The Green Book of Household Hints: Keeping an Efficient and Ecologically Sound Home

The Green Book of Household Hints: Keeping an Efficient and Ecologically Sound Home

by Marjorie Harris

Paperback

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781552096000
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 09/01/2001
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Marjorie Harris is editor-in-chief of Gardening Life magazine. She has written 12 books about gardening, including Ecological Gardening. Her most recent release is Seasons of My Garden. Harris is currently at work on Here Before Us: Native Plants of North America.


Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from the Preface

I became an environmentalist when I first read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the early 1960s. As a neophyte journalist and a mother with young children, it became important not only to write about the environment, but to try and live an ecologically correct life. I did stories about our ventures into eating health foods, what was happening to our city's water supply and the effect of pollution on our community. Eventually my editor said, "Do you have to write these depressing stories? Stop." Occasionally the magazine I worked for pronounced the death of a Great Lake or reported that birds were dying mysteriously, but the populace didn't seem to want to take up arms in outrage, only the usual lunatic fringe.

I counted myself among that lunatic fringe. We didn't drink tap water, my kids didn't eat stuff advertised on television, we bought groceries from the health food store and more recently from a food co-op. We lived very much as my parents lived during the Depression and the Second World War. We all survived it quite nicely. We learned to reuse, recycle and reduce the amount of waste we produced-much like the battle cry of contemporary environmentalists.

Today it's still only relatively easy to run an ecologically correct house. Most municipalities have a toxic waste program — they'll pick up your toxic wastes and get rid of them as safely as possible. (If you don't have one in your town, lobby to get one started.) There are dozens, soon to be hundreds, of so-called "Green" products on the market, which means you will have to be even more vigilant than before about reading the list of contents. One of the great ironies, for instance, is the environmentally friendly can of hair spray. It's still almost indestructible garbage even if it doesn't contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which destroy the ozone layer.

Some people find it hard to get along without plastic bags. I still have one or two around the house to carry things in. Our garbage output is so small that they aren't very useful as garbage bags. We compost, buy in bulk and avoid packaging as much as possible. And we reuse most things except junk mail (that goes back to the addressee with "Junk Mail" written on it). But, and there's always a but, there are times when a plastic bag or container comes in handy.

When a cleaning job is heavy-duty enough to require something as strong as household ammonia or even bleach, use the alternatives first: baking soda, salt, vinegar or borax. Borax is marvelous and is suited for endless jobs. I've pointed out which substances are dangerous. Use them with care: Wear rubber gloves when you are handling them and do so only in a well-ventilated space. And use them as little as possible.

Any references to detergent are to nonphosphate detergents; references to soap are to pure soaps in flake, powdered or liquid form. Any reference to vinegar, unless specified, is the cheapest white vinegar you can buy. Occasionally you'll find that paper towels are essential for a particular job. At least try to find recycled paper towels. Alum is mentioned in several hints. It isn't bad in itself, but sometimes the methods of extracting it are dangerous to the environment. In this case you have to weigh that against convenience.

You can help by avoiding chemicals. This book is an attempt to put together all the useful information available on how to run a house efficiently, economically and — what's most important — ecologically. Look for the green house in the margin. The information was gathered from friends, neighbors, books new and old, newspapers, magazines and experience.

To use the book, look up any topic alphabetically. If you can't find it, check the index and all the other subjects closely connected to the one you're interested in. For instance, if you want to look up food tips, look under specific categories such as Corn on the Cob or Olive Oil. If that fails, check out the index: anything to do with food or cooking tips will be listed under the general heading, Food.

Marjorie Harris

Preface

Excerpted from the Preface

I became an environmentalist when I first read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in the early 1960s. As a neophyte journalist and a mother with young children, it became important not only to write about the environment, but to try and live an ecologically correct life. I did stories about our ventures into eating health foods, what was happening to our city's water supply and the effect of pollution on our community. Eventually my editor said, "Do you have to write these depressing stories? Stop." Occasionally the magazine I worked for pronounced the death of a Great Lake or reported that birds were dying mysteriously, but the populace didn't seem to want to take up arms in outrage, only the usual lunatic fringe.

I counted myself among that lunatic fringe. We didn't drink tap water, my kids didn't eat stuff advertised on television, we bought groceries from the health food store and more recently from a food co-op. We lived very much as my parents lived during the Depression and the Second World War. We all survived it quite nicely. We learned to reuse, recycle and reduce the amount of waste we produced-much like the battle cry of contemporary environmentalists.

Today it's still only relatively easy to run an ecologically correct house. Most municipalities have a toxic waste program — they'll pick up your toxic wastes and get rid of them as safely as possible. (If you don't have one in your town, lobby to get one started.) There are dozens, soon to be hundreds, of so-called "Green" products on the market, which means you will have to be even more vigilant than before about reading the list of contents. One of the great ironies, for instance, is the environmentally friendly can of hair spray. It's still almost indestructible garbage even if it doesn't contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which destroy the ozone layer.

Some people find it hard to get along without plastic bags. I still have one or two around the house to carry things in. Our garbage output is so small that they aren't very useful as garbage bags. We compost, buy in bulk and avoid packaging as much as possible. And we reuse most things except junk mail (that goes back to the addressee with "Junk Mail" written on it). But, and there's always a but, there are times when a plastic bag or container comes in handy.

When a cleaning job is heavy-duty enough to require something as strong as household ammonia or even bleach, use the alternatives first: baking soda, salt, vinegar or borax. Borax is marvelous and is suited for endless jobs. I've pointed out which substances are dangerous. Use them with care: Wear rubber gloves when you are handling them and do so only in a well-ventilated space. And use them as little as possible.

Any references to detergent are to nonphosphate detergents; references to soap are to pure soaps in flake, powdered or liquid form. Any reference to vinegar, unless specified, is the cheapest white vinegar you can buy. Occasionally you'll find that paper towels are essential for a particular job. At least try to find recycled paper towels. Alum is mentioned in several hints. It isn't bad in itself, but sometimes the methods of extracting it are dangerous to the environment. In this case you have to weigh that against convenience.

You can help by avoiding chemicals. This book is an attempt to put together all the useful information available on how to run a house efficiently, economically and — what's most important — ecologically. Look for the green house in the margin. The information was gathered from friends, neighbors, books new and old, newspapers, magazines and experience.

To use the book, look up any topic alphabetically. If you can't find it, check the index and all the other subjects closely connected to the one you're interested in. For instance, if you want to look up food tips, look under specific categories such as Corn on the Cob or Olive Oil. If that fails, check out the index: anything to do with food or cooking tips will be listed under the general heading, Food.

Marjorie Harris


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