Green Living

Are Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies Really Safer?

Posted by on Feb 28, 2016 in Green Living | 40 comments

Are Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies Really Safer?

Are the Eco-friendly cleaning supplies you buy safe enough to warrant extra cost? Probably not. Most commercial cleaners, including many carrying eco-friendly labels, contain hazardous ingredients believed to contribute to many of today’s diseases, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, ADHD, autism, and more. You can trust any product showing the Green Seal (USA) and EcoLogo (Can). More about them later in the article. Many ‘Eco-friendly’ terms used by manufacturers to promote their products are marketing words meant to mislead: Green – Unless the product carries the EcoLogo and/or the Green Seal, the only thing the wording is good for is to make you think you’re buying a safe product; Natural – Overused and totally meaningless – there is nothing regulating the use of this word; Non-Toxic – Same overuse as ‘natural’ and just as meaningless; Organic – Food and Herbs may receive Organic Certification – CLEANING SUPPLIES MAY NOT. Therefore the only purpose in applying organic to cleaning products is to mislead you; Biodegradable – Worthless wording – Does it tell you how long it takes to decompose? Eco-Friendly – When you saw Eco-friendly in the title, didn’t you think it meant products that were free from dangerous ingredients and safe for the environment? We’ve come to accept the term to mean that, but when it’s used on labels it’s misleading because it means zip – again, no regulation to govern use of this term.  Finally, how about this one? A certain product states “they are the leader in high-quality, environmentally “safer cleaning products”. ” What exactly does that mean – safer than what?   Look for the following certification seals to ensure the cleaning product you buy truly is green and safe for your family and the environment.   EcoLogo was founded in 1988 by the Government of Canada. The Canadian EcoLogo (also known as Environmental Choice) helps you identify products and services that have been independently certified to meet strict environmental standards that reflect their entire life cycle — from manufacturing to disposal. EcoLogo standards are designed so that only the top 20% of products available on the market can achieve certification. More than 7,000 products — from paint to paper — carry this logo. For more information, visit the Underwriters Laboratories website. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Green Seal – A cleaning product that contains this seal has gone through a certification program to ensure it is green. Green Seal is a United States not-for-profit organization devoted to environmental standard setting, product certification and public education. “Green Seal is a pioneer in promoting a sustainable economy. In 1989 there were no nonprofit environmental certification programs in the US. During this year, our founder had the foresight to recognize the need for a tool to help shoppers find truly green products. Green Seal was developed as a nonprofit to stand for absolute integrity. Over the years the reputation of the Green Seal brand has grown to symbolize environmental leadership, and it continues to represent proven-green products and services.”  Green Seal Products and Services ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The safest Eco-friendly cleaning supplies are still the ones you make yourself with vinegar, baking soda, lemons and lemon juice. They are also the least expensive of all cleaning solutions. Home-made Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies: Baking soda is a great all-purpose cleaner – it doesn’t scratch anything, naturally deodorizes and, combined with vinegar, does a superior job of keeping toilet bowls and drains clean and odour free.  To use as an all-purpose cleaner: Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda in 4 cups warm water. For tougher jobs mix baking soda with water to make a non-runny paste and apply with a...

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Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not

Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 in Green Living | 38 comments

Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not

Is it worth paying extra for products with an Organic, Natural, Farm Fresh or Premium Quality Organic Food label? The last time I was buying bananas at 57 cents a pound, organic bananas were priced at 97 cents a pound. Was this organic food label really worth paying an extra 40 cents a pound? Once I started looking into the labels I discovered that the one sure thing about having organic or similar wording on a label was that it instantly increased the price of the product. Many producers saw this as an opportunity to cash in by creating a variety of labels designed to make the consumer think they were paying more for better quality, organic products, when in fact they weren’t. Shown below are some of the labels used to market food products. It’s all very impressive but let’s just take a look at what the labels really mean. The Organic Food Label – What’s Valid, What’s Not: 100% Organic or Certified Organic – This is the real deal. A product with this label meets the standards for organic certification set by the country of origin. Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations. (Wikipedea). Organic – The label ‘organic’, without showing certification, can be applied to products that are 70-95% organic. Since the bananas only said organic – not certified organic – they would fall into this category.  Made with Organic Ingredients – This is pretty meaningless and not acceptable as it is not clear how much of the product is made with organic ingredients. Products with 70-95% organic content must declare the percentage of organic content on their label. Products with less than 70% organic content may only indicate which ingredients are organic in the ingredients list. Premium Quality Organic Food – Since it doesn’t claim certification, but does claim organic, means the product must contain 70-95% organic ingredients. Natural or All Natural – This means that nothing was changed in or added to the product itself – it does not say anything about the growing conditions or whether synthetic pesticides and/or herbicides were used. A good example here would be non-organic apples, which are all natural but on the EWG’s ‘dirty dozen’ list because they contain high levels of chemical residue. No Hormones/Steroids Added – This label may sometimes be found on poultry products where it is absolutely meaningless since the addition of hormones and/or steroids to poultry and pork has been prohibited in Canada for the past 30 years. Pure or 100% Pure – Can only be applied to one ingredient products. For instance, maple syrup can be 100% pure while peanut butter made with peanuts and oil (2 ingredients) can’t be. Farm Fresh or Farm Grown – This label doesn’t explain growing conditions and, in the case of animals, what additives were given. Grass Fed. Animals have access to outside where they graze or are fed hay. This leads to healthier, leaner animals resulting in better quality meat. Since this is not a certification we have no way of knowing what additional supplements or additives were given. Non-GMO. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been thought to increase serious allergies in children and may be the cause of many other serious health problems. Non-GMO means the products are free of these organisms. Thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for much of the above information. I have always considered myself to be knowledgeable about reading labels and deciphering what they really mean but seeing this in black and white was still an eye-opener. As for the bananas, they’re labeled organic, not certified, which means they...

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Baking Soda: 40 Best Cleaning Tips

Posted by on Sep 27, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living | 47 comments

Baking Soda: 40 Best Cleaning Tips

Baking Soda has been one of my go-to cleaning products for years – it’s cheap, does a great job, doesn’t scratch surfaces and doesn’t harm the environment. With Fall cleaning on the agenda, I thought this would be a great time to review how best to use it for cleaning.     Baking Soda for General Home Maintenance: Aluminum Windows and Doors                                                                    Dissolve ½ cup baking soda in 3 cups tepid water. Dampen a sponge or brush to wipe down the aluminum windows or doors. Rinse well (if working outside, the garden hose can be used); Books, Musty Smell – To remove musty smells from stored books, put 2 Tbsp. baking soda into a brown paper bag, add the book, close the bag, then set it in a dry place for a week or two; Bookshelf – Remove books from the shelf and wipe down with a sponge or microfiber cloth just barely dampened in a solution of 1Tbsp. baking soda dissolved in 2 cups tepid water. Use the same solution to lightly wipe any of the books before they’re returned. Make sure the sponge is just barely damp –neither books nor wood like water; Child-Made Stains – Children love to draw and will find any spot to do so – walls, floors, appliances, etc. Sprinkle baking soda on a sponge to wipe away most crayon, marker, pen and pencil marks; Fireplace Bricks – Remove the smoke stains from your fireplace bricks by the following method: Dissolve ½ cup baking soda in 4 cups tepid water – apply to bricks using brush and elbow grease; Floors, Linoleum – Use a mop dampened in a mixture of ½ cup baking soda in 4 cups tepid water; Floors, Wood – Mix 1 Tbsp. baking soda with 1 tsp. water to remove white spots and other stains from your wood floors. Gently rub the stain with the paste in a circular motion until it’s gone. Too much water can damage wood floors so take care not to use more than the teaspoon called for; Furniture – Even though smoking has become a social no-no, there are still many who do. For those who do (or who have guests that do) here is a good way to remove the smoke smell from your upholstered furniture. Lightly sprinkle the baking soda on the furniture – don’t forget the back and underneath the cushions – follow the same procedure as for rugs/carpets; Mats, Indoor Welcome Ones – Mats are meant to keep the dirt outside, right? To make sure they do, sprinkle with baking soda (same as rugs/carpets), leave for a bit then return to vacuum the dirt away; Mats, Outdoor Ones – Before a rainstorm, scrub outdoor rubber mats with a baking soda solution – ½ cup baking soda to 3 cups tepid water – then let the rain wash the residue away; Rugs and Carpets, General – Very lightly sprinkle baking soda on the rug/carpet, go have a coffee break, then simply vacuum up the residue, sucking up the dirt and unwanted odours; Rugs and Carpets, Stains – Carpet mishap occurring in front of you? Immediately blot up as much of the stain as you can with a paper towel, sprinkle lots of baking soda on the stain, leave to go make the beds, go shopping, whatever, just give it lots of time to work, and an hour or two later, return to vacuum the stain away; Rugs and Carpets, Vomit or Urine Stains (yuk, parents and pet owners can’t be squeamish) – Using lots of paper towel, first pick or blot up what...

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Consignment Shops: Buy-Sell

Posted by on Aug 30, 2015 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Product Information, Smart Shopper | 49 comments

Consignment Shops: Buy-Sell

I’ve just discovered Online Consignment Shops and can’t believe it took this long. I love Thrift Store shopping and Consignment Shops are the next best thing. These shops help you clean out – and thus organize – your closets and in turn allow you to find your own great deals on gently-used or overstock items. This isn’t only good for your wallet, this simple green act is also good for the environment. Online Consignment Shops vary in the kind of products they carry. Some offer high-end designer clothes, some do vintage, some cater to the business women, some to children and others to the family. Unfortunately, men’s consignment shops, unless they’re brick and mortar walk-ins, are difficult, if not impossible, to find. One of these men’s walk-in stores – Off the Cuff is well worth a visit by any man who is living in the Toronto area. This store has great reviews, a large selection of men’s clothing and accessories, and from all reports, helpful friendly staff. Online Consignment Shops have their own list of standards, brands and conditions. If you meet their conditions they will supply the shipping bags for free shipping. It’s important to read the fine print as each consignment shop has their own clearly defined list of what they will or won’t accept. They will only accept goods for which there is a demand (makes sense) so leftovers from Walmart and similar places won’t be accepted. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Changeroo  – A High-Quality Canadian Children’s Consigment Shop This Canadian consignment shop, Changeroo.ca located in Montreal, was founded in 2014 by Liane Guimond. It carries only like-new children’s clothing – high quality, top brands like Baby Gap, Land’s End, Children’s Place, Jona Michelle, etc. at seriously low prices. The Globe and Mail listed Changeroo as one of Canada’s 10 most remarkable small businesses. Changeroo is not setup to accept items by mail – instead you need to drop the goods off at specified locations in the Montreal area. They will, however,  ship items across Canada with free shipping on orders of $50.00 or more.  If you have children this is a shop you won’t want to miss. When I checked it out I was very impressed by the cute clothes listed and the great prices. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TrendTrunks is a different kind of Consignment Shop  https://www.trendtrunk.com/ This is an interesting one – It’s a Canadian shop that acts like a promoter for women’s items, the sale of which you control. The following information is direct from their website:1. Make more money!  100% of the selling price goes back to you. It’s free to list on TrendTrunk.com OR our mobile app. 2. Get LOTS of inquires!  Thousands of buyers will see your items and also be emailed if your items match their interests. You’ll start to receive messages from interested buyers. Respond promptly to sell your item quickly! You decide how you want to transact; whether you meet in person or ship the item, along with your preferred method of receiving the funds (I recommend PayPal – it’s totally safe and no hassle). The buyer and seller must mutually agree on transaction details. 3. We have the right buyers. Trend Trunk curates listings to ensure the best experience for our buyers and sellers. We attract buyers who will value and appreciate your items. When it’s time to cash in your closet of stylish and fashionable items, Trend Trunk is the best way to sell your brand new to pre-loved clothing & accessories. Trend Trunk isn’t just a selling place, it also has a listing of shoppes where you can find...

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Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium. Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon. Dill Sauce: 1 cup yogurt 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tbsp. lemon juice Dash of Worcestershire sauce Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon. Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb...

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Do More With Everyday Products A-Z

Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living | 16 comments

Do More With Everyday Products A-Z

Do More With Everyday Products A-Z, is a bit different from my usual list posts. Those focused on one specific product -this one has tips for how to do more with everyday products A-Z. No need to run to the store when you run out of something. Take a look around and you can probably find what you need right in your own home. Do More With Everyday Products A-Z: Aluminum Foil – Line a paint tray with aluminum foil and clean-up is a cinch. When finished painting, simply grab the foil and discard. No washing the tray. No need to buy liners. Bottles – Trap those pests. Partly fill a large soda bottle (2 litre) with a mixture of ½ cup sugar, 2 cups tepid water and 1 cup apple cider vinegar. Put the top back on and shake to mix really well. Cut a one-inch hole near the top of the bottle. Wrap a string around the neck of the bottle and hang from a tree or other place where yellow jackets and wasps congregate. Once it’s full of pests, discard and replace. This does the trick without resorting to chemical sprays. Cooking Spray – Lightly spray a grater with cooking spray before shredding cheese to make cleanup much easier. Dental Floss – Use this to slice cheese. Simply place a piece of floss under the cheese and slowly pull up. Emery Boards – Use to lightly sand the outer shell of seeds before planting. This speeds germination and allows the seeds to better absorb moisture. Freezer – Place musty smelling books in the freezer for a day or two to eliminate the bad odour. Garlic Press – The perfect gadget to smash up hard-boiled eggs. Hair Spray – Give your recipe cards a good shot of hairspray to protect them from grease and food splatters while you’re using them.  Ice Cube Trays – Bought extra eggs on sale and don’t know what to do with them? Freeze them in ice cube trays. Each cell will hold one egg. Once they’re frozen, remove them and store in freezer bags. Jar Lids – Keep one handy on the stove to use as spoon rest. Keys – Don’t throw those extra, unused keys out. They can be used as fishing sinkers or plumb jobs. Lemons – Add one or two tablespoons of lemon juice to the water in the humidifier. This doesn’t just deodorize the humidifier, it also adds a pleasant natural lemon scent to the house. Repeat as needed. Mayonnaise – Soften your elbows and feet by rubbing mayonnaise on them, leave for a little while, then wipe fairly hard (not so hard it hurts) with a face cloth and finally rinse off. Newspaper – Let wet boots or shoes keep their shape by stuffing them with newspaper while they dry. Oatmeal – Soak your cares away. Grind one cup of oatmeal in a blender and add 5-6 drops (more or less, personal choice) lavender essential oil. Put the mixture in a bath bag, old pantyhose or sock and tie closed. Hang from the tap as the tub is filling with lukewarm (not hot) water. Then just lay back and enjoy. Panty Hose – Cut in strips and use to tie plants to garden stakes. The ‘give’ in the hose won’t hurt the plants. Q-Tips – These make great little dusting tools for your keyboard, remote controls, and other delicate instruments. Rolling Pins – Place a hand-washed sweater between two towels then roll across the top towel with the rolling pin to squeeze out extra moisture. Remove the...

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