So this post is really to chronicle the hubby's and my decision to try to simplify/green? our lives a little more. I feel a little silly writing this out, because I feel like I sound like a crunchy-hippie-tree-hugger...but I don't feel like one! :-P
We've always tried to be aware of earth-friendly type things - recycling, green products (when cost effective...), etc. But recently, one of my friends made the decision to go vegetarian. And after about a week of her doing this (I tried to help by providing advice and cookbooks), she went from never cooking, to trying some simple cooking, and loving it. One of the most profound conversations I had with her, really didn't have much to do with meat or no meat. It had to do with the fact that she was more aware of what was in her food (b/c she was looking for meat products), and how she's come to realized there's A LOT of extra CRAP that gets put in food! And with that realization, she's trying to prepare more things at home to avoid some of that. It's something that I've realized before, since we cook a lot at home, but it was brought to the forefront of my awareness again. Around the same time, a family member has had the beginnings of sugar issues, and I started looking again at some of the foods I was eating and realizing, "Wow, why do they even put sugar in this?!" I'm trying to be more aware of my sugar consumption (not too worried about natural sugar in fruits/veggies, more added sugar) and it's a little unnerving to realized that some of the "healthy" snacks/juice I was consuming had almost as much sugar as drinking a Coke. Ridiculous.
Anyway, that lead to me questioning additives in other products. Hence the reason I decided to give making laundry detergent a shot. Also, I ran out of the Seventh Generation detergent I was using, so it gave me a convenient excuse (I do love their detergent though, just pricey.) I like the idea of simplicity. So far the detergent experiment is going well. My scrubs (this is part of my REAL test) are still looking clean and stain free. I still use oxyclean occasionally, because I have a lot of it still, but I have transitioned to using other methods (that work better too) on certain stains: rubbing alcohol for ink stains, hydrogen peroxide for blood, and dish soap for greasy spots. Oxyclean is mostly hydrogen peroxide, so it'll work for blood too, but H202 is much cheaper. :-P Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol tend to get most betadine stains out too. I'm hoping that from this soap making experiment the hubby's going to try, I'll get a decent chunk of soap that'll make a good stain stick too.
Also, I've stopped using dryer sheets. I've never really liked them, so it didn't take a lot of convincing to get me to stop using them. Dryer balls seem to be a good alternative, so made a couple foil balls and got a couple tennis balls that go in with each load. The foil helps with static, and the tennis balls help with dryer time and softness; they are loud however. And I think the foil is slowly losing it's magic - I think instead of replacing them with more foil, I'll get a set of wool dryer balls, that last forever and are "rechargeable." I think they might be quieter too, judging on size. Vinegar in the wash helps with fabric softening too (without a vinegar-y smell!)
We've tried to cut back on paper towels, by switching to washcloths for napkins and to wipe down surfaces. We still have paper towels, but we save them for really "dirty" issues - like for vomit, when the girls get into something they shouldn't. :-P
We're planning on trying a dishwasher detergent recipe soon. My dish soap I'll continue to get from Seventh Generation for two reasons: 1) I love it, and 2) my last try of making liquid soap was a major FAIL - I ended up with hard soap in the shape of a plastic body wash bottle. OOPS. I made some changes related to feminine care - won't go into details here (email me if you're truly interested) - that was one of the best decisions EVER and cut down on waste on that aspect.
Overall, I feel better about these changes, and I don't feel like I'm giving up my life to spend extra time making these things. That was one of my major concerns before I started the transition. I'm not going to go miles and miles out of my way to change EVERY little detail, and I am going to finish up the products that I do have (that's just wasteful otherwise). But I am going to make changes that are feasible, that have evidence to back it up - using things that WORK, not just convincing myself they work b/c they're "natural." For example, I'll probably stick to bleach in certain situations, b/c bathroom scum is gross and PERSISTENT. So I guess on that hand, I'm not very hippie-like, but on the other I am. Which is fine by me. :-)