Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Go Greener and Simpler {And a Giveaway}

Are you always trying to find new ways to protect the Earth, save money and live more simply and sustainably?  Aren't we all....

Sometimes it's just baby steps toward sustainability, but in the last 12 months I've committed to 10 ways that I will live a greener life.

1.  I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegarI've finally arrived at the 'magic formula' that makes my hair look shiny, clean and full of body.  And it only costs about $10 per year!
2.  I hang up my laundry, even in the winter.  I still put kids' clothes in the dryer in the winter, but all of my clothes and Partner-Guy's clothes get hung up to dry.
3.  I use cloth menstrual pads.  Before my 4th babe arrived, I invested $120 in cloth pads.  I love 'em.  I'll never, never, never go back to disposable menstrual products, and I look forward to one day buying pretty cloth pads for each of my daughters.
4.  I use cloth for housecleaning (instead of paper towels.)OK, this one was actually pretty hard.  I now use old prefold diapers for big messes (like cups of soy milk spilled on the couch and floor) and I just use dish cloths for everything else.  We are in the process of assembling an adequate supply of napkins and handkerchiefs.
5.  I make my own laundry detergent.  This one makes me want to say "Yup, I'm awesome!"  1 cup pure laundry soap (grated), 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup laundry soda.  Mix well.  Use 1/4 cup per load.  Works better than TIDE, costs half as much, and contains no chemicals.  LOVE IT!!
6.  I clean the kitchen, the bathroom and pots and pans with baking soda. Baking soda is not just for your hair, girls!  It's better on sinks and pots and my glass cook-top than anything I've ever tried.  But don't use it on mirrors and windows.
7.  I have a composter in my backyard.  The city of Toronto has a really good composting program for kitchen waste which gets picked up on garbage day, but we are composting the chicken poop and straw bedding.
8.  I joined a CSA.  Community Supported Agriculture, anyone?  In June I paid $600 to Willowtree Farm in order to receive a share of their harvest for 20 weeks.  It might seem like I am getting just $30/week of vegetables but it is more like a $50 value.  AND I'm supporting the local farming economy.  AND I'm feeding my family some of the most amazing and fresh vegetables we've ever tasted.
9.  I use only reusable containers for food (except for preserving blanched vegetables in freezer bags).  This was also harder than it might seem.  It was especially hard to get Partner-Guy to stop using sandwich bags for his lunch everyday.  But now we've even stopped using plastic wrap--we just cover bowls with a plate before placing in the fridge.
10.  I don't buy any packaged wheat-based foods:  cereal, bread, cookies, crackers, etc.  If I can bake it, we don't buy it.  And I've never fed my kids packaged cereal on a daily basis anyway.  (But we do buy rice crackers.)

Are you still reading because you're looking for the giveaway?

Leave a comment in which you commit to trying just ONE of the suggestions I've given for living a greener life.  You have to pick something that you AREN'T already doing.

On Saturday, October 1 I'll select one random winner to receive:
Do you already read Simple Mom? Last year she wrote this little book.  It deals with organizing and simplifying your time, your money and your home.  She inspired me to write Our Family Mission Statement.

Contest open to readers in Canada or America only.  One winner will be announced on Sunday, October 2.  Winner must contact me by email, providing postal information to claim the prize.

Good luck and Go Green!


  1. I am expecting our first child ... due October 14! Anyway, we are going to cloth diaper and I would like to start to make my own detergent instead of buying store brands. I have wanted to for a while but am committing to it now!

  2. I am DEFINITELY going to try the baking soda and vinegar! My hair is in desperate need of some help :)

  3. I tried giving up shampoo, but I jumped ship before I arrived at the "magic formula", I didn't give up the vinegar though.
    I have been wanting to switch to cloth pads, but have been putting it off each month. I just need to commit and do it!

  4. I would love this book! Great list. I am doing a number of these things already. But one thing I need to commit too and will be shortly is switching all plastic containers to glass ones and all ziploc bags for reusuable cloth snack bags!

  5. Isn't is something how motherhood so often leads to more natural parenting? I have also been implementing many of these Top 10 strategies, but I think I will work harder on #10, admitting that, yes, sometimes I buy a box of Cheerios for the kids.... this will be a good kick-in-the-pants to avoid that.... and I'd love the book giveaway as well! -Kerry

  6. Cleaning/laundry! I changed over the "green" but purchased solutions - now I have been procrastinating working on making our own...I'm in! Thanks for the great blog!!

  7. First off, yup, you are awesome!

    As for the giveaway...I'm going to try the baking soda/vinegar concoction on my hair. I'm a little vain when it comes to my long, lustrous do, but I'm way too curious and too fed up with bottled shampoo not to try this one. Question: Do you use conditioner at all? Will the 'magic formula' for my hair do away with my need for moisturizing conditioner?

    I've read about homemade laundry detergent before and your recipe sounds way simpler. Do yo just mix it all together? How much do you use per load?

    Thank you!!!

  8. Alright, I've been trying to decide which I am most likely to stick with of the ones I'm not already doing. We'll try hanging the laundry! Great idea for a giveaway!

  9. I think I'm going to give the baking soda and vinegar a try. My hair needs a change, and I have 3 bottles of cider vinegar in the cupboard from canning red pepper jellies and salsas this year. (those have been my latest efforts to live greener and more simply- homemade gifts like a jar of jelly and a potholder)