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Showing posts from 2020

Is My Latest Shower Cleaner Really Green? The Borax Dilemma

I developed my latest shower cleaner after I ran the dishwasher... in 2013. I just didn't know it yet.  Seven years ago, I wrote about a dishwasher detergent recipe I found that used only 2 ingredients: Borax and baking soda. I loved it. Not only did it clean my dishes, but it whitened my dishwasher, as well. It was cheap, effective, and green. Could this work in the shower, as well? The answer, generally speaking, is yes. Equal proportions of baking soda and Borax are quite effective at cleaning a shower. Borax is a natural mineral that's ground into a powder. Its rough texture works well for scrubbing away soap scum. Both that and baking soda are salts, so they also increase cleaning capacity by softening the water. I could see this effectiveness as I scrubbed the mixture onto the bath ledge. The white powder quickly turned gray, while the white became brighter. It was pretty gross. I was thrilled... Until I noticed one problem. Borax no longer had the same green support it

How to Prove You Slept Through Chemistry: My First Shower Cleaner Recipe Tested

I went through countless recipes, taking down website addresses and ingredients. I was determined to find something that would fit every  requirement  for the perfect shower cleaner. My fingers happily bounced across the keyboard, typing out ingredients, and then... baking soda, vinegar, dish soap...?! Oh, dear. I recognized this recipe, and so, I imagine, did you. Basic chemistry teaches us that baking soda and vinegar combine to create a fun little reaction in which you get a slight bubbling over of ingredients. I love to do this to clean my sink drain every couple of weeks. But dish soap! You probably remember that kid from the elementary school science fair: the one that took their time molding the perfect sculpture of a volcano, then added baking soda inside the "spout." They poured the fluid into the spout, and BAM! Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay A large amount of froth spewed out of the volcano sculpture. The adults all made impressed noises, and the kid got a B

Is DIY Shower Cleaner That Actually Works Just a Hopeless Fantasy?

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay I have an addiction to shower spray.  This is not the same as being addicted to  shower cleaner , however, and I think it's important to separate the two. Shower spray is simple. You finish bathing, then you grab a bottle and spray the heck out of the walls, tub, and fixtures. You do this in the hope of not having to actually grab a sponge and scrub. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive, wasteful, and futile addiction, and just like any other addiction, the end results don't match up to the dream. No matter how diligently you spray, eventually the tub and shower walls need a full cleaning again. To make matters worse, finding a good shower spray is just about impossible during this pandemic. When I go to the store - any store - I have a choice of a) a store brand, or b) another store brand.  While I swear by many of those for my staple supplies, shower spray is not one of them. I'm extraordinarily picky, because I don't wan

How to Protect Your Baby from Microplastics

 I t's scary, isn't it? The idea that babies, in general, are consuming around 1.6m microplastic particles per day is enough to panic most parents, myself included. This number was reported in a story published in the Guardian this morning. Image by Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher from  Pixabay This number is significantly higher than the World Health Organization's estimate for microplastics in drinking water , a report published last year. As it happens, the procedures used to ensure sterile bottles and formula blending actually contribute to this microplastic fiasco: "The team followed international sterilisation guidelines to make baby formula in 10 different feeding bottles. This involves sterilising with 95C (203F) water, then shaking the formula powder with 70C water in the bottle.  Both the hot water and shaking steps produced a lot of microplastics, which are far smaller than the width of a human hair. " (Damian Carrington,  The Guardian ) Yikes! Fortunately, t

How to Compost Like a Boss Without Spending a Fortune

  Long, long ago In a garden far, far away, There was a master composter ... Image by Francis Ray from Pixabay Ok, no. There was only me. But I was composting, so that counts...right? Roughly 10 years ago, I created my own DIY composter. It worked pretty well, and I produced some killer compost.  It smelled like gardening heaven...or at least high-quality potting soil. And it saved money on the next season's garden since I had no worries about buying soil or even fertilizer. We're at the end of another growing season, so I'm beginning again. This time, though, I'm not building my own composter. The reason for the change is that my original composter was too small. I needed something much larger. Unfortunately, good composters can cost some serious money. At least, that's how it feels if you're out of work due to a pandemic. In this case, you have 2 options: find an incredibly cheap one, or make your own. Building Your Own Composter If you choose to build your ow

8 Terrific Reasons that Reusable Period Products Are Better than Disposables

Disposables: They either make you feel like you're wearing a diaper or cause you to constantly check for leaks.  At times they dry you out.  Discomfort is a constant companion.  Disposable period products are, as a whole, a complete tragedy, and yet we still use them. Fortunately, there are better options if you're willing to try them. Menstrual cups, cloth pads, and period panties are a few excellent examples. Photo by  Vanessa Ramirez  from  Pexels Back in 2012 I talked about my introduction to cloth pads . I loved them at first, because they were comfy, super-absorbent, and cute. Over time, though, they faded, becoming much less cute, and became less comfortable, as well. But that was over 8 years ago. Thankfully, today's reusable period products have come a long way. But what exactly makes them so much better? 1. They produce significantly less waste than their disposable counterparts. To quote an article called Planet-Friendly Periods from Stanford Magazine,  "In

How to Build a Perfect Cardboard Shoe Rack on the Cheap

L iving during a pandemic means suddenly acquiring more boxes than you used to. Rather than going out to a physical store, you simply order what you want or need. Now add an infant into the picture.  Big boxes.  Little boxes.  Boxes on the floor, under the table, even on an exercise bike. The apartment is clogged with boxes, and the apartment community's recycling containers are always full, because everyone else has a cardboard clogged apartment, as well. So what in the heck do you do?! You build an architectural masterpiece... or, at least a much-needed shoe rack.

Can You Believe What California Just Did for the World?

Photo by  Magda Ehlers  from  Pexels   "Hey, check this out." My boyfriend began reading to me from across the room. "California passes first in nation plastic recyc-" "And?" I rolled my eyes. I was still disgusted, because plastic recycling isn't nearly as helpful as we've all been led to believe. "Unless we force companies to use recycled plastic at a decent rate, it won't really matter how much we throw into the recycling bin." "'...requiring plastic beverage containers to contain an increasing amount of recycled material.'" He plodded on, ever patient. "Wait, what?!" It turns out that he was reading about recycling legislation that truly is first-in-the-nation.  On September 24, 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 793 into law. It states that beverages sold in plastic containers must contain a specified amount of post-consumer material, effective January 1, 2022. What are those specif

How to Stop Wasting So Much Energy + Save Time and Money

Photo by  cottonbro  from  Pexels Whether anybody likes to admit it or not, we Americans are energy hogs. As a maintenance tech, it seemed like every apartment I walked into had every electrical outlet in use, complete with surge protectors.  I've lost count of how many times I had to explain that there was nothing wrong with a person's electrical lines. They were simply drawing more power from a single circuit than it could handle. When that happens- Zzzt! The power goes out. Quit overloading the circuits! Obviously, the above situation costs a great deal when energy bills come around, but that's not where you find a home's worst energy consumption. And don't worry, I'm not going to tell you to wrap up your water heater, or buy a new one, either... even though it would help. Instead, let's talk about the kitchen. In particular, I want to talk about how we prepare food. Since gas stoves/ovens use natural gas to heat, I'm not going to talk about them... i

Save Money and the Environment by Spicing Up Your Garden

  "A sk your uncle if you need any oregano. I've got too much over here." I smiled at the neighbor's nephew and waved while holding a few sprigs of the aforementioned herb. "Ok, I will. It's like you have a whole big garden over there, or something!" He responded with amazement. As I looked back at all my plants, I understood what he meant. He didn't actually mean a garden. It doesn't take many plants to call something a garden. What he meant was that it was like I have a whole farm on my balcony. And he's not wrong. My apartment balcony is home to 25 different plants. All of them are edible, with the exception of one. Don't worry - nobody wants to eat my tiny azalea bush. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs transform my balcony into a mini forest, complete with its own pint-sized eco-system. What we're focusing on today, though, is the herbs. At first, gardening doesn't seem like a process that would save you money. Seeds sometimes co

How Broken Glass Made Me More Eco-Friendly

Image via Pixabay In less than 24 hours, everything was moved out of my old apartment and into the new. The move was exhausting, and we didn't get much sleep, but it was done. In fact, I was proud of myself this time. You see, I managed to get every box labeled by room, even though I wasn't the only one packing. It was the move to end all moves. Fast. Organized. Perfect. But then I opened that  box. When I lifted the box labeled " KITCHEN: glasses and bowls ", I heard an ominous      Clink              Clink                     Clunk and I knew I was in trouble. I opened a box and lifted a towel to find glass fragments twinkling up at me. Half of my drinking glasses were broken. Well, so much for a perfect move! At the time, I was having some money issues, so buying a brand new set of drinking glasses wasn't an option. I stared at the bottle of coffee on the counter. You know the type of bottle I'm talking about: the prepackaged, pre-mixed coffee sold by compa

How to Save the Environment With Ease at Every Meal

  "Hey, can I have a napkin?" My friend yelled at me from the kitchen. "Yeah, just grab one. They're on the counter." I responded from the other side of the house. I was dealing with my screaming toddler, and if left to her own devices it was unlikely her high-pitched voice would soften any time soon . "No, they're not. There's nothing here!" The increasingly frantic voice called out again. "Alright, hold on..." I grumbled, picked up my daughter, then walked into the kitchen. There was iced tea dripping from the counter and onto the tile floor. I grabbed a napkin from the table and held it out to my friend. "Wait, that ?!" She squeaked in confusion. "Yes?" I replied, checking to see if my green cloth napkin was soiled , or if a spider was crawling on it. "But that's... fancy . I can't use that!" This incident occurred roughly nine years ago. Similar exchanges still happen f