Since adopting the Zero Waste lifestyle, my life and that of my family has completely changed, for the better. We not only feel happier, we lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff.
Today, my goal is to shatter pre-conceptions associated with the Zero Waste lifestyle and share what we have discovered about its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits. 

Zero Waste Cleaning and Laundry

An alternative guide to your cleaning disposables

- House cleaning agents:
castile soap
(bulk), a magic gentle natural soap, that can be used on floors, kitchen sink, dishes, hands, dog, body, hair…
homemade all purpose cleaner
(see recipes) for the weekly house cleaningbaking soda in a Parmesan shaker (1.99 unpackaged at cost plus) for scrubbing jobs
hydrogen peroxide
for mildew (use sparingly since it’s not available in bulk)

- House cleaning tools:
metal scrubby, it works wonders on stainless if used in the direction of the grain
loofah, natural brush, or a homemade scrubby knitted out of sisal twine for light scrubbing (loofah is a veggie, and you can grow your own!)
feather duster for speed dusting
old toothbrush for hard to reach places
microfiber cloths for every thing else (counters, floor, fridge, mirrors, etc…)

- Floors: Sweep with a natural boar bristle broom and wash with a wet microfiber mop and a few drops of castile soap. Compost your dust bunnies! We sold our vacuum cleaner: For the better, it saves on energy costs and storage space and we do not miss buying accessories or repair pieces.
- Windows: Microfiber cloths are great, just add water… no window cleaner needed

- Un-washable messes: Use un-donatable clothing items made into rags to clean up wax/auto grease/glue/caulk (use sparingly since they end up in the landfill!)

- Dishwasher: 2 options for the detergent (liquid in bulk from Rainbow or powder in a recyclable cardboard box such as Seventh Generation) and white vinegar as a rinsing aid

- Air: Let plants absorb toxins and clean your air. I do not like to have objects sitting on the floor since they make floor cleaning more painful, but I have found a vertical wall planter that is ideal (picture above).

- Laundry: Wash once a week only (to save time and dryer energy costs) with eco-friendly detergent (the one that has worked best for us is powder from a recyclable cardboard box such as Seventh Generation), using cold water cycles as much as possible. Savon-de-Marseille, dishwasher detergent, lemon or hydrogen peroxide work great on stains.

- Drying: Dry on a line when possible. If you use a dryer, compost the dryer lint and forgo dryer sheets (you should not be wearing synthetic static clothes anyways). I personally have not found the heavily packaged, but reusable, dryer balls to be very effective.

-Ironing: Iron very few things only (for us it's men’s dress shirts, dinner napkins and handkerchiefs), use a homemade starch in a stainless spray bottle (see recipes).

-Dry Cleaning/shirt laundering: Find a dry cleaner that has joined the sustainable world (Clean Look in Mill Valley for example). One that offers a reusable garment bag or nothing instead of plastic. And please do not settle for compostable bags, they are a real greenwashing ersatz.

Ready, Set, Clean Green!

80 comments:

  1. Bea,
    I enjoyed the NY TImes article. While I admire your practices it might be too late for my family, it would be me against three.
    Thanks for sharing with your neighbor so she could share with the rest of us.
    I will enjoy reading your future postings.

    Marsha

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  2. Hi, Followed the link from the NYT article. I think what you´re doing is very admirable! It´s definitely something we could all learn from so I hesitate to write this,

    But...

    I wonder exactly how much time/money you put into the effort. Clearly, buying from a thrift shop is much cheaper than buying new, but many specialty shops like Whole Foods are quite pricey (if they are even available - which they are not in my area). In the past few years I´ve also noticed a huge rise in the prices at the farmers market. In addition, the glass and stainless canisters you use are expensive when compared to the (free) plastic bags at the store. Finally, making of balms, cleaners, etc. and sorting through the trash, etc are very time-consuming for many people who work 1-2 jobs.

    This is clearly an important issue for you, and also seems to be something you ENJOY doing, especially since you have created a blog. Many of your readers with little extra time may see some of these changs not as a fun hobby but rather as a chore. All the things you do are admirable, but maybe not possible for the average person to take on (at least not all of them at once.)

    Could you outline in a future post the amout of MONEY/TIME INPUT your new lifestyle requires per day or week, as well as some small more moderate steps we could take in the transition period between consumerism and asceticism?

    Thanks!
    Julie

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  3. While some of us may not have the time/money to completely invest ourselves in this type of endeavour, there is NO excuse to not do the simple things...many of which are not that uncomfortable! "Free" plastic bags are hardly that. My boyfriend and I recently cleaned out our change jar...and bought four reuseable cloth grocery bags. Cheap, and we use them everywhere! That, and buying the Seventh Generation dishwasher powder, being conscious of what you put in your mouth and on your family's skin. Easy peasy. Here's hoping everyone tries to make one simple change.

    But that's not why I was writing- Bea, I seem to be missing the link to these recipes you mention in your post. Enlighten me please?

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  4. Dear Bea,

    i discovered your blog through the NYTimes article.

    What you are doing is amazing.

    you've inspired me to try to harder to limit my consumption and waste. i will be telling my friends to read your blog, hopefully we can convince more people how inportant this really is.

    Sincerely, Melissa

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  5. Also found you through the NY Times article. Great site. Another idea--have you heard of soap nuts? They come from a tree. A completely natural laundry detergent, can also be used to make dish and all-purpose detergent.

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  6. Found you through the Ny Times. Thanks so much for this! I have about three books on green cleaning, but your blog was so much more helpful!
    p.s. Check out my blog Festive Vegetarian if you are interested in fresh, eating from local farmers markets.
    http://festivevegetarian.blogspot.com/

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  7. I have really enjoyed your articles, I would be interested to know what suggestions you have for products in France (Paris) and where to go about finding them in bulk. Alep and Marseille soap are quite easy to find. I don't seem to have crossed Castille soap. Any suggestions would be welcome.
    Thank you.

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  8. Hello. I just found your site thru the NY Times article. What a great blog! I do take issue with your encouragement against synthetic clothing. Cotton is considered one of the dirtiest crops to produce. Cotton crops cover 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides - and they're the really bad and toxic ones. Cotton needs a substantial amount of water. Organic is great, but it comes with its own carbon toll since it mostly originates in Turkey. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, can (and often are) made from recycled soda bottles, fabric scraps, and other industrial sources. And furthermore, the garments made from this fabric can be recycled. The fibers are durable (more so than cotton) and when blended with natural fibers (like organic cotton or Tencel) are often more "easy care" than fully natural fiber garments. Anyway, you can buy synthetics from Patagonia and they will take them back and recycle them. Just sayin'...

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  9. Golden Papaya: I have tried the Soap Nuts... I even researched growing the tree in my backyard! I have tried many promising but frustrating laundry detergents over the past year (the Soap Nuts were one of them). I cried over my grayish whites and grease-spotted darks. I even contemplated going back to my old tide/bleach days! and I wondered... does living green, mean living with spots? I have enough to fight on my face ;)...
    The Seventh Generation detergent brought me back on the wagon. It's amazing how much clothing waste you can reduce when you've found a detergent that works.
    My friend says that Method works great too, but it comes in a plastic bottle. I believe we have enough of those floating around in our oceans.

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  10. Kat: You've found a flaw!. I started this blog only a couple of months ago and in an effort to keep my life simple I limit my postings to a weekly basis (I might reconsider though). Recipes have not yet been posted. I do keep a huge list of subject that I plan to write about. Recipes is one them (please comeback for them!).

    Sarhu: the Zero Waste Closet is another on my list. To give you heads up, I personally support buying USED clothing (reduce 1st, reuse 2nd, recycle as a last resort). When buying used, the manufacturing footprint does not matter whether it is cotton, synthetic or organic. However the fabric choice does make a difference in disposal outcomes, at least until the thrift shops get filled with Patagonia garments. Used cotton biodegrades, synthetic doesn't. I don't want Wall-E playing with my bra... (I probably lost you here). Nonetheless, I will look for Patagonia recyclable cotton clothing at the Thrift Shop. Maybe a bra? Thanks for sharing Patagonia's recycling options.

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  11. Hi Bea,

    I read the NYT article today and have been reading your terrific blog for the last hour. I too live in Mill Valley (I was surprised to see that is where you are!) and I shop at all of the places you mention in what I try and make an ever-evolving effort at less and less waste. I've found over the last couple of years that the folks at our Whole Foods are accepting and even appreciative of my extensive bulk/produce bag collection, but I continue to be surprised at how rarely I see other carts with the same. The Marin BYOBag folks are picking up speed however...

    Your ideas about bringing your own cheese, meat, personal care products packaging are wonderful - thank you. Farmers markets are great, we sure have some lovely ones, and CSAs are even better... I just go pick up my bushel basket of mind blowing (biodynamic and relatively local) produce (meat, eggs, flowers etc are also available) at my neighborhood drop spot every Saturday. Zero waste, supporting local farmers and no weird looks at the market either ;-)

    Finally, some of the other commenters here have a point about time investment. Many efforts are habit-based and painless (bags, shopping choices, rags instead of paper towels, zero waste school lunches). Others live firmly in the realm of stay at home moms (post office trips, making ones own condiments) ... It's up to each of us to do all we can with the time and energy we have. I am so with you on the concept of there not being an "away"...

    Let me know if you'd like to know more about our CSA. Be well and thanks for your inspiring work - Kathleen

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  12. Hi Neighbor Kathleen! I would love to hear about your CSA. How is their packaging? I have used a couple of CSA's in the past and had to drop them because of their packaging. It became ironic that the only plastic (and paper) bags that made their way into our home came from our organic farm! Up to 10 a week/household. With 600 members, that is 6000 plastic bags released into nature each week. That number made me sick. I debated with them and gave them an ultimatum, but with CSA's becoming popular and a list of people waiting to join theirs, they did not need us. They made excuses as to why they could not let the veggies roam free in the box. We gave them 9 months to "birth" a better alternative, they did not make the deadline, and we left. I now actually really enjoy going to the Friday's Farmer's Market. It builds a sense of community and gives me a chance to try new products (last week, we tried the huge croissants) and give feedback to vendors... I wonder how many times I need to mention to the flower guy that his colorful stems would look and sell better out of the plastic, before he actually does it... In the meantime, I boycott. I need support, here! Any other Mill Valleyans reading this out there?

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  13. Julie K: I appreciate your comment and will work on an article about time/money. I think your concerns are those of many, and my goal is to show that Zero Waste comes from SIMPLIFYING your routine, RETRAINING yourself how to shop (and think about shopping) and REFUSING. Make it easy on yourself, or you'll be less likely to stick to it -it's like exercising ;). If you don't buy packaging, you don't have to dispose of it. Period. It’s that easy. If I can manage to do it with 2 part-time jobs and a family, so can you. All you need is the will to make a difference.

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  14. Anonymous2/19/2010

    LOVE the blog! MAny great ideas!! Sort of off topic, but not really---how did you build/where did you buy the vertical planter? Looking to grow herbs inside the kitchen to reduce buying from store.
    -CG

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  15. Great blog and some wonderful, simple ideas to help all of us reduce the amount of trash we create. I, also, read about you in the Michelle Slatalla article. Thanks!

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  16. Greta: It's never too late!!! "Be the change that you want the world to be" Gandhi. I started on my own and the rest of the family joined in. Do you have kids? ours did not even notice our zero waste pantry until 6 months ago when I went on a school field trip to Whole Foods with my son. He could not answer the simple question: "why is it a good idea to buy in bulk?". He had not realized that our pantry was all bulk and why (he is at school when I grocery shop). Kids adapt so well, they do not get attached to products like we do. They are most importantly the future of a better planet, only if given the tools to change it.

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  17. Anonymous2/20/2010

    Hi Bea,
    When I read the article in the NYT, I exclaimed to my daughter, "Doesn't that sound like me?!" No one else in the family gets my desire to own less stuff. I wonder, though, what you do about walking your dog if you don't have plastic bags in the house? I have two dogs and without plastic bags (mostly from my morning newspapers), I'd be sunk.

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  18. As with many of the readers above, I too read the NY Times article. You have inspired me to get going and figure out how to live with less.

    I must admit - transforming my life seems a bit overwhelming at first. Any suggestions for how to do it in phases? It would be great to have a plan - so tackle 5 most egregious habits first, then move on. Any suggestions for how to get going would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, as another reader noted, had trouble locating the recipes you reference.

    Many thanks!

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  19. Anonymous2/21/2010

    Former mill valley girl here. LA girl now.
    Love the blog very inspiring especially the cloth bags and jars - no brainer!
    Sad ( because it points to consumption) but one of my first thoughts upon seeing pics of your house and then the cloth bags was: she should market these products because they are so appealing! Just a thought.
    If we can make zero waste habits aesthetically desireable (as you do) it would be helpful.
    Made from recycled fabric of course...

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  20. Your blog is lovely, I look forward to reading more and continuing to be mindful of reducing waste. I was wondering about the microfiber cloth -- are they washable and reusable? Or compostable? I usually just sweep and don't want a vaccum. I know there are those swiffer things, but I thought those were wasteful because you just throw away the cloth after cleaning. Can you elaborate or give a source, it would be really helpful. Thanks!

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  21. Susan: Zero Waste does not start in the home, but outside of it. The fastest way to get your home on the Zero Waste track is to Refuse. Read my article: "Zero Waste #1 rule". Welcome to the club ;)

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  22. Thank you for your blog! I am wondering if you or anyone has a source for boar bristle brooms. They are hard to find. Thanks so much.

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  23. This might not work if you have Great Danes, but I use double-side printed paper to pick up after my dog (kitty size excrements).

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  24. Vanessa5/28/2010

    Just to add to the dog comments: for cleaning up after my dog at home, I use a metal pooper-scooper that I just empty it into the toilet and flush. Very easy!

    On walks, I am still using up my stock of "biodegradable" bags, but will be switching to Bea's paper method when they are gone. One tip: I've started raw feeding with my dog and it results in much smaller, firmer and less frequent poops that can be picked up cleanly with paper. (Sorry if that's too much information!) Plus my dog is shiny, happy and full of energy!

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  25. NH Diane6/22/2010

    I have just discovered your blog and this is the first page I've read so far. I recommend Charlie's Soap for laundry and cleaning. You can check it out on their web site: charliesoap.com. It is environmentally friendly, perfume free, natural, pure, and so forth. And it does a fabulous job on my laundry. I also use their all-purpose cleaner, mixing it in different percentages with water for different cleaning purposes: e.g., spot-cleaning laundry, carpet stains, cleaning stoves, counters, everything. I have eliminated all other cleaning products (except white vinegar), but will try the window-cleaning cloths you recommend as I use white vinegar now which sometimes streaks my windows.

    I live in New Hampshire and hang my laundry outside until the snow falls and NEVER use dryer sheets or fabric softener.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog, back "issues" included.

    NH Diane

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  26. Anonymous6/27/2010

    Bea,

    You mention stainless steel spray bottles in a couple of your posts. Do you know of a source or a brand name for such a bottle?

    Many thanks.

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  27. you have a couple of options:
    -Blomus stainless bottles in 10 or 17oz, http://www.modernfurnituredecor.com/plantsprayer.html
    or
    -Container Store aluminum bottle, much cheaper. http://www.containerstore.com/shop?productId=10025610&N=&Ntt=aluminum+spray

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  28. With regard to mops: I was anti-Swiffer because of the waste until I got one in a batch of free stuff from a friend who moved. Lo and behold! A standard washcloth will fit perfectly over the mopping head and is easily gripped by the little rubbery holes made to grip the (now unnecessary) disposable Swiffer towels. I like the swivel action of the head better than a regular mop, and there's no bucket of water needed. The washcloth can be rinsed and wrung in the sink and slapped back on the head. Not that I'm saying go out and buy one, but if you happen across a used one...

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  29. I attach my microfiber cloths to one of those.

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  30. Anonymous7/11/2010

    Bea,
    Love your vertical Planter.It looks so lush & green. How do you start one & further maintain it?
    What plants do you have in there?
    Sorry, but curious since I would like to get started on one.
    Thanks for sharing all the great tips for achieving zero-waste

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  31. I've been using some natural cleaning recipes for a while now and love them. Microfiber clothes are great.

    For line drying, I have found a method for do so inside since I have restrictions about an outside line. So far it is working, and I'm eliminating the need for a dryer. I truly hope to be able to just give away the dryer to someone else who will use it.

    For the Seventh Generation dishwasher powder, I tried it after seeing you mention it. Unfortunately I have extremely hard water with heavy mineral deposits, and we are on a well system. It would not rinse away completely from my dishes even when using vinegar or another rinse aid. There were white powder deposits all over my black ceramic dishes. I had to switch back to my other detergent packs because they work in hard water. I contacted Seventh Generation, and they agreed that my water conditions don't allow their dishwasher detergent to work properly. They also told me how to remove the deposits. I wanted to share this with other readers so that hopefully my experience can help someone else avoid it.

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    Replies
    1. I have been using vinegar in the dishwasher rinse aid compartment do you have another suggestion?

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  32. This is awesome. The greatest of all!

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  33. I am very happy to have co,e across your blog through Sunset magazine. I am almost done plowing through your entire blog entries, and keep seeing your couch. My wife and I are redoing our place and I would love to know where you got it from. You have great fashion sense. -JamiecCostello@gmail.com

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  34. Anonymous1/15/2011

    Love your blog!!! But have to take issue with the synthetics...I live in Alaska and am frequently outdoors, and our mantra is "cotton kills." Seriously...synthetics or fur are much safer. I didn't know about Patagonia's recycling option and was glad to read about it, but have to say, the synthetic clothing I have for outdoor use (including Patagonia goods) have lasted me years and years and continue to be serviceable.

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  35. Valuable information shared I am very happy to go through this particular article..
    thanks with regard to providing us wonderful info.Excellent walk-through. I enjoy this post.

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  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  37. Hi Bea,

    Love the blog! I have a question. You mention that you've sold your vacuum, but you didn't really specify what you do to maintain carpets in its place. The main reason I ask is that we have three cats, and even with regular brushing a vacuum seems to be vitally necessary to de-hair our carpets and upholstery-- after all, I would think a bagless vacuum produces less waste than one of those horrible paper-based lint rollers (which would be the next most effective thing to remove hair from our couch), even though it is made of plastic and does consume electricity.

    I'm mainly curious what you use in place of a vacuum. I can't imagine going without ours.

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  38. Okay, having now read through the whole blog I understand that you don't have carpeting. I wish I could say the same! Aside from using a bagless vacuum, which we do already, do you have any advice on how to make removing cat hair from our carpets and upholstery more zero waste friendly? I'm very hesitant to compost the vacuum contents since, as with dryer lint, there's every chance that synthetic fibers could be included, which plain old won't compost.

    Thanks!

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  39. Monica:
    I too had a bagless vacuum, but I could no longer be bothered with the stink, the long cord, the repairs, the storage, and the weight. I have not missed it since, but again, living without a vacuum is not for everyone. Zizou sheds a lot, but I chose a white dog to match my floors ;) so that I would not feel the need to constantly sweep after him. I have 2 rugs: one tiny round wool at the kitchen sink, one medium cowhide in the playroom. I beat the first and shake the second, once a week.
    I am not sure what "synthetic fibers" you mostly find in your dryer lint that would stop you from composting it...
    For our part, most of our clothing is made of natural fibers (previously mentioned), sometimes blends (like my jeggings which has 5% spandex). I have found that our dryer lint is mainly cotton and dog hair. I have even tested it ;) by setting a lighter to it to see if my lint melted (synthetics) or burned (natural fibers) -it burned, and smelled like burning paper (natural fibers). http://www.fabriclink.com/university/burntest.cfm
    I find that the very few synthetic materials that we do wear, do not shed (my husband's snowboarding pants for example).

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  40. Interesting, I hadn't considered testing my dryer lint that way! Thanks for the link!

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  41. Where do I find your recipes? Emily

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  42. Hello Bea - What do you do with the plastic scooper that comes with the laundry detergent? I just bought the Whole Foods Brand landry detergent. It is powder that is wrapped in plastic with a plastic scooper and then placed in a cardboard box. Must say I was a bit disappointed when I came home and saw this!

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  43. Hi Tanny:
    This is a great reason to write to Whole Foods. Please contact them! You just reminded me to do so also. I saw their new detergent at the store and suspiciously opened the box to see that the detergent was in a plastic bag. Ugh! Why could they not follow Seventh Generation's lead on this, and put the detergent straight into the box. Their scoop also has a recycling number on it. I buy Seventh Generation, and I recycle mine because I already have a metal one that like more. I have contacted them to consider eliminating them. From what I see thru my home consultations, most households have extra cooking cups anyways. The directions on the detergent box could simply mention the amount needed per wash.

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  44. Hi Bea - I forgot to mention that after I wrote here, I decided to write to Whole Foods. I received a response the next day, probably because it was directed to their hq rather than the local store. Here is an excerpt of the answer:

    "Your comments will be forwarded to our Private Label team so they may be used by our national buyers during the product development process."

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  45. Janet V.3/25/2011

    One answer for the dress shirt ironing/shirt laundry is for your husband to invest in a few Brooks Brothers no-iron dress shirts (assuming he wears one every workday get enough for a week). They come out of the dryer nice and crisp without ever needing even a touch-up with an iron, even after several years and many wearings. My husband and father are both VERY picky about the starchiness and ironed look of shirts for work and these are excellent. My husband wears a dress shirt every day and we have not purchased new shirts for him in at least four or five years.

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  46. Please, JanetV, reconsider the no-iron/chemically treated shirts……the chemicals are toxic and your skin will absorb them.

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  47. Sandra4/15/2011

    Bea, this information is wonderful. It certainly made spring cleaning less toxic and more tolerable to do this year:)

    What do you recommend for cleaning the oven? Washing the car?

    Thanks.

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  48. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Speaking of synthetic materials, I'm required to wear nylons as part of my uniform for work. Do you have any alternatives to suggest? Since reading about zero waste I'm going to try to save the ones that get holes to use as stuffing/craft projects. But sadly I'm obliged to buy them. I've always said I detest the person who invented them. They are terribly uncomfortable!

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  49. Anonymous5/02/2011

    Hi Bea, This is great! You have already done all the hard work and research for us. I love reading your blogs and I have started weaving in a few things into our life. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  50. I Love Cleaning with Micro-fibre cloths. And it is super-fast.

    @Monica you can remove pet hair from upholstery by putting on rubber or Latex gloves and running your hands over the hairy parts. The hair sticks to the gloves because they get static.

    @Sandra cleaning the oven is easy when done while it is still luke-warm. Just swipe with a wet microfiber cloth after each use (takes 15 seconds) and you never have to buy toxic oven cleaner again.

    Sorry for my english and Fresenius from Germany!

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  51. Zero waste home or place is one of the ideal things that people want to live with. Whether in bathroom, living room, or kitchen, you want every part of your home clean and organized because you want to avoid chances of having sickness. It is nice that simple materials like baking soda can help clean some parts of your home.

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  52. Security gadgets are certainly useful in keeping your home secure. But it is also important to make sure that every part of your home is fixed and that there are no damages - especially on the locks of your doors and windows. These are the parts of your home that are usually targeted by thieves. So you have to make sure that there are no damages on your doors and windows. If you see any damages, fix them right away.

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  53. What do you use to clean your toilets?

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  54. also, i saw your tweet about your Step-dad grating Savon de Marseille to make laundry detergent...could you post his recipe for making laundry detergent??

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  55. No recipe: just straight grated Savon de Marseille. Only trick: the dryer the bar of soap, the better. We're all about simple recipes here;)

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  56. vinegar and water for the toilets.

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  57. Susan d8/08/2011

    Hi B:
    I am planning to gradually use up the cleaning products that I have and to replace them with some better choices. Today I got some Castile soap and can't wait to use it.
    I am also hoping to have a clothes line in the near future. A couple of years ago we installed one of those umbrella type clothes dryers in our yard. It worked really well and I loved using it, however, one day I went out with my wet basket of laundry only to discover that my dryer had been stolen! my next clothes line will have to be an actual line so that it will not be as tempting to thieves.

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  58. Hi Bea, have you thought of making your own bulk laundry liquid? I use this recipe http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2010/08/homemade-laundry-liquid-revisited.html and store it in four three-litre milk containers (that would otherwise be recycled). It lasts for ages and does a great job.

    I do also keep a bottle of normal laundry liquid and use that when I do a load of whites (not every time) as the natural detergent doesn't include colour boosters and brighteners.

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  59. Anonymous10/01/2011

    Hi Bea,

    Love this blog - just want to pass on that you can use baking powder (not soda for some reason) instead of dishwasher powder or detergent in the dishwasher - no idea if you can but the stuff in bulk. A revelation when I discovered it. I'd be interested to know if it works universally - we have pretty good water quality here in Melbourne Australia , not sure if poor water quality necessitates detergent (I've actually wondered if any product is necessary or if the force of the hotwater is enough to clean the dishes and the "need" for detergents is a fiction created by companies who want us to buy consumables)... Keep up the great work

    Claire

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  60. Thanks Claire: I am glad the baking soda works for you. It did not work for us at all when we tried it for a few months a couple of years ago. Grease collected in the dishwasher overtime and the glasses had a film on them, even with white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Perhaps it's because I use the eco mode on my dishwasher or perhaps it's the water (although it's well balanced: neither soft or hard). I am happy buying my detergent in bulk for now.

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  61. Susan d10/15/2011

    Hi Bea:
    Just wondering if you have figured out a clever way to remove lint and pet hair from clothing. This is a big problem for me as we have a dog and almost all of my clothes are black. I used to use the lint rollers where you have to tear off a strip for each use but since these are now off the list of things to buy I am going around like a shaggy dog.

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  62. To remove pet hair from clothing, I've switched to using a clothing brush made of boar's hair with a wooden handle. The one I have is from the brand Kent. After using it for a while, I now think it works even better than the tear sheet lint rollers, with none of the waste.

    For pet hairs problems on upholstery, there are several great suggestions on the ZWH forum. I've been using a reusable rubber sponge to gather up the hair, and it saves on having to vacuum often.

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    Replies
    1. Sandra3/10/2012

      I recently discovered that a damp microfiber cloth also makes a great pet hair remover. Just wipe the damp cloth over your clothes or upholstery.

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  63. Hi Bea! I tried looking on my own first so as not to ask questions that you have already answered :), but I can't seem to find the answer. What does your family use to wash the inside of the toilet bowl? I have only seen toilet brushes that are all plastic, which def does not fit into the zerowaste lifestyle. thank you!

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  64. I use an incredibly simple tool: my hand! ;)
    Thanks for asking.

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  65. Anonymous3/08/2012

    I'm curious... why would you iron handkerchiefs and napkins?? It seems like a giant waste of energy from the environment and human energy. Both get wrinkled immediately anyway, and there are zero negative consequences for having either item look wrinkled. What am I missing?

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  66. I wash my laundry in cold water. Ironing handkerchiefs and menstrumal pads sanitizes them. I iron napkins on occasions, if I happen to iron that week. Isn't ironing a personal choice/preference? Scott could wear wrinkled shirts too, but we chose to iron some of them, a personal preference. "I am missing" why you care whether I iron or not;)

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  67. Hi Bea - Love following your blog and am making lots of changes in my house and now even some of my friends' houses! Question though - I bought Seventh Generation for my dishwasher like you recommended. It worked well sometimes and not so great others so I gave their customer service a call. They told me to try to the liquid, but when I explained I wanted the cardboard so I could recycle it they said that there is a lining inside the box to keep it from getting hard if exposed to humidity or water and because of this the box is NOT recyclable. I checked the box and sure enough says not recyclable in all areas.... But leaves me to wonder what to do. Any ideas?

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  68. Hi Bea I am trying the Trader Joes Laundry Detergent Plant Based Formula. I am really excited that the EWG database will soon include a cleaning products database so I can be mindful of their toxicity level ratings for cleaning products as well as your zero waste ideas.

    I was really creeped out to learn that most laundry detergents on top of being in plastic bottles, are filled with chemicals that can cause endocrine disruption and developmental problems as well as being bioaccumulated in the body. So for all the people that think your habits are too much of an effort, perhaps the idea of the alternatives such as hormonal problems and developmental issues in their children would motivate them to take a second look at their habits. The idea of bio accumulation is that your body holds onto the chemicals you are exposed to. So every extra day a person wears chemical ladden clothing washed in conventional laundry soap, the body adds more chemicals to its system that don't disappear.

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  69. To follow up on my earlier post, I have realized that the Trader Joes detergent is rated really low on the http://www.goodguide.com/products/269212-trader-joes-liquid-laundry site. It has a 5.1. (low being bad on this site). Its health rating is high being an 8, however they also rate on how they treat the employees and the environment. This laundry thing is getting to be too complicated! Next time, I will try one of these top rated ones: http://www.goodguide.com/categories/376387-laundry-detergent##products

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  70. Anonymous6/21/2012

    Bea, What do you use to clean your counters besides a wet towel? We are trying to minimize our waste but I am having a hard time getting away from Clorox wipes.

    Thanks,
    M

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  71. First, I wanted to let you know that your example has inspired a lot of change in my life. I had been inching in the less waste direction already and getting mostly confused/incredulous feedback when I saw you on the news -- in the gym, with no sound. I immediately looked you up when I got home to get the full story. And it changed my life -- seriously. Thanks so much for stepping up and setting an example.

    Second, I wanted to share that I finally found hydrogen peroxide in bulk! The ingredients in the drugstore brown bottles (16-32oz) is: Hydrogen Peroxide - 3%, Water. The ingredients in "Ecover Non-Chlorine Bleach" (64oz!) is: Hydrogen Peroxide - 7.5%, Water. So it's in bulk and also more concentrated! It's sold in the laundry section of health food stores (including Rainbow Grocery).

    http://www.ecover.com/us/en/Products/Laundry/Non-Chlorine+Bleach+Liquid.htm
    http://www.ecover.com/us/en/liquid+bleach.htm

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  72. Regarding hydrogen peroxide, you can buy quart and gallon sizes of food grade hydrogen peroxide (35%) and then dilute it down to 3% with water. This makes your quart or gallon go a very long way, plus you don't have to worry about stabilizes that are added to the 3% solution you buy in the grocery store :)

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous9/07/2012

      Where can you buy these?

      Delete
  73. Great stuff here! I will make a point to come here more often.

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  74. Anonymous12/04/2012

    Just wondering what I did wrong? Tried following your all purpose cleaning recipe but it all separated & globs clogged up the spray nozzle :-(

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  75. We at Aishvarya services provided cost saving housekeeping services in Bangalore cleaning furniture with dry clothes, remove dust from glass doors, windows, sign boards, telephones etc.

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    ReplyDelete
  76. A Garment Bag is a very useful travel bag in which one can hang various articles of clothing, as opposed to an ordinary suitcase with folded clothes inside. It is made of durable material, closes with a zipper and often folds in half and has a handle so it can be carried. There are various sizes and types of garment bags which serve different purposes.

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