Recycle Through the Freecycle Network(TM)

Do you have something usable to get rid of but hate to see it thrown in a landfill? Are you looking for something that someone else may not need anymore? The Freecycle Network(TM) may be the answer for you.

I have been a member of our local Freecycle group here in Grand Rapids for a couple years now. I’ve been able to find people who want things that I can no longer use, such as craft supplies, my hockey stick, deer corn etc. I’ve also found things I was needing such as an old hose and water bin for an irrigation project I was planning. My favorite ‘find’ was a collection of “Organic Gardening” magazines that someone no longer needed and that I was drooling for!

Here’s how it works. Go to the Freecycle homepage and search for the group nearest you. It’s free to sign up. Then post something you’re looking for or post something you have to give away. There will be a huge list of posts that you can browse. If you find something that you’re interested in, you can email the person who posted and let them know of your interest. The main thing is everything must be kept free. There is no trading or selling allowed on Freecycle. There are a few other restrictions as well, such as no posting of computer software and no seeking out things to re-sell them. I will say that things tend to go quickly on Freecycle.

The Freecyle concept is a brilliant one and I highly encourage you to try it. Let’s keep as much as we can out of our landfills!

Homemade Laundry Soap

image Monday is laundry day at our house. Since going green I’ve made a lot of changes to our laundry routine.
First thing to go was the commercial laundry detergent. With it’s many harmful chemicals (such as nonylphenol ethoxylates & chlorine bleach) I didn’t want to risk the health of my family or the health of our planet by using it. I now make my own laundry soap and it works quite well! It’s pretty simple, very inexpensive and makes about 5 gallons so it lasts a long time.

Materials:
2 bars soap, grated - I use Kirks soap as it has less un-natural ingredients and is only .99 a bar
1 c. Borax - Meijers sells this under the brand ‘20 Mule Team Borax’
1 c. Wash Powder - I get Arm & Hammer’s ‘Super Washing Soda’ from Meijers

Put grated soap in a medium-size saucepan and cover with water. Put on stove over low heat and stir until dissolved.
Fill a 5-gallon bucket with hot water and stir in disolved soap mixture until combined. Then mix in borax and washing soda. It’s pretty liquidy at first but will thicken as it cools. You can use 1-2 cups per load.

*many thanks to the girls at Well Tell Me forums for this recipe*

Another thing I add to my laundry is white vinegar. I just put it in the fabric-softener cup so it will be dispersed during the rinse cycle. Vinegar is an excellent anti-bacterial and it dissolves urea (urine). Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold and Germs Drying clothes: Using a clothesline has been more relaxing than I initially thought it would be. Granted, it’s more work than a dryer but everytime I do it I’m saving money and helping the environment. It gets me outside as well which is always a good thing. According to Ideal Bite it can even save you up to $135! While hanging up the wash I have time to ponder things or just be in silence. It’s good for my soul and good for the earth! 

Greening Your Housekeeping

In seeking to live a greener and healthier life one of the first changes I needed to make was with my cleaning products. I always hated cleaning the bathroom because my cleaners would smell so strong and make my eyes burn. I had to turn on the exhaust fan just to make it bearable. All the while I never realized how horrible it was to be breathing them in. It never even occurred to me that they might not be good for my health or that there would even be alternatives. I was pleased to find however that there are not only alternatives but they are often cheaper!
Vinegar and baking soda are now staple items in my home. They’re a natural homemaker’s best friends! Not only do I use them to clean, I use them in my hair (more about that another time)! Baking soda is a natural abrasive. I use it to scrub out the sink and then spray with vinegar to kill off any molds. It sure beats bleach! I avoid bleach at all costs!
Here are two books that I highly recommend if interested in creating a healthier cleaning environment for you and your family.
image “Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Non-Toxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity” by Ellen Sandbeck. This book is chock full of ways to green your household!

Here’s basically what it covers:

better ways to use your space (organization)
healthy habits in the kitchen
appliance efficiency
hazards in beauty products
laundry protocol
cleaning the whole house
air quality
household safety
gardening
taking care of pets
baby-proofing

It pretty much has everything you could ever want to know about keeping your household green! With all this information it does take awhile to read. I recommend reading it through once, making a list of several changes you’d like to make and then using the book for reference. Don’t try to change everything at once or you may get overwhelmed and give up on it all together. I’m glad for the changes we’ve been able to make in our house but I still have a lot to do to get things where I want them.

image “Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning” by Deirdre Imus. This book is an excellent book to start out with. It’s a much shorter read and still a good resource for greening up your home. In “Green This” Deirdre explains why greener cleaners are needed and warns of the health hazards from conventional cleaners.

Hooray for healthy homes! 

Drug-Free Lawn

image I’ve been wanting to follow an organic program with our yard for awhile now but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. So I checked out our local library and found “The Organice Lawn Care Manual” by Paul Tukey. This book is exactly what I needed. It covers everything you could want to know about caring for your lawn the GREEN way. If you currently use a strict regimen of chemicals on your lawn it shows you how to get your lawn off drugs and ease it into a sustainable ecosystem.

Here are some of the areas it covers:
Soil components
Types of grasses
How to start a lawn from scratch
How to renovate an existing lawn
Maintenance list month by month
Lawn ammendments
Composting
Economical ways to add nutrients
Watering
Mowing
Weeds & insect pests

With readable charts and informative pictures this book keeps your interest and is easy enough for any homeowner to understand. I now have a plan in place for renovating our own yard and tending to it’s specific needs. It’s a joy to know we can have a lush green lawn without compromising the health of our families or the environment.

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