Thursday, February 08, 2007

Growth Toward Green

For a few months now, I have considered "compacting" along with a growing number of families who desire a simple, "calm-pact" life. The Compact has several aims more or less prioritized below:

"To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.

To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-or).

To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)."

There are many ways to do this and I thought I would list a few of the things I am doing and would like to WORK on doing more consistently.

***I use cloth diapers & cloth wipes. I (in the summer/spring) hang them outdoors to dry. During the winter, I try to hang them indoors near the wood stove on a drying rack.
***I use cloth or reusable bags when I grocery shop.
***We heat our home with a wood stove instead of electric heat. When we need to use electric heat, we turn down the thermostats at night.
***I sometimes (would like to more often) cook and boil water on our wood-burning stove.
***I often bring a coffee thermos or mug when I go out for coffee or try to avoid a "to-go" cup by relaxing and enjoying my brew in a cafe mug.
*** I buy many things bulk and store them in large glass jars at home: peanut butter, oats, flour, rice, nuts, honey, syrup, baking supplies, dried fruit, beans, pasta...
*** I buy very little *new*. I have a running list of "needs" and some "wants" in my purse and I peruse local thrift shops and consignment stores once a week. Besides food, I find MOST
everything in great condition at used-stores for a fraction of the cost and waste. And I have a
blast! It's a treasure hunt everytime. I have learned it is easy to still over-buy in thrift stores,
so I set a limit on the amount I budget.
*** My husband and I read (and own) a fantastic book called Clean House, Clean Planet:Clean your House for Pennies a Day, the safe, non-toxic way. by Karen Logan. We are in the process of changing all of our cleaners to homemade, non-toxic combinations. The book is full of simple recipes for great-smelling products that clean just as well, if not better.
*** We have grown a decent-sized garden for the past 3 years. We would like to do it entirely organic but in the past have done about 80% organic.
*** I'd like to get a baby seat for my bike and bike around town more often.
*** I try to buy organic or at least locally grown. We are at about 80% organic. There is a great link to "the dirty dozen" that I found through a blog I enjoy. Reading this list has encouraged me to *always* buy organic for certain things.

This is a major focus in my life right now. I will revisit this topic often. In the meantime, I will share what I am learning and would love comments about tips and topics along these lines. Feel free to comment, in fact, please do!



churchmouse said...

Matthew and I have also been doing our best to reduce toxic cleaners in our home.

We've been using a solution of limonene (from orange-peel), vinegar, and water as an all-purpose cleaner.

What do you know about limonene?

Do you have an alternative to bleach for whitening stained white laundry?

What about gentle laundry detergents for baby clothes?

(Looks like I should get that book you have)

Cheryl (3 1/2 weeks left to my due date!)

Mama Monk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Monk said...

Hi cheryl!!
I am excited to hear you are in your final month. unbelievable and wonderful!

I'm not familiar with limonene, though i have used a natural cleaner called "organic orange" derived from orange peel. so i wonder if that is a similiar product. I was really happy with it and just haven't replenished it since I ran out.

As far as bleach alternatives: sunlight and lemon juice is an ultra-natural way to whiten whites. Put a little lemon juice on a stained area, launder like you normally would and hang to dry in the ful sunlight. This has an amazing whitening effect, though possible only in the summer. Plain white distilled vinegar is also a great alternative, you can scent it with essential oils. Also hydrogen peroxide works as a mild bleach, when applied directly to a spot it will fade by the stain by 40% or more.

I use borax and scent free detergent when I wash my cloth diapers. I have recently come across recipes for making my own detergent but haven't tried them yet. I will let you know when I have one I can recommend out of experience.

Take care!

Rach said...

HI Mama Monk

I've just had a lovely hour getting to know you. I'll be returning's stimulating to find others who are living with the same passions.
I love how you write and may end up quoting you yet;-)