Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weekly Green Tip: Birthdays!! And Laundry --BONUS!

Since it's still early in the year, it's a great time to plan ahead for all of the birthday gifts you will be giving this year!

So this year, why not pick one green/eco-friendly item to give everyone on your birthday-gifts-list? It'll make shopping so much easier, and maybe you'll influence some friends or family to be a little more green this year!

Some great gift suggestions that everyone (well, almost everyone!) can use:

- An aluminum reusable water bottle (posted about these last week). You can get a high-end one from a company like Sigg, but if you're looking to spend a little less, Old Navy has some reusable aluminum bottles too. At full price they were $7.50, but Old Navy has great sales all the time and you could probably stock up on them if you bargain hunt!

- On a similar note, a travel coffee/tea/hot beverage mug. If you always keep a clean one in your car, the next time you stop for a coffee you won't have to use another paper cup/plastic lid! ...This is great for long road trips! You can also put iced drinks like iced teas and chais and iced coffees in them too, of course. No more plastic cups!

- How about supporting the handmade community on a site like Etsy and giving everyone a handmade item this year? Or if you're crafty... make the items yourself! Everyone loves a personalized piece of art.

- If the recipient has a yard, look into a plant store that sells local plants and flowers, and buy them a flowering plant that's native to the area. They'll have minimal care to maintain it since it's used to the conditions of the area, and the pollinators will love you for it!

- Keeping with the local theme- if you can find a local farm or orchard, look into homemade jams and jellies, sauces, and other local farmed canned goods.

- Laundry products. Everyone has to do laundry, right? So why not make it greener? Give the gift of eco-friendly laundry and send the ingredients needed to make your own detergent, along with a couple of dryer balls!

Recipe for homemade powder laundry detergent:
  • 1 cup shredded bar soap
    Fells Naptha works well (Zote is also recommended), you can use a cheese grater and then turn the little grated curls into a powder with a food processor- but it's not necessary. Another tip is to leave the soap out for a week or so to dry out a little before you shred it. It makes the soap easier to shred and more powdery.
  • 1/2 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer makes it). This is sometimes hard to find, but call and ask around, or order a bunch online.
  • 1/2 cup borax (you can find this with the cleaning supplies or with the laundry supplies)

All you need is one tablespoon per load of wash. I open the washing machine and turn on the hot water until it's about an inch deep. Then I turn off the water, add my detergent, and mix it around with an old wooden spoon until it dissolves. It won't be foamy. Then I switch the water to cold and let the machine fill up about half way and then I add my clothes. I've heard it's best to let the water dilute some before adding the clothes as some of the chemicals can make a peroxide and you don't want to bleach your dark clothing by adding it too quickly.

And if you need dryer balls, Etsy is a great place to look for them!

Add a comment if you've got some more great eco-friendly gift ideas!!


Anonymous said...

Great laundry tips!!! Wanted to add that detergents really evolved as a result of synthetics; that if you have natural fibers they don't need as much washing/you don't have to cover up scent that is left in your garment with fabric softeners.

For those who are sensitive to baking soda & borax: try substituting 1/2 cup of powdered milk instead. The protein in the milk absorbs scent, and is great for allergy sufferers (historically, milk was used as a bleach). It's also a fantastic fabric softener. It doesn't work as well in hard water, but for soft- ultra-chlorinated water, it takes the chlorine scent right out.

A great alternative to bleach~ To take out scents like WD40 or anything chemically, add 1/2 can of beer to your wash. It kills the smell bacteria and in combination with milk powder, leaves your wash clean and unscented. (Note: any kind of rubbing alcohol is a petroleum distillate, whereas grain alcohols like vodka or beer are a very natural way to descent clothing).

A natural way to descent clothing/fabrics: fill a spritz bottle with a 50/50 mix of vodka and water. Spritz liberally (it doesn't stain) and hang in front of a heater. Works well on wools, especially.

SG said...

Does the vodka tip also work on smelly dog beds that don't fit into the washing machine? :)

Anonymous said...

SG, it works for any smelly fabrics! I haven't tried it on a dog bed, but I think it should work, it works for skunk scent!!

After a skunk sprayed outside the front of my building, I spritzed an entire bottle through my apartment, and then burned beeswax candles (which naturally purifies air).I did not use any perfumed sprays, which are toxic to the environment, and aren't required to put what kind of chemical are in them. Within 12 hours there was no skunk smell at all, it really works to kill bad enzymes.

The grain alcohol is way less toxic than drycleaning, so if you just need to refresh a garment, put it on a hanger, spritz it damp, then use a blowdryer to blow through the whole garment until you've brought it back to being partially dry. The alcohol & heat actually kill the "scent" bacteria, whereas spray scents contain bad chemicals that are harmful to bees! and don't kill bacteria, they merely mask bad smells in your nose.

I have also used this technique in the car after taking it to the mechanic and having awful scent left in it. You will have to repeat spritzing and leave your windows down all night, but by morning your car will no longer stink.

Any kind of rubbing alcohol is made from petroleum, so go for vodka instead!!

Melissa ~ A BumbleBaby Mommy said...

I found a tutorial on making your own dryer balls - its on my blog

They work great! And such an easy craft for anyone to do.

tiger said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.