As I mentioned in my previous “Through the Looking Glass” post, this past Friday was our big spring cleaning day in preparation for our family Easter Vegstravaganza on Saturday. Our spring cleaning was a good reminder for me to rethink and reevaluate the way that Maddie and I approach cleaning from the products (or lack thereof) we use to the way in which we use (or don’t use) them. I thought I’d detail several of our vegan/earth-friendly cleaning methods so that others can use the ideas as resources to make and use their own sustainable cleaning techniques in their own homes.
It was one big day of mega cleaning, and we started out in the back yard. After a beautiful breakfast, and a nice long run, I joined my mate in the back yard for raking, piling, and hauling. Our yard was covered in dead, brown, crunchy leaves leftover from this past fall before we lived in the house. Maddie and I both raked the yard and piled up a huge mountain of leaves next to our newly built compost pile that Maddie made that afternoon. We’re planning to layer the crunchy brown leaves with our household compost regularly to get a good mix going in preparation for our raised beds that we hope to build in the coming weeks.
If you don’t already own a compost bin, it’s easy as vegan pie to make one. All you need is a nice little out of the way area in your yard and some bricks, logs or rocks to line your bed. You can even purchase a commercial composter, and these work great! I’ve always gone the DIY route, but more on this later. (Look for an upcoming DIY project on the composter!)
I recently came upon this article by vegan bloggess and writer Sayward Rebhal on how to use citrus in your home as a cleaning agent. One of her tips was to use half a grapefruit dipped in salt to scrub the tub. Well, we don’t exactly have a tub (unfortunately) but we have a stand in shower that was in serious need of some TLC. Let’s just say this: it was pretty gunky. I ended up using the grapefruit, salt, some baking soda, and an old sponge to clean most of my bathroom. I found it works best if you apply the citrus/salt to the gunk you’re trying to scrub off, then allow it to sit and eat away at it for a few minutes. If you have a textured floor like I do, try and get the salt into the grooves. Sounds complicated, but trust me it’s not. If I can do it so can you!
I used the other half of the grapefruit to clean the secondhand easter eggs Maddie and I bought for our nephews and her little sister at the thrift store earlier in the week:
I simply soaked them in warm water with some white vinegar and a good squeeze of the grapefruit juice while I cleaned the bathroom. Then I gave ‘em a good rinse and set them in the drying rack to drip dry. Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that is great to disinfect anything from your thrift store finds to fruit. I use it to wipe down new to us items we buy secondhand (which let’s be honest is about everything) and to clean the counters and bathroom, like I mentioned above. Your house might smell like a pickle for a hot minute, but trust me it’s worth it. No caustic and harmful chemicals, no residue, no paying your precious and hard earned money to evil corporations who are grappling to get it.
~ Re-use your old kitchen sponge to clean your bathroom, mop up spills, or wash your car before pitching it in the trash. You can even retire it to one of these positions for a while before calling the relationship quits.
~ If you can eat it, you can clean with it. This is a good rule to go buy (pun intended, hey I’m a vegan cheeseball!) when selecting your cleaning products. If you wouldn’t want it inside of your body, why would you let it touch the outside? The epidermis (what most of us call our skin) is the body’s largest organ. That’s right-organ. Your skin is a living thing just like the rest of you so be careful what you expose it to! Many chemicals, both good and bad are easily absorbed through skin, which is why many pharmaceutical medications are available in transdermal form. Check out Sayward’s tips on how to use citrus in your own home, and go grab a big bottle of white vinegar and a huge box of baking soda! All three of these natural cleaning agents are affordable and safe to use around pets, children, food, and yourself.
~ Create compost! Like I mentioned above, I’m hoping to do a full post dedicated to my love affair with decomposition. Even if it’s just a corner of your yard with a pile of veggie scraps and coffee grounds: COMPOST!!! And follow a similar rule to the one I detailed above: if it comes from something you yourself would eat, you can compost it. Seriously, more on this later, so stay tuned! (I could write a whole book on the wonders of compost…hmmm… the ideas are percolating…)
~Be careful what you buy! I simply can’t stress this point enough on this blog. Vote with your dollar! With hold it from companies you don’t support and don’t believe in and instead give it to those you feel good about and agree with. Also be careful which specific items you buy and what forms they come in. Think like a trash can when you shop: instead of buying that shrink wrapped in PLASTIC and in a cardboard box of gnocchi why not grab a few taters and some flour and make your own? Think in terms of not only what product you’re buying, but also in what form it comes to you. The three R’s are key here: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The less waste you create, the less you have to worry about disposing. And if you can, get glass over plastic. (Again, stay tuned for a mega post coming soon!)
Go simple, go affordable, and go eco-friendly! Comment on this post and share your favorite eco-friendly cleaning tip!