Inspiring DIY projects, beauty recipes and advice to green your daily routine.

For Your Laundry

Woolzies Dryer Balls: Review & Giveaway!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2013 in For Your Home | 27 comments

Woolzies Dryer Balls: Review & Giveaway!

The folks at Woolzies had perfect timing when they asked A Green Routine to review and give away their product. One weekend I was in a store looking at a box of a plastic dryer balls wondering if they worked and, even if they did, were they the most eco-friendly option? The product went back on the shelf. A few days later, we got an email from Woolzies asking us to test their eco-friendly wool dryer balls and give a set away to one lucky reader. We jumped at the chance and have been testing the product for two months. First, we’ll tell you about the product. Then, we’ll let you know how to enter to win a free box of Woolzies dryer balls! What are Woolzies Dryer Balls? They’re balls of 100% New Zealand wool that go in the dryer with your clothes. Woolizes are primarily marketed as an all-natural fabric softener, but they also cut down on drying time and reduce static. They’re hypoallergenic and even safe for people with wool sensitivities as they will not shed onto your laundry, according to the company. What Makes Woolzies Eco-Friendly? Chemicals used in conventional dryer sheets emit toxins into the air and onto your clothes which can then be absorbed through your skin. Woolzies are made of wool so they are chemical-free. A bunch of Woolzies bouncing around your dryer will also separate clothes, allowing air to flow more freely. This reduces drying time, which saves energy and money. The company says the product can reduce drying time up to 25%. Woolizes last for 1,000 loads before they need to be replaced. Do Woolzies Work? I’ve been using Woolzies instead of natural dryer sheets for about two months and, yes, they do work. My clothes dry faster (at least 15% faster according to my non-scientific calculations) and they come out of the dryer static-free. I’ll give Woolzies points for softness too. I never used a fabric softener but my sheets and towels have felt softer since I started using them. While we were given this set of Woolzies to test and review, we would never recommend a product we wouldn’t buy ourselves. So the big question is, would I buy Woolzies with money out of my own pocket? I can still get more than 900 loads of laundry out of my current set, but if I had to choose today to buy another set of the natural dryer sheets I was using or Woolzies, I would choose Woolzies. They perform three helpful tasks – reducing dry time, reducing static, softening fabric – in one product and the per load cost is the same as the product I had been using. Plus, Woolzies are completely handmade by women in Nepal who receive a steady source of income from making the product. It’s nice to know they’re employing people who can use the income instead of machines. Eli Feuer, the president of Soft By Nature, the company that makes Woolzies, informed me via email...

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It’s Sew Easy Being Green

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in For Your Home, Lifestyle | 0 comments

It’s Sew Easy Being Green

This weekend I was at my boyfriend’s house and noticed his sewing kit in the dining room. I had given it to him a year ago and he told me that he uses the it all the time. I believe it because I haven’t seen him wearing a shirt with missing buttons lately. I’m not the type to wear shirts with missing buttons and, unfortunately, I’ve been lazy about mending my clothes too. When I lose a button, stitching comes undone or a seam rips, I’ve been throwing those clothes in a box at the bottom of my closet and ignoring them. When I got home from my boyfriend’s house, ashamed by my procrastination, I decided to attack the box. So I sat down in front of the TV with my sewing supplies and within three hours I had mended everything from pajamas to dress pants, adding 10 tops and 2 bottoms back into my wardrobe. Mending your own clothes is a great way to reduce your consumption and your carbon footprint. In 2010, an independent project attempting to raise awareness about the “true cost” of a single, non-organic, foreign made cotton t-shirt compiled the data below. Water Use: 570 gallons (45% irrigation) Energy Use: 8kWh (machines), 11 to 20g fuel (land+sea) Travel: 5,500 to 9,400+ miles Emmisions: NOx, SO2, CO, CO2, N2O, volatile compounds Toxins: 1-3g pesticides, diesel exhaust, heavy metals (dyes) Import: 60 cents to $1.05 per shirt Child Labor: 17 countries, 50 cents/day Misc: 53-91g fertilizers If you’re in the position of my boyfriend where you have the skills to mend but don’t have the supplies, I highly recommend the Singer Mini Sew Essentials Kit because it has everything you need for basic repairs. If you feel like your home economics teacher failed to teach you these useful life skills, don’t worry, we have YouTube to pick up the slack and show you how to: sew a button, sew a torn seam and mend a tear. If you’re like me and just need a little kick in the pants to do the right thing,  here it is! Instead of going out and buying a new, blue button down shirt, sew the button back on the one you have to save water and energy and decrease pollution and child labor around the world. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in For Your Home, Green Clean | 37 comments

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax

I never thought I would make my own laundry detergent. After spending the last year making various cleaning and personal products, however, I became more comfortable with the idea. In researching this post, I read through a lot of homemade laundry detergent recipes and tried several. A recipe from My Healthy Green Family emerged as my favorite for three reasons. First, the ingredients are environmentally friendly. Most DIY laundry detergent recipes call for borax, which I’m not willing to wash down the drain twice a week, or soap like Fels-Naptha, which contains a titanium dioxide that can contaminate lakes and oceans and harm wildlife, according to Livestrong.com. Second, this recipe uses dry ingredients only. One mixture I tried used dry ingredients and liquids. That chunky detergent worked but had to be broken up before each use which took time I wasn’t willing to spend. Third, this recipe calls for one to two tablespoons of detergent per load. Other recipes I considered used 1/4 cup or more which could get expensive. An added bonus was that the ingredients were pretty easy to find. Most grocery and big box stores carry washing soda (near the laundry detergent), baking soda (in the baking aisle) and citric acid (near home canning supplies or vitamins). I used glycerin soap base which is often used for soap making and is very inexpensive, but other types of soap would likely work just as well. I also had dead sea salt on hand from making a scrub, so I used that as my course salt. Although all of the ingredients are dry, you do need to use a desiccant so the mixture doesn’t clump. I used silica gel packets that were packed into products I had recently bought, like sneakers. I’ve been using this laundry detergent for a few months now and it’s been working well. Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax 2014-12-19 20:19:57 Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 5 min Total Time 5 min Prep Time 5 min Total Time 5 min Ingredients 4 ounces glycerin soap 1 cup washing soda 1/2 cup citric acid 1/2 cup baking soda 1/4 cup course salt Instructions Mix the ingredients together and store in a sealed plastic or glass container. Use one to two tablespoons per load of laundry. A Green Routine http://agreenroutine.com/ Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Buy This Not That: Ecos vs Wisk Laundry Detergent

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Green Clean | 0 comments

Buy This Not That: Ecos vs Wisk Laundry Detergent

A few years ago I discovered Ecos laundry detergent and it quickly became my favorite brand because it works really well and all the scents I’ve tried have been very pleasant, though magnolia lily is definitely my favorite. If you don’t enjoy scented laundry detergent there is a fragrance free option as well. Additionally, Ecos laundry detergent is 100% plant-based, made in New Jersey, not tested on animals and it’s less expensive than many leading brands that aren’t eco-friendly. GoodGuide gives Ecos a 10 (out of 10) rating for health because the detergent does not contain any ingredients that raise a health concern. The parent company, Earth Friendly Products, gets a 8.5 rating for their environmental policies and practices and a 6.2 for their social policies, practices and performance. This places them in the top 5% of companies rated by  GoodGuide. Many other laundry detergents also have a 10 rating for health but their parent companies don’t rate well for their environmental or social policies and practices. For example, the company that makes Wisk laundry detergent, The Sun Productions Corporation, has a dismal 3.2 environmental rating and 3.8 society rating. Choosing Ecos laundry detergent is an easy way to support a company that’s trying to do the right thing for the environment. If you’re interested in making the switch you can check out a list of stores that sell Ecos here. Walmart is not on the list, but you can usually find it there, or if you prefer to shop online check out Alice.com.   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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The Borax Debate: Is It Safe? Is It Green?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2013 in For Beginners, Green Clean, Skin & Hair Care | 8 comments

The Borax Debate: Is It Safe? Is It Green?

From conversations we’ve had online and offline, Kim and I know many of you are wondering about borax and what role, if any, it should play in your green routine. If you search the web you will find people who believe borax is the perfectly safe, eco-friendly answer to a myriad of cleaning problems and you will find others who see it as a toxic and dangerous substance. As with most debates, the truth about borax probably lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, so let’s dig a little deeper. What is borax? Borax is a naturally occurring mineral. The soft borax crystals usually range from colorless to white. Borax also goes by the names sodium borate, sodium biborate, sodium tetraborate, natrum boricum, natrii boras and tétraborate de sodium. Boric acid is not the same thing as borax, though both contain the boron compound and are similar in appearance and toxicity. Where does borax come from? Borax is mined from the earth and then refined for use. The popular brand, 20 Mule Team, has been mining borax in Death Valley since the 19th century. On a recent trip to Death Valley I stopped at one of the old borax mines. Below you see a picture of the area and a wagon used to bring borax to the city and water to the workers. What is borax used for? Borax has many industrial and household uses but we’ll focus on the latter of the two. Since borax dissolves easily in water, bleaches, deodorizes and kills fungus it is commonly found in cleaning products and laundry detergents. You may also see it on the label of cosmetic products where it acts as a preservative and on teeth whitening strips where it acts as a bleaching agent. It may be used as an insecticide or pesticide as well. Is it safe for you? It is not safe to ingest borax according to the FDA which has banned it as a food additive. This raises concerns about its use in teeth whitening strips where it can easily be swallowed. It is not safe to inhale borax because it will irritate your lungs. This is important to note because many DIY cleaning and detergent products include borax but fail to mention that you should wear a mask when handling the powder and mixing your product. Borax is a strong base so it may irritate skin. If you have cuts, open wounds or sensitive skin you will want to wear gloves when you are handling the powder. According the Environmental Working Group borax is not a carcinogen but there is concern about exposure to the mineral  since it may damage reproductive organs. EPA studies on borax and boric acid show they may disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system, especially in men. This was determined through studies on mice, rats and dogs who ingested the substance and by studying men who worked in boric acid-producing factories. These studies did not assess the risk...

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When It Rains, Don’t Do The Laundry

Posted by on Dec 20, 2012 in For Your Home, Green Clean, Lifestyle | 2 comments

When It Rains, Don’t Do The Laundry

If you are already taking all the usual steps to conserve water you may be wondering what else you can do to decrease the environmental impact of your water usage. I was first introduced to the next logical step during a conversation I had with someone at the Allegheny County Green Innovation Festival in September: be conscious of when you use water. In many parts of the country, aging sewage systems paired with a growing population and urbanization is resulting in more sewage overflow because waste water treatment facilities can’t handle the demands put on them. These facilities are most stressed when it rains and when snow is melting because runoff is going into the storm drains. It’s during those times that it’s more likely overflow – including human and industrial waste, oil, pesticides and litter – will end up in your local water ways. When Mother Nature adds to the pressures on the sewage system, there are several steps you can take to help decrease human demands on the system. Start by not doing the laundry, running the dishwasher or taking a shower when it’s raining. Of course, these things must get done at some point, so a little planning can go a long way to help your best intentions get realized. For example, if you usually do laundry on Saturdays, but the forecast predicts rain all weekend try to wash one load with the things you need immediately and wait until Monday to do the rest. Or, even if it’s been raining for days, you still need to shower, so encourage yourself to keep it short with a shower coach. It may be inconvenient, but when everyone sacrifices a little it adds up. So share this article with your friends, family, neighbors and local businesses to immediately see a positive impact on your local environment. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Buy This Not That: Conventional vs Eco-Friendly Dryer Sheets

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in For Your Home, Green Clean | 0 comments

Buy This Not That: Conventional vs Eco-Friendly Dryer Sheets

One easy way to green your laundry routine is with eco-friendly dryer sheets. I never gave much thought to dryer sheets until, during a particularly bad allergic reaction, my doctor recommended giving them up because the artificial fragrances could further irritate my skin. I later learned that chemicals used in conventional dryer sheets have also been shown to emit toxins into the air. Of course, all of these unnatural fragrances and chemicals end up on your clothes and can be absorbed through your skin. After giving up conventional dryer sheets, I had a static problem. Luckily, a friend turned me on to Gaiam’s chemical-free dryer sheets. They perform as well as conventional dryer sheets and last 500 uses – that’s $0.03 per use. What have you done to green the laundry routine in your home? Nicole’s 2¢ I bought a dryer bar thinking I was eco-friendly because I wouldn’t be throwing away dryer sheets but they still contain toxic chemicals. These Gaiam’s chemical-free dryer sheets are definitely a better option. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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