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It Ain’t Easy Being Clean, Either

Ok, sorry for the posting mishap. I think I just made a blank posting. Not that that’s any worse than my usual postings.

I’m at home today because theoretically we are getting recessed lighting put in. I say theoretically because the electrician is 2.5 hours late. He called about an hour and a half ago to say that he was going to be here in 30 minutes. It seems (see my previous post) that if left home alone, I stray to the dark netherworld of cleaning supplies. Since I’m down to my last few drops of the Method cleansers I bought a few months ago, I found myself on this website: . Inspired, I decided that I was going to refill my Method bottles (recycling) with some of these non-toxic recipes (cheap). Going down the supply list, though, the only recipe I could make with what’s in my house was a 1:1 water/vinegar combo. Then, to make myself feel more commercial, I put in a few drops of red food coloring (which promptly stained my hands to a murderous hue as the bottle, which had been unopened since 2003 which was the last time I baked, exploded). Then, I gave my counter a squirt. I was pleasantly surprised at how little it smelled like vinegar — and then thought it might be nice to add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance next time (which I would have done if I had any).

Anyway, I’m really excited about these cleaning supplies. They’re cheap, and they won’t kill you!

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green

So over the past few years I’ve slowly begun to go green…not for the right reasons, like caring about the environment or anything, but to satisfy one of my neuroses: I have this thing about efficiency. I can’t stand it when things aren’t efficient. Once when I was in college (and obsessive about recycling; again, because I can’t stand waste) I had a dream about eating paper. I was eating the paper because it was too inefficient to throw it away.

I was home from work today because my kids were both sick. It’s a really good thing that I’m not a stay-at-home mom because I ended up buying $75 worth of household cleaner (Xtreme Kleen)from a door-to-door salesman after he drank some of the all-purpose-cleaner to prove to me that it was non-toxic (and biodegradable, and environmentally sound, etc). But I just wanted him to stop drinking the solvent. I had already purchased some Methodcleaning supplies thinking that it would be better overall for all of us (including the housecleaners I have) to have more environmentally and theoretically safer products. $75 later, I started doing some research on cleaning products. Here’s what I found:

  • Manufacturers of cleaning supplies are not required to divulge their ingredients. This makes it kind of hard to figure out if what you’re buying is good for your health or the environment.
  • Biodegradable and environmentally friendly does not equal good for your health. For instance, a lot of biodegradable products (like butyl cellosolve) are fine for the environment but can cause a whole host of problems for humans (like liver and reproductive damage, to name a few). Butyl cellosolve happens to be in many household cleaners, including Xtreme Kleen and other more common brands. Method didn’t disclose particulars; their ingredient list says things like “biodegradable solvent”. Hm.
  • There are no regulated labels for claims like “environmentally friendly” and other phrases that make things sound like they’re good for you / the earth. I bought some “environmentally friendly” laundry detergent and the ingredient list was no different from the Costo Kirkland brand laundry detergent I had purchased previously.

So what’s a girl to do? The best thing to do is to live in filth. No, actually, the safest thing to do (which I have yet to do, and maybe I’m willing to risk my health in order to optimize idle time) is to make your own household cleaners. If you’re inspired to do this, here‘s a link. It is a whole lot cheaper, but — let me know how it goes.

Since I won’t be making my own household cleaner in the next couple of hours, I was looking for some easier efficiency projects to concentrate on. A few months ago I already switched out 1 in 3 of our lightbulbs for energy efficient types. Surprisingly, it made a pretty significant dent in our electric bill. More efficient! I stumbled upon my latest idea on the National Geographic Green Guide site. I haven’t subscribed yet to the Green Guide because 1) I’m lazy and 2) it seems counterintuitive that I would subscribe to this thing that is printed on paper, but I’m sure I’ll get over that. The idea is to stop using paper napkins at dinner. I do happen to have about a thousand cloth napkins that get used about once a year sitting in the linen closet upstairs. I don’t know why I never thought to actually just use them. I mean, I have to do laundry anyway, so why not. And I’ll argue that I don’t have to press them because I’ll use up less energy using them wrinkled.



How not to get really, really sick

I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. But I can’t afford to get really, really sick, because there are people to feed and drive around and jobs to do. In fact, somewhere along the way to parenthood it became illegal to be sick — if my husband is sick, rather than feeling sorry for him, I’m usually annoyed. So here’s my strategy for not getting really sick. It’s ok to be a little sick — that is, you’re still functional but have a slight cough or congestion — but the type that gets you laid up in bed hiding under the covers is pretty much unacceptable once you have kids.

  • As soon as you feel the tiniest inkling of getting sick, like an itchy throat or general malaise, or if you’ve been near sick people, take some Cold-Eeze. I’ve tried both Airborne and Cold-Eeze (I’m sure the generic zinc lozenges work just as well) and have had better success with the latter.
  • Keep taking it every 4-6 hours til the feeling subsides.
  • Sleep a lot. If I feel something coming on, I try to go to bed shortly after the kids do. When I used to travel a lot for a demanding job, I found that sleeping was the best way to prevent illness (as well as recover from it). I’m willing to bet this is actually the silver bullet when it comes to mitigating a cold.

I also pop multi-vitamins regularly if I feel like I’m fighting something. It’s been years since I’ve been so sick that I can’t do anything, so I think I’m on to something here. Give it a try — your family will thank you (or at the very least, they won’t resent you).