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Ditch the Chemicals and Clean Green!


Our homes can stay clean without the use of chemicals, or so says author Tara Rae Miner who recently wrote the book, Your Green Abode: A Practical Guide to a Sustainable Home.


Tara writes in Your Green Abode that the average person living in American uses close to 25 gallons of hazardous chemical products in his or her home -- the majority of those make up our everyday cleaning products. In fact, she notes that more than 32 million pounds of household cleaning products are poured down the drain in a single day right here in the United States.alt


That's a lot of chemicals and a lot of waste. Water treatment plants were not actually designed to handle all these chemicals, so dumping them down the drain and sewer can actually contaminate groundwater supplies. What are some of the chemicals you ought to dispose of (properly of course!)? How about chlorine, ammonia and all acid-based cleaners, such as those used in toilets and bathrooms. Other common household cleaners contain potent and toxic stuff like ethylene-based glycol and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether - both of which can harm lungs and pollute the air.


Fortunately, there are a lot of non-toxic, eco-friendly ways to clean messes in our homes. Your Green Adobe lists quite a few alternatives to the chemical based cleaners that dominate the grocery shelves and cupboards across America:


Distilled white vinegar: Easy to find and even easier to use. Distilled white vinegar deodorizes, sanitizes and gets rid of bacteria, mold and nasty germs. It can also be used as a fabric softener that will get rid of detergent residue and wash out the stinky stuff.


Baking soda: Make your bathroom and kitchen sparkle. Suck the stink out of your fridge or those dirty clothes in the wash. The list of uses for baking soda is long; just check out Arm & Hammer's site for a (non-toxic) taste.


Liquid castile soap: Typically made with vegetable oil, castile soap is very mild and eco-safe. It dissolves well in water and it can puncture through the most stubborn body odors. Unlike most soaps, castile soap is free of petroleum, so you can feel good about that. And most are even organic!


Lemon: Want to polish that old wood furniture? Clean up that pan? Well, a lemon will do it. It's all natural, freshly scented and completely eco-friendly. It's even safe for humans to eat!


This is just the tip of a very big eco-friendly cleaning products laundry list. Your Green Adobe chronicles many more products that are safe for humans and Mother Nature. So read up and get to cleanin'!


How Composting and Recycling can Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Here's something that might come as a surprise: diverting recyclable and compostable materials from the garbage waste cycle can reduce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). How much you ask? Well, composting and recycling programs in Oregon, Washington and California alone reduce GHC emissions equivalent to taking a whooping 6.3 million vehicles off of our roads for an entire year.


Shocking right? We thought so too. That's a lot of GHG! The information was found in a fascinating new report by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, an EPA-led partnership with an array of western government entities, called "Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Recycling and Composting".


The study points to four categories that have the greatest potential for reducing GHC emission if they are diverted from the waste stream and composted or recycled accordingly. The four categories are: carpet, core recyclables such as cans, paper and glass, dimensional lumber and food scraps.


Who knew composting and recycling would help reduce some of the very gases that contribute to climate change? The report, while focusing on only three western states, could have a broader impact on communities across the country. The bottom line is simple, the better established recycling and composting programs are, the less GHGs emitted. That's good news for the environment and for the climate that sustains it.


One other thing, it's also super good for the economy. The report indicates that in the three states mentioned previously, composting and recycling only half of the core recyclables and food waste yields about $1.6 billion in annual salaries, $818 million in additional goods and $309 million in sales across the West Coast. That's a lot of green cash for a greener, cleaner environment!


So how does it work you ask? Why would diverting these items from the waste cycle decrease GHG emissions? It's simple, actually. When items like food aren't placed in the landfill, the methane gases they produce are not released into the environment in the same manner. Composting such materials will allow these decomposed foods to be absorbed into nutrient rich soil instead.


The same goes for carpet, the most energy intensive of all the materials discussed in the report. Carpets are made from petroleum and natural gas and require a lot of energy to produce. While recycling carpets used to be technologically challenging, it is becoming much easier to do so and is having a positive impact on the environment in the meantime.

The largest reduction by any one source material can actually happen if communities and industry actively promote the recycling of carpet. And it's the same story for all source materials, be they glass, paper or plastic in makeup.


To learn a bit more about GHG emissions and it impact on our environment, check out this news piece on the EPA's greenhouse gas position:

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