Showing posts from April, 2013

Upcycled Crayons

When my son first discovered coloring, he was eager to color on anything that didn't move too fast. Now that he's nearly two, his favorite thing to do with the crayon box is throw them on the floor, excitedly saying "whoa!". He then picks up the crayons, puts them back in the box, and repeats the process. When he tires of throwing them all over and returns to coloring, the smashed crayons are too small to use. So I made new crayons from all the little pieces.

Time needed: 45 minutes (or more if you have a lot of crayons)
Yield: Depends on the number of crayons

silicone baking cups (or foil lined cupcake tins)cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (I reused an old piece)cutting boardknifeold crayons

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Gather all the crayon bits and remove the paper from the crayon. Score the paper for faster and easier removal.

Chop the crayons into small pieces.

Place heaping amounts of crayon bits into the baking cups, as they will settle during baking.


Homemade Laundry Detergent

With a family of four, and two little ones in cloth diapers, we go through a lot of laundry detergent. I typically use a 64-load bottle in one month. 

I was really disappointed to read my everyday detergent, Seventh Generation, received a score of D (for containing ingredients "with potential for acute aquatic toxicity; developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects/respiratory effects"), so I set out to make my own green, budget-friendly alternative. 

Dr. Bronner's soaps are a staple in my home, alongside baking soda. I use that for pretty much everything, so why not laundry detergent? This recipe works really well, even on ground in food and soiled diapers for normal loads of laundry, but doesn't cut it for heavily soiled clothes or dirty cloth diapers. For really tough stains, I apply Dr. Bronner's directly to the stain and toss it in the wash. I use my cloth diaper detergent.

Laundry Detergent:
To make one gallon of detergent (equals 64 loads), you'll need: 1 c…

Bathroom Analysis: From Shampoo to Mouthwash

This is a picture of all the personal cleansers currently in use in our bathroom. To analyze these products, I went to the Environmental Working Group's website, specifically their Cosmetics Database, to find answers. This database uses a numeric rating system from 0 (low concern) to 10 (high concern). When examining each product, it is important to note that each product receives an overall rating, and a rating on each chemical contained in the product.

From left to right, following the pictured items, here's what I found:

Seventh Generation Bubble Bath: Scored 2, with a high concern of skin/eye/lung irritation. My kids don't really go nuts over a bubble bath, and we use it infrequently enough that I'm not going to throw it in the trash. But I will probably replace it with a homemade or organic version when the bottle is empty.

Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash: Scored 3. I've read about making your own mouthwash, and I'm willing to give it a try once the bottles are…

Getting Started: Analysis of Household Cleaners

As my cleaning chemicals and soaps are depleted, I've been replacing them with green, homemade cleaners. There are a lot of nasty chemicals in cleaning products that I don't want to expose my family to. Making your own is not only simple and better for your family, but better for the environment, and easier on your wallet. 

I started my investigation with a simple approach: analyzing typical chemicals that I use in my own home. Like most people, I have a collection of cleaning items that I drag around the house with me when I clean. It contained the usual suspects: Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, Pledge, and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Seems pretty innocent, but I wondered: What kind of chemicals are in these products? To answer this question, I went to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) site, specifically their Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which analyzes chemicals found in typical household cleaners. The site uses a rating system from A-F (A being the best, and F being the wor…