April 25, 2014

Gradually Greening (and a homemade cleaner recipe)

Look Mom! I haven't killed the tomatoes yet!

In case you've been living under a rock like I have, Earth Day was earlier this week. I missed it, but then again Easter snuck up on me too. There are always heaps of new articles about how to go green and the merits of recycling at this time of year and I usually come away with some new ideas to help our family be more conscious of our environmental impact. My philosophy is that we change a few small things each year until they become our new normal. Then we add something else. It doesn't feel like a huge effort when it is just one or two things you are working on but when you add them all together it does make a difference.

What I'm realizing now is that many of the things we've been doing that are "green" are to protect the kids. We switched to eco-friendly cleaning products. We try to avoid heavily processed or chemical laden foods. Using low VOC paints, etc., etc,.etc.

Now that our boys are 4 and 6 I think it is time for a different approach. It's not just about protecting them from the nasty chemicals anymore-it's about changing the way they think about the environment. I'm finally taking the time to explain to them the WHYs and not just the HOWs. There's a good reason we take reusable bags to the grocery store, use cloth napkins at dinner and fabric rags to clean. It's time we teach them that.

By watching us do these things now, they are more likely to do similar things as an adult. (That one is a double edged sword of course.) If recycling is normal in our home at age 6, it will be normal in their home at age 26.

I hope.

We are talking about where our food comes from, and how plants grow. Since we are moving (and in the middle of a major drought) we can't plant a real garden this summer. We are starting sunflower seeds on our windowsill so we can talk about the stage of a seed and what plants need to grow.
We also planted tomato seedlings in containers that the boys are responsible for watering and caring for...under my supervision of course. Next year we'll have a real vegetable garden! I will have to tame the urge to grow ALL THE PLANTS though...

I've tried a variety of recipes for homemade cleaners but it is a tough thing to perfect. Some smell lovely  but can't clean a darn thing while others will leave your counters spotless while you run to open the window to air things out. I don't mind the smell of vinegar but small doses really are best!

This is the one I've found to work the best. The Tea Tree oil is a natural anti-septic, and tones down the vinegar odor. It takes all of 30 seconds to put together and cleans like a dream!

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner:
3 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon tea tree oil

Pour all the ingredients into your container and shake up. That's it!! Easy, huh?

What's your favorite way to gradually green up your life? 

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