possible. Savon-de-Marseille, dishwasher detergent, lemon or hydrogen peroxide work great on stains.
Drying: Dry on a line when possible. If you use a dryer, compost the dryer lint and forgo dryer sheets (you should not be wearing synthetic static clothes anyways). I personally have not found the heavily packaged, but reusable, dryer balls to be very effective.
Dry Cleaning/shirt laundering: Find a dry cleaner that has joined the sustainable world (Clean Look in Mill Valley for example). One that offers a reusable garment bag or nothing instead of plastic. And please do not settle for compostable bags, they are a real greenwashing ersatz.
Bea, of The Zero Waste Home, says “Refuse, Refuse, Refuse. Then reduce, reuse and recycle (and only in that order).”
Meet Bea and her family in this video: Second Act: The Johnson Family
Since embarking on the Zero Waste lifestyle a few years ago, Bea’s life and that of her family has completely changed… for the better. They now not only feel happier and eat healthier but also lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff, and action instead of inaction.
Today, Bea participates in media and speaking engagements to share her stories, tips and the benefits of Zero Waste living. She also provides home consulting services on decluttering, living simply and waste reduction.