going green

I have a new goal: to incorporate more “green” practices into my life.

This weekend Daniel and I set out to gather the supplies for some homemade, environmentally friendly laundry detergent, using this recipe. We went to several places, but we couldn’t find washing soda. This article, written for moms who use (and therefore have to launder) cloth diapers, indicates that baking soda is an acceptable, albeit gentler alternative. So we just doubled the amount and used baking soda, but now I wish I had researched the matter a little more, because I found this guy’s method of decomposing baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to washing soda (sodium carbonate). Scroll down to Roger’s answer to see it. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’m a biochemistry major, so a little homemade reaction sounds fun.

Anyway, Daniel used some of the homemade detergent on Sunday and the clothes look fine. Next I’m going to try to make dishwasher detergent. Who knew borax was so useful! I’m also going to pick up a bunch of spray bottles (Archie McPhee has some pretty ones!) to put together some other cleaning solutions, like glass and surface cleaner. There’s really no reason to pay for Windex when rubbing alcohol and vinegar can accomplish the exact same thing.

I’ve also been trying to cut down on the number of plastic grocery bags we use. We save them under the sink and reuse them, but after reading about how San Francisco has recently banned plastic shopping bags, I feel like we could be doing a little more, so I’m working on whipping up some grocery tote bags. I’ve made a couple so far out of some sweet little duck cloth fat quarters I received in a craft swap. Here’s one of them cleverly disguised as my yarn bag:

This post at Disdressed has some good comments about living green. The next time I’m down at IKEA I’m definitely going to pick up some low-wattage bulbs (I believe they’re 15W, but as bright as a normal incandescent 60W bulb). And I’m going to keep on churning out the grocery totes! If I burn out though, I saw a bunch of smallish ones at Trader Joe’s for only $2.99.

3 responses to “going green

  1. Oh my gosh, that bag is darling.

    So glad you had success with the detergent, even if you had to substitute. Washing soda has been rough for us to find as well.

    Re: Ikea light bulbs — I haven’t had great luck with their brand, but I’ve read that every fixture is different. You also may try whatever cfl your local Home Depot (or Lowe’s or Ace or OSH or whatever) carries, as they tend to be more reliable.

  2. Gerard

    Don’t worry about the plastic bags – it takes much more energy to drive to the mall. The average plastic bag weight around 6 grams (1/4 ounce?). That amount of fuel drivs an SUV less than 100yards!

    Just make sure the bags are not littered – and enjoy the convenience of use and re-use.

    Gerard, Sydney, Australia – with a daughter studying in Seattle

  3. Rachel

    Have you considered trying to make the handles on your bags so that they are stiff enough that they stand on their own? It makes them much easier to pick up when your hands are full or when wearing mittens.

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