Posts Tagged ‘Home and Garden’

Swiffer vs An Old-Fashioned Dust Mop

Below is a question from a reader about Swiffer.

Dear Betsy:

I just got the latest issue of Vermont Country Store catalog and inside is an old-fashioned wool dust mop, which up to 10 years ago I used and used to shake outside like my Mom used to do! 

This made me think about all the Swiffer products I use.  Hmmm – I’m wondering if anyone has compared cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs Swiffer – certainly one is more economical.  The Swiffer products are expensive!  Thanks –

Jennifer M.

Winchester, MA

Hi Jennifer:

Great question!  I don’t know of any actual studies about the cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs. Swiffer, but I know I prefer an old fashioned dust mop.  Swiffer disposable dry cloths are made of polyester and polypropylene and work well to pick up dust and grime from most surfaces, but so does an old-fashioned wool dust mop.  The natural lanolin in wool attracts and holds dust. Wool won’t scratch floors and gets better every time you wash it. I try to avoid single use products that go directly into the landfill, as well as petroleum-based products like polypropylene.

The Swiffer wet cloths are treated with propylene glycol and though categorized by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe”, that’s not assurance enough for me. According to Swiffer, the wet cloths may irritate skin and aggravate known skin conditions.” Considering that concentrations of toxic compounds are higher inside than outside, it’s best to avoid them when you can. Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies.  Additionally, the chemically treated, single use wet cloths end up in the landfill leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

There is no question that Swiffer is easier than an old-fashioned mop, but what happened to cleaning with natural and safe ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax?  All it takes is a little elbow grease and a good sponge mop.

If you insist on the convenience of a Swiffer, there are similar, more eco-friendly options.

  • Method Home floor cleaning mop with non-toxic compostable sweeping cloths.
  • Gaiam’s Spray Mop Kit where you add your own cleaner or nontoxic vinegar and water, spray the fine mist and mop up with a microfiber cleaning cloth (the eco-friendly cleaning rage today).  The set includes five washable MicroTech Cleaning Cloths.

    Gaiam’s Spray Mop

  • Amazon also sells a microfiber mop called E-cloth microfiber mop, as do Bed, Bath and Beyond and Whole Foods.

E-cloth Microfiber Mop

I hope this helps Jennifer– let me know what you decide.  Safe cleaning!

Betsy

Information compiled from www.treehugger.com, inhabitat.com, www.swiffer.com, vermontcountrystore.com, classic.akc.org

 

 

A Question from a Reader – Buying an Organic Bed

Dear Betsy:

We’re looking to buy an “organic bed”. I’ve done a fair amount of research, which, frankly is overwhelming. So just wondered if you’ve had any experience with this part of the “green marketplace”.

 Thanks – 

Carole

East Sandwich, MA

Hi Carole:

Thank you for contacting me.  We spend approximately 1/3 of our life sleeping,  (that’s 33. 3 years spent sleeping if you live to be 100 – wow!), which makes choosing a mattress an important investment.  I’m glad you are considering non-toxic materials; conventional mattresses are made of polyurethane foam, toxic flame-retardants, and water or stain-resistant chemicals.  You don’t have to be chemically sensitive to reap the benefits of an organic bed.  I think everyone should sleep on one.

I’ve been sleeping on an organic mattress for 6 or 7 years and I love it!!! It’s definitely the most comfortable mattress I’ve slept on. It’s made of natural rubber (latex) with the following features:

  • Extremely durable, flexible and resilient
  • No toxic substances or ozone-depleting agents used in the manufacture of the mattress
  • No synthetic rubber or other fibers used
  • Warm in winter, cool in summer
  • Resistant to moisture buildup
  • Naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic
  • Mold and dust free

With my bed, there are three layers of rubber – soft, medium and firm.  Based on your weight and preference, you can custom design the layers.  You and your spouse or partner can each choose your own layers. There is an organic wool or cotton casing (meaning it is grown without pesticides) that surrounds the rubber layers.  Wool provides great dust mite protection, making it ideal for allergy sufferers.  Wool is also naturally fire resistant.

I suggest you look around and try different options. There are many choices in organic mattresses, designed for all preferences and all budgets – those made from a combination of natural latex and cocofibers, those with only one or two layers of natural rubber, organic cotton innerspring mattresses or mattresses made with wool and coils.

I bought my mattress from Furnature in Watertown, Mass (they also have a complete line of chemical free furniture with certified organic textiles).  Organic Mattress in Sudbury, Mass and The Clean Bedroom in Wellesley, Mass also carry toxic-free mattresses, as well as bed frames made from sustainable, renewable and biodegradable hardwoods and organic pillows, bedding and toppers.

(For non-Massachusetts readers, go online and search “organic mattresses”.  They are more available than they used to be.)

Check out my post on “The Green Bedroom” for additional information on organic bedding.

Good luck Carole – sleep soundly on your comfortable and healthy organic mattress.  Let me know how you like it!

Regards,

Betsy

Readers: Don’t forget to send me your saving energy tip to win an advanced power strip from Mass Save!  Contest is over next week.

 

 

Fixer Fair

If you are in the Boston area and your garage is filling up with broken appliances, bikes and other things, head over to the “Fixer Fair” in Union Square Somerville on Saturday, August 16. Talented fixers, supplies and tools will be on hand to fix anything – appliances, bikes, computers, even cars – for this free outdoor event.  They don’t make promises, but will give it a try and if they can’t fix it, they will help you figure it out, locate needed parts or direct you to a local fix-it business.  What a great idea and one I hope will catch on everywhere!

When I was growing up, small appliance repair shops were common. If a blender broke, you took it to a repair shop.  In this era of planned obsolescence with cheap, made in China everything, however, appliance repair shops and handymen have all but disappeared.

Boyett's TV

Boyett’s TV (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

It’s time to rethink our throw away society mentality, and reuse, repurpose and fix what we already have instead of always buying new.  Of course some things have to be thrown out and it’s important to recycle them, but before you do, think first.  Can I fix this?  Can I use it for something else? With the internet, you can easily find replacement parts online and it’s always worth a try.   Who knows – maybe we’ll bring back the fix-it shops of long ago with a 21st century approach like the Fixer Fair, creating new jobs and saving unnecessary items from the landfill.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Paper Napkins or Cloth?

 

“In a Gentle Way You Can Shake the World.” – Gandhi

When I came across this wonderful quote, I started thinking about gentle changes that positively impact the earth.  One such change is to switch from paper to cloth napkins.  It sounds silly, but here is the math.  If 50% of the U.S. population used 3 paper napkins a day, that would total 450,000,000 napkins for 1 day or 164,250,000,000 napkins over a 1-year period.  That’s a staggering number of paper napkins!

The manufacture of both cloth and paper napkins obviously uses resources and energy. According to a report published by the Environmental Paper Network, however, the paper industry (which includes all paper products) is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and accounts for 25% of landfill waste and 1/3 of municipal landfill waste.  Additionally, in the manufacture of paper napkins, the chlorine bleach used to whiten them contains toxic compounds and the dyes in decorative napkins are also questionable.  And, paper napkins are only used once!

napkins

napkins (Photo credit: pinprick)

Cloth napkins alternatively, can be used over and over, often lasting for generations.  They can be energy intensive too, but there are several ways to minimize their environmental impact.

  • Unless it’s organic cotton, it’s best to avoid cotton cloth napkins.  Cotton is labeled the world’s “dirtiest” crop because of its heavy insecticide usage.  Instead use linen (which comes from the fibers of the flax plant), hemp, vintage or your own made from fabric remnants.
  • Reuse cloth napkins for 2 or 3 days, depending on how dirty they get.  Buy different colored napkins for each member of the family.  I jokingly match the napkin color to each family member’s personality, my napkin being green of course.  You can also individualize napkin rings.
  • Wash the napkins with regular loads of laundry with environmentally safe detergent, and air-dry them.  In addition to saving energy by air-drying them, I find I don’t have to iron them!

Paper napkins are clearly more convenient, and for entertaining large crowds, picnicking or eating on the run, they make sense. Just make sure to use recycled paper ones.  According to MotherNatureNetwork, “If every household in the U.S. replaced one package of virgin fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees.”

Most of the time, however, use cloth ones.  Dig out your grandmother’s beautiful linen napkins and find yourself brought back to a simpler, slower time when gathering around the dinner table for meals and conversation was routine. That’s a pretty gentle change to me!

Information compiled from greengroundswell.com, mnn.com and thedailygreen.com.