A week of decluttering – day two

Filed in Blog by on April 28, 2009 19 Comments
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lemons-for-zero-waste-cleaningAfter sorting out some kitchen cupboards yesterday, I decided it was time to clean. I pulled everything out of the cupboard containing cooking oils and vinegars and was left with a bit of a mess. Not only were there plastic packets from baking ingredients such as coconut, ground almonds and semolina  to be disposed of, but the cupboard itself was a little on the dirty side.

It seems that no matter how careful you are, there is always some oil on the bottom of the bottle when you put it back. Hence an oily, sticky mess on the shelf.

In the old days I would have reached for some toxic chemical cleaner and a roll of kitchen towel to clear up the mess. At the end of the cleaning session I would probably have dumped a scourer, a tree’s worth of paper and an empty cleaning product bottle into the bin. Maybe a pair of rubber gloves too.

This time, however, being a darker shade of Mrs Green, I reached for my trusty cleaning supplies which included salt, vinegar, essential oils and bicarbonate of soda. No need for rubber gloves with these beauties, although I confess that I still needed one of those scouring sponges.

Now I keep one of those ‘disposable sponges’ for the horrible cleaning jobs instead of throwing it away after one use. A few more germs maybe, but we don’t appear to suffer from it.

All you need it a little Chaka Khan played at several hundred decibels and away you go.

Yes it takes longer and more effort than a chemical product, but the result is eventually the same. Except it isn’t. I’m not breathing in toxic fumes, contaminating my home or putting chemicals down the drain or into the landfill. I don’t have to keep Little miss Green or the cat out of the way as I clean (in fact Little Miss Green is welcome to roll up her sleeves and help me) and I don’t have to be careful about where the products splash. In addition I’m getting a workout that no gym membership could ever provide!

After 20 minutes of scrubbing I had soft hands (the salt and oil ex foliated them as I worked!), a clean cupboard and a great smelling home.

We are definately going to be putting much more into the bin this week, but when the cleaning and decluttering bug strikes, you have to attend to it!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (19)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    The cleaning bug is addictive and I have similar dark areas, behind fridge/freezer and washing machine, to clean green. The Ecover products won last year are excellent cleaners with good environment credentials.

    Ecover are introducing cardboard boxes as replacement to plastic containers. They have plastic lining and a tap, possibly metal. At my next visit to Entrading, Glasgow, I will get full details, including what to do with the old containers.

    I mentioned your hosting on the ACC blog, with link, on SkyNews Forum. The second topic has begun and should prove just as fascinating as the first.

  2. Sarah says:

    Well done Mrs Green!
    I must tackle the furthest corners of my cupboards soon….

  3. Layla says:

    Well done for cleaning, Mrs Green!! 🙂

    I agree – a bit more muscle effort, but you totally save on gym memberships & such!! 🙂

    Chaka Khan – sounds fascinating! now there’s something new to try out! lol

    John, I’m weary about plastic lining on paper – actually ‘just plastic’ can be more recyclable than paper with plastic lining! so do check it out!
    In our area, plastics get to be recyclable, but paper lined with plastics goes into mixed trash=incinerator!!

    It is good that manufacturers are open to new products, we must make sure that new packaging isn’t actually worse environmentally than the old!

  4. John Costigane says:

    @Layla: Hi Layla, The fact that the box is refillable, with customers doing the task in store, means the waste issue is deferred. Hopefully, the bag will be easily removed from the box and Ecover may in fact be recycling the plastic as was done with the previous container system.

    Ecover are less clued-up with our trend but the good contacts we have can let us feedback to them to improve product packaging.

  5. just Gai says:

    At the end of our recent week’s holiday in St Ives at Easter I was charged with cleaning the kitchen and bathroom sinks. The cleaning materials were all of the chemical type. The fumes were overpowering and I dreaded to think of the damage they were doing to my skin. I couldn’t use them on a regular basis.

    I’m not terribly houseproud and use as few cleaning products as possible. When I do I stick to Ecover. Our local deli has a refill facility which saves on packaging. I have a book about natural cleaners which I keep meaning to consult.

  6. Sarah says:

    Damn, twisted my back while putting shopping away and now having trouble walking!

    No cupboard cleaning in the near future…

  7. Carole says:

    @just Gai: I try to get away with as little cleaning as possible too! Having been following the comments here, I picked up that the local health food shop in my town does Ecover refills. However, it seems that the one in Saltash where I’m hoping to move to, while it stocks Ecover, it doesn’t do the refills!! I can see I’m going to have lobby them on that one.


  8. John Costigane says:

    @Carole: Hi Carole, Good to see your Ecover interest. I travel 15 miles to Entrading, Glasgow, to find a refillable store. Some do not provide the service but the Ecover website indicates the range of shops, and services in each region, by postcode.

    The future will see more widespread use of their products when they become mainstream and replace the opposition.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Good luck with those horrible areas, John. We haven’t tackled them yet! I’ll be interested to hear what you find out about the refills packaging and thanks for the mention on the sky forum. I haven’t had chance to get over to the Acc summit yet this week 🙁

    @Sarah: Now Sarah; I don’t know whether to believe you or not? Are you really in pain or are you skiving off in the sunshine?
    If you’re suffering then have a (((HUGS))), but if you’re skiving then I’m going to crack the whip 😀

    @Layla: Thank you Layla; Chaka Khan is a throwback from the ’80s so shouldn’t be hard to find.

    @just Gai: Hi Just Gai; good to see you. Sorry to hear about you having to use all those horrible cleaners but it’s great that you have a local refill service to take advantage of. we’re off to the farm shop in a moment and will be getting a refill from there 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: I’m really in pain. I wish I could skive off in the garden but I can barely walk. Only gentle hugs please…

  11. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I tackled the fridge/freezer corner yesterday with relish. The stains looked permanent but with Ecover Lemon/hot water/elbow grease and scrubbing tools everything dissolved into a dark liquid. This was cleared away leaving a clean scene.

    More work remains but it feels like a daily routine now.

  12. Layla says:

    Sarah, if you twisted your back, watch your posture & check out Drbookspan.com ! (I had great troubles with my back until I read her website! – & yes it was injury-related at first!)
    /also ctds.info was very helpful to me, re: nutrition etc, & if you can get a nice massage or something.. :)/
    Relaxation is really important too.. (stress can make you tighten the muscles etc)

    I also found out I have to stay away from beef (only small amounts okay) & even milk ‘that time of month’..
    other people may have problems with different food, like even wheat or tomatoes etc…

    John, thanks! 🙂 The refills sound great, I wish we could get ’em here!!

    & it’s great you have contacts you can share concerns & ideas with!!

  13. Sarah says:

    @Layla: Thanks, I’ll have a look later. I do watch my posture and I’m usually pretty careful without being silly about it. I hadn’t thought about diet though.

    My lower back is certainly a weak area since having children! I blame birth…. A bit better today and hopefully healing up slowly but no housework, or gardening *sob*, until it’s better.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: Ooo, owie; gentle (((HUGS))) it is then. I hope you recover soon. Do you have treatment for it? I find cranial osteopathy or reflexology is good. And chiropractic if I’m feeling very brave. Layla’s right about the food thing too, so it’s another thing worth considering.

    @John Costigane: we need you here John -= you clearly are a wasted talent up in Scotland by yourself 😉

  15. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: Oh it gets better….
    Now I have other things complicating the issue and I’m reacting to the pain killers prescribed by my dr. However, the back is feeling easier while the rest of me falls apart…

  16. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Thanks for the backing. I may be a lone voice locally but with all the fine UK, and overseas, contacts this is not a problem.

    I would like to pay you all a visit in the summer, where we could discuss all relevant matters including collaborations. Having a general meeting with fellow wasters might be worthwhile, especially with yourself and Karen included.

    Unpackaged deserves a visit, and coverage by the trend. We could hire a van for bulk orders. This could be a regular run!

  17. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: How are you feeling now, Sarah. Is your back getting better? And how about the reactions to the medication, has everything settled down now?

    @John Costigane: John, I have just the place to take you if you should visit. Today, as I was shopping in our fun ‘Aladdin’s cave’ I saw naked dessicated coconut! You just buy as much as you like in a polythene bag (which we then recycle) from a great big bin. That alone has to be worth the train fare.

  18. Sarah says:

    @Mrs Green: Hi Mrs Green! I just stopped taking the stuff I was reacting to so that’s all calmed down. The other complicating issue is settling down and my back is slowly loosening up again – but healing will be slow I think. Still, some clearing and cleaning is happening now – thanks to my kids!

  19. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: Glad the kids are taking good care of things, sarah. Take it easy and I hope you fully healed soon 🙂

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