Category Archives: going green

Method goodies

Using Google Reader, I go through a lot of blogs and sites in a day.  Sometimes I read all the way through, in detail, carefully noting recommendations or marking posts for recipes to try later.  Sometimes I just skim the words, looking for anything of interest.  One of the sites I do read, The Kitchen, does giveaways on Thursdays and I entered… and won!

What did I win?  A nifty green tote bag along with some hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, dish soap, and laundry detergent.  I also have a second tote because I ordered some things off the website and sent in the form for one (I didn’t expect to win the drawing, and I really wanted a tote!).  You can usually find Method products at Target (it’s Target, not Tar-jay, just Target, okay?), sometimes even on sale, but I’ve never been able to find the dishwasher cubes (which, oddly enough, I can’t find on the website now) so I ordered some of those, some of the cleaning wipes, and some random other stuff.  If you buy a holiday kit, you’ll also get a green tote.  Their holiday scents are just delicious… the peppermint vanilla is my favorite, especially in the aroma sticks version.  I wish they had a refill for the aroma sticks, but until they do, I just buy the plug-in fragrance pill refill and empty the fragrance liquid stuff into the ceramic vase for the aroma sticks.

I really like the Method products (and am slowly trying to infiltrate the cleaning supplies with only Method goods) because their are environmentally-friendly, the packaging is recyclable, the scents are good, the body products are paraben-free (this is important because parabens affect your hormones and also build up in treated wastewater, accumulating in groundwater, streams, and waterways and therefore making it back into your water supply only to reconcentrate and do the whole thing over again), and the cleaning formulas are non-toxic so you don’t have to worry about walking over your floors barefoot or if your dog happens to lick the stove after you’ve cleaned it.

There are a plethora of environmentally-friendly, “green” cleaning lines out there, some better than others.  So I feel compelled to admit that the other reason my home is becoming so Method-centric is because the bottles look very cute and simple.  I haven’t gone so far as to purchase scents based on the color and whether they match the room they will go in, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

ps – as soon as I can get the pictures resized, I’ll show you what my pretty prize looked like!  For now, go look at the neat tote bag and go get one.

The plastic debate

The Kitchen: Apartment Therapy has a quick (but informative) blurb on plastic containers – what’s “safe” and what’s not. The Green Guide is listed as a good resource for making your life greener, not just as it relates to plastics. What I found the most useful, though, is the 1-page .pdf document that lists some of the more commonly used plastic containers and what to look for (in black) and what to avoid (in red).

Due to all the hullaballoo over plastics, leaching, and carcinogens, I had been considering tossing all our plastic containers and investing in a collection of glass containers. I looked at Ikea, since they are usually cheapest, and considered The Container Store, as it is a pretty cool store and I’l take any excuse I can get to go into one. We have many, many Gladware and Ziploc containers, in varying sizes, that we use to store leftover, transport cookies, portion out and freeze dinners for later, and just hold foodstuffs in general. We use enough of them that I would have had to purchase a lot of glass containers in varying sizes to replace the plastic ones. Then I had to consider the fact that glass containers don’t really nest inside each other like the Gladware-type and where would we keep them? Our cabinet barely holds the multitude of nesting containers as it is! I finally decided to take a hiatus on this debate and just make a conscious effort to not microwave anything in plastic. After all, how much chemical-junk can get into my food stored in the fridge or freezer?

So, when I read through the Plastic Guide, I was quite happy to see that our Gladware and Ziploc containers are made of #5-polypropylene (whew! Those organic chemistry classes paid off in spelling and pronouncing random chemical chains) and are on the “safe” list. Rubbermaid and Tupperware get a pass, too, except for the Tupperware Microsteamer and Rock n’ Serve containers. I’m guessing it’s still not a good idea to microwave food in #5-PP, though. The huge Costco-box of plastic cutlery probably doesn’t make the list (I’d have to check to make sure), but since we only use those for occasional parties, I’m not too concerned – healthwise, I mean. The environmental consequences of disposing all that plastic cutlery could be pretty bad, but let’s just focus on one disaster at a time, shall we?

Glad Cling Wrap and Saran with Cling-Plus (Handi-Wrap?) are okay; Reynolds Wrap or Saran Wrap (not to be confused with the Cling-Plus or Handi-Wrap) is not. Sadly, Stretch-tite is on the bad list (hi mom, are you paying attention?), which is unfortunate because that stuffs clings to surfaces like nothing else. I guess the #3-polyvinyl chloride will do that to a plastic wrap. Glad, Ziploc, and Hefty baggies are okay for storing goodies, so whisk those cookies into the lunch bag worry-free!

I’m glad I had procrastinated the plastic vs. glass decision, because now I know that there’s no rush to “green up” my kitchen (is that anything like “cowboy up”?). I try my best to keep things environmentally friendly in the house, but we tread a fine line between “green” and “convenient”. I’m also glad to see articles that take the time to explain why you don’t have to jump on the environment bandwagon 100% – some plastics are okay, not all organic food is a necessary purchase, etc. Yes, it is better to do as much as possible, but it’s reassuring to know that if you can’t go all the way, even a little bit of effort counts.

Envirosax, tote bags, etc

Using reuseable tote bags in place of plastic shopping bags is becoming all the rage.  I read about so many different vendors of these bags that it really does make me want to rush out and buy some.  Envirosax seems to be a universally approved one, as they are cute and sturdy and hold quite a bit.

However, I resuse all my grocery bags.  We usually get paper bags and put them around the house to throw recycling in, which then gets tossed into the big recycling bin.  The plastic sleeves from the newspaper (I remember when they only used these in rainy weather) I use when picking up the yard – you know, because of the dogs.  I guess I could use a Doggie Dooley system.  But then what would I do with the plastic sleeves?  Can you recycle them at the grocery store like you can with plastic grocery bags? updated: It seems that retail site reviews (PetCo, Amazon.com, etc) give good reviews but forums tend not to.  I think I will hold off on spending the $50 for a while.

Now, plastic grocery bags get used for both the cat litter box and the little kitchen countertop trash can.  I keep a small container by the sink so when I’m cooking I can just toss scraps and whatnot into it and not have to travel across the kitchen, flip open the trash can, and then get rid of it.  When the little container is full, the trash gets tied up and tossed into the big trash can.  Okay, I guess that’s more convenience than recycling.  I have been reading about these BioBags, which you can order from drugstore.com.  Apparently, they decompose in about a week, which is good for composting and the landfill, but maybe not so good if you forget to put the trash bin by the curb one week?  I’m a little wary about using it for the kitchen trashcan, although I’ve been considering it for the countertop container.

Now, the cat litter I dump into a plastic grocery bag and toss into the trash.  Some people say that the biodegradable bags are better because it doesn’t add plastic to the landfills.  But, I’ve also been reading that cat litter can kill sea otters if it makes it into the ocean.  Granted, flushing cat litter and letting it decompose in the landfill is different, but what if some runoff makes it into a storm drain and then into the ocean?  Sea World has been nursing a newborn abandoned otter – what if its mom died from cat litter (I know, there are so many ways the mom could have died)? 

You know, I started writing all this to try and justify my use of grocery bags.  The paper ones I’m still okay with, but I think the plastic ones we’ll just have to give up.  At least I’ve been using my blue Ikea bag for both Ikea purchases and bringing my CSA stuff home!