Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vision Board Workshop

I do a tremendous amount of volunteering and I sit on three boards in my neighborhood. One of those groups is the River East Emerging Leaders (r.e.e.l.) . I am the chair of the Health and Wellness committee and this year we started it off on an inspirational note.

Last year I heard everyone talking about vision boards. It sounded like a load of new age crap to me. If Oprah is doing However, I knew that it was a hot trend so I thought I would capitalize on the New Year and make it my first workshop. In the process of planning the event, I realized that I was the one who needed to set some priorities for myself. With a new marriage, a new budget, a house to decorate, and a new career, I really need to focus. Maybe a vision board wasn't a bad idea.

Two weeks ago, 14 people came together with our facilitator Bahiyyah Parks to think about and commit to paper a vision for our lives. As people shared their boards I noticed that there were a lot of commonalities among the participants' boards. It reminded me that I wasn't the only one struggling with relationships, money, homemaking, and health. It has also made me realize that I need to practice some self discipline. If I am going to accomplish anything, I need to have a vision, set some goals and get it crackin'. No, really.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Converting to a Green Clean Household

When I first started on my coupon journey I was able to stock up on Scrubbing Bubbles, Bleach and other household cleaners in mass quantities. I couldn't believe how much I was saving. I had something for every cleaning problem in the home. I continued to scour (no pun intended) the blogs for ideas on organizing my hauls because I had so much cheap and free stuff. At some point I tried to at least search for greener products like 7th Generation. Combine their coupons with a good sale, a place that double coupons and you can spend about $20 and have 6 months of supplies. Not free, maybe cheap, definitely less toxic.

While searching for the latest green deal I started reading more information about green cleaning in general. The consensus was that we need to take it back to how our grandmothers cleaned. I was especially interested as we plan to have children in a few years and it's much easier to not have toxic items in the house instead of having to lock them up. We simply needed a few multi use products, spray bottles, sponges and old towels. My green cleaning cabinet is down to four products:

Kosher Salt
Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Dr. Bronners Sal Suds

Ideas for Green Cleaning

1. Shark Steam Mop. I hated handling the mop brushes and the Swiffer Wet Jet never seems to get things clean enough. I saw the infomercial for the Shark steam mop and did some research. It had great reviews and the biggest selling point is that the pads are washable and you only need water. I have been impressed with the mop as I don't have to scrub anymore. If you wait for a sale it will be a great deal. This thing is pricey but I mop much more often because it is so easy to use.

2. Cleaning your toilet. Apparently in Elementary school you combine vinegar and baking soda to make a volcano. I went to music school so I missed this lovely science experiment. To clean your toilet, make the volcano in the toilet bowl. Let it sit for 5 mins and then get to cleaning with your scrub brush.

3. Cleaning your tub. We have an awful textured plastic bathtub. No matter what you do there is dirt in the crevices. The only thing that seemed to clean it was Scrubbing Bubbles. Yesterday I tried using a mix of baking soda, kosher salt and peppermint Dr. Bronners. While it didn't clean quite as well as my beloved Scrubbing Bubbles it smelled much better. I think after a few go arounds it will be great.

4. Cleaning your windows. I must admit that I have never cleaned my windows until this weekend. I never noticed how dirty they were until day 8 of my new cleaning schedule. The pros use newspaper and vinegar to clean the windows. I am a subscriber to the newspaper and we have the vinegar by the gallon. Yeah, no brainer. Just pour the vinegar into the spray bottle and get to cleaning.

5. Old Rags. Back when my partner was in the restaurant business we acquired a lot of kitchen towels. We now use them instead of paper towels for many household chores. This is one of those green dilemmas. Is it greener to have paper waste or use more water and electricity for an extra load of laundry?

6. Dr Bronners. We now exclusively use Dr. Bronners Sal Suds for dishes and laundry and the peppermint soap on occasion when we feel we need a "detergent". The Sal Suds goes a long way. For dishes we have a spray bottle filled with water and a tablespoon of Sal Suds. We spray it onto the sponge. If you dual sinks then put a few drops into the water. In our high efficiency washer we use 1 tablespoon per load. We haven't had any problems but you may void your warranty if you decide to use something other than HE soap.

Where I could still use some help.

I haven't found a suitable alternative to dishwasher soap. I'm afraid to use the Sal Suds as I don't want bubbles all over my kitchen. I also use bleach in the washer once a month when I clean it out. HE washers are known to start to get a musty smell if you don't clean it regularly.

What other green tips do you have to share?

(Image by Flickr user go_greener_ oz. Used under Creative Commons license. )