I would love to be able to tell you that I am a guru of green housekeeping. Heck, I’d love to be able to tell you that I’m a guru of housekeeping. Or. Well, scratch that. Because then I wouldn’t be me.
I have however made a few changes over the last year that increase the green hue of this apartment and of my life. I already bus and have never owned a car; those alone decrease my carbon footprint immensely in comparison with your average North American. In the summer months I frequently line-dried my laundry. Last summer I took the One-Can Garbage Reduction challenge, and I’ve tried to maintain some of the good habits learned there. I try to eat locally and organic when I can, but I don’t do backflips to do it. For cleaning – dishes, laundry, floors, mirrors, tubs, surfaces – I have made an effort to ‘go green’. No paper towels, just cloth ones, and I wash’em. I choose almost exclusively eco-friendly products from one company or another. Does reducing electricity consumption by decreasing vacuuming time count? That might be too much information.
These steps aside, I can tell you that just three products have made the biggest greening effect on my housekeeping.
That’s right. A baby cabinet lock, vinegar, and cloth nursing pads.
As Cameron approached mobility, cleaning powders and solutions got moved. First they went out of reach, but then behind baby gates and cabinet locks. The thing about those annoying plastic thingies is that … they’re annoying. And they hurt if you get the wrong grip.
Then Cameron started to want to help. For my own sanity I have to clean when Cameron is awake, or else I get zero me-time. But for my own sanity I had to figure out a way to keep him occupied while I did so, doing something safe.
So I take a clear plastic squirt-bottle, empty and clean. I fill it ¾ of the way with water, then top it off with plain old white vinegar. Hand to kid with one wipe cloth, and set him loose. The ground rule that he follows is Don’t Squirt Mommy, a rule that just goes in general. Ground rules that aren’t always followed are Always Squirt at Something You Want to Clean, and Don’t Squirt the Kitty. So what, we get a little watery vinegar spritzed over the floor while Cameron stares at the trajectory arc in amazement. I have to clean the floor anyway. The cat at least has the sense to stay far away when we’re cleaning.
Even though I wash them, I couldn’t just give Cameron any old cloth to wipe with. I could just see him thinking that all cleaning cloths were fair game and reaching with his tender-skinned fingers to something awful. So he needed his own special cloths with a distinctive look. Turned out I had some just lying around unused, and they were quite distinctive in shape. Round. Thick. Absorbant. Cloth nursing pads! This also inspired me later to use old receiving blankets for my everyday cleaning.
Wait, you say, how do these steps green your life?
I’m too lazy to open the childproof safety lock on the cleaning cupboard to get cleaning solutions when there’s a bottle of vinegar sitting right in front of me because it doesn’t have a home – it certainly cannot live with the cleaning solutions. 90% of my cleaning is done with vinegar. This also means that 90% of my cleaning is done with nursing pads, something I couldn’t for the life of me come up with another re=purpose for and you certainly can’t give’em away. Nobody wants to use second-hand nursing pads.