26 February 2009

Green, frugal and natural update

Remember the three issues we've been working on? I thought I'd update on what we've been doing lately to become more green, frugal and natural.

Soap nuts

I heard about soap nuts on a TV programme and immediately went and ordered some through eBay. I got 410g of soap nuts, instructions and information, and a muslin bag to use them for only £4.21 total (that's around $6.11). They will last me ages.

Basically they are nuts:

You throw a few into a little muslin bag:

And chuck it into your washing machine with your laundry. No soap powder or fabric softener needed! The soap nuts release saponin (natural soap) during the wash and your clothes come out clean and smelling fresh! Green, natural and frugal - I like it!

I also tried the following trick: bring 4 cups of water and one cup of soap nuts to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and pour into a spray bottle and voila - natural, green and frugal cleaner that works a treat!

Green Pan

I am totally in love with my new Green Pan that we bought last week. I've been wanting a PTFE free non-stick pan for a while so when I found this 12-inch beauty I snapped it up. It's ceramic non-stick which means to nasty fumes from PTFE when I'm cooking, no PFOA is produced in its production and it's made with recycled aluminium. And let me tell you, it is a beauty to cook with! I've never experienced such fabulous non-stick properties (although I should probably confess that I've only ever bought super-cheap non-stick pans before). At £40 (around $58) it wasn't exactly inexpensive, but considering that it will last us a good many years and has such great health and environmental benefits we were happy to spend that.

Forsaking plastic for glass

I've been slowly trying to replace plastic containers with glass. You know how sometimes you'll eat or drink something that's been stored in plastic for a while and it will taste a little, well, plasticky? I have to be concerned about what chemicals are leaching into the food or drink. And then when you hear about the health issues linked to BPA from plastic bottles it just make sense to use glass when possible.

Daniel's bottle for his packed lunch at school is steel. I've started reusing pickle and jam jars in the fridge to store things like tuna maoyonnaise or bits of leftovers:

And dug out some glass storage jars I had in the cellar to replace our plastic cereal containers:

In the garden

We bought and installed a water butt:

And I've been obsessively planning our garden for this year's growing season and starting some seeds off on my kitchen windowsill. Yesterday I planted out some pea seedlings - a little early but they were outgrowing their seed tray and I don't have pots to pot them on so I thought I'd take the chance. If they die I still have three more months to get some new pea plants started:

What have you done lately that's green, frugal and natural? I'd love to hear about the changes you have made and how they are working out for you.

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