Thoughtful household cleaning from Ecover

ecover wipes
Biodegradable household wipes from Ecover

It’s great when manufacturers put real care into cleaning products.

I’ve been reading about Ecover products. What first caught my eye were their washing up liquids, powerful against grease as you’d expect, but adding whey milk to the ingredients for sensitive hands is a touch of genius.

Then there’s the multi-action wipes, which are handy for cleaning all sorts of surfaces with just an antibacterial wipe, but it’s even more clever that the same plant and mineral ingredients that make the tissues mean that you can throw them on the compost pile when you’re done.

Ecover specialise in ecologically sound products with 30 years of care that covers thinking about everything from sensitive skin to the spin off effects of chemicals on aquatic life. They’ve actually got a huge range of household cleaning products which are both economical and eco-friendly.

There are unique products like the only ecological laundry gel on the market or oven cleaners which won’t gas you out when you use them.

Even the fragrances are powered by nature, which is how it should be when you think about it. Tough on dirt while kind to your family and the planet… that’s the Ecover mindset.

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5 ways to greener baby care

If you’re a mum or dad, you will want to do everything possible to look after your baby’s health. Personal choices that are good for your child and for the planet is an investment in their future.

Look after their world
Look after their world

Self-educate
“No parent can do everything, but every parent can do something” says Christopher Gavigan of Healthy Child Healthy World. The most important thing is to cultuivate an awareness of “the products we use in our home, the foods we buy, the toys our children play with, all can affect the health of our family.”

Green clean
As you furnish your home for your baby think beyond covering electric sockets and safety gates. Switch to non-toxic, environmentally friendly household cleaners. Remember your garden too and use natural pest control.

Shop organic
Start to buy organic foods. It’s easy to do this at baby stage with products like Babynat or Ella’s Kitchen, but getting used to cooking with organic food will put you in practice for the years to come.

You can also limit exposure by thinking about organic toiletries and choosing naturally dyed organic fabrics for clothing and furniture. Toys and books can be made from untreated wood, paper, organic fabric or metal, materials that are non-toxic and safe for a baby to chew on.

More natural less plastic
Many baby bottles, rattles, and bath toys are made from plastic. Whenever possible opt for glass, nonleaded ceramic, wooden or stainless steel alternatives. The most eco- and baby-friendly are bioplastics, which are made from corn and other substances. Check the labelling.

The bottom line
The typical child goes through 8,000 nappies before they are toilet trained. That’s a lot of landfill – where they will remain for the next 200 to 500 years before they decompose. You could choose other nappies: disposable nappies that are chlorine and perfume-free, or dual-layer “hybrid” nappies with a washable, reusable outer layer, and a biodegradable inner.

You can’t do everything, but you can do something” – a few steps toward a greener environment can have a positive impact on your baby’s health and will limit your impact on the planet your children and their children will inherit.

Faith In Nature comes clean

Did you know that Faith in Nature, makers of vegan soaps and gels and so much more, also made household cleaning materials?

Clean your home with a clean conscience
Clean your home with a clean conscience

Neither did we.

That’s because, until recently, their cleaning products were sold under the name of Clear Spring.

The newly branded anti-bac sprays offer effective cleaning, but with minimal damage to the environment. That’s because they’re made of raw materials that are both biodegradable and sustainable – no unnecessary fillers or extra ingredients are included. (Even the bottles are made to be easily recyclable.)

New products, new name, but the same old Faith in Nature values.

See if this bathroom cleaner or multi-surface cleaner can help you put your house in order.

Competition – win this unique eco-friendly prize

Do you want to win a snazzy little washing up kit?

Michael’s Original make this neat little eco-gift bag full of natural cleaning tools. Win this and suddenly your kitchen sink will become a talking point!

The real point is that if every house in the UK used the biodegradable cleaning products in this nifty bag we would save the equivalent of 150 double-decker buses of landfill a year. That is something to talk about.

Enjoy a gift, save landfill
Enjoy a gift, save landfill

The Filipino style washing-up brush, tray scraper, sponge and scouring pad are all made to last 12 months and are made of plant raw materials and sustainably sourced. The hemp straw bag is really cool and looks fantastic.

But enough talk. If you’d like to win the kit then you can enter the prize draw by sending me an email (competition closes Thursday 21/10/10).

In the Kitchen…

The kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the best places you can start to make a difference.

Cooking

  • Always use lids on pots and pans – this reduces heat loss and energy consumption. It also reduces condensation.
  • If you have a freezer buy good local food in season and either freeze it or make healthy dishes to keep for the future – much nicer than filling the freezer with prepackaged junk food.

    Saving Energy & Resources

  • Save energy the Italian way! When you cook pasta, bring to the boil and continue simmering for two minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover and leave to cook until the pasta is as you like it – you’ll need to experiment with the timing on this. It works for vegetables too.
  • Don’t spark up the oven to warm plates – if you leave pasta or vegetables with the heat off you can warm plates over the pan – swap the plates for the pan lid – but be careful the plates are not too cold or you might crack one. If you use an ovenproof dish you can use the same trick to keep food warm on top of a pan.
  • Turn down the heat as soon as anything boils – a gentle boil and a seething cauldron actually run at the same temperature, a gentle boil uses much less energy.
  • To use the minimum amount of energy the bottom of your pan or pot should be the same size as the burner or hotplate.
  • Surprisingly – it’s more efficient to use a small gas burner on a higher setting than a larger gas burner on a lower setting.
  • A gas burner on a cooker should burn with a blue flame. If it’s yellow it’s wasting gas – try cleaning the burner components to restore a blue flame – check the manufacturer’s instructions for this. If that doesn’t work the burner should be professionally adjusted.
  • Save cash with each cuppa. Just boil the amount of water you need for one cup of tea, rather than a full kettle every time.
  • Electric kettles consume half the energy needed to boil water on the stove, so when you put on a pan for pasta or something, boil the water in the kettle first.
  • Resist the urge to open the oven door to peek. Each opening can lower the oven temperature by 25º. Preheat only as much as needed, and avoid placing foil on racks – your food won’t cook as quickly.
  • A steamer is the most efficient and cost effective way of preparing most vegetables, pasta and even some meats – and it’s the most healthy too.
  • Cooking foods from frozen uses more energy – take them out of the freezer early to defrost at room temperature.
  • Did you know your refrigerator uses more energy than any other appliance in your home, typically accounting for 20% of your electric bill.
  • New refrigerators and freezers are on average 75% more efficient than those made 30 yeras ago. Investing in a state-of-the-art refrigerator can cut hundreds of pounds from your electric bill during its lifetime.
  • For optimum efficiency your fridge should be kept at 38/42ºF (3/5ºC), the freezer at 0/5ºF (minus 17/15ºC).
  • Try to open the fridge door less frequently and don’t leave the fridge or freezer door open longer than you need to – it takes three or four minutes to regain its temperature, wasting valuable energy.
  • For efficient operation, clean the condenser coils on the back or bottom of your fridge at least once a year (the condenser coils are the bits that look like small radiators) – they get very dusty.
  • Keep the fridge door gasket clean to make sure the seal isn’t broken by dried food.

    Dealing with Waste

  • Try using newspapers to clean windows before they go in the recycling bin (the the newspapers that is!) – they give glas a brilliant streak free shine.
  • Consider home composting your kitchen waste – as well as fruit and vegetable peelings you can compost egg cartons, coffee grounds and teabags too. Up to two-thirds of food each household throws away could be composted.
  • Avoid using aluminium foil wherever possible – every year we use 25,600 tons of foil in the UK but only 2,940 tons is recycled – that’s just 12%
  • On the very odd occasion you find half a bottle of wine leftover in the morning, tip it into an ice cube tray and pop in the freezer. Add a cube or two to pasta sauce, gravy, soup or even to chill a summer glass of wine!
  • If you can, re-fill your cleaning products instead of throwing the old bottles away. This saves you money as well as plastic resources – Ecover bottles are designed to be re-filled at least 30 times.

    Getting it Clean

  • When you wash dishes by hand, remember to turn off your tap in-between rinsing.
  • Place a small seashell in your kettle to avoid limescale build-up.
  • Remove strong odours from your fridge by placing half a lemon in there and leaving overnight.
  • Greasy microwave? Shift the grime by placing a couple of slices of lemon in a bowl of cold water and switching on the power for a couple of minutes.
  • Clean your kitchen bin with a solution of water and a teaspoon of Ecover’s chlorine free Laundry Bleach. Swill, leave for a while and rinse for a gleaming finish.
  • To loosen the junk in a really dirty roasting tray or frying pan add a dash of Washing-Up Liquid and half an inch of water – Really important – make sure the pan is cold first, otherwise the oil will spit. Put on the hob, bring to a gentle simmer then rinse normally.
    Bubbles have nothing to do with cleaning power, they just look good. Many manufacturers add foaming ingredients even though this makes the products less biodegradable. Try Ecover Washing-Up Liquid, you’ll see that it works perfectly well without making masses of unnecessary bubbles.
  • For really stubborn, greasy pans & trays, scrub lightly with Ecover Cream Cleaner, leave overnight and wash normally.
  • Don’t think you need a different cleaner for each task. A good Multi Surface Cleaner (like Ecover’s)can be used for all washable surfaces including floors, tiles and painted woodwork.
  • Don’t rinse dishes before you put them in a dishwasher – that’s what the machine is designed to do – just scrape all the excess food off the dishes and let the machine do the rest.
  • Rather than letting stained flower vases soak in bleach, put your potato peelings into the vase and fill with water. Leave overnight for a sparkling vase.
  • Use old garments and sheets for your household cleaning rather than buying synthetic ones.
  • Ecover © Healthy Homes

    Energy saving light bulbs and mercury

    Low-energy light bulbs, as the name would suggest, are great for energy saving but it has recently been noticed that they contain small amounts of mercury which has people worried.

    Low-energy light bulbs, as the name would suggest, are great for energy saving but it has recently been noticed that they contain small amounts of mercury which has people worried.

    Mercury is a toxic metal traditionally used in thermometers. Up to 5 milligrams can be found in energy saving bulbs compared to the 3 grams you would find in the thermometer.

    “No amount of mercury is good for you, but the very small amount contained in a single modern CFL is unlikely to cause any harm, even if the lamp should be broken,’ says the UK Department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra).”

    Mercury is present in every compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL), and always has been – strip lighting typically found in kitchens and garages are prime examples, but on the plus side, the amounts of the liquid metal they do contain are now a fraction of the 100 milligrams that could be found in first generation bulbs.

    Louise Molloy from the environmental group Greenpeace said that “Rather than being worried about the mercury these light bulbs contain, the general public should be reassured that using them will actually reduce the amount of mercury overall in our atmosphere.”

    “More mercury is emitted by fossil-fuel fired power plants when producing electricity for the incandescent lights, than for the energy-saving CFLs.”

    What does need to be addressed however is the lack of information on energy-saving packaging about how to safely dispose of these trace elements of mercury. The lighting industry and the government say the risk of mercury pollution posed by low-energy bulbs is minimal, but:

    “Official advice from the Department of the Environment states that if a low-energy bulb is smashed, the room needs to be vacated for at least 15 minutes.

    A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up the debris, and care should be taken not to inhale the dust.

    Instead, rubber gloves should be used, and the broken bulb put into a sealed plastic bag – which should be taken to the local council for disposal.”

    When a bulb blows in the house, are we expected to walk to the local town hall and give it to the receptionist?

    Kevin Verdun of the Lighting Association said:

    “warnings on how to safely dispose of smashed bulbs “might” be put on packaging in future, if the government and the public demanded it.”

    Sources:

    Justin Fleming

    The Natural World of CottonSoft

    The CottonSoft 100% natural cotton bathroom and facial tissue heralds a revolutionary development in personal bodycare. Not only does CottonSoft bring the unique properties of natural cotton to care of the skin, it is also manufactured with a special concern for preserving the environment.

    CottonSoft is kind to your skin

    Cotton is known to be soft and gentle next to the skin, and whereas most other tissues are made from processed wood fibre, CottonSoft is produced from pure natural cotton, which is less abrasive than wood fibre and, therefore, smoother on the skin.

    CottonSoft is also healthier for your skin, because cotton fibres absorb fluids and bacteria at a higher rate than wood fibre, so CottonSoft will absorb germs faster than wood-based tissues.

    CottonSoft tissue is free of all chemical pesticides, fertilisers and bleach and is safe for use on sensitive skin and for removing make-up.

    CottonSoft is kind to your world

    The Environmental issue

    Every day, thousands of square miles of the world’s forests, perhaps the most important resource needed to maintain global ecological balance, are destroyed in order to fulfil the ever-increasing demand for paper.

    In addition, intense chemical processing and huge consumption of energy is needed to turn the raw wood into the pulp necessary to make a ‘soft’ tissue.

    Recycled paper is not the answer

    Recycling paper may go some way towards helping the environment, but most recycled paper still contains significant amounts of wood fibre, and it takes extra chemicals and energy to remove all traces of inks, dyes and other contamination from the raw material before it is suitable to be made into paper.

    By contrast, CottonSoft is made only from 100% pure cotton linters , which are the short fibres of cotton discarded as waste during the manufacture of fabrics or cotton seed oil. These are then recycled to produce paper. CottonSoft contains no wood fibre.

    Cotton is an annually renewable crop, which is harvested without damage to the environment. It does not have to be ‘softened up’ before turning into tissue, so it can be put straight into the manufacturing process without prior chemical treatment.

    The cotton used to make CottonSoft has not been genetically modified and is free of chemical pesticides, insecticides and fertilisers, and the tissue is bleach-free.

    Frequently asked questions

    Q: Is CottonSoft the only cotton tissue on the market?
    A: Yes. All other tissues are wood-based and contain no cotton. Some tissues may have names which suggest cotton, but these products are not made from cotton.

    Q: How does CottonSoft benefit the environment?
    A: CottonSoft is the only tissue product that is totally wood-free. It is made from pure cotton, which has not been genetically modified and has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. It is harvested without damage to the environment and, unlike wood, requires very little processing to turn it into soft paper tissue.

    Q: Is CottonSoft safe for use on sensitive skin?
    A: Cotton is known to be soft and gentle next to the skin and tests have shown that cotton tissue is less abrasive than wood-based products. Also, CottonSoft tissues contain no bleach or other residual chemicals.

    Q: Is CottonSoft more absorbent than wood-based tissue?
    A: The natural fibre structure of cotton is more absorbent than wood fibre. Fluid absorbency tests on cotton tissue have shown up to ten times faster performance than wood-based products.

    Q: Can CottonSoft facial tissue be used for removing make-up?
    A: Yes. It is as safe and gentle on the skin as using cotton wool or cosmetic pads.

    Q: Is it safe to use CottonSoft to clean spectacle lenses?
    A: Yes. It is just like using a cotton cloth and will not scratch lenses.

    Q: Does CottonSoft go through a bleaching process?
    A: The raw cotton linters go through an early bleaching process using hydrogen peroxide. This is not to whiten the material, but to destroy bacteria. Once the process is complete, all traces are then washed away. No dioxins are created in this bleaching process and, as the raw material is already white, no further bleach is added to the paper to whiten it.

    Q: Is CottonSoft safe for septic tanks?
    A: CottonSoft is naturally biodegradable, so it is safe to use with septic tanks. It will not clog toilets or drains.

    Q: Does CottonSoft cost more than wood-based products?
    A: No it does not. CottonSoft is a premium 3 ply tissue which retails for no more than leading brands. It is available in 4 roll packs of bathroom tissue and boxes of 100 family sized facial tissues.

    CottonSoft