Sunday, August 23, 2015

DIY Powdered Laundry Detergent

I have posted in the past on making homemade liquid laundry soap. It worked well, but it was a bit of a hassle to make.  Not a big problem, but just more work than I figured a powdered laundry soap would be.  

I love the cleaning power of my laundry stain stick, so I figured that creating a powder with the stain stick along with a couple of other green cleaning ingredients would be a little more simple for this time strapped gal.  

I have been using this recipe for months (more than a year at this point) and I love it! It works! I use this powder in my front loading machine, with cold water, and have never had a problem with it. It gets my clothes clean, costs very little, is VERY easy and fast to make, and is a fantastic green alternative to traditional store bought laundry detergents. This recipe will make enough for approximately 50 loads - using 1 tablespoon per load of laundry.

1 x 50g bar of Glorious Life's Laundry Stain Stick
1 1/2 Cups Borax Powder
1 1/2 Cups Washing Soda (or Baking Soda if you can't locate Washing Soda)

1. Finely grate the laundry stain stick
2. Combine the grated stain stick, Borax, and Washing (or Baking) Soda and mix.
3  Add these ingredients to a jar (I like to upcycle jars from my recycling.)
4. Use 1 tablespoon per load.

Not only are the ingredients easy on the environment, but the packaging for them is as well. Each of the three ingredients is packaged with paper products. Store it in a recycled jar and the eco footprint gets smaller. No plastic! Yay!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Plastic Free Bamboo Toothbrush - Environmental Toothbrush

While writing my blog post on going Plastic Free (here and here) I reviewed My Plastic Free Life's 100 suggestions to go plastic free. One of these suggestions was to switch to a plastic free toothbrush.  

I figure that on average, Canadians replace their toothbrushes at least once but sometimes 3 or 4 times per year.  It's recommended that you replace your toothbrush after having illnesses as well, so this number could be even higher for some.  Statistics Canada tells me that Canada has a population of 35 749600 people. That would mean that  between 71 499200 and 142 998400 (and maybe more) toothbrushes get disposed of every year! 

Image Source: Google Images

Every night and every morning while I brushed my teeth with my plastic toothbrush I was reminded that my toothbrush was nearing the end of its useful life cleaning my teeth. I would look into the mirror at my plastic toothbrush and think about the fact that I had absolutely NO desire to replace it with another plastic toothbrush.  This launched me into my search for a greener alternative.  

I did find several several of different shapes, sizes, construction, and of various prices.  Some were made of recycled plastic; others wood and boar bristles.  After quite a bit of research, I settled on The Environmental Toothbrush, constructed of sustainably farmed bamboo and BPA free polymer bristles.  According to the Environmental Toothbrush, this brush is fully compostable/biodegradable in soil, without creating pollution. Two thumbs up!  The only drawback I could see was that it is manufactured in China, and ships from the company which is based out of Australia. I would have loved to have found a comparable toothbrush manufactured closer to home, but thus, it was not.  

I have been using this toothbrush for a little more than a month and fell in love with it from the moment I opened the package (which was completely plastic free I might add).  

It is a simple. Yet, elegant in its simplicity.  No fancy lights, music, rubber do-thingys. No bells and whistles. It gets my teeth clean, comfortably. It isn't made of plastic. It will go into my green bin when I am done with it and biodegrade into the soil.  It is a fair trade product. I love it.

One dilemma we faced was how to identify which tooth brush was whose.  The plastic ones come in a multitude of plastic colours that helped us with this issue in the past.  This brush is simple, bamboo, and colour free.  So I figured I had a couple of options: 1) rubber bands  2) use a sharpee to write our names on each one, 3) use separate glasses on the counter to hold our toothbrushes.  At first I did the separate glasses.  I felt like that was too much clutter, so then I wrote our names on the handle in different colours.  Problem solved.

And yes, for those of you who want to give one a test drive without jumping into a 12-pack (as it is sold from the manufacturer in Australia),  Glorious Life has added these bad good guys to our store shelves

I am soooo very pleased that I didn't replace my toothbrush with a traditional plastic one. I had no desire to continue to be part of the disposal of  more than 35 749600 plastic toothbrushes. 
In my opinion, when there is an affordable, effective, environmentally friendly alternative, there is no need for that kind of waste and pollution. 

Image Source:

Next time you replace your toothbrush, will you replace it with plastic or a more environmentally friendly alternative?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Clean Drinking & Bathing Water: Why We Use a Berkey

Image Source: Google Images
For years, Husband and I felt (very) uneasy about drinking and cooking with our tap water. We didn't feel comfortable ingesting the chemicals added to our water by our municipality (chlorine and fluoride to name a few), and were nervous about metals and other potentially harmful materials leaching into our water from the pipes that transport it from the water processing plant to our home.  Although not directly impacted by the Walkerton Water Scandal of the 2000*, we were well aware of its occurrence at the time and it left us feeling more than uncomfortable to consume municipal tap water knowing that errors can and will occur.  

*[An E.coli outbreak occurred  in May 2000 when E. Coli bacteria contaminated the water supply of the community of Walkerton, Ontario, Canada and the water supply was not effectively filtered/purified before consumed by the town's residents.  Several people died and thousands became ill as a result.)

We used a Brita for a while, but knew that it wasn't filtering enough to solve our concerns, make us comfortable, or healthy.  

Then we turned to water jugs purchased at the grocery store, and even looked at having a water service.  This solution wasn't effective and didn't last long for several reasons, a few of them being: 1) our water tasted like plastic, 2) the harmful chemicals that were probably leaching from the plastic into our water and therefore into our bodies, 3) the waste created by the plastic jugs.

We looked at getting a home water filtration system, but to be honest, as important as our health is to us, it was beyond our financial means.  

A little over 6 months ago, the answer came to us in the name of the Berkey Water System.

We researched a few similar to this system, but after reading reviews and doing our homework, we decided to purchase the Travel Berkey Water System.  Berkey offers a comparison review on their site as well. Click here to view this comparison. 

There are several different Berkey sizes and models. Underestimating the amount of water we consume, we purchased the smallest (Travel Berkey), and in hind sight should have purchased the Big Berkey or even the Royal Berkey. 

Photo Source:
This blog has done a review on the Berkey as well, so you may be interested in giving it a read as well.
We REALLY like our Berkey.  It's a counter top gravity fed water purification system that takes up very little space in our kitchen, and is easy to set up and use.  It was cost effective, and most importantly, it filters out all of the impurities we were concerned about and more to a higher degree than most of the other comparable systems (viruses, bacteria, micro-organisms, inorganic materials such as chlorine, heavy metals, etc.) (click here for more info on this from the Berkey site).  Berkey also offers the option of adding a fluoride filter, which we did add since fluoride is unfortunately still added to our municipality's water.  In addition, we wanted to be sure we were still getting the necessary minerals from our water, so have added alkalizing mineralizing stones to the lower reservoir.

The Berkey system covered our drinking and cooking water needs, but what about bathing?  I have read plenty on the harmful effects of bathing in chlorinated water and all those other water 'contaminates'. Our skin is our largest organ and is very absorptive. What we put on our skin matters, I know this.  So those 'relaxing' showers were less than relaxing for me knowing that we were absorbing all of those potentially dangerous chemicals through our skin.  When we had son and bathed him in this same chemical filled water, my feelings of discomfort increased exponentially.  

I needed a solution for clean bathing water as well. When I discovered that Berkey also offers a shower filter that easily connects to your existing shower head, I was truly relieved.   We installed our shower filter at the same time that we purchased and started using our Travel Berkey and are thrilled with both of these systems.

Please note that I am not receiving any payment or perks from Berkey or any related company for that matter for writing this article.  I am simply sharing my family's experience with the brand.  I encourage you to consider using a similar water filter and doing the research just as our family did.

If you do decide to get a Berkey, and live in Canada, we purchased our Berkey through Conscious Water in Collingwood Ontario.  Their prices were very reasonable, shipping was fast and free.  My experience with them was great and I am happy to refer you to them as well. (Nope, I don't know them. I'm only passing on info on my positive experience.)