Nosing out planet-friendly options when we shop, eat, clean, work and play not only helps preserve our planet for future generations, it makes our environment safer and healthier — for us, our pups and all the other creatures on the planet — right now. So, to inspire better choices, we offer ideas and reminders on greening up indoors and out.
From cleaning with natural substances to building with resource-smart materials, there are many ways to keep a greener, pet-safe home. Start small. Clean with traditional substances, such as beeswax polish, vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice — they’re effective and safe.
Vinegar, one of the oldest (and least expensive) cleaning substances available, is perfect for “green” cleaning. Among its many virtues, it can be used to:
• Clean toilets. Pour in vinegar, put down the lid, let stand overnight.
• Wash windows. Spray on, wipe dry with newspaper.
• Cut grease and “dog-spit” slipperiness. Rinse dishes and dog bowls in a vinegarand- water solution.
• Mop floors. Mix 1/2 cup to 1 gallon of water.
• Make copper and brass shine. Buff with warm vinegar and salt.
• Keep drains flowing. Pour 1 cup of baking soda and 3 tablespoons of vinegar into the drain, let sit for a while (overnight is best), flush with boiling water.
While white vinegar is recommended for cleaning, apple cider vinegar can be your dog’s friend. Use it to soothe hot spots and clean ears.
For more tips on vinegar’s many uses and other cleaning ideas, check out: frugalliving.about.com and earthclinic.com.
Baking soda is an awesome odor-eliminator for more than those strange smells in the fridge. Tackle canine-created aromas in your carpet by sprinkling baking soda on the surface, waiting 15 minutes (or longer for strong smells), then vacuuming. You can do the same with your dog’s bedding. (By the way, running only full loads of dog towels and bedding can save up to 3,400 gallons of water a year.)
Pet accident on a rug or carpet? Soak up as much as you can, wash the area with club soda and let dry. Then, sprinkle with baking soda, wait a bit and vacuum. (Test this technique on an outof- the-way spot to be sure it won’t discolor your carpet.)
Baking soda is also a fantastic dog-grooming helper. See details.
• Greaseproof linings on dogfood bags may be a significant dietary source of PFCs. Look for food that comes in bags with untreated aluminum foil liners.
• Don’t use pans with nonstick coatings. There’s still a lot of controversy about this, but old-fashioned cast iron is looking better and better.
• Don’t use pesticides or fungicides, or use them only sparingly and after all else has failed.
• And here’s the depressing finale: vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. While you’re at it, experts recommend dusting once a week with a damp cloth. Less dust equals lower exposure for all household members, no matter how you cut it.
When building or renovating, use resource-smart building materials, such as wood, bamboo, cork, linoleum, concrete, tile, terrazzo and stone; zero- to low-VOC paint finishes and adhesives; and nonaerosol products. They are safer for you and your dog (as well as for environment).
Also, look into incorporating reclaimed materials in your project. You’ll get lots of character and earn good landfill karma.
Even though it’s a popular flooring choice, PVC continues to be the subject of considerable controversy. Its production releases an extraordinarily toxic chemical — dioxin —and many, including the Healthy Building Network, consider PVC to be one of the “most environmentally hazardous consumer materials produced.”
Did you know that dust has a dirty little secret? Many environmental health and veterinary experts believe that chronic exposure to the synthetic industrial pollutants, such as PFCs and PBDEs used in flameretardants and stain-repellants that end up in house dust, may be at least partially responsible for skyrocketing cancer rates in dogs these days.