The Truth about Bottled Water

Many people assume that bottled water is healthier than water from the tap. What they may not realize is what they’re getting may not be any better than tap water. In fact, name-brand companies such as Dasani and Aquafina actually use just that, tap water. Consumers often pay 1,000 times more for bottled water, an unregulated and sometimes even inferior product. Images of sparkling mountain streams and gushing springs seduce the consumer right into a scam. That’s money being poured right down the drain!

Not only is the bottled water itself an issue, the plastic it’s packaged in is an environmental hazard. 60 million water bottles are thrown into landfills each DAY! Although recycling the bottles is better than throwing them away it still doesn’t solve the problem. Even if everyone recycled their water bottles there is still the issue of all the fossil fuels needed to make them in the first place, transport them across the country and then recycle them. Re-using the bottles isn’t the best option either because they are made from polyethylene terephthalate or PET plastic (Recycle code #1), a plastic made for one-time use only.

Consider a better and healthier alternative, reusable bottles. Stainless steel or aluminum (Sigg brand) water bottles don’t release any chemicals and leave your water tasting clean and fresh. My family uses stainless steel bottles made by Klean Kanteen. You can even purchase them with sippy lids for toddlers! Here’s where I bought mine: Reusablebags.com

While tap water is generally safe many of us feel better taking an additional step to insure healthy water. In-home water filtration is the best option out there. It’s more environmentally friendly, healthier and cheaper than bottled water. I’ve been using a Brita pitcher filter but am looking into upgrading to a Berkey filter. I love that it’s powered by gravity and doesn’t require any fancy hookup to the faucet. Apparently it can even filter straight lake water! That would be fun to try! I will probably purchase the fluoride removing attachment as well. If any of you have experience with this particular water filter please let me know. I’m eager to try it! I’ll be sure to let you know how I like it.

Comparison of Popular Water Filters

Sources: Earth Policy Institute, Bottled Water Blues

To turn off or not to turn off - That is the question

I’d always heard that with fluorescent bulbs it’s actually more efficient to leave them on rather than turn them off. This didn’t really make sense to me but I went along with it. I changed my ways after watching Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel (Air Date: December 13, 2006). The MythBusters crew tested a variety of common household bulbs to see if this is true. They measured both the start-up and steady state energy consumption. They found it’s worth it to leave the fluorescent bulb on for 23.3 seconds if leaving the room but the other bulbs were negligible. So no matter what the bulb, it basically uses less energy to turn the bulb off then to leave it on when not in the room. In addition to bulb energy use they also tested longevity and found that turning the bulbs off and on more frequently does not decrease their life span.

Episode 69: 22,000 foot fall, Lights On or Off

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! 

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