green summer

Well, summer solstice was more than a month ago, but I’m finally updating the Green Index for the new season.

Follow the jump below if you want to read about how we did on spring goals. I moved the ones that we’re really doing into the Currently Do column, and rearranged everything else accordingly. I also added a few new goals and removed one or two that just aren’t happening right now. In spite of my lax maintenance, I’m finding this project helpful in making me more accountable for living up to my convictions.

Spring Goals Report

Find or make more affordable green cleaning products

  • I haven’t done any of the make-your-own cleaning products projects I had in mind with this goal. I got a book, but I haven’t read much of it. We did start using this locally made soap for a lot of household cleaning. It’s pretty much the same as Bronner’s. You can dilute it with water for handsoap, dishwashing soap, and general cleaning. So that saves us some money, but the green products we buy for surface cleaning, bathroom cleaning, and laundry are still obnoxiously spendy.
  • I’m also trying to learn more about essential oils. I knew tea tree oil was good for disinfecting, so I’ve been adding that to some of the diluted soap for cleaning. Then my NP told me that Thuja oil is maybe five times stronger. And it has a wonderful cedar smell. So I might try that too. Rainbow Remedies sells it in bulk.

Take travel mugs when we get lattes

  • This we’ve been doing about 90% of the time. A tip if you try it — helps to know how many ounces your mug holds. Some baristas get a little confused when you just hand them a mug and ask for a soy latte. They still want to know what size. On the other hand, I’ve had some folks give me the price for a smaller size because they appreciate me providing the mug.
  • I’ve been seeing some of the craft and eco blogs promoting reusable sleeves for coffee cups — fabric cozies you can use instead of the disposable paper ones coffeeshops provide. Not sure how helpful that is in terms of the environment, when bringing your own mug is easy enough. But it’s something, they’re easier to keep in your purse or pocket than a mug, and they’re definitely cute, without the hideous ads some of those wrappers have on them.

Switch to more conscious nail polish

  • This has been more difficult than I’d hoped. I bought some Suncoat nail polish. It didn’t completely suck, but it was expensive. The color was kind of blah and it started washing away in just a couple days. I think for now I’m just going to use up all the polish I have before buying anything else – so this one is moving over to the Could Do column.
  • I also have to confess to buying some $1.99 black polish the other day. The company made a big deal of no animal testing, so I felt justified even though I’m sure it was full of nasty chemicals. It looked great for about fifteen minutes before it started peeling. I guess I’ve been punished for my eco-insolence.

Steam more, fry less

  • Some progress, but I’m leaving this one in the goals column for now. I still fry and saute more than I should.
  • I’ve discovered that steamed broccoli with nothing but a sprinkle of salt is actually quite delicious. I’m always tempted to drizzle it with olive oil or dollop on a pat of margarine, but I’m learning to resist.

Juice or eat a raw meal at least 2x/week

  • I don’t know why I put raw foods on this list. I don’t know anything about raw cooking and have mainly given up on it as a possibility for me because I’m allergic to many kinds of nuts. And I adore bread. But we have been eating a lot of fresh salad.
  • Our juicer has a broken clasp and now requires two people to use it — one to hold the lid on while the other feeds in fruit and veg. Therefore, we haven’t been juicing very much. It’s just rare for both of us to feel up to it at the same time. If I could juice by myself when I’m working at home during the day, I’d be doing a lot better on this goal.
  • I’m altering this goal to a more attainable “Juice at least once a week.”

Set up container garden with herbs and maybe some veggies

  • Done, but just herbs. I’ve got craploads of mint, as well as rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, and scented geranium. I wish I had some basil. I tried to start some seeds but they didn’t work out. And based on my experience last year, I don’t think basil likes NW weather very much anyway. The long sweltering summers back in RVA are more to its taste.

Invest in a vacuum with an allergen filter and an air purifier for bedroom

  • Done, but if you could see the carpet right now you wouldn’t believe me!

Buy recycled paper towels, facial tissue, and TP

  • This was in the Could Do column, but we’re actually doing it. Especially after Noah clued me in to this Kleenex protest action (a response to the company’s Let it Out campaign), I decided that paying more for recycled products and sometimes having a scratchy nose because the tissues are rougher was worth it to me. At least for now. Subject to change based on budget.

3 thoughts on “green summer

  1. We’ve been working on these things for a while now too, however I haven’t gotten around to blogging about it.

    Laundry Detergent – I found this recipe on-line – can’t remember who to give the credit to, but it’s on various sites – 1 bar Fels Naptha, 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda). I LOVE it – has a nice smell and seems to get everything quite clean – even my husband’s sweaty volleyball clothes. Use rubber gloves when grating the soap though, cause OUCH! Use 1 TBL for small loads, 2 TBL for bigger / dirty loads. I use 1/4 cup for sweaty stuff. No need to do that funky cooking method I’ve read about – the powder works just fine and you can find most of these things at a larger supermarket (not so much at PCC, though.) We also use those rubber dryer balls – seems to work out just fine and no obnoxious fabric softener smell.

    My basil looks sad and tired even though I’ve mostly followed my in-laws basil-growing-rules. The difference is that they have their basil in a little greenhouse. Basil loves heat so even if you can build a little plastic dome using clear bags from the store, it may just just work. You need to build in some circulation, though. I’m thinking a little tent with some openings might do the trick. Lucky me, I get hoards of it from them. But I’d really like to try this myself.

    What’s up with no olive oil? Must have missed this somewhere, YUM!

    Wish I had a juicer, but really, it would be a dust collector like my yogurt maker and bread machine. Sigh.

    I’ve seen some cute knit patterns for swiffers. Make them out of inexpensive cotton yarn and use, reuse, reuse. Due to a big warshrag contest at Hilltop Yarn last year I have enough warshrags to last me forever. We’ve gone mostly paper-towel-less and whew no allergies – no tissue. I have several vintage hankies for winter months, but I have to get over that ewwww, gross factor. We’ll see.

    I like your idea of a chart – this will help me chart my goals without long explanations. Mind if I borrow it? Also, maybe you can bring your vacuum over – ours broke last month and Lordy… well, never mind. There’s just certain doors that don’t get opened to visitors anymore :)

  2. I think I’ve seen that laundry detergent recipe – or a similar one. It’s good to hear it’s working so well for you. Might have to give it a try.

    To your question about olive oil, I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with olive oil. As oils go, it’s one of the best and I use it all the time. If I had some of that lovely basil you’re describing, I’d be making pesto in no time flat. It’s just that I think I use too much oil in my cooking. I’m trying to get away from my ingrained belief that everything is better when it’s buttered, oiled, or fried!

    Certainly borrow away if the chart format is helpful to you. It would be cool to start a little blogging trend. But, I think the Green Index needs a better name since Treehugger’s already taken that one. Suggestions? Maybe something to do with the seasonal concept…

    BTW, when the weather cools off I intend to pick up my knitting again with a vengeance. I’ve got a brutal sweater on #2 needles that really needs to be done and out of my life. Then it’s on to baby knits for a couple PG friends. And I’m thinking of braving my first pair of handmade socks. I’ll have to make sure I come by Hilltop sometime when you’re working!

  3. I do A LOT of my house’s cleaning with diluted vinegar. We add grapefruit peels or an essential oil so it smells yummier. Vinegar kills alot of the funky bacteria and viruses that like to get a body down when we’re already stressed out.

    If you want to get totally crafty about it, vinegar is pretty simple to ferment, too.

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