Monday, June 11, 2012

Vinegar and Baking Soda - More than Just a Volcano!

Remember those volcanoes with vinegar and baking soda?  Up until last week, I think that was the only time in my entire life that I used distilled white vinegar:  making a 5th-grade volcano.  It's pretty common knowledge (and also commonly overlooked) that most cleaning supplies are chemical swamps.  These chemicals are damaging in two ways.  Primarily, they're bad for the environment, and, secondly, they're bad for people.  For a quick run-down of a lot of the chemicals found in standard cleaning products and why they should be avoided, I'd encourage you to check out this list:

You're probably thinking, "Then how the heck am I supposed to clean my house if I can't use cleaners?!"  Allow me to re-introduce you to two old friends.  Distilled white vinegar, meet reader.  Reader, meet distilled white vinegar.

And also, baking soda, meet reader.  Reader, meet baking soda.

In case you thought these two items were still just for fifth-grade science experiments, please allow me to enlighten you!  These two products have literally ENDLESS uses!  You can clean your entire house, body, car, garden, you name it with just these two products!  (I'd like to add in here, I'm neither a sales person for either of them nor sponsored by them in any way.)  They are just THAT versatile that they deserve their own blog post.  

Laundry starting to look dingy or smell a little off?  No worries, just splash a little white vinegar in the wash.

Battling icy windshields in the winter?  Vinegar.

Need an air freshener for your fridge?  Baking soda.

Have a sore throat?  Vinegar.

Trying to get pet smell out of carpet?  Vinegar.

Forget to put on your deodorant this morning?  Baking soda.

Need to repel bugs?  Baking soda OR Vinegar

I've yet to find a challenge that one of these two items couldn't conquer.  The versatility of these two items are literally endless.  And, as an added bonus, once the packages are empty, they're recyclable!  This is just a tiny fraction of the feats that these two items can do.  For more information and suggestions, check out the following websites!

Vinegar Uses:

In our house, we will no longer be purchasing any nasty, chemical-laden cleaning products.  For both the sake of our own health and our environment, we're going to be hanging out with our two new best friends:  baking soda and vinegar. :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Eco-Friendly Laundry on a Dime

Laundry.  Everyone's favorite chore, right?  I actually enjoy it, but I get the impression that I'm a minority in that regard.  The laundry is one thing that we have already successfully 'crunchified' in our household!

First off, allow me to give you a few simple tips when it comes to doing your laundry, saving money, and being eco-friendly.

1) Whenever possible, wash on cold settings.  This keeps more money in your pocket AND conserves energy! Heating your water requires energy and adds on to your utility bill. :)

2) Only wash with a full load.  Washing before you have a full load takes extra energy, extra water, and extra washes, all things that add up as an extra strain on the environment and end up taking extra money out of your pocket!

3) Use the lowest water setting possible for the amount of laundry in the load.  If the 'small load' setting on your washer is all you need, use it.

4) This one might be a challenge for some, but it's definitely worth it!  Ready for it?  Dun dun dun . . . skip the dryer!  I highly encourage you to invest in a simply drying rack ($20 at Wal-mart) or put up an outdoor clothesline (or both!).  It will pay for itself in very little time!  We actually haven't even had a working dryer at our house since last fall.  Everything is hung out to dry at our house.  We have a household of three people (one of which is in cloth diapers), and, as long as we manage to stay on top of laundry, one drying rack is all we need.  I typically do a load of laundry before bed and then leave it to hang dry overnight.  Everything is typically dry by morning.  If it's a warm, sunny day out with low humidity, you could easily dry 3 or 4 loads outside.  We often just prop our drying rack out on the deck.  A little breeze even helps the items dry faster.  Sadly, we're renting, so I can't put up a clothesline, but as soon as we get our own house, I'm pretty sure that's FIRST on the list of priorities! :)

Feel like you don't have time to hang dry your clothes?  Here's a hint.  It hardly takes any time at all.  Instead of taking that time to switch laundry loads, take a few minutes to hang your clothes on the drying rack and go.  They'll dry by themselves. :)

And lastly, allow me to introduce you to the 'sliced bread' of eco-friendly, money saving laundry:  soap nuts.

I had no idea what these gems even were until I started trying to figure out how in the heck I was supposed to wash our cloth diapers.  They are, literally, nuts.  They grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and, when exposed to water, release saponin, which is an all natural (how much more natural can you get than NUTS?!) detergent.  They can be used one of two ways.  As pictured above, they can be tossed in a muslim sack and thrown in the washing machine (I typically toss in about 4 - 6 nuts).  One round of nuts can be used for 4 - 5 loads of laundry before most of the saponin is used up!  They can also be turned into liquid detergent and used that way.  They are both gentle on clothes and effective at cleaning them.  In fact, if you're a cloth diaper user, soap nuts are recommended!  For cloth diapers, standard detergents (even ones considered cloth-diaper 'safe') can leave a slight residue on diaper fibers.  Ammonia can 'stick' to that residue and yield stinky diapers.  That's why cloth diapers have to be stripped every so often, to get all of that detergent residue and stinky ammonia out of them.  Soap nuts do NOT leave that same residue, so if you wash your cloth diapers with soap nuts, you shouldn't ever need to strip them! :)  As an added bonus, with soap nuts as laundry detergent, the price per load has been quoted as low as $0.03 to $0.05!  

For more information on the soap nut, it's origin, and it's MULTIPLE uses (it can absolutely be used for more than laundry!) check out this informative web page:

Soap nuts can be purchased from many places.  I encourage you to check out and order a sample!  If you decide that they're a good fit for you check out a 2 lb. bag!  We purchased ours from pucketacreek on e-bay for $24.95 shipped!  And now we're set for laundry for the next 300 washes or so. ;)

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post!  And with that, it's diaper laundry night, so I'm going to go ahead and start up my washing machine. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Starting Point

Oh how to start.  A few years ago, I was extremely ignorant and, quite honestly, still am.  This blog was created to help document my journey out of ignorance. First, I think, a back story and an introduction.  I am 25 years old and my husband is 29.  Our beautiful, red-headed daughter, Brooklyn, is 10 months old and is busy exploring how to best fit into a box as I type this.  My husband and I have been married for five years as of this month.  We've both always wanted a large family and so, immediately embarked upon the adventure of making that a reality as soon as we were married.  Fast forward two years.  Two years later and I was still anything but pregnant.  Disheartened?  Yes.  Embarrassed?  Yes.  An emotional wreck?  Yes.  Pregnant?  No.  Infertile.  So to the doctor's we went.  My husband was perfect and I had Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  In my journey with infertility and PCOS (which is easily multiple blogs in itself, but not the study of this one), I spent many hours in a forum for women with PCOS.  My main purpose there was to find camaraderie and support in our family-building journey and that was mainly what I focused on, but also while I was there, I was introduced to the idea of being 'crunchy'.

At the time, I viewed it as relatively extremist and discarded it without knowing much about it, but the introduction had been made.  Also, about the same time as my PCOS diagnosis was made, I graduated from a private liberal arts college that very much encouraged becoming responsibly engaged in the world, which I think is an important distinction to make because this very much helped shape who I am and my current way of thinking.  It is due to this experience that my husband and I were originally conscious about our ecological footprint.  (If you'd like to learn more about your ecological footprint, I'd encourage you to take the quiz at  It's fascinating and eye-opening!)  Due to my college experience, we were already recycling and being conscious about our energy consumption.

We succeeded in our battle with infertility and our daughter was born in the summer of 2011.  The idea of cloth diapering wasn't a completely foreign idea to me, in fact, I was definitely interested in finding out more about it. Every time I tried to look into it though, I'd end up walking away confused and disgruntled.  Modern day cloth diapering can be difficult to navigate without a guide.  The interest stuck though.  When Brooklyn was about six months, she had a terrible allergic reaction to disposable diapers and I discovered, that, crazy coincidence, my cousin was cloth diapering her youngest, who was just a few months older than Brooklyn.  A play date happened.  The interest grew.  And grew.  And then I found myself in a Facebook group for cloth diapering mommies and started doing some real research now that I was familiar with the basics.  I purchased my first cloth diapers, we switched between cloth and disposables for awhile, we did some troubleshooting, we purchased some more cloth diapers, and then, we were hooked.  In hindsight, I wish we had started cloth diapering MUCH sooner; however, I am very grateful that we started with our first, because we certainly plan to use them on more children down the line as well!

As I learned more about cloth diapering, I started to think more seriously about both our ecological footprint and the overall health of our family.  We were (and are!) reducing, reusing, and recycling.  I was looking into more 'reusable' options for our family (such as reusable sandwich bags and paper towels).  We were setting up a composting system that worked for our family.  But I still felt like I could and should be doing more.  So I asked around and received the suggestion to start considering the chemicals that we put on and in our bodies every day.  And, so, again, I began to research.  The results were startling and unsettling.  I assume that most parents try to do right by their children and to make the best decisions for them.  I love my daughter more than I could ever put into words, but here I had, unwittingly, been exposing her to chemicals on on a daily basis that could greatly increase her risks for cancer, reproductive disorders, and a host of other things later in life!  (To check out the chemical content of the every day products that you use, the risks involved, and to find significantly better options, I encourage you to check out the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database:  As I said before, I had originally brushed the idea of being 'crunchy' off as extremist and unnecessary, yet now, here I am, realizing that a 'crunchy' lifestyle is truly the lifestyle that is best for both my self, my family, and my world.

I struggled while I was naming this blog because I truly despise labels.  I fear that others will see the name 'crunchy' in the title and walk away, unimpressed at my extremism (just as I was!) and still uninformed, but truly, I know of no other way to define it without being long-winded.  "A Mama that is Concerned about Many Things, Including Her Family's Environmental Impact and the Chemical Impact of Modern-Day Chemicals on Her Family and World's Health" just didn't have the same ring to it. :)

I thank you for reading this far with me!  And with that, I would like to extend a VERY warm welcome!  I hope that you'll accompany me on my journey of defining 'crunchy' and looking for a healthier, sustainable way to make the best possible decisions for both my daughter and the world that I'm going to be leaving to her!