I just spent a year of trying various eco-friendly dish soaps to wondering if eco-friendly soaps were any better for the environment than conventional soaps. After all this research and number crunching, I still haven’t figured out a way to please my pocketbook and the planet. With even the SDA claiming that there is no environmental advantage to using “eco-friendly” soaps, perhaps the best solution is to stick with a concentrated conventional liquid that will keep some plastic bottles out of the recycling bin.
But what if you want to use something more natural, less toxic, unscented, or just . . . less mainstream? Here are a few more alternatives to liquid dish soap:
Use bar soap. Life Less Plastic has a post about using Dr. Bronner’s bar soap instead of dish soap, thus avoiding plastic packaging.
What about Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap? I didn’t try it because it seemed to cost more than any other “eco-friendly” soap out there, even in large quantities. A gallon of it costs $39.99 on Amazon.com. That’s $.31 an ounce! So 25 ounces of it would cost $7.81-almost twice as much as other eco-friendly soaps. If it’s truly super-concentrated, perhaps it ends up being cheaper than other soaps on the market, but I have my doubts. After all, every brand I tried claimed to be super-concentrated.
Use baking soda and vinegar. My husband was aghast at my admission that I washed an entire sink full of dishes with baking soda. He said it just can’t be done. (Note: my husband is not a scientist, but he did take organic chemistry once.) Based on my reading, when baking soda mingles with grease, it has a saponifying effect–that is, it turns to soap and dissolves the grease.
It seemed to work. I put some baking soda in a bowl, added a bit of water to form a paste, and scrubbed my dishes with the paste. Then I rinsed all the dishes and put them in the rack to dry. They dried with a powdery glaze on them, so I then tossed them all in another basin of water with a little bit of soap.
Make your own dish soap. In the comments section of our Eileen’s Pet Peeves post, Eileen posted a recipe for dish soap she found from the book Homemade, published by Reader’s Digest.
Homemade Dish Soap Recipe
1/4 cup soap flakes
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/4 cup glycerin
1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
Make the soap flakes by grating a bar of ivory with a cheese grater. Pour soap flakes into hot water. Stir until dissolved. let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in glycerin and lemon oil. A loose gel will form as it cools. Use a fork to break up any congealed parts and put it in a squirt bottle.
Eileen goes on to explain that you used to be able to find soap flakes in the store, but now they’re hard to find, so you have to make your own with a natural bar of soap.
And here’s a whole slew of green cleaner recipes, including dish soap, on Oregonmetro.gov.
Have you found a way to avoid dish soap entirely, allowing you to stop contributing to the production and disposal of all those plastic bottles? Let us know!
Also, don’t forget to enter our wooden toy giveaway. Just a few days left!
Last year I bought a 32-ounce bottle of Biokleen dish soap for $4.79. It lured me in with its seductive lemon-thyme scent but disappointed me with its lackluster performance in the kitchen. Dishes came out greasy unless I used a LOT of the stuff, and I am not obsessive about dirt and grime. I squeezed the last drop out of that bottle in less than six weeks.
Six weeks for a bigger-than-average bottle? This is what prompted me to pick up the $1.50 25-ounce bottle of generic, conventional dishwashing liquid. It lasted from October to February–over 19 weeks! In that time period, I would have had to buy at least two more bottles of Biokleen–and toss them in the recycling bin when they were empty.
I soon became obsessed with finding an affordable eco-friendly dish soap that worked as well as conventional soap. Unfortunately, I never found any eco-friendly brand that could last nearly as long as the cheap generic stuff. I hesitate recommending spending more (sometimes up to ten times more) on eco-friendly soaps when they don’t work as well and require more plastic bottles to be produced and then recycled or thrown away. Plus, as I discussed last Friday, I’m now not even sure that eco-friendly dish soap is any better than conventional soap.
Here is a list of the soaps I tried. I’ve included the bottle size, the price at my stores, and how long they lasted for me. I cook a lot and don’t have a dishwasher, so I rely on dish soap for all of my dish-cleaning needs. Your results will vary depending on how many dishes you wash, how often you wash them, and how liberally you use the soap (obviously). I then calculated how much I’d have to spend a year with each particular brand. Lastly, I figured out how many bottles I’d toss out in a year’s time.
|Dish soap||Size of bottle||Cost per bottle||Cost
|How long it lasts||Cost per year||Bottles per year|
|Bulk||25 oz.||$3.10||$.124||7 weeks||$23.02||0|
|Generic||25 oz.||$1.50||$.06||19 weeks||$4.11||2.7|
|Planet||25 oz.||$2.99||$.119||11 weeks||$14.13||4.7|
|Trader Joe’s||25 oz.||$2.50||$.10||8 weeks||$16.25||6.5|
|Biokleen||32 oz.||$4.79||$.149||6 weeks||$41.51||8.7|
|Ultra Dishmate||25 oz.||$3.59||$.144||6 weeks||$31.11||8.7|
|7th Generation||25 oz.||$3.29||$.132||6 weeks||$28.51||8.7|
After all this experimenting, I never came up with the perfect solution to my dish soap dilemma. But here are three possible conclusions to my year-long dishwashing odyssey:
2. Use Planet. If you don’t have bulk dish soap available to you, the second best green bargain is Planet dishwashing liquid, which lasted over ten weeks–the most concentrated of all the eco-friendly soaps I tried. It still doesn’t last as long as conventional dishwashing liquid, so you’ll spend more and go through more plastic bottles than you would with the generic kind.
A few months ago I found sustainable laundry detergent that worked well and even cost less than regular brands. Why is it so hard to find dishwashing liquid that does the same? What are your experiences with eco-friendly soaps? Did I miss a great one in my review?
I never found the perfect dish soap that works for me, but I did come up with three options that might be better for the Earth without putting a huge dent in my budget. For more tips, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.
This Friday I’ll discuss some alternatives to liquid dish soap that will keep your dishes sparkling and the environment somewhat content.
Rebecca and I were delighted to discover Natural Pod, a website full of quality, eco-friendly toys. If we had endless baby budgets, we might find ourselves purchasing everything on their site—from the wooden oven to the fully waterproof suits for Oregon winters. The toys and gifts are truly beautiful and heirloom quality.
Roscoe tried out the plates and cups from Natural Pod and has been enthralled with them for weeks. He uses them to feed blocks to his stuffed squirrels and carefully carries then around the house with perfect balance. Besides training him to be a waiter one day, I find that the simplicity of the cups and plates makes them wonderful for creative play. He uses them as hats for his animals, builds block towers on the plates, and uses them to prepares several imaginary meals.
Rebecca’s daughter Audrey received the gnome family kit, which comes with colorful pieces of felt for the clothes, little wooden beads for the faces and hands, pipe cleaners for the bodies, and embroidery thread to pull it all together. Her mom has volunteered to assemble and sew the dolls, which should be done just in time to surprise Audrey for Christmas. The kit also comes with some gnome facts. Do you know why gnomes wear pointy hats? (To keep falling acorns from hurting their heads.)
Now for the best news of all: Natural Pod is sponsoring a giveaway for one of our lucky readers! By commenting below you’ll be entered to win a set of these natural stacking rings—a beautiful addition to your baby’s nursery or the perfect holiday gift. Be sure to comment before October 28th to win. Thanks for your interest in Natural Pod toys and good luck on the giveaway!
We’ve written a bit about breastfeeding and introducing cow’s milk, but what about infant formulas? If you chose to feed your baby formula, how did you pick the brand? Did you go with conventional formula or decide on an organic formula?
With so many organic products on store shelves, I was surprised to find very few organic formulas on the market:
Nature’s One Baby’s Only Organic Formula ($8.99 for 12.7 oz container–$.71/oz.) Note: This product claims to be a “toddler formula” and is not recommended for babies under twelve months old.
Earth’s Best Organic Formula ($14.95 for 13.2 oz container–$1.13/oz.)
Similac Organic Formula ($29.99 for 25.7 oz container–$1.17/oz.)
There’s no doubt organic formula costs more than conventional formula. A 12.9 oz. can of regular Similac costs $14.99 at Walgreens ($.86/oz.), and if you buy generic brands, it’s even cheaper. Is it worth it to pay more for formula that isn’t made with pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals? If you, our readers, have had any experience with these or other organic formulas, please post a comment and let us know what you think!
Mindful Momma lists some Good Green Reads for the Preschool Set. If you are looking for some picture books with environmental themes that will please your young children, check it out.
Nature Moms reviewed Wysi Wipes, “an alternative to pre-moistened towelettes, facial tissue or paper towels.” They come in tiny tablets, and you just add water to moisten them. They’re compostable and biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment than your standard throw-away tissues.
Eco Child’s Play found some Eco-friendly, Solar-powered Night Lights that both young and old kids will appreciate.
Not Quite Crunchy Parent offers tips for getting your kids to talk about their day. The comments section adds even more ideas that I’m tucking away for the future, once Audrey outgrows her “chattering toddler” phase.
Soft Landing, our favorite place to find the latest in safe plastics, reviews a silicone baby bottle–an interesting alternative to traditional plastic or glass bottles. They also have a helpful article to explain what silicone is.
Green Style Mom writes about her experiences with community gardening–something to look into next year for those of you who don’t have gardening space at home.
Don’t forget to check out our organic diaper cake giveaway here on the Green Baby Guide. This is a $40.00 value an expecting green mom would love!
Grow In Style, an “organic diaper cake company,” would like to offer one of our readers this Organic 3 Tier Fall Fantasy Diaper Cake, made of forty size 1 Nature BabyCare diapers–a $39.00 value! While we here at The Green Baby Guide love cloth, it’s nice to have a disposable diaper that’s greener than conventional brands. Nature BabyCare diapers don’t use chlorine bleach and are free from oil based plastic. Read a review of them on Baby Cheapskate.
Here’s some information Grow In Style gave us about Nature BabyCare diapers and their company:
About Nature BabyCare Disposable Diapers
Nature BabyCare Diapers are one of the two leading Eco Friendly Disposable Diaper Brands available to today’s market. They are soft, breathable, chlorine free, and made with natural based material for natural protection. There are absolutely no oil based plastics used in the making of the diapers, so no toxins come in touch with the delicate baby skin. Nature BabyCare went an extra step with the packaging which is based on 100% natural, renewable material providing an all around eco friendly product.
About Grow In Style
GrowInStyle.com takes pride in being one of the few companies that creates Eco Friendly Organic Diaper Cakes. We believe that natural and 100% organic baby products are the only kind that children should encounter. We carefully select the best baby products for the rapidly developing infant. Our Diaper Cakes include all 100% organic and natural products such as Organic Onesies, Organic stroller blankets and receiving blankets, natural and BPA free teethers, natural rubber pacifiers, organic toys and natural baby creams. GrowInStyle Diaper Cakes are constructed with the purest and safest ingredients available today.
Would you like to win this fall-themed diaper cake from Grow In Style? It would be the perfect gift to give an expecting mom at a green baby shower–or even at a conventional shower. Or hey, maybe you want this diaper cake all to yourself! Just post a comment with your opinion on “greener” disposables or your desire to win forty diapers fashioned into a cake, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner next Friday!
When I started potty training Audrey, I wasn’t planning on buying disposable Pull-ups or even cloth training pants. I just took her out of diapers and put her into underwear. This actually worked, for the most part. But then Audrey’s daycare provider said she was on board with potty training, but that Audrey would need to wear training pants. I guess she wasn’t up for my “just wear underwear” technique, which admittedly results in a puddle here and there.
So I looked around. Our big grocery store carried Gerber training pants, but they didn’t carry them in Audrey’s size–ever. I stopped by a drug store, which had disposable training pants, but no cloth ones. Then I popped into two children’s consignment stores and came out empty handed. Who knew cloth training pants were such a rare commodity?
Finally I remembered a Hannah Anderson gift certificate I’d had since Audrey’s birth. They have a store downtown, so I ventured out there and bought a set of three adorable little training pants for $28.50—cheaper than Imse Vimse training pants, which cost about $12 each. (By comparison, a jumbo pack of 88 Pull-ups costs over $30.00.)
The Hannah Anderson pants are made from 100% organic cotton and don’t have a plastic layer. In other words, they are not water proof, which is just what I wanted. A child in these training pants will feel wetness and won’t be tempted to treat them as a diaper. (At least this has been our experience.) They’re also absorbent enough to prevent those pesky puddles, so they definitely work for me.
Audrey is potty trained now, and I never needed to buy more training pants or a pack of Pull-ups. I can personally attest to the fact that a life without Pull-ups is possible! Although she didn’t need training pants for very long, she still wears them and thinks of them as regular underwear, so I consider it money well spent.
Are you stuck in a lunchbox rut but don’t think tempeh, bulgur, and sprouted mung beans are going to go over so well with the kids? If you’re familiar with the Vegan Lunch Box blog, you already know that vegan lunches can be creative, tasty, and even beautiful.
Just look at one of the entries from a recent Vegan Lunch Box contest:
(This makes me feel pretty bad about the crumpled sack lunch Audrey lugs to daycare.)
Jennifer McCann’s popular blog is also a book: Vegan Lunch Box: 130 Amazing, Animal-Free Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!
According to the publishers, Vegan Lunch Box includes . . .
Do you want to win a copy of this book to lull you out of the lunchtime doldrums? Just post a comment by Friday explaining how dire your lunch situation has become . . . and how this book will transform your packed lunches into objets d’art. (U.S. addresses only, please. Edited to add: I’ll choose a winner on Sunday!)
Packing nutritious, interesting, beautiful, vegetarian lunches works for me. (Uh . . . in theory at least. I am still working on the “interesting and beautiful” part.) For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.
Thanks to Da Capo Lifelong books for sponsoring this excellent giveaway!
My daughter fell in love with her Pedoodles Petal Jumpers the minute she pried them out of their eco-friendly box. These shoes are well-made and comfortable for young walkers. Flexible rubber soles protect delicate feet from the wet and pebbly ground. On top of all this, Pedoodles leave a small footprint (pun intended!) because they’re made from “premium leather remnants from furniture.” The soles are also made from recycled materials.
Joy’s son Roscoe, who sprints, jumps, and gallops through life, hasn’t managed to even scuff up these sturdy shoes yet. He enjoys wearing them and looks rather dapper in the Blue Bumper Cars design. We will always give you a truthful review here at The Green Baby Guide, and Joy and I both give these shoes our stamp of approval.
Not all of Pedoodles’ shoes are made from recycled materials, and at first I had trouble seeking out the eco-friendly designs on the website. Just look for the “eco-friendly” label on some of the shoes in the Next Steps Collection, which will fit children from eight months to about three years old (U.S. sizes 4-9.5). Pedoodles makes some adorable newborn shoes as well, but these aren’t made from salvaged materials.
Pedoodles are reasonably priced at around $35.00. I know several dedicated garage sale shoppers who draw the line at used shoes (and underwear!), so it’s good to know that there is the option of getting new shoes made from recycled materials. They would also make an excellent baby shower gift.
Post a comment by Tuesday and you will be entered to win a pair of these charming shoes. The winner can choose any of the eco-friendly designs in the Next Steps Collection.
I never thought I’d be singing the praises of a disposable plate company on the Green Baby Guide, but I am about to do so. Here’s how it happened: first, I wrote about Greening My Family Reunion. I noted that with over forty people in my extended family, we used as many real dishes as possible and supplemented with paper plates and cups, which racked me with eco-guilt. Next year, I vowed, we could reduce our impact by choosing recycled paper products. I then checked out the paper plate selection at my local grocery store and noticed that Chinet’s plates were made from “recycled materials.”
Chinet contacted the Green Baby Guide, sending along some interesting facts about their company. After reading about their plates, I couldn’t believe they didn’t advertise their eco-friendly practices more conspicuously. “Made from recycled materials” could mean anything–but it turns out that Chinet’s Classic White and Chinet Casual plates are made from 100% recycled materials and they’re biodegradable. They don’t contain chlorine bleach, so you can toss those used plates in your compost bin, where they will break down in about sixty days.
I’ve got to say that I used to be annoyed by Chinet’s television ads for the same reason I hated paper towel commercials. I am someone who has hosted parties for twenty people and washed all the dishes by hand afterwards, so it’s not as if I am a big paper plate advocate. That said, I am really impressed by Chinet’s environmental efforts. Because Huhtamaki American, Inc. (the makers of Chinet products) uses recycled materials, they save almost three million trees, one billion gallons of water, and 65 million gallons of oil each year. It’s great to see a mainstream company offer more sustainable products that can be found at most of our everyday grocery stores.
Would you like to try some of Chinet’s products for your next gathering? Just post a comment by Tuesday and you’ll be entered to win two sets of Chinet’s eco-friendly paper plates and some biodegradable napkins. You’ll get special consideration if you promise to compost them when you’re done!
Read more about Chinet’s environmental efforts here.