Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Green for Cheap

As a homeschooler, everything is a chance for learning, so a recent trip to the grocery store really presented itself as a lesson in marketing and being environmentally friendly for little or nothing, when my daughter suggested we buy a pretty bottled “green” cleaner for the toilet.

It drew her attention because of the pretty daisy on the clear bottle and the word “Green” with a picture of the earth. I just had to cringe at the blatant marketing scam, and shake my head as I watched three women pick up the bottle and stick it in their cart without even reading the bottle, all for the low, low price of $3.98 for a 500 mg spray bottle!

Green is the new marketing/advertisement buzz word these days, and it drives me nuts! If it says “green” on it, it must be good for the environment right?

I’m amazed that people will pay extra for something that claims to be environmentally friendly, not knowing if it really is, or even considering that there are much cheaper options available. Our society is far to conditioned to the use of convenience/time saving products that allow them to not have to put any thought into stuff because they are too busy. Meanwhile, these companies are laughing all the way to the bank with your green, just by claiming they are green and packaging it all in a pretty convenient spray bottle that lessens our “environment guilt” with each squeeze of the trigger.

The cleaning solution in question was made by a large company that makes other popular “non green” cleaners for every surface or appliance in your home, and this one’s claim to being green is that it was made with plant extracts and had no phosphates in it. On closer inspection on the back it did not even list it’s “natural plant extracts” ingredients, since they are only required to list the alcohol that was this cleaner’s base. It made me wonder if this product was simply green colored alcohol?

The pretty picture of a flower with water droplets on it’s peddles implied “fresh”, and the clear plastic bottle to show off the pretty green color of the cleaning liquid inside all call to me “buy me, I’m green”. I admit, the marketing department of this product did it’s job! Bravo! They make the consumer feel like they are doing good by buying this green product by making it appealing to look at. There was no denying it was actually green, so they cannot even be accused of false advertising. But heck, you can make your cleaning solutions green by soaking some fresh plant leaves from your back yard in the bottle of alcohol, or vinegar to clean the house if it makes you feel like your being “green”.

“Going green” does not need to be expensive with these gimmicky "Green" bottled cleaners that many people end up buying because they are so used to the years of brainwash marketing campaigns for things like Mr. Clean and Lysol., and air freshners that are laden with chemicals. Does anyone know what a natural house smells like anymore?

Being green means getting back to the way my grandmother’s generation did stuff before the fifties, when recycled newspaper and vinegar was used on windows rather than Windex and paper towel.

An old rag, a discarded tooth brush, baking soda and vinegar and elbow grease work just as well, or better. They are much cheaper, healthier for your family, and have much less packaging to recycle. All of which give piece of mind that you know what your actually using in your home. Some people complain that it takes longer and they don’t want to use “elbow grease” because they don’t have the time. But these products on TV they show wiping way the caked on dried spaghetti splatter on the stove takes “elbow grease” anyway! They don’t wipe it way as easy as they show in the commercials. A sponge with hot water and baking soda left on the dry spaghetti sauce splatter for two minutes while you do something else will wipe away just as easily with minimal “elbow grease”, as it would if you used a spray bottle of name brand kitchen cleaner. You still have to leave it to soak in, and scrub hard to get off anyway. Don’t be head faked by these company’s marketing ploys.

For the last seven years I have cleaned the house with only vinegar, baking soda, rags, cloth mops, elbow grease and a small amount of beach or alcohol for disinfectant when need be, which I limit due to my husband's severe chemical sensitivities from his illness.

I don’t buy paper towels, or disposable duster gloves or flushable toilet bowl wipes, or special cleaning solutions for floors that spray out of a mop and throw away wet mop rags that are marketed to women these days.

Are they convenient? I guess so, but the time it take one to throw that in the garbage, creating more waste for a land fill, is the same amount of time it takes me to dump my mop water down the laundry sink, and throw my rag or reusable rag mop top in the washing machine for the next load, that I can use again and again until I wear it out a year down the road.

Being environmentally friendly doesn’t need to cost you anything, and in fact it can save you money.

A box of no name baking soda at your local large chain “no frills” grocery store costs .99 cents, a large bottle of vinegar costs about $4.00, a bottle of lemon juice costs about $1.29, and bleach costs about $1.99. Rags can be made from kids old flannel pajamas, or cloth diapers for free.

We don’t need five different bottled products to clean the different areas of the house. The marketing of “bathroom” and “kitchen” cleaners has been ripping off consumers for years, and now they are making the same specialized cleaners in their “green” lines. They all do the same thing! Shop wise!

When I use dryer sheets in the winter when I’m not hanging my clothes on the line outside to save energy, I cut a box of 100 sheets into thirds, making 300 sheets. They work just fine to keep the static cling away cut in three, and last three times as long. The added benefit is I don’t go around smelling like the perfume scented fabric sheets. Liquid fabric softener, if you use them, can be diluted by ¾ softener to ¼ water, to make your bottle last longer It still works as well to soften the clothes and keep away the static.

Often I use a .99 cent lemon laundry soap bar that I grate up and soak in a dish of warm water to make it more gel/liquid state before I add it to the laundry load, because I do not have time to rub dirty areas of each garment with a bar of soap. In a pinch when I’m out of laundry soap this is a good cheap backup option to wash the laundry.

When I do use a bottle of laundry soap, which I only buy when it is on sale, I use half the recommended amount for a load. You never need as much as the bottle or box recommends. The company just wants you to buy more of their product sooner, to keep them in business. Sure, they are going to recommend more than is required to actually get your clothes clean. It’s good business for them. I can make a bottle marketed for thirty two loads last over 60 loads! Of course, if your clothes are really dirty from rolling in the mud and catching frogs in the swamp, which is known to happen around here, it won’t last as long, but it still can be stretched way beyond the suggested amounts.

Being environmentally friendly doesn’t need to be an expensive choice in life. Make your choices wisely. Don’t be fooled by gimmick marketing and pretty packaging.

1 comment:

Julia, Gord, & Kids said...

I started cutting the top off the laundry bottle (we use liquid) when it was empty. There's at least one more load's worth of detergent that just won't pour out! With the amount of laundry 3 kids generate, that can really add up.