Thursday, June 18, 2009



Landfill waste is becoming a problem in our country. Compost can make your gardens bloom, just by composting your trash.

  • Compost the food scraps, clippings, and leaves that you normally put into the trash can. They will become nutrients for your garden.
  • Why not reduce the amount of trash headed to the landfill; it can fertilize your garden for free.
  • Landfills are the largest source of methane emissions in the United States. Methane gas is actually worse for our atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
  • Garbage collection is getting more expensive as gas prices rise. Some cities are charging by the can and some are even refusing to collect yard clippings and leaves. Composting takes care of that the garbage, and saves you money by reducing the amount that you put out on the curb.
  • According to the U.S. EPA, about a quarter of all the trash in the U.S. are materials that could be composted instead of thrown away. Most of the trash from your kitchen and yard, as well as other parts of the home, can go into the compost.
  • Compost also provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Composting turns trash into a useful, free garden supplies. It improves the soil structure, texture, and aeration.
  • In our neighborhood, we have clay soil and compost is the only thing that can make clay soil friable and it helps sandy soils retain water. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the microorganisms, so you can stop using fertilizers and other garden additives.
Composting will save money and is better for the environment, since fertilizers are a major cause of water pollution and algae blooms. Fertilizers kill fish and other aquatic species.

Over the past few years there has been a problem with deformed frogs or frogs just dying off. Check with your local county extension office for composting tips.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cleaning Products Could Make You Sick

Commercial cleaning products are full of toxic chemicals. Lets learn how to concoct ones that are both safe and effective. Almost all cleaning products in supermarkets contain toxic ingredients.

There are studies that show indoor air is actually more polluted than outdoor air because of the chemicals. All the chemicals can aggravate allergies and respiratory issues in your family and pets. Airing your house out after you cleaning might help, but there is a much healthier and cheaper way.

Ingredients already on hand, which include baking soda, cornstarch, lemon, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, vegetable oil, and plain soap in liquid, bar or flake form.

General all-purpose cleaner. Mix ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda with ½ gallon of water. You can use this to remove water stains in the bathroom and take grime off mirrors and windows—and it will keep for quite awhile. Experiment with your newly found cleaners and let me know what you did.

Make your own Air freshener. Place baking soda and lemon juice in small containers around the house to absorb odors. Fragrances emitted by store-bought air fresheners are created using toxic chemicals. You can diminish cooking smells by simmering a small amount of vinegar in water on the stove while you work in the kitchen. Simmering cinnamon or other spices in water works, too. Grind up some lemon in the garbage disposal, or keep coffee grounds out on your counter, and have an abundance of houseplants—they’ll soak up toxins and freshen your air naturally. You can also place a sliced fresh onion on a plate in your garage or basement to take away odors that occur there also.

Note: Some small animals and birds are especially succeptible to chemicals. Protect your pets using natural ingredients.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Making your home healthier and greener doesn’t have to be expensive, or overwhelming. Just a few changes can improve the health of your home, your family, and the planet it sits on.

The kitchen is often considered center of the home. Yet, many kitchen cleaners contain harsh chemicals that do more than threaten the health of the planet; some of these products can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin. Kitchen products made from vinegar, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, and salt clean effectively while being gentle on your hands and the earth. Natural, non-toxic options for your dishes, sink and countertops eliminate grease and leave your kitchen surfaces fresh and sparkling clean. Take better care of your "heart" when you de-grease, de-spot and de-stain the healthy way!

Home-brew suggestions:
  • Use vinegar instead of bleach, baking soda to scrub your tiles, and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.

  • Vinegar also removes grease and soap buildup.

  • Need a window cleaner? Try diluted lemon juice or vinegar.

  • Use borax to inhibit mold growth, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains or even kill cockroaches, when sugar is mixed in.

A couple of years ago, we had camel crickets under the house. We put out pie pans with dry borax mixed with powdered milk and got rid of the crickets. Old fashioned mouse traps still work and are environmentally sound. Use a little cheese or peanut butter. It has worked in our summer house in NC.

If your house is like mine you may have some particleboard or plywood that have glues emitting irritating fumes into your environment. You should air them out before you bring them inside. The best idea would be to apply a non-toxic sealant to exposed pressed wood.

House dust aggravates allergies. dust also contains more hazardous chemicals than you might think, including lead, fire retardants, pesticides, and other chemicals. Make sure your vacuum has strong suction and a HEPA filter so that dust and dirt go into the bag. Vacuum at least two times each week. Clean the vacuum bag and filter every time, so dust isn't spewed back into the air.

Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. New microfiber mops (and dust cloths) reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.

Keep it out. Put a large floor mat at every door.People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don't wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat -- not the floors in your home.

Avoid room deodorizers or other air "freshening" products, which are frequently made from unhealthy chemicals. Open the window for even just a few minutes every day and it may significantly improve your indoor air quality. If you want something to improve the odor, boil some cinnamon in a kettle of water on the stove--let simmer until the whole house smells like cookies.

Among the key toxins are lead, fire retardants, and pesticides. Studies have linked overexposure to lead and pesticides with brain and central nervous system damage, behavior problems, asthma, cancer, and more. And in animal studies, flame retardants – used in everything from electronics to mattresses and upholstered furniture have been associated with cancer, abnormal brain development, and hormone problems.

Released into the environment, these chemicals affect wildlife, too, as well as your pets. In one study, house cats had 23 times more fire retardants in their blood and urine than people. That’s significant because cats, like infants and toddlers, play close to the floor. They also often lick their paws, just as children put their hands in their mouths.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Mama bought vinegar by the gallon. Vinegar has a mild acid content and is wonderful for removing stains, mineral deposits, and grease from glass surfaces.

  • Clean the microwave oven by adding 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and bring to a rolling boil so that it steams up. It will wipe out easily with a towel and smell good too.

  • Clean the refrigerator walls and shelves with a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar.

  • Wipe the top of the refrigerator with a towel and then wipe with a cloth using full-strength vinegar to cut grime.

  • After cleaning the oven, wipe out with a wet sponge using a vinegar and water mixture.

  • Clean the counter-tops with a cloth soaked in undiluted vinegar.

  • Fill a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar to clean the cabinets (it will also deter creepy critters).

  • Use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the dishwasher rinse cycle to get dishes and glassware sparkling clean.

  • Clean the wheel on the can opener with vinegar and an old toothbrush.

  • If you spray undiluted vinegar outside doorways, window sills, and appliances it will discourage ants or other pests.

  • Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted vinegar to attract and drown them.


My grandmother had some unique uses for simple products like baking soda. She never had an under the sink counter like mine. When I open the doors to the awful mess under there of dish soap, dog shampoo, cleanser, dish washer soap, window cleaner, copper/brass/silver cleaner, rug cleaner, air freshener, rug freshener, sponges, etc., I think about all the money I have wasted when I could have used Mama's easy remedies.
  • Clean your cutting board by sprinkling with baking soda, then add vinegar and watch it bubble, rinse with hot water.

  • You can sprinkle baking soda on a sponge and rub into wood or other porous surfaces to remove garlic, onion, and any other food odors-rinse with water.

  • Make your own scouring powder by mixing 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, 1 cup salt. Put in a container that you can sprinkle and use as you would any other scouring powder.

  • Baking soda removes many stains, such as coffee/tea stains, juice, and mustard.

  • Clean and shine your toaster with a paste of baking soda and water.

  • Mix equal parts creamy peanut butter and baking soda to shine your chrome appliances.

  • Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 drop dish soap to your blender fill to half with water, put lid on and blend briefly. Rinse and dry.

  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it on your hands to get rid of the odor of garlic and onions.

  • Put a little baking soda in your rubber gloves and they will slide right on, keep dry and smell real good.

  • Baking soda is a wonderful nonabrasive cleaner for stainless steel sinks.

  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda in the drain, then microwave 1 cup of vinegar and pour it down the drain. Wait 10 minutes and pour a quart or two of boiling water down the drain. It is very good for the environment if you use natural products instead of caustic chemicals.