Intentional Living: All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

And your castile soap
*a modified HAIKU, I now realize. Whoops!

I started off strong there, didn’t I? Yes, this silly issue bothers me enough to bring me back after an unintentional leave of absence to raise the cutest little stuffed animal pupper that we adopted into our family. (Other updates include deleting (not just deactivating) my facebook account/s, planting like a million laurels in our yard, and taking family photos for the first time since January 2012.)

I’m currently reading yet another minimalism/intentional living book that recommends mixing Vinegar and Castile Soap to make the perfect all-purpose cleaning spray for your home. I don’t expect those of us trying to clean our home more naturally to be chemists, but upon using these two ingredients together a few years ago, I noticed that the combination creates a very strange consistency. A quick google search led me to a Bronner herself, explaining why her family's Castile Soap should not be mixed with vinegar, or any acid. Lisa Bronner writes,

“In great part it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.”

So please stop mixing vinegar and castile soap together. And authors, please stop recommending it in your books.

For a much better DIY all-purpose cleaning spray, I recommend:

In an 8 ounce spray bottle, add:
¼ cup vinegar (use infused vinegar if you like*)
5 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
10 drops tea tree essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
Fill bottle to top with water
*I infuse mine with rosemary cuttings from the yard and leftover lemon or orange rinds.

Give it a little shake every time you use it. I find that the light mist from these spray bottles does a perfect job covering our kitchen counter tops with the right amount of cleanser. Then I wipe with a slightly damp rag.

In case you'd like to old-school label yours as well, this is the label maker I used.

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Film Photos: Deception Pass and Anacortes 2012

These are some favorites that I never shared. We stopped to walk around Deception Pass and went on a (mostly whaleless) Anacortes whale-watching tour our first year living in Washington.


Intentional Living: Feminine Hygiene Products

Chemicals in where?
No thanks, please let's not go there.
Cotton is enough.

Feminine hygiene products. If that doesn’t apply to you, feel free to tune out today.

I’ve been extremely excited about the influx of healthier feminine care options into the market lately. It seems crazy that we’ve all been using these chemical-laden products for so long without second thought. Or if you haven’t had that thought yet, maybe it’s time!

My favorite company to offer organic products is Lola. I’ve been using their products for over a year now. They have a great subscription system that is fully customizable. I get their organic tampons in all sizes (and have not tried their pads.) I prefer the design of their compact applicator tampons the best. They come in light, regular, super, and super +, but the applicator is plastic. I’ve switched to buying the cardboard applicator for regular and super (they’re currently not available in light and super+) because they are fully biodegradable.

Another great company offering organic tampons is Sustain Natural. I buy other products from them, but decided not to buy their tampons because they only offer regular and super and their boxes aren’t fully customizable. However, their applicators are made with bio-plastic, and I just really like this company.

Speaking of applicators, there is a new product out of the UK called Dame currently running on Indiegogo. From their site: “D is a reusable tampon applicator. It uses self-cleaning technology and medical grade materials so you can enjoy the comfort of an applicator without the plastic waste.” I’m intrigued.

All great options, but you can even find organic tampons on the shelves at your local stores now. Even Brandless is selling $3 boxes!

In switching from conventional to organic tampons, I’ve realized that they work just as well, but maybe hold a little less volume than you’re used to. So in the time you would expect to wear a regular sized conventional tampon, you may want to bump up to a super organic one.

Finally, do you flush your tampons? I can’t unless I want to risk an emergency plumbing bill. Our house has a sewer pump that doesn’t handle anything beyond organic waste and toilet paper. But in general, you just shouldn’t. Main line sewage clogs are becoming a big problem, and I’d like to do my part to make it easier to create reusable drinking water. This article covers it.

A couple months ago, I realized how much toilet paper I was going through to wrap used tampons for the trash. I was hoping to find an eco-friendly way to dispose of them and came across MaskIT! I highly recommend this product. According to their website, one female goes through 24 rolls of toilet paper to cover one year’s worth of tampons (I think I went through more than that.) Their MaskIT pouch is made from plant starches, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers and is completely biodegradable. It’s easy and hygienic, and I’m just so happy to have found them. They even sent me a hand-written thank you card with my order that reads “Small changes make a BIG difference when we work together! Thank you for helping us save trees!”

I only talk about tampons here because that’s my preference, but if it’s not yours, hopefully you’ll still think about the products you’re using. There’s always the Diva cup, but I’m just not there.

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Intentional Living: The Basics

Plastic everywhere,
But not in my body please.
We can do better.

I’ve realized lately that there are a few earth-friendly tasks that I assume everyone does. And it’s sadly just not true. So I’d love to share these actions that I find to be very basic and easy to implement into your daily life.

1. Recycle everything you can. Find your local recycling program’s requirements and learn them. Tape the guidelines to your refrigerator or your recycle bin and do your part. Nothing that is recyclable should end up in your trashcan.

You can always just get another little bin to hold your recyclables, but if you’re looking for a good system, we’ve used these slimmer connectable trash cans in the past, and recently switched to this stackable Muji system. Ideally, I would try to stay away from plastic bins and have stainless, but I find this to be a good solution for now based on price, convenience, and size.

Our Muji trash bin: recycling on top, trash on the bottom, and compost in the freezer. :)

2. Use steel or glass water bottles. There is no need to buy plastic water bottles unless you had a lapsed moment where you forgot your reusable water bottle, aren’t near home, and can’t find a place to give you a glass of water (happens to us all). I highly recommend Klean Kanteen (stainless) and Bkr (glass), both of which I wash in the dishwasher (always a big selling point for me.)

If you like that bottled water comes filtered and want to be able to refill away from home, I recommend keeping a GoPure water purifier pod in your reusable water bottle.

3. Do not have plastic straws in your home. You will be just fine without a straw. Or, buy a plastic alternative straw. I have 4 stainless straws (2 regular and 2 smoothie sized). They also come in glass, bamboo, and there are compostable plant-based packs on amazon. You have options. Then, try to pass on that straw when you’re out and about.

If we can make these three simple adjustments the new baseline, maybe we can have an impact on this.

This post contains affiliate links. You can read the Amazon Affiliate disclosure in the sidebar. Please know I only ever post links I personally support and think may add value to my readers. Thank you for supporting the blog!



Been gone for too long,
Want to get back to routines.
First, in Florida.

Just over three weeks ago, the nice routine we’d developed since settling into Portland was well shaken. Late Friday evening, we received an email from the company that owns my daughter, Tova’s, school that the school would be shutting down at the end of term.

I have to say, we’ve become used to a quick change of plans. But our move back to the northwest was very purposeful. We were ready to live in a place that we loved, to dig into community, and have Tova stay in a school for longer than one year (which she hasn’t done since preschool).

Now, we’re on a hunt for Tova’s 7th school. David and I went on three school tours just last week, and one the week prior. Tova has missed school to go on a couple of those, and she’s doing a trial day at a prospective school next week. At the same time, a group from our current school is trying to save/reopen the school, and we’ve been attending those meetings. None of us want to be doing this right now, but we’ll push forward and make the best of it.

So here we are, ready to enjoy Spring Break with family in Florida. We’ll hopefully get back to that nice routine (and regularly scheduled house projects and blog posts) next week.
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