It is amazing that in today’s world, rampant with consumerism, Living Green has become a concept that has to be taught. Yet, most of the tips provided by Live Green Gurus were common practices a few generations ago.
My grandmother managed her household in a much simpler time when she didn’t have access to the abundance of products that we do today. Living in India, my grandma used to tell us about how they had a wood burning stove and even used cow dung or cow pie as fuel to light the stove. They didn’t have heat in the winters so everybody in the family would huddle around the stove at night while milk was heated for all. Nothing went to waste in the kitchen. The cream that formed on top of the milk when boiling was used to make ghee (clarified butter). If milk was over a day old, it was quickly converted to paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for the fear that the milk would go to waste. Vegetable waste was fed to cows and dogs that roamed the streets. Clothes were recycled; old saris where used to make bed sheets and totes to carry vegetables from the vegetable market. She definitely didn’t raise her 4 kids in disposable diapers and used cloth instead (I know what you are thinking – yes, cloth was used as a personal hygiene product as well). Her eyeliner was organic, made by burning almonds in a pan. The charred remains are known as kajal or kohl.
She did all that and more while raising 4 kids. *Standing ovation* And here I am unable to sometimes go to the grocery store. Anyway, although I cannot do all the amazing things she did, here are some things that I do to keep my home and wallet green:
- Cleaning products – I like to use a mixture of baking soda, lemon, vinegar and warm water to remove stains off the kitchen counter, cabinets, sink and tub. I mix baking soda in about a cup of water, juice of half a lemon and a few drops of vinegar. Use baking soda in your toilet as well. All of these items are inexpensive and are typically available to you in your kitchen /pantry at all times.
- Wood polish – to keep our furniture shiny, I wipe them with a few drops of olive oil (my toddler son has learned to spit and that does the job too!)
- Thermostat/AC – we keep our thermostat set at 20ºC in the winter (no t-shirts allowed!) and our AC at 22ºC in the summer. Our AC is used only during the non-peak hours and during peak hours our fans keep us cool.
- Electricity usage – we limit the use of our washing machine, dryer and dishwasher to non-peak hours and conserve electricity. We have noticed a huge decrease in our hydro bills in the past year while doing so.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle! We consciously try to recycle all cartons, glass, plastics and metal. My husband is a stickler for following the instructions on what can and cannot go into the Blue bin as per the Toronto city guidelines. http://www.toronto.ca/garbage/bluebox/
- Garden – Weeds are my husband’s nightmare. He would like nothing more to get the most destructive chemicals to get rid of these life-sucking plants. However, WE like to spray them down with a vinegar and warm water mixture. Also, during the summer, used tea leaves, egg shells go in to the soil of our garden.
- Disposable towels – I have decreased the use of disposable towels considerably and instead use small hand towels to wipe kitchen counters and cabinets.
- Dryer sheets – another great tip, that I have yet to try, is to soak a hand towel in fabric softener. Once it is dry, use it in your dryer as a dryer sheet. This should last up to 40 loads. Credit: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/make-your-own-f-36020
- Second hand items – we believe in buying gently used furniture as much as possible. In fact, after we had our son, we bought used toys for him and gladly accepted his first car seat, soft toys and clothes from friends and family. We also donate gently used clothing and other items at our local Goodwill store.
So, although I sometimes debate about whether I should expose poor earth dwelling organisms to living hell by putting my son’s poop diapers in the green bin or to just chuck them in the garbage pail, I hope that the small decisions I make for the betterment of our home will also help our earth breathe a little easier.
What are some of the things that you do to make your home green?