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Additional Efforts




Natural Cleaning

Ecohouse residents are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint through their cleaning products and practices.  Many store-bought cleaners contain dangerous chemicals, are packaged in petroleum-based products and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions due to the extensive production, packaging and transportation process.  The information that follows contains a listing of natural cleaning supplies at the Ecohouse and the residents' favorite cleaning "recipes." 

Shopping/Gathering List:

Getting started can be overwhelming, so here's a quick list of items the residents try to keep stocked at the house...
1. White Vinegar 
2. Baking Soda
3. Lemons
4. Bucket
5. Funnel
6. Airtight glass jars (used tomato sauce jars work well)
7. Sprinkling container (like for parmesan cheese)
8. old t-shirts and towels cut into various sizes for different uses
9. Tea Tree Essential Oil*
10. Orange Essential Oil*
11. Cedarwood Essential Oil*
12. Nutmeg
13. Cinnamon
14. Spray bottle
15. Squeegee
*Essential Oils can be found at places such as spas and massage therapy centers. Ecohouse residents purchase theirs from the locally owned natural food store, Farmacy. Oils all have different properties (and scents) - so, research what they do before deciding which ones are best for your home (and your allergies).


Floor Cleaner:
· 1/2 cup white vinegar
· 1/4 cup baking soda
· 5-10 drops essential oil(s) of choice
· 1-2 gallons hot water
Mix ingredients well, stirring until dissolved.  Mop or scrub floors as usual.
Window Cleaner:
· 3/4 cup white vinegar
· 1 DROP Dawn liquid soap
· Fill remainder of bucket with hot water.
Wash windows with a soft reusable rag.  Squeegee clean.  (Best when done on a grey day). 

No squeegee?  No problem!  Used newspapers work great for this job.
Perspiration Soak:
Soak extra soiled clothing and bedding in this mixture with cold water for 30-60 minutes prior to a cold-water wash (Bonus suggestion: use baking soda rather than harsh detergents once you're done soaking).
· 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
· 1/2 cup white vinegar
· 7-10 drops tea tree essential oil (and, add a few drops of your favorite works great!)

Carpet Deodorizer:
· 1 cup baking soda
· 5 drops essential oil(s) of your choice.
Stir until no clumps remain.  Sprinkle over recently vacuumed  carpets/rugs and allow to sit for several hours.  Vacuum.  Sniff. Enjoy! 
Kitchen Sink Scrub:
· 1 cup baking soda
· 5 drops cedarwood essential oil (or oil of your choice).
· 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon nutmeg.
Mix ingredients well (make sure there are no clumps).  Place in a container with a sprinkle top (an old parmesan cheese container or toothpick container works well).  After washing dishes, sprinkle sink with this mixture, allow to sit for several minutes, wipe with a damp towel, rinse.  (Added bonus: Throw the used towel in with a load of laundry and you don't have to add baking soda to the load). 
All-Purpose Spray:
· 1/4 cup lemon juice
· 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
· 10 drops tea tree essential oil
· 5 drops sweet orange essential oil
· 2 cups hot water.
Mix ingredients well.  Use a funnel to place in a spray bottle.  Spray onto surfaces and wipe clean with a soft fabric towel. 
All Purpose Wipes:
Use the All-Purpose Spray recipe (or another natural cleaning recipe of your choice) to soak reusable cloths and store in an airtight container (clean tomato sauce jars work well).  Use wipes as needed and wash between uses.
Note: You can also soak larger towels (or, old tshirts) in this and store in a larger container to have on hand for floor scrubbing.

Cleaning Tip: When you're done using a smaller (non-floor) wipe, put it on a drying rack under sink.  Then, when you have recyclables that need to be rinsed prior to disposal, save water by wiping them down with the already-dirty towel.  Then, you can throw the towel in the laundry (or the top drawer of the dishwasher) and reuse for your next set of all purpose wipes.


"Recipes" were inspired by The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning


Work in the Kitchen

Many of life's sustainable living lessons occur in the kitchen. Residents proactively approach the following lessons:


Local Food Preparation: Residents frequently experiment with the preparation of local food items in the kitchen.  In fact, the house has been known to host a number of cooking workshops, potlucks and community meals; all of which feature locally produced foods.


Communal Space: The house features a welcoming and spacious kitchen and dining table that plays host to a number of community events and potlucks throughout the year.  Fostering a sense of community is an essential piece to the sustainability conversation.


Food Preservation: The Ecohouse kitchen serves as the location for occasional canning and food preservation workshops. Canning/preserving is a practice that allows us to continue to eat local, wholesome foods year-round while saving money.


 The Ecohouse hosted several canning workshops in FY13, including this tomato canning session with a Learning Community.


Waste Reduction

Reduce:  Source Reduction is the most important behavior in reducing landfilled waste.  Residents are asked to think critically about their purchasing power.  By analyzing whether or not a purchase is needed, we can easily reduce the amount of products we buy and, in turn, the packaging those items come in.


Reuse: In the case where a product is deemed necessary, reuse is a viable practice.  Residents are asked to get creative with their reuse efforts by donating unneeded items to thrift stores, using boxes from packaging for storage or class projects and much more.  It's important for us to creatively use the items in our lives in order to ensure the products are being used to their fullest ability.


Recycle: Once an item reaches the end of its life, it is important to responsibly dispose of the items.  Many households, including the Ecohouse, recycle plastics, paper, glass and aluminum.  Weekly road-side pick-up is offered to our residents for such recycling practices.  Additionally, residents compost organic wastes such as food scraps and landscape waste...


Composting is a process where organic matter decomposes at an accelerated rate. This is different from biodegrading because composting is accelerated due to a higher temperature and controlled environment.  This is an aerobic process that requires the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio for proper breakdown to occur.  Composting is temperature dependent and determines the speed at which the material breaks down.