Monday, March 19, 2007

Brilliant Bathrooms

I'll admit I find it somewhat disturbing to show you my dirty home, even if only in bits and pieces. The other day, you caught a glimpse of my dishwashing woes. Today, we're in the bathroom, and, once again, I've let the housekeeping slip for your benefit. Normally, I'd try to keep a tight ship, but I want to make sure we really test Etamine du Lys' Brillance Salle de Bains (bathroom cleaning spray) well. We can't expect someone to believe that a product works wonders when they see an immaculate sink miraculously turned into an... immaculate sink. So, I've allowed an undisclosed amount of time to pass between scourings, so we can really see how well this particular cleaning solution works.

Take a look at that before picture. Don't be squeamish, now. It's mostly just calcium build-up from our very hard water, but I'll have to admit that a fair amount of grubby children's hands get washed in that sink.

I only used the spray shown above and a very soft sponge specially designed for use in the bathroom (Incidentally, I couldn't say I've ever understood the purpose of this special design. I can only tell you that it definitely isn't made for scrubbing). So, no abrasives were involved in cleaning the sink, and I can promise you I didn't even put much elbow grease into it. And, yet, it sparkles. I think we can give this product an enthusiastic thumbs-up when it comes to cleaning ceramic sinks and chrome fixtures. In fact, I even gave the mirror a quick wipe down with it, and though the results weren't ideal, the mirror was far cleaner afterward. In a pinch, when forced to work quickly before a surprise visit by the in-laws or your boss, it'd do the job with only a streak or two to show for it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Scrubadubdud?: Ecover Cream Cleaner

I think even the most die-hard user of eco-friendly cleaning products can relate to the urge to pick up a bottle of the toxic stuff when their favorite treehugger cleaners just aren't cutting it. Here's an example:

In a home with three small kids (and a mommy who's a kid at heart), we love our mushy, hot cereals. Comfort food at its simplest... until the milk burns on the bottom of the pan. Then, the pan is quickly taken out of rotation for a week-long soak until Mommy gets around to scrubbing it. What to do? What to do? Why, pull out the scouring cream, of course. Ecover makes one that I've had lying around the house for years. Yep, the same bottle... lying around the house for years. Is this because I rarely burn the bottoms of my pots? Hardly. Because I never wash them? Maybe. Or, perhaps because it never seemed as efficient as it needed to be.

Take a look at this pot. Ouch. That's going to be a tough one. It's already been through the customary soak, the scrub-down with regular liquid dish soap and then the customary resoak. It's not looking good. Let's see what a 60 second (or so) scrub with Ecover Cream Cleaner does for it.

Okay, so that obviously didn't go well. I used a scrubbing kitchen sponge (with one side soft and the other hard). And, I promise you I put some good elbow grease into it (I even tore a hole in my kitchen glove - yes, I do use plastic kitchen gloves, because I have eczema when I have dry skin). As you can see, a little came off, but you could hardly cook another pot of cereal with that. At this point I was a little uncertain of what to try next. I was kind of expecting the scouring cream to work and that would be that. I've used it in the past for other things (the stove top, for example) with some amount of success.

Then, something I once read came to mind. I have a modern copy of an antique cookbook, where scouring pots with sand was mentioned. Those frontier ladies were pretty ingenious, weren't they? Actually, I suspect that dates back a little earlier than the American frontier days, but what about sand? I was a little against the idea of going outside to grab up some dirt and whatever bugs might come along with it. So, I scanned the kitchen for a good substitute. I once read about cleaning iron skillets with hot oil and salt. Could salt do the trick? I grabbed a handful of fine sea salt and threw it into the pot. With the same sponge, I scrubbed again for about a minute. Look at the difference. Good old-fashioned sea salt. Can't get more eco-friendly than that.

I guess the moral to this story is that you don't necessarily need to get out the big guns (ecological or toxic) to do even the hard jobs. Some of nature's most basic gifts to us may well do the trick.

Green Living Tips

Tea bags are compostable!

How It Works

Since this is a brand new site, I thought I would tell you a little about my plans for it. There are so many directions I could go with this, but I really want to make a functional, practical source of information, both for myself and for others.

So, what I plan to do is this:

product reviews
information on new ecological technologies
general green living tips

I'll make every attempt to give you organized, well-informed articles with links to click on to find out more about any particular subject I discuss. And, since there is no way I can know everything or have tried every product on the market, I welcome other bloggers (or potential bloggers) to contribute their own product reviews and articles on green living. If you are interested, please leave me a comment with your blog and email addresses, telling me you'd like to contribute. It would be great to make this into a community effort.

If you don't feel compelled to share your product reviews, but you still want to help, you are more than welcome to leave a comment at the end of any product review to either chime in or disagree. Perhaps you feel differently than I do about a product. Let me know (just be nice about it, please). Or, if you would like to find out more about a particular issue or product, but you just don't have the time, bring it to my attention, and I just may find some time myself. I am a stay-at-home mommy but a researcher at heart, and I'm just not content if I'm not looking up some topic or other on the net. There is a wealth of information to be had out there, and if you know how to sift through it properly, you can find out almost anything. So, let's find out what we can about living a cleaner existence, shall we?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

To Green or Not To Green. Is There Really Any Question?

It seems to me that most people can agree, whether they believe in the existence of a little thing called global warming or not, that it wouldn't hurt any to live a little more ecologically friendly lifestyle. The earth certainly won't complain about a few tons less of that stinky garbage that's piling up off the coast of... well, off the coast of many places. Problem is, in today's world, it's not always easy to do what's best for the environment. We're bombarded with easy-cook, microwaveable meals in their plastic packaging and chemical snack cakes in their individual foil wrappers. With the hectic pace of life in the average family, it's all too easy to succumb to the convenience foods that practically jump off the grocery store shelves. Besides, who has time to hunt for alternative products that might lessen our impact on the environment around us? Certainly not you, right? No problem. I'll do it for you.

That's right, and for an UNlimited time only. In my quest to lighten my load on the world, I will be searching for online resources for information and products that could lead me to a cleaner lifestyle. And, why not share these goodies with you? Yeah, that's what I thought. So, that's what I'll do.

Now, being in France, I am not in a great position to try many of the American websites out, so I often won't be able to vouch for their service, but I'll at least let you know they are there*. "Why can't I just google and find them myself?" you ask. Well, if you were so inclined, I guess you already would have. Anyway, sometimes we are just simply unaware of the existence of a certain product or service out there today. Can't google it if you don't know about it. That's why I'm here to inform you of the little things I learn, as I learn them. So, sit back, relax and click your way to a cleaner, greener lifestyle.

*If you've tried a site I mention and would like to vouch for it, please let me know. And, watch the sidebar for listings of the sites I come across that I find interesting.