Cleaning products – “I’m scared”…

Cleaning products – “I’m scared”…

Have you ever looked at the ingredients of your home cleaning products? Do you know what you are actually cleaning with? Is it safe for you and your family (pets included)? I have always believed that the definition of clean (free from dirt, pollutants or harmful substances – Oxford English Dictionary) would be quite straightforward until I started to take a closer look.

During my life in Communist Germany (up to 1989), we didn’t have nearly as many cleaning products as there are today. Speaking to older generations, it seems that about 50 – 60 years ago people had used basics such as baking soda, vinegar, alcohol, soap, salt, etc to lift stains, polish wood, repel pests, and deodorize and disinfect every surface. What has happened? 

“The dawn of the chemical age followed quickly on the heels of World War II, instigated by war-related research and a host of ‘new and improved’ products like cleaners, plastics and disposable goods that quickly became symbols of American prosperity and modern luxury, along with advertising slogans like ‘better living through chemistry’. Vinegar and soap were out, chlorine and synthetic, petroleum-based detergents were in. The modern marvel of petrochemical wonders made domestic chores a breeze. Who needs elbow grease when chemicals will do the work for you? As America’s economy bloomed, so did the dizzying array of cleaning products on supermarket shelves, backed by big business’s muscles and marketing genius, and tried-and true methods were subjugated to the products of the chemical revolution. ” (Renee Loux, Author – Easy Green Living)

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It is time to take a closer look at our cleaning cabinets, rething and start using greener and environmental friendlier solutions. It’s not just about saving animal species, but also about enjoying a quality of life and health that are worth passing on to future generations. Why not return to the basics? 

Green guidelines (if you don’t understand the label, then don’t buy it!!!):

  • Plant based
  • Solvent free
  • Phosphate free
  • Chlorine free
  • Biodegradable
  • Ammonia free
  • No synthetic fragrances or dyes

Look for these words on your product labels! Start a greener lifestyle and save money at the same time …. Your health, wallet and environment will thank you for it.

If you want to take it a step further, then try making the following homemade cleaning products with the basics from the past. I have been using them for some time already and loving it. Apart from having a toxic free home environment I am also able to save a lot of money.

DIY cleaning products:

  1. Drain cleaner: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar, boiling water

Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain. After 30 minutes add some boiling water!!! It works like magic!

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2. All purpose cleaner: White vinegar, lemon or orange peels (measurement up to you)

In a pint size mason jar, combine the peels of about 2 oranges or 4-5 limes/ lemons and cover them with white vinegar. After letting them sit in a sunny windowsill for about a week, remove some of the liquid. You can leave the rest to continue brewing for a few more weeks as it’ll continue to get stronger. Simply put some of your new homemade all purpose cleaner into a spray bottle and clean like normal.

For me, it worked as you would expect and had a pleasant citrus aroma that I really enjoyed, much better than the chemical smell of some harsh cleaners! Use a squirt bottle for optimal usage. (I have been using an old plastic spray bottle from before)

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3. Black Tea Window Cleaner:  Brew strong black tea (I normally brew extra black tea, when I’m preparing my Kombucha) Allow to fully cool, about an hour or two, then transfer cleaner to spray bottle or dip cotton cloth into solution. Clean your windows and wipe them dry with a towel. If you have dirty windows, you might need a second application.

As you can see from the ingredients, most of them contain baking soda,  vinegar, fruit peels or even tea. For the past few months I have also been making my own vinegar from extra Kombucha scobys, so I can avoid the plastic bottles from the supermarket. Sounds time-consuming, but its actually not. The Scoby works on its own (20-30 days) and the home-cleaning products get whipped together in an instant.

I will continue to add more recipes as I move forward …. Please feel free to share what has worked for you….. any recipes you would like to share? Looking forward to learning from each other.

Are you quite mad? A Zero Waste journey in Bangkok? …..

Are you quite mad? A Zero Waste journey in Bangkok? …..

It’s been quite over a year now, that I started to aim for a Zero Waste Lifestyle in a city of over 14 million inhabitants – Bangkok. I still get the odd looks and questions why I would even think of something like that, when life could be lived so much easier… And I agree that it sounds mad, but it has become one of the most rewarding journeys in my life.

Here goes my story….

I have always considered myself quite “green” taking my reusable bag and bottle with me everywhere. (“I must have been hallucinating”…) I remember that going on vacation with friends and hubby last year to Koh Pangan was the first time, I took a closer look to what I found on the beaches and roads around me. Of course, I have seen the waste issues around Bangkok many times, but never really questioned it until I was on vacation that time April, 2015. I guess, it really opened my eyes and made me think. How plastic or wasteful had my life become?

Taking a closer look at my own waste – September 2015

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I was blown away by my own waste production… Packaging of all kinds (food packaging, cleaning products, beauty and menstrual items, etc.) I was part of this ever-growing consumer circle not realizing the impact of my own carbon foot print. This is when I started to re-evaluate my life again:

  • Plastic bottles, bags and Straws had already been banned for as long as I can remember!!!!!!
  • Packaged food items: I banned Styrofoam from my home knowing that this is one of the worst pollution items as we cannot upcycle or recycle it!! This required a re-thinking process for both of us, but it was an immediate change we could implement right away.
  • Local food markets replaced packaged fruit and vegetable items… I couldn’t believe that I had developed such a bad habit. Living in Bangkok, we have plenty of local food markets, where one can shop without plastic wrapping, if you bring your own bags..
  • Bathroom: The Oil Cleansing Method replaced my endless supply of facial cleaners with a few simple steps… It was amazing to discover how much money I spent on chemical cleansers and moisturizers and now I wouldn’t go back…., Homemade toothpaste and deodorant, Shower gels were replaced by Bar soaps, Shampoo (still struggling to find a better solution), Conditioner – Apple cider vinegar, which has so many different uses, Sanitary towels by a menstruation cup, Plastic toothbrushes became Bamboo toothbrushes, …..

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  • Household Cleaning Materials: All non-sense cleaning products in plastic containers were replaced by the old and common recipes from the past, … Vinegar, baking soda and lemons have been doing an amazing job, Soap nuts have become my new best friend in the laundry department and the list continues…..

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Of course, all these changes didn’t happen overnight. Its been an adaptation process over this past year and a lot more has happened/ changed, which I am proud of.

So I want to finish my post today with a quote from from Bea Johnson (Author “Zero Waste home):

“Start small. Start anywhere. It feels good because it’s the right thing to do – and that’s contagious.”