Can a company be half green?

March 16th, 2008

I’ve been thinking about that Green Works post I did at the end of February. And about the Clorox buying Burt’s Bees post.

The problem I have, and that a lot of people who write about the environment have, is what to think of Clorox and similar companies that are suddenly going green. And are they really going green?

The environment aside, chlorine bleach is bad for you. Of course it will kill you if ingested, but it can also irritate your lungs just from breathing it. People with chronic heart disease and asthma are advised to avoid it. Does this sound like something that should be used to clean laundry or bathrooms or anything?

And Clorox is proud of their bleach. But, now they own Burt’s Bees. And they got Sierra Club to endorse their new Green Works line of cleaners. So, is Green Works greener than cleaning with bleach or with some of the chemical-laden cleaners out there? Yes, it is. Does that mean you should support Clorox?

That’s the trouble. If they think this Green Works is so great, then why still make the other stuff? My really smart husband told me that he thinks a company can’t be half green. They should be environmentally responsible in every way if they claim to be green. And I have to agree. There are lots of all-green companies that sell green cleaners. Here’s a list of some recommended brands of cleaners:

Bi-O-Kleen

Method

Seventh Generation

Bon Ami

If you can’t find these products in your store, ask your grocer or other store manager to order the products. Don’t want to hunt down the manager? When they ask you at the checkout, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” say no. That’s when most stores call the manager for you. Or do it by phone, or use the Internet. Many companies now have surveys you can fill out online.

Over at Big Green Purse, you can find recipes to make your own green cleaners. These are simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and salt.

My co-blogger Jennifer over at Tree Hugging Family did a great post about natural green cleaners — 25 Safe, Non-toxic Homemade Cleaning Supplies. Speaking of natural cleaners, ammonia for cleaning bathroom mirrors really is overkill. I actually get the same results with just water! End of rant.

So, do you agree that a company can’t be half green, or do you think all us green hippies should just shut up and praise Clorox for trying to turn a new leaf?

Baking Delights contest & Why bake at home

March 12th, 2008

cheesecake.jpgMarye at Baking Delights is having a contest. You’ll want to check it out soon if you like French desserts. Je t’aime.

And while I’m here, I might as well remind you that it’s much more eco-friendly to bake at home than to buy packaged products or mixes. You can do it. Plus, it makes your place smell so good — muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake, bread, brownies. I need a snack.

I know that it might take more time to bake stuff than it does to buy it at the store, but homemade can be so much better. And you have control over your ingredients. You can also help the environment by purchasing organic flour and butter and chocolate!

I’m trying to do more home-baking myself. My latest from-scratch creations include coffee cake muffins, chocolate chip muffins, baked cappuccino custard and shortbread of all kinds.

Rinse laundry detergent bottles

March 7th, 2008

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I don’t know. I thought you’d like to see a random photo with this tip. That’s not my laundry or photo or pet.

Since I have to keep my recycling at the apartment until I drive it to the drop-off, I rinse the containers well and let them dry. I don’t want the container to get wet, smelly or moldy. Eek. Plus, my recycling center recommends rinsing of some containers.

As I was using the last of some detergent, I thought, why not rinse the bottle under the running water of the washing machine? That way, you get all the soapy soap out for the wash and you don’t have to use extra water to rinse the container. So, maybe you’ve thought of that before, but it just occurred to me.

I haven’t updated to a front-loading washing machine yet, so I’m wondering if this tip would work with those. Does the water come from a central location? I tried to figure this out online, but no luck.

Flickr photo credit (Beatrice).

Green Works

February 28th, 2008

So, I tried out Green Works natural all-purpose cleaner, made by Clorox.

Here’s what I like:

Mostly Natural ingredients (99 percent). Directly from the label:

coconut-based cleaning agent, corn-based ethanol, essential lemon oil, filtered water and biodegradable preservative. Contains no phosphorus. Contains no bleach.

It’s safe on multiple surfaces.

gw.jpgThe container is highly recyclable, a number 1.

It smells good and cleans well. Actually, it does smell natural.

It is mainstream. In some parts of the country, those specialty natural cleaners sold in natural food markets are not available. Lots of people just shop at Wal-Mart, partly because there aren’t many other choices where they live. Clorox is bringing a green product to everyone, and it’s affordable.

It’s approved by the Sierra Club. This is the first time they’ve approved a household cleaner. Yeah, they are getting some sales-based cash for this from Clorox, but they still think this is a good product.

Here’s what I don’t like:

Continue reading »

My SIGG bottle

February 22nd, 2008

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UPDATE: August 2009, SIGG bottles made prior to August 2008 contain trace amounts of BPA.

Isn’t it lovely? (Sorry about the glare on the photo. It’s so nice it shines.)

Since a main focus of this blog is sharing steps I take to be greener in my everyday life, I thought I’d tell you about my new best friend: My SIGG bottle. (It may seem like I’m bragging a little too much on this bottle, but I promise I did pay for it myself. This is my unbiased review.)

I stopped buying bottled water a few years ago. It’s too heavy, too expensive and too too wasteful.

What are the reasons people consume bottled water on a regular basis? (I understand the occasional emergency bottle.)

•Tap water doesn’t taste good.

•No handy water container to take on the go.

Here’s what I do: Continue reading »

Get rid of unwanted catalogs with Catalog Choice

February 16th, 2008

So, maybe you want some catalogs. That’s OK, but I’ll guess that you get more than a few catalogs that you don’t want.

At Catalog Choice you can choose which catalogs you no longer want to receive. Then, Catalog Choice does all the work for you. They contact the companies. It may be quicker if you have your customer number, but it’s not required.

sunset.jpgSign up (it’s free), search for catalogs you don’t want, then ask to be removed. It’s that easy.

Back in September, I posted about using customer numbers to get off of mailing lists. I was able to get off of some mailing lists this way by contacting each company, but some companies (like Pottery Barn) make it more difficult. I don’t care if they print their catalogs on recycled paper. Receiving numerous 200-page catalogs with essentially the same merchandise is silly, annoying and wasteful.

You may also want to check out my post about giving out your phone number when making purchases in stores. As easy as it may be to get off of mailing lists, it’s better to avoid getting on them in the first place.

Send a Valentine e-card and help homeless pets

February 10th, 2008

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Send DOGGIE-MAIL or KITTY-MAIL before February 14 and Purina will donate .50 cents to help a homeless dog or cat. Each time you send a card, Purina donates.

You can choose a pet (cat or dog or upload your own photo), background, audio and props. It’s fun.

A warning though: you (not the recipient) will be added to Purina’s e-mail list when you send a card. It’s not so bad though, if you like pets. Plus, you can easily unsubscribe.

E-cards can be a great alternative to paper cards, but if you do go with a paper card this year, try the always-funny Recycled Greetings. I don’t have a complete list of where these cards are available, but I have seen them at Target. You can also call 1-800-777-9494 to get help in finding a retailer near you.

Image from Purina’s petcentric website.

Burt’s Bees and Clorox

February 7th, 2008

burtsbees.jpgLast summer I started using Burt’s Bees beeswax lip balm as an alternative to petroleum-based ChapStick.

The natural beeswax lip balm feels much better. Burt’s Bees had a lot of green business practices, including using recycled packaging.

But Burt’s sold to Clorox last year for $913 million. Clorox says it’s going green and wants to help make Burt’s Bees more mainstream.

What do you think? Is Clorox really “going green” or are they just trying to cash in on the green movement? They did just release a line of green cleaning products, Green Works, for the home.

In case you don’t know, Burt actually exists. Before he started the company with a partner he lived in a turkey coop and sold honey out of the back of his pickup truck. I’m not sure if that made the lip balm any better. Maybe not, but this man loves nature. It seemed like a nice little company.

But it got big. And it got sold. Perhaps this means the product will reach more people now. Maybe it means Clorox really is trying to be more responsible (and more profitable). However, if Clorox didn’t buy a company like Burt’s, what would they buy? There are all kinds of horrible options out there.

While some people are now refusing to buy Burt’s, I’m going to wait and see what happens. Besides, I got so much Burt’s Bees for Christmas, I won’t need to buy any for at least a year.

(Image is from www.burtsbees.com)

Bamboo Feed + Toss Cat Bowl: How lazy can you be?

January 29th, 2008

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Most of the products I mention here I do so to praise. However, I was disgusted by these Bamboo Feed + Toss Cat Bowls. (Also available in even larger dog bowls.) I saw them at Petco, and perhaps I should stop going there. Actually, my usual pet store was out of my cat’s food, hence the Petco visit. (Photo is from Petco’s website.)

Why do I pour my wrath upon this item?

*It’s so greedy! They make these fashionable little bowls without a bottom, so you have to buy the liners to continue feeding your pet with this dish.

*It’s beyond lazy. Come on! This is de-greening your pet. It takes less than one minute to wash a food bowl. If you are feeding wet food, then soak the bowl first. No problem.

*And, well, it creates waste. I’ll admit that I didn’t look to see how recyclable these liners are, but I’m thinking that consumers who would buy them probably don’t recycle. Is that a fair assumption? Maybe not . . . (To be a little less witchy, I checked Bamboo’s website, and it simply says that the liners are “recyclable.” However, not all plastics are accepted at some recycling centers, and it’s much better to reduce than to recycle.)

To close, I’m certainly not Queen Green, but I do choose to avoid convenience items like this. They make us lazy at the expense of the environment.

You can silently object to items like this by not buying them, or you can e-mail Petco to tell them how disgusted you are. Obviously, Petco isn’t the only store that sells this item, but they are the only one I’ve personally caught in the act. A simple online search will reveal that these brightly colored symbols of waste are everywhere.

A big YAY for Whole Foods Market

January 24th, 2008

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Those of you who read Light Green Stairs regularly know how much I dislike plastic bags, particularly those given out so freely at grocery stores.

Why? Besides the waste of energy and the potential for pollution and destruction of wildlife, they just feel slimy in my hands. Also, I used to always hurry upstairs to my apartment before one of those disposable monsters broke. (The photo above shows a plastic bag floating in the apartment lake — home to many ducks, geese, turtles and sometimes a blue heron.)

Since I switched to my reusable bags last year, I certainly haven’t looked back. And I’ve also inspired a few people in the grocery line behind me to think about getting some reusable bags.

However, I do get the feeling that not enough people are using these bags. Why? A few weeks ago, not one cashier at my grocery store could remember the code to give a discount for bringing reusable bags, not even the manager. I guess they don’t use it often.

That’s why I really admire Whole Foods Market for what they are about to do. They are going to ONLY offer recycled paper bags or reusable bags in their stores. If you shop at Whole Foods, gone are the days of petro-made, slimy plastic bags that taunt you on your walk from the car.

I don’t have a Whole Foods near my apartment, but I’m still so happy for all the people who will discover the wonders of shopping with reusable bags.