I’ve been working on “going green” these last few years. Mostly trying to be more conscious of what chemicals I have been putting down drains and trying to eliminate them. I heard about an article several years ago that said we stand a good chance of losing all life in the oceans in the next 40 or so years if nothing is done. All. Life. Whales and dolphins and fish and everything. So, I started to think about what I could actually do. I will fully admit that I don’t think I ever found the article proper to read, just that thought was enough to spur me into thinking there had to be another way. I mean, anything that recommends the use of gloves when handling can’t be that great for me, let alone what it is doing to the water supply.

I did as exhaustive a search for product reviews on the internet as I could (at the time, there wasn’t a lot– maybe it’s different now) and after a few tries and failures, I did find a few things that work for me. I really wanted to stay away from boric acid and castile soap… I know many people who are on the green side of things swear by them, but I believe both still have the handle-with-gloves rule, and I am trying to eliminate that (I’ll always wear gloves, my skin hates me when I don’t, but knowing they are not necessary to the process makes me feel better). Someday, I hope I will have found something reliable that uses only baking soda and vinegar, because cleaning products that are also foodsafe I think is the best idea ever. Maybe a little soap in there as well (non-SLS, non-sulphate, etc.). For now, I use products I buy, because it’s easier and I have found several I feel to be reliable, as well as not too different in price from their non-eco counter parts.

For all-purpose cleaning, I use Mrs. Meyers. We don’t get as much choice of scents here in Canada (Lemon Verbena or Lavender — that’s it), but fortunately, I like the lemon. The first time I used it, I wanted to read the label again because I hadn’t seen something work that well on my tub since I had switched from the non-environmentally friendly cleaners. I was certain I had missed something, but I couldn’t find anything that was outright on my list of don’ts. For toilets, I like the Ecover brand toilet cleaner. They are from Europe and aside from being a product that is environmentally friendly, the factory is purported to be one that strives to keep as small a carbon footprint as they can. It was also the only one to remove persistent rust stains. I have yet to switch to a better glass cleaner, which may tell you more about how often I clean my mirrors than anything… A softer glow can hide much, people!

As for kitchen, I have found Ecover dish-washer tabs to be the most effective, for what I am willing to pay, but I have yet to find a good dishwasher detergent that can remove all tea stains from cups. Have you? I know a little baking soda and elbow grease will do the trick, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a dishwasher available, no? ;-) I also like the Ecover rinse agent. I’ve found several hand-washing dish detergents I like, Nature Clean (Canadian brand!!), Seventh Generation and Ecover have all worked for me. One thing I have discovered about dish detergent in this search that I will share with you now is this: The shape of the bottle matters. A lot. When you are grasping at it with wet, soapy hands and the bottle is any kind of smooth, glossy finish with minimalistic shape to it, you will be the fight of your life to not send it into the rafters! Or into the next room. Or anywhere but pointed into the sink or at any dirty dish. That was an interesting lesson to learn.

For laundry, I like Nature Clean detergent (unscented, safe for infant clothes and HE washers). There was another I liked, but I can’t remember the name of it. You can get it at Costco for just under $20 for 104 loads! It seemed to work well. I made the switch to Mrs. Meyers dryer sheets and also like several liquid softeners, such as Seventh Generation, Attitude (also Canadian!) and am just about to try the one from Ecover. I like scent, but for those that don’t like or can’t have scents, most of these brands do have non-scented versions of their product.

I certainly make no claims to be an expert. I have read the labels as best that I can, but I am open to suggestions/better information, especially if I am unknowingly using something I don’t want to be! One question that has been on my mind and I’ll just toss out there in case anyone knows: Is it only Sodium-Laureth-Sulphate that is harmful in soaps? I see so many “green” shampoos, soaps, etc. that list one or more Sodium-Blahblah-Somethings that sound awfully similar, but I have only heard hue-and-cry over SLS. Are they all the same thing, or are the other versions different enough in configuration that they are benign to the environment? Just curious.

Have you done something like this and have tips to share? Have you been thinking about it and trying to get a handle on how to start? I would love to hear about your forays into the eco-conscious adventure!

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