Science_Spot recently made the decision to go green in her household and blog about her green living experiment along the way.
This week she talks about when it comes to green living and cutting out chemicals, a little old-fashioned elbow grease can go a long, long way.
My green living experiment has unearthed many commonalities among the many changes I am making. The most important one to me is the value of good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
While this may seem obvious to many people, it isn't something I was ever taught until I began educating myself during my conversion to natural products. My family grew up with the belief that easier is better. My mom hated to cook, so we went out a lot, and otherwise relied on convenience foods. She rarely cleaned, and when she did, it was with a product that used chemicals to do the scrubbing for you. I was taught that Avon's beauty products were the answer to every skin and beauty problem I would ever have.
Now that I am moving into an alternate lifestyle, so different from what I was taught, I am learning how to get by without convenience. In my eyes, convenience = chemicals, because that is what I see as I read product labels. Here's a few ways I have been able to remove chemicals from my regime, as long as I am willing to put forth the extra work, or elbow grease.
- Cleaning cast iron pans. The manufacturer recommends cleaning without detergent, using a stiff brush to physically remove any trace of food. Let the pan dry completely before the next use. The first time I did this after making a mess of scrambled eggs, it became very clear why they call this "elbow grease"!
- Cleaning around the house. I used to rely on products like "Scrubbing Bubbles" and "Soft Scrub" because they didn't require much work in order to clean ugly places like the toilet, bathtub and (sometimes) the kitchen counter. Now I rely on less complicated alternatives like baking soda, bleach, and vinegar (individually, not mixed together). These choices work very well if you use the right cleaning tools. I have been acquiring a collection of old toothbrushes, scrubbing brushes of various shapes and sizes, re-useable cleaning clothes, flat scrappers, and bottle brushes. Sometimes all this scrubbing requires so much extra energy, it should be considered exercise!
- Fingernail care. It has been nearly three months since I swore off nail polish and nail polish remover. I am lucky to have naturally strong nails, so they grow long very easily. I bought a nail buffing stick and use it in place of color on my nails. It's a little work to file them, buff them, and shine them a few days a week, but it's a huge time and money savings.
- Cooking and baking. Making homemade bread 3-6 times a week isn't as convenient as buying bread at the store. I am aware they sell bread without chemical preservatives, but the price was a driving factor in controlling our bread supply at home. It's more work, but the bread machine helps a lot! I have also started bringing my lunch made from leftover dinner instead of relying on Lean Cuisines. I also make cookies and freeze extra dough instead of buying packaged. All these activities are more work but the quality of our food is a lot higher now.
- Indoor gardening. The care of my many indoor plants takes me about 2-4 hours each month. It's more time than a maintenance-free air purifying ionizer, but the benefits outweigh the time spent anyway.
- Rough feet. As a barefoot girl, my feet take some abuse. In order to keep them looking good, I used to do long foot soaks with pumice stone rubbing, followed by intense foot cream treatments. I have found that physically removing the dead skin with the Pediegg first, then pumice stone rubbing removes the need for soaking. I am still finishing the job with lotion, but I plan to try Shea Butter or pure Coco Butter when this surplus of lotion runs out. Foot scrubbing is not a pleasant chore but slathering on foot lotion that warns to keep treated skin out of the light due to the chemicals isn't pleasant either.
I am sure the future will bring out additional ways I can put more physical energy into a task in order to get more chemicals out of our bodies. It's a work in progress, but these little gains are adding up to big success.