Green = Green: Norwex Cleaning

Shortly after returning from Minnesota, a lovely reader, Sarah, sent me a set of Norwex Enviro and Window cloths.  After hearing Sarah’s description, I knew Norwex was something I had to try.  After all, a product that can quickly clean, leaving a streak free shine using only a microfiber cloth and water sounds too good to pass up.

I opened the package the day I got home, and my mom (who drove back with me) saw them and started cleaning our appliances and glass.  Apparently she had a set and loved them.  Here’s a look at the cloths.  I appreciate that they’re labeled.

Getting mirrors and glass clean without leaving streaks and fuzzies has always eluded me.  So that’s where I started, with the main bathroom mirror.

I don’t know what caused that, but it wasn’t looking good.  After wetting the blue cloth, wiping the mirror, and polishing with the purple cloth, the mirror was clean, and lint free!

Okay, so the mirror is clean, but what about the water spotted chrome faucet?

Worked like a charm, with minimal scrubbing and no chemical cleaners.

That’s when I wandered around the house looking for things to clean.  Hmm, what about the streaked, finger printed dishwasher?

There’s an app rag for that.

I like it.  What’s not to like?  No cleaner, good.  No smell, good.  Clean appliances, goooood.

I bet Joey (and Monica!) would love Norwex, too.

Have you tried Norwex?  What’s your favorite green cleaner?

Green = Green: Valentine Flowers

Ahh Valentine’s day.  The day to buy and send flowers to a loved one.  Rather than cut flowers, why not send (or buy for yourself like I did) a potted plant?  Let me explain.  I’m not talking about a potted fern.  No, no, no.  Flowers are still better.  And, you’ll probably save some money in the process.

Take this mini rose bush I bought at the grocery store for five bucks.  It’s cute, and at least $20 cheaper than cut roses.

It will most likely live longer than cut flowers, too.  Even under my care, it should last longer.

But you know what I really liked about this little plant?  Come spring, I can dig a hole in our rose bed and pop it in to enjoy for years to come.

Thus adding more green to our environment and saving some dough.  And that makes for a very happy Valentine’s day.

You know what else makes Valentine’s day better?  Heart-shaped pancakes, hand-made Valentines, and two cute little boys.

What are your Valentine plans?  Going somewhere special?  Making dinner?  Do you exchange Valentine gifts?

Green Equals Green: Insulation

Before leaving for our Minnesota vacation we finished a somewhat kitchen related project.  I say somewhat because we finished everything in the kitchen which required attic access.  Support framing for the wall we tore down: done.  Wiring for new lights: done.

Ben is all about energy efficiency.  Since buying our house, we’ve installed new energy-efficient windows and doors, added two inches of foam insulation around the exterior of our house, yanked out our old furnace to upgrade to a geothermal heating and cooling system, and replaced our tank water heater for a point of use water heater.  For years now, Ben has wanted to better insulate the attic but held off until we finished everything in the kitchen.  So, the time had come.

We chose cellulose insulation because it is easy to use, cheap, and eco-friendly.  Cellulose is a fancy word for shredded recycled paper treated with fire-retardant chemicals.   Of course adding any insulation will help reduce heating and cooling bills, saving you money.  But did you know that cellulose is one of the greenest building products?  Here are a few facts I learned during our research:

  • Cellulose takes less energy to make than any other insulation.
  • Has the highest recycled content; up to 85%, reducing paper in landfills.
  • Is regionally produced, limiting trucking and shipping emissions.
  • Homes insulated with cellulose require 26% less energy.
And, as an added bonus, cellulose can slow a fire from spreading by 22 to 55 percent.  Here’s a video demonstrating the fire ratings between houses insulated with fiberglass, cellulose, and without insulation.  Skip about three minutes to see the experiment.
If you’re planning on adding insulation to your home, check out this insulation table to compare different types, R values, and how green each is.

I know, I know.  I sound like I work for a cellulose producer, but I swear we’re not being paid to say this.  In fact, we’ve paid $678 to insulate our entire attic.  When Ben came home with twenty-two 25 pound bags of insulation, I naïvely thought that would be enough.  Turns out, he had to buy 52 more eighteen pound bags to cover the attic with 15 to 18  inches.  It seems strange, but we added 1,486 pounds of insulation to our house.  That’s just paper!  Ben figures we already had an R value (resistance to heat flow) of 20 before insulating.  He added enough insulation to get an R value of 60, including the existing insulation.  Wondering how much you’d need for your home?  Here’s a handy calculator to help you out.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits, let’s discuss the process.  Home Depot offers a free hopper rental if you buy 10 or more bags of insulation.  Two people are required for this job.  One to pour the bags into the hopper and another in the attic spraying it in, moving everything around.  Obviously we tackled this project during the winter.  I think the timing was less than ideal because the hopper is outside with a hose attached to the hopper, keeping the door cracked letting in a lot of cold air.  Our upper level was freezing during the six or so hours it took to get the insulation done.  Luckily, we have a basement and a fire place, so the boys and I hung out down there watching movies.  And that’s why I don’t have any pictures of this.  I’m not about to go in the attic either.  But I would suggest trying this in the spring or fall.

Have you added insulation to your house?  Did you know cellulose had such a great fire rating?  Did I completely bore you with a word filled, picture-less post about shredded paper?

Green Equals Green: Fruit Trees

I know I’ve mentioned that Ben is a total freak about trees.  He has planted a total of 22 fruit trees in the 5 years we’ve been married.  Crazy, right?  Especially considering we have a 1/4 acre lot.

Seventeen fruit trees are alive right now.  So far, we have 5 apple, 8 cherry, 2 plum, and 2 pear trees, most of which have produced fruit.  Look!  A baby pear!

Actually, the apple trees have done the best, but that’s not surprising considering the climate.  Most of the apples are best for baking, but Ben makes a mean apple crisp.  Is it fall yet?

I am most excited about our cherry trees, though.

Obviously, planting trees is an earth friendly decision.  Yes, the trees require watering, but our soil is pretty sandy with a high water table, so we’ve never had water issues.

We get fruit, so we spend less money on fresh produce.  And, our fruit doesn’t have chemicals or pesticides.  A few days ago, we picked several cherry trees and man, were they delicious.  I can’t wait for more.

Recently, Stephanie, the creative mind behind the Living Room Floor shop, contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing a beauty product from the Good Fortune shop.

After checking out the site, I decided to give it a try.  Why?  Because Good Fortune uses only all natural ingredients to make soaps, lotions, candles, sprays and other beauty supplies.  And, I love their story and eco-conscious business practices.  The commitment to use natural ingredients and recycle packaging while maintaining quality is amazing.  “Good Fortune is an environmentally friendly company. We use recyclable and reusable paper, aluminum, and plastic in our packaging. Even the smallest steps to taking care of the environment make a big difference. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste generated, we also recycle shipping boxes and cushioning materials.”   How could I say no?  Three days after talking to Stephanie, I received a Kiss Me Kit and I couldn’t wait to try it.

I scrubbed my lips with the brown sugar scrub and licked it off.  I didn’t know if it would actually taste good, but, it was delicious.  Perhaps it’s the sugar.  The scrub was very moisturizing, but I followed it up with the chocolate peppermint lip balm, which was also quite tasty.  And moisturizing.

The only thing that could make this better is a giveaway, right?  Now it’s your turn to try a great, eco friendly product.

The Goods: One Kiss Me Kit, valued at $20.00

To Enter: Subscribe to follow Our Humble A{Bowe}d, if you’re not already.  To subscribe, click the “Sign Me Up!” button under “Be the first to know.”  Once you’ve subscribed, leave a comment, which can (but doesn’t have to) include our Just for Fun question.

Just for Fun: Which celeb would you most want to pucker up to?

For additional entries:

1.  Add Good Fortune Soaps on Facebook, come back and leave a comment telling us what your favorite item is.

Contest Closes: Wednesday, July 20th at 11:59 pm, central time.

Number of Winners: One!

Ships: Anywhere in the U.S.

Other Info: We will select the winner using and announce on Thursday, July 21st.  Good luck!!

Green Equals Green: Laundry

While we’re not completely eco-friendly, we’re taking small steps to save the earth and a little money along the way.  How about a little how to launder your money?  Not the illegal laundering, but saving some dough with your laundry.  We recently picked up an Energy Star rated, front loading washer and dryer.

Of course, the Energy Star rating means the appliances are energy-efficient, which saves us some moolah (both in our monthly bills, but we also scored them at a great price) and is a green appliance choice.

Don’t have the loot to drop on a new, more efficient set?   Try some or all of these ideas to further save money.  We use high-efficiency, low-sudsing detergent.  Because the washer uses so little water, we were able to cut down on the amount of soap we use with each load.  And the regular soap and the HE soap are around the same price at Costco.  For an eco-friendly and skin-healthy bonus, try a free and clear (no perfume or dye) detergent.

We try to make every load of laundry a full one, so we’re eliminating another round.  Of course, this is partly because I loathe laundry, though, not as much as I used to.  We also set the temperature to tap cold/cold, to eliminate the need to heat the water.  Because we wash nearly everything on cold, we don’t have to separate our clothes.  Just toss everything together and wash, again, partly due to laziness.

When we run out of our laundry soap, I think we’ll try using an even more earth-friendly detergent, like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyer’s lavender detergent.


Or, we could make our own soap like the folks at Yellow Brick Home.

Now that we have the new, larger dryer, our clothes dry in about half the time it took for our old dryer.  To help speed the drying process, I used dryer balls in our old unit.  Of course, with nice weather, line drying is the most eco-friendly option.  Though, birds always seem to crap on my stuff.  But, the smell of line-dried clothes is great.

What about you guys at home?  Do you have any green laundry ideas?  Have you made your own laundry soap?  Perhaps you swear by a specific brand?  Do you use the dryer balls?  I’ve seen commercials for Mr. Steamy.  Have you tried this?  We opted not to get the steam dryer, so this might be a good substitute.    I think I hate ironing more than I hate doing laundry.  Scratch that, I hate folding clothes more than I hate the washing process.  That’s easy now.  Everyone Anyone just hate doing laundry?