Living Lightly

10 Steps to Green

10 Steps to Green

It’s a new year and a time for new beginnings. I love this time of year. Somehow, it’s so much more than a number on a calendar. I never understand why it has this impact on me, but I can count on the inspiration and motivation I feel this time of year to accomplish things that at other times you’d have to hit me over the head with a crowbar to attempt. I hope you’re in this boat with me. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to get started on going green.

If so, here are ten steps to get you started.

  1. Acknowledge the importance of “Green” cleaning. Agree with the need for change before you can change.
  2. Educate yourself continuously with trustworthy resources such as the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
  3. Read ingredient lists. Beware of red-flag ingredients such as “-eths” and “fragrance”.
  4. Start with one step at a time. Identify the easiest task for you to turn green, and start there.
  5. Use products you understand. Complicated is not better. Regular soap and water is extremely effective, as are vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  6. GIY: Green-It-Yourself. Make your own cleaning products. Save yourself the time, money, and effort of buying from the store.
  7. Multi-task your cleaners. Find a great all-purpose recipe and use it for sinks, counters, dishes, floors, indoor, outdoor, everywhere.
  8. Reduce your refuse. Buy in bulk and buy concentrates to reduce throw-away packaging. Use washable cloths instead of paper towels. Recycle, reuse, re-gift, and re-purpose what you can.
  9. Clean your air. Open windows daily. Bring in houseplants. Use real foods to scent the air instead of candles, sprays, or plug in air fresheners.
  10. Stick with it. Even if you stumble occasionally, keep going. You will eventually develop new habits and get used to new norms.

Here are some of my previous posts to help you get started:

Getting anything accomplished is always a matter of one step at a time. The most important step, and often the most difficult, is the first one. This summer we drove across the country (and back). Considering our starting point, it looked a bit daunting. But how did we do it? Step by step – turned left out of our driveway, left at the corner, left at the stop sign…

10 Steps to Green

Further reading

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Alla Freeman says:

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for all the info.
I have started not long ago making my own cleaning products, safer on environment and for my family (especially my newborn son). Therefore number 6 stands out for me, following number 4. I find it rewarding, easy and cheap making my own products.

Lisa Bronner says:

I do apologize for my delay here! Great questions!

And a great shout out to EcoKaren – She’s doing great work and I appreciate the references!

Happy 82 – It is best that the toys be rinsed of the Sal Suds before the little one puts them in his mouth. The Sal Suds is not toxic, but it isn’t meant to be consumed, and it’s not a product with alcohol in it, like a sanitizing spray, where it would evaporate. Regarding sit time, the longer the Sal Suds (or any cleaning product) is in contact with a surface, the more disinfecting will happen. Ten minutes for full disinfecting. I go through and spray all my bathrooms and then go back to the beginning and wipe. If it’s not an intensely dirty surface, perhaps a frequently washed counter, you wouldn’t need to let it sit as long.

Hi Patti – At the moment there’s only the one Sal Suds variety. I don’t think another one is in the works, but any new development starts with a suggestion, so I’ll definitely pass yours along!

All the best,

Patti says:

Dear Lisa,

Love the SalSuds but I have clients who can’t tolerate the smell due to allergies. I have used and use all the castile soaps but with very hard water in my area SalSuds work the best

Is there any chance that someday the company will make SS without a smell or maybe a different one. I love all the products and am a loyal customer for life.

spazdoglee says:

Was perusing my newest ecokaren newsletter and was interested in the making of dish and dishwashing liquid soap. We live in a high desert and it’s incredibly dry here, so my hands are always chapped and cracked and my fingernails tend to suffer as well. I’m not only impressed with your products, but your blog as well. I’ll be curious to see what you and ecokaren come up with next!

Happy 82 says:

Hi Lisa,

Two more quick question. I noticed that my friend sprays her 8 month year old infant’s toys with an All Purpose Sal Sud’s solution to clean them. Then she hands them back to her infant to play with. Given that her child is teething, the infant will then put the toy in his mouth. Is this safe, or does she need to rinse the toy with water after spraying with a Sad Suds Solution?
My second question, when I am cleaning with Sal Suds, so I need to let the solution sit for a few seconds or minutes or can I wipe away immediately?

Thanks again!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Happy – Yes, Sal Suds is a disinfectant and will do a great job on all sorts of kitchen and household ickies.

All the best,

Happy82 says:

Hi Lisa!

I was wondering is the Sal Suds cleaning product a disinfectant? I am currently using it to clean up after meat juice. I use Sal Suds to clean just about everything on my home, however I wanted to make sure that Sal Suds is actually able to kill meat germs before continuing to clean up after meat. Thanks so much!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Susan – I like that! Nuclear fusion! I think line drying clothes is so much better on the clothes as well. The fabrics really take a beating in the dryer, and fade and wear out sooner.

Keep me updated on the nails. It would be interesting to see if they strengthen without exposure to the products you mention.

All the best,

Susan Daigle says:

That’s it! Out goes Ivory, Dawn, etc. In another post I had mentioned my bad nails. I’m pretty sure my nails went bad at the same time I started using these again (same thing happened many years ago before I started using my dishwasher as often as possible; nails cleared up that time).

And I can’t stand those dryer sheets, even in the store aisles. Besides, I like to tell people I dry my clothes with nuclear fusion…the sun.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dennis – Yes! I agree. I always think it’s weird that I can smell people’s fabric softeners all the way out on the street. There’s definitely something out of whack there. Great suggestion!

All the best,

Dennis says:

Thank you so much for this list, as a suffer of chemical sensitivities and asthma I’m so happy to see tip #9. So many people don’t realize what there doing to indoor air quality with all these plugins, sprays etc..
If I might make one suggestion, I would add removing fabric softeners and conventional laundry detergent. They can really pollute not only indoor environments but neighborhoods. I can’t even walk in my neighborhood with all the fabric softener use around here.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Judith – That’s a pretty common conundrum to people who make the switch. There isn’t a good option, but the most frequent one is that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so give it away. I’m not wholly comfortable with that because I’m giving someone something that I consider to be poison, and that’s not very friendly…

Anyhow, that’s one thought.

All the best,

Judith says:

Hi Lisa, Thanks for the great information on your site. I will be posting your “10 Steps to Green” in my kitchen as a visual to keep on track with my green efforts. As I am just getting started I am wondering what you suggest for getting rid of all the toxic products I still own. There doesn’t seem to be a good option I can think of – continue using until gone, landfill or down the drain – none of these are good. Thanks for any input!

Suzanne Holt says:

These are all great suggestions with #4 being the best….one step at a time. Going green doesn’t have to be some drastic change in lifestyle. A little effort goes a long way. I think once people are educated and become consciously aware of small changes they can make, it’s pretty easy to incorporate into daily living.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

Learn about my book, Soap & Soul!

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