Posts Tagged ‘Textile’

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

 

 

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.

 

 

GREEN QUESTIONS FROM READERS

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel.

Image via Wikipedia

Some of my readers emailed me with questions, which hopefully will be pertinent to you too.

Question:  Several of my colleagues microwave their lunches with plastic wrap.  I’ve heard this isn’t a good idea, but these people are intelligent professionals.  What do you think?

Answer: Intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with it.  It’s a matter of being informed.  Both the plastics industry and government health industries maintain that plastic wrap is safe to use, though consumer and environmental groups say otherwise.  Some plastic wraps could contain PVC or other chlorinated substances that can release dioxin, a known toxin and health hazard.  Saran Wrap has been reformulated to remove PVC and I imagine others have too.  But, who knows what’s in the new compounds? I always err on the side of caution and prefer to cover the food with a paper towel (unbleached) or natural wax paper. I also use glass microwave containers instead of plastic.  It is always important to use cookware specially manufactured for microwave use, and if you do cover with plastic wrap, the plastic should not touch the food.  Otherwise it could melt on your food.  You don’t want that!

Question:  I am a textile artist and wonder what to do with my leftover fabric scraps.

Many Ukrainian Christmas decorations are home ...

Image via Wikipedia

Also, how do I recycle wood and cardboard with paint on it?  Good for you for not throwing them away!  Every seamstress has the same problem I imagine.  One obvious solution is to reuse them for other projects such as fabric flower cards, bookmarks, pillowcases, beanbags, or gift-wrap.  There are endless suggestions online.  But you could also donate them to a preschool, kindergarten or arts school for their craft projects or contact a sewing shop to see if anyone needs fabric scraps for quilting, for example.  What about putting a notice on craigslist for an artist who might want fabric scarps? As far as recycling wood and cardboard with paint on them, it’s not a good idea to recycle painted wood.  Recycled wood is usually used for fuel or chipped for mulch.  Either way you wouldn’t want the paint toxins leaching into the soil or the air.  You can dispose of wood with latex or water-based paint in your trash, but wood with lead or oil based paints should be taken to hazardous waste collection.

Readers, send me your questions!  I’d love to answer them.

 

Information compiled from:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0706a.shtml

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/cooking_safely_in_the_microwave/index.asp#3; http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/