Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Disappointed: Update

So, last week I was pretty annoyed that all of my soap.com purchases came individually wrapped in plastic. I got an automated email yesterday asking me to provide feedback about my shopping experience. I kindly mentioned my concern about the packaging. Within a few hours, I received the following email:

Dear Kimberly,

Thank you for taking the time to complete our customer survey. We at soap.com understand your concerns and strive to provide an array of eco friendly products as well as the greenest shipping methods possible . We do use plastic wrap and air bags in our shipping cartons in an effort to minimize damage which would utlimately result in waste of product and necessitate the use of additional resources to generate replacement orders. Please rest assured that all of the plastic used inside of our shipping cartons is 100% recyclable. We thank you again for your feedback and welcome any suggestions you may have that would help us be more eco-friendly in the future.

Take care,

Jennifer Cintron

Customer Care soap.com

So that's nice. They have good customer service and stuff. Cool. Here's the tough thing, though. It's not as simple as just throwing all your "recyclables" in your can and putting it at the street on recycling day. Not every municipality or private waste management company will recycle everything. Now, I no longer have that stuff that I complained about, because I didn't realize at all that it was even possibly recyclable, so I don't know what number was on it. However, for you, my lovely caring reader, please be sure to check out Earth 911 to see where you can recycle specific products.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lavender Pine & Chocolate

My husband wants to bathe in the Caldrea lavender pine stainless steel spray. BATHE, I say! It really does smell good, so I can't judge. It's amazing how good the house smells after a cleaning. It doesn't smell like chemicals. It just smells good. What's even better, though, is that the spray works incredibly well on our dishwasher and on our cabinet hardware. We also used the Seventh Generation all purpose cleanser on our white painted kitchen cabinets. It worked really well and made us realize how dirty they really were. I think we kind of just started to assume we had painted them off-white instead of white.

The Seventh Generation free & clear powder laundry detergent from Amazon is also a hit. The clothes are always clean and they feel really soft. The Ecover stain remover is currently being tested thanks to a desperate attempt at calming down my son at a crowded amusement park on a 95 degree day. The chocolate may have been refrigerated when I gave it to him, but it was dripping out of his chipmunk mouth and down his white shirt quicker than he could mumble the word "MORE."

I started training for my next triathlon, so that's another time sucker. Maybe I shouldn't call school and exercise time suckers? Oh well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


As I mentioned last week, I plan on ultimately making some of my own household cleaners. Until then, I'm just looking to buy greener replacements for the standard cleaners. I wanted to try some of the Ecover brand cleaning products, but the only place I've seen the products in person is WholeFoods, which is about 45 minutes away. Since I have a Prime membership with Amazon and therefore get free shipping, it seemed like the cheapest route. However, since most were on backorder for four weeks, I placed an order on soap.com (sister site of diapers.com) instead. I loved everything about the shopping experience, and they shipped within an hour of my order being placed. That happiness turned to disappointment today when I opened up the package to find that everything was individually wrapped in plastic. Between that and the plastic air pillows that were also in the box, my garbage can was now almost full. BUST. So, here's what I want to know. Does soap.com shrink wrap each item in plastic so that they don't leak in shipment? Because the ones at WholeFoods were not wrapped. Or does Ecover send them to WholeFoods wrapped in plastic, and WF unwraps them before placing them on the shelf? Deep thoughts, by KH.

I also purchased a cleaner for my brand spankin' new energy efficient stainless steel dishwasher. I had read that Mrs. Meyers brand had the best eco-friendly stainless cleaner. However, that was discontinued a few years ago, and Mrs. Meyers recommends Caldrea brand, which they apparently own. Once I move beyond the bummed-about-so-much-plastic feeling and actually use the products, I'll be sure to post a review! We also only have about two more rolls of our Scott's toilet paper left and then we get to use our new paper wrapped Seventh Generation stuff. There will not be pictures.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Replacement Rules

As we run out of things around the house, I am trying to make an effort to find a better replacement before just going out and purchasing more of what we ran out of. For example, we only have a few rolls of our wholesale club sized paper towels left. I really don't want to continue using paper towels in excess, so I bought a 10-pack of microfiber towels instead. So far, the issue I have with them is that they can't be put in a dryer with dryer sheets. We have a dryer bar stuck to the inside of our dryer, and one of my self-imposed "rules" in this whole project is that I won't throw something out just to purchase a better replacement. I already spent the money on it. I think I can take the bar out and just dry those towels by themselves, but why not just air dry? That is on my agenda for today.

Speaking of laundry, I am almost out of our laundry detergent. We use ALL free & clear, so it's not that harsh to begin with, but I wanted to try something even better. While I have never used a powder detergent, I went ahead and ordered this from Amazon. I'm oddly looking forward to doing next week's laundry. (But only a little bit...N reads this blog and we don't want him getting the wrong idea now.)

I am also out of Ziploc sandwich bags, and while I try to use reusable Rubbermaid containers for a lot of things anyway, I definitely still use way too many Ziploc. I've been browsing and trying to decide on which reusable Ziploc-type bags I want to purchase. I'll update you when I make my final decision!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Seventh Generation's bathroom cleaner and all-purpose cleaner. I didn't even know my grocery store sold them until I was on a specific mission to find them. They are on the side of the aisle opposite from the standard cleaners, and I just never looked over there before. I've been really pleased with the efficacy of both, and the bathroom smells like herbs after a good scrub as opposed to chemicals. You really can't beat it! And I feel better about putting those 2 cute hineys in that bathtub when I know it's not still covered in chemicals that didn't rinse off well enough.

In the future, I plan to try making my own cleaners, but for now, I really prefer these to the standard cleaners. They were about 30 cents more per bottle, which really isn't much.

Bag Garden

I am finished with school for the semester and I now feel like I can properly tend to my garden (and blog). Hooray! Since I'm brand new at the whole veggie garden thing, my timing was definitely horrendous, considering I had no seedlings going until two or three weeks ago. And even now, it's just tomatoes. 4 out of the 8 are looking good, though, so I obviously rock at growing stuff. I was planning on starting my cucumbers this past weekend, but since I scored a good deal on a dresser for my daughter on CraigsList, I spent the weekend sanding it down and getting a coat of paint on it. I like to think that by purchasing said dresser, I saved it from going in a landfill. Really, I just kept it from ending up in someone else's house, because that thing was beautiful and someone else would have snagged it if I wasn't a daily CL stalker.

So my "Easy Care Bag Garden" is all set up. It was touch and go for a while because of a mulch situation. Basically, we decided to mulch all around the bags with rubber mulch to be "eco-friendly." I mean, it says on the bags that it's eco-friendly, so it must be the smartest solution, amirite? It turns out that even though it saves tires from going into the landfill, you're now using TIRES to surround the vegetables you and your children are going to eat. TIRES! I'm not trying to eat the chemicals used to make tires. So my poor husband spent just as much time picking it all up as he did putting it all down. I must say, it looked gorgeous, but now it's just all in bags next to our shed. It was already purchased and it wasn't cheap, so we are thinking that the compromise will be to just use it as a decorative "patio" type area with some Adirondack chairs and planters. That way, there's nothing growing there that can be contaminated. We couldn't decide what to do instead around the garden bags, so I decided that instead of rushing into a decision, I'm going to just let it flow this summer and decide what I want to do for next year. We already plan on making raised garden beds for where each section of bags is. We'll decide if we want to surround the beds in grass or what.

I made my trellis for the peas, put in some stakes for the peppers, and the cages are all ready for my tomato seedlings if time would just fast forward. (Time, please don't really fast forward.) O planted all of the peas because she loves eating them and wanted to be a part of it.

To the left of the garden is a black garbage can. That's our current compost bin. We got the idea here and spent about $20 to get it done. So far, it's working great for us, but we definitely need at least one more, especially since our CSA delivery starts next week and we'll have even more produce scraps.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Garden in a Bag

While in Vermont a few weeks ago, I visited a book store that I just love, and I picked up a few books to help with my gardening endeavors. One of them was a total game changer for me. I thought we had our garden all planned out and we just needed the lumber to build the raised beds when we got home from vacation. (Not to mention the compost pile, seeds, seedlings, SOIL!) The book is Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant and she refers to the "easy-care bag garden." In it, she explains how to start your garden by just growing your herbs and vegetables in the bag the soil came in. What? Yep. I was blown away, made my shopping list, and N and I headed to the store for 12 bags of organic soil. This weekend, we plant seeds! It's May, but we still have time. And I promise there will be pictures of small children with small garden tools.