getting dirty and then coming clean...


Hey folks, just coming back from a little bit of a sick/holiday/pre-occupied break to share a collection of notes that hopefully will keep your mind on the green side of things. And no... I'm not talking about that smelly fungus that appears to be growing on your kitchen sponge. For goodness sake, throw that thing out already. Or better yet, clean it off well and then use a produce bag (not the plastic ones) but the ones that bulk potatoes and onions are packaged, and wrap it around your sponge for a little extra grit when scrubbing the sides of your green bean casserole dish. That is so much better than throwing it away. However, if you do have green moldy stinky stuff growing on it.... I'm not going to say anything if you do decide to toss it. It'll be our little secret. ;)

You've heard me confess before how I'm not the world's best showerer. It's not that I like being dirty (we'll talk about that later), maybe it's just that I'm lazy, or maybe truly I realize what a waste of resources it is to shower and soap every day. Well, according to some new studies recently published on the online version of Nature Medicine, dirty kids are healthy kids. Apparently, scientists have discovered that being too clean, can impair the skins natural ability to heal. Basically, when bacteria live on the skin they trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt. This bacteria then changes our bodies natural overactive immune responses that can cause cuts and sores to swell. So, when we let ourselves and our kids roll around in the mud and try to eat cigarette butts at the beach, we help our body build it's natural immunity. Our current obsession with cleanliness in developed countries also coincides with the recent growing trend of allergies people have. According to the study, rates of allergies in the UK have tripled over the last decade. It's gotten so bad that one in three people there have some kind of allergy. I say, let your kids get dirty, chances are their bodies will be better adapted to dealing with the nasties.

This is pretty much the same view that my mother shared with my brother and I while we were being nursed. As a teacher in our city's public schools... everyday my mom was exposed to germ after germ from disgustingly dirty teenagers. Rather than feed us from a sanitized bottle... she breast fed us and passed those mcnasties on to us. As a result, my brother and I had very very strong immune systems and a good appreciation for teenage sarcasm.

Speaking of mcnasties and dirt and germs... one place germs love is public bathrooms right? Well, the CDC recommends that you wash your hands after using a public restroom to prevent the spread of disease, but think about all that gets wasted when you wipe your hands with a paper towel? In fact, each person uses about 741 pounds of paper each year! Luckily, many companies and establishments have started using electric hand dryers and recycled paper towels, and then some companies like People Towels, are swinging on the green and encouraging folks to buy organic-cotton hand towels which come in cool patterns and colors. Essentially, I like their designs and that they create no waste and reduce a user's carbon footprint... but at the same time, for what they are - they are a little spendy. Personally, I've always been a big fan of using cloth dishrags, napkins, and hankies to do my dirty work. The great thing about them is that you can use them, abuse them, and then throw them in the wash afterwards. It's just that simple. And, for the more dirty work like cleaning my house, my car, my bike - I've always used old white v-neck t-shirts that are too dirty or stretched out to be seen in public and ripped them up to hand-held sizes. Add in a little simple green and you're good to go. No waste or paper needed.

(The Natural Resources Defense Council has a great listing and guide of well known paper products and their processes which include how much material is recycled and also post consumer. It also includes a listing of things you can do to make smarter paper choices. Check it out.)

Speaking of cleaning... does anyone else have a Swiffer? I have one and occasionally I'll use it to wipe my wood floors, but I always feel bad how it's "dead" after it fills with dog hair after a few swipes. I've been known to flip the pad over and use the other side but still... I get a little guilty tossing the cleaning paper away and not even coming close to cleaning my whole floor. Luckily, some others have also felt this guilt and have created more eco-friendly answers to the Swiffer problems.

This, for example, is a cotton swiffer cover which is hand crocheted. Apparently, it's reversible and washable and does a great job at picking up wet and dry spills. Sadly though, it seems to have recently sold out on esty, lets hope they make some more. Also, you can easily use the handle of your Swiffer and attach microfiber towels to it. According to this great little blog, these two folks discovered that microfiber towels work just as well as the Swiffer towels when it comes to cleaning your house. Better yet, you can buy a pack of them for $5 at the store and just wash and rewash them as opposed to throwing them out and buying more all the time. As well, when your loved ones give you a Shamwow this holiday season, you can clip that little baby right into the Swiffer for clean floor after clean floor. Shamwow!

Seasons cleanings y'all!


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