{13/02/2013}   Giving up chemicals

My newly purchased vintage enamel bowl filled with the "ingredients" I already had to start my de-chemicalling regimeIn the spirit of Lent, I have decided to give up something I don’t like in an attempt to discover some lifestyle changing habits.  I am, where possible, going to give up cleaning chemicals and be a bit more environmentally aware.  I have a book that will be my lifestyle guide for the duration and I have rooted around at home and found more eco things than I realised I had, all of which are in the photo, complete with my newly purchased vintage enamel bowl.

I recently purchased “A Guide to Natural Housekeeping” by Christina Strutt.  I am in cleaning heaven as it is all so beautifully presented and there seem to be so many miracle remedies.  Oh I hope they work.  But even if only one of them works and is as good as if not better than the chemical equivalent, I will be happy.

I am particularly interested in what she has to say about cling film and laundry, though I have only given the book a brief study.  I have always known that I shouldn’t use cling film so liberally but not really known why.  She can’t explain either but said that it’s particularly bad when covering fatty foods and when it goes a bit soft and sits on food if you microwave it.  So it’s back to lunch boxes and tupperware (I know they’re plastic but they are re-used) for me.

As for laundry, I never knew that clothes sold as “non-iron” are only so because they are treated with formaldehyde.  Yuck, that’s a bit too Damien Hurst for my liking.  Also, which I knew from doing a job with P&G, liquid detergents have a lot more chemicals in them than powdered detergents (some liquids don’t work well stored together so need other chemicals to separate them, etc, but that isn’t necessary with powders – or something similar, maybe that some chemicals are better in dry form?).  My cleaning guide tells me that if I do use washing powder, by adding a cup of bicarbonate of soda the powder is rendered more effective and it’s good for your washing machine.  Also, if you add a cup of white distilled vinegar to the dispenser drawer instead of fabric conditioner, you should see similar results.  I don’t use fabric conditioner but I will try the vinegar trick.  Oh there are so many more exciting things to try and most of them involve use of the things in my photo, which I have anyway.  The only thing I need to get and which I thought I already had is borax.

I am also mildly surprised that wooden chopping boards are far more antibacterial than plastic ones, mainly because wood naturally kills bacteria and acts quicker than even plastic boards that (apparently falsely) claim to include self-sanitising properties.  I recently got a selection of plastic boards so I could keep meat and fish separate from vegetables, etc.  I’m quite disappointed now and wish I’d just got some different shaped wooden boards.  Oh well, there are some suggestions for cleaning chopping boards (vinegar or lemon juice for wooden boards).

I am looking forward to this challenge a little more than is perhaps necessary but enthusiasm for cleaning projects should be embraced.  I launch into this chemical reduction phase with a feeling that I must surely come out of this with some newfound genius techniques and a selection of beautiful wood and natural fibre brushes and cloths – I am hoping to get rid of as much plastic as I can (though I will wait until things wear out rather than chucking them prematurely or unnecessarily).


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