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MamaVoices: Going “Green”

These days we’re inundated with news of the toxicity of the everyday items – baby bottles, floor cleaner, toys, dry cleaning…AIR!  So it’s no surprise that as a culture we’re looking for opportunities to “go green”.  For crying out loud, once Wal-Mart starts running a green advertising campaign you know that there must also be a mighty strong economical benefit to some of these changes.  This month some of the TodaysMama staff shares the ups and downs of greening up their lives.

Confessions of a Go Green Late Bloomer
My husband Ethan is rummaging through the kitchen garbage can again.  It’s my fault, not his.  When you’re married to a vehement recycler it’s a bad idea to throw your empty yogurt container in the trash, it always leads to frustrated rummaging.

Ethan is big on recycling.  Very big.  A trait I generally admire in him, until it comes to sharing household duties.  Unlike the last generation Ethan and I split a lot of household chores.  We both have careers and we decided it was only fair that we both keep the household running.  It works fairly well, but brutal honesty here, the plan was doomed from the beginning.  What is clean in my eyes is apparently on a much higher level than what is clean to Ethan.  That’s when recycling becomes a thorn in my side.  Ethan frequently sorts recyclables while the rest of the house is in a state of chaos.  Recycling is the only household chore I can count on him doing well.  He’s also in charge of the bathrooms which I think is much more important, but they suffer from the attention paid to recycling.

Sadly, I use recycling, or rather not recycling, as a tool.  If my husband and I have a fight I purposefully throw whatever recyclable items I can find in the trash to upset him.  To his credit (and my annoyance) he generally happily removes and cleans the discarded goods without complaint and rarely follows up with the stern lecture I deserve.

I consider our household a very green household, all thanks to Ethan.  I’m not against any of it, I happily embrace it, I just don’t always find the time for it like he does.  We recycle, we compost, we use energy efficient light bulbs and our next vehicle will definitely be a hybrid. 

I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  Our society as a whole has a long way to go to get to green, but I feel my generation should be more dedicated than we are. Happily the majority of my friends are full-fledged greenies.  Hopefully the rest of the world is as determined as I am to quickly follow suit.

-Emily M.

My quest for all things green . . .
I, like everyone else, have been taking a shot at going green in different areas of my life. Here’s a summary of my trial and error:

Cleaning Supplies
Clorox Green Works: Maybe it was their beautiful packaging or the very chic color of the green liquid that enticed me into buying their product. But it was probably the sheer convenience of being able to pick it up at the grocery store. So many green cleaning products have to be ordered online or through a multi level marketer making it less convenient to start buying the products.

Natural Bathroom Cleaner: We really loved the way the spray bathroom cleaner worked and it smelled great too! 

Natural Dilutable Cleaner: Did not like this for the floors. It was really soapy and seemed to leave a residue. It also didn’t seem to break up the grime on my heavily trafficked floors.
What it’s made of: Coconut based cleaning agent, fragrance of lemon oil, corn based ethanol, filtered water. I know I’m going to pick up a magazine one day and read more headlines that our quest to go green is cleaning out our food supplies. And I’ll feel another pang of guilt because I’m sure my bottle of cleaner took down a coconut tree.

Dish-Washer Detergent
Let me preface this one by the fact that I live in a city that has “hard water” and I don’t have a water softener. I tried “Seventh Generation” dish detergent and all of my dishes ended up looking like they were covered in chalk. You could feel the film on them. Needless to say, that didn’t last long. Still looking . . .

Deodorant
OK, let’s face it! I’ve tried a bunch of them (Jason’s, Tom’s of Maine, etc.) and I’m sick of smelling like a natural food store employee at the end of the day! I might as well just slap on some patchouli oil while I’m at it! Back to my traditional, good smelling deodorant for the time being.

I guess at the end of the day I’m not doing so well with my new “green” products. But I am OCD about sorting my recycling – does that count???

-Rachael H.

It’s All About the Food
Before I married my husband, he and I visited his Grandma in Ohio.  Now, I had been warned…Grandma was an avid organic eater, militantly so in fact.  During my stay at Grandma Kathy’s I was treated to fresh berries with homemade bread each morning for breakfast, organic milk with her chocolate chip cookies and my first taste of organic chicken.  The food was delicious and I tasted a marked difference in some items, particularly the milk and the chicken.  The more I chatted with Grandma Kathy about the benefits of organic food to body and environment, the more intrigued I became. 

And so began my quest for information on all things food. I started by reading Eating Well For Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil and SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life by Steven G. Pratt and Kathy Matthews (no relation to Grandma Kathy).  Now while both books are focused on nutrition and health, both books took a “go organic” stance and some of the information on chemicals and preservatives in Dr. Weil’s book was downright frightening! 

Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve been fairly dedicated to eating organically in my home.  Unfortunately, a life dedicated to organic eating can be EXPENSIVE so my adherence to pesticide, hormone, antibiotic and preservative free food has depended a great deal on my income level.   But no matter the cost, we’re strictly organic when it comes to chicken, milk and the fruit and veggie organic “must buys”.

A few years ago I discovered the Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City and have become a big believer in buying local, both for the environmental benefits and to support local growers.

I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grip on organic buying, my next move is recycling.

-Erin O.

Easing Into Green Living
I have to admit that I haven’t jumped into the Green-label pool yet, though I occasionally dip my big toe in, out of curiosity.  Here are two products that stand out in my house.

My first purchase was Ecover Glass & Surface Cleaner, and my motivation was for safely cleaning my son’s toys.  For this task, it works great.  Granted, its job is only to clean slobber and germs, but I’m happy with it.  I’ve also tried to clean the stove top with this product.  It cuts through grease, but doesn’t eat away at dried crust as effectively as other, more aggressive cleaners do.  Ecover is also a good way to clean the counters before placing food directly on them—when, for example, rolling out a pie crust.

As for food, I try to buy organically for my son’s needs, and use organic fruits, vegetables and meats to make his food myself.  When we travel, purchasing jar food is easier, so I tried Earth’s Best organic baby food.  Unfortunately, and disgustingly, I found hair in 3 of 12 jars purchased in a bulk pack.  That’s a 25% infestation rate.  I couldn’t identify what type of hair it was, although in the defense of Earth’s Best, the added ingredient was also organic. 

-Erica F.

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