How to fragrance your laundry naturally with essential oils

indigo herbs essential oils - how to fragrance laundry naturally
Image: Indigo Herbs

I can’t remember where I got the idea to use essential oils as a natural way to fragrance my laundry but it’s become a habit that I do with every wash now.

It means I don’t have to add artificial chemicals via a perfumed fabric conditioner so it’s a brilliant natural alternative to fabric softener. Ok, so, it doesn’t actually make your clothes soft but it makes them smell great!

I don’t mind what essential oils I use as long as I like the scent. I’ve found that not only do clothes come out smelling lovely but the aroma drifts around the room too as they’re hanging to dry.

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Clean and Green – is it worth buying eco-friendly cleaning products?

Everyone wants a clean house, but what price do we pay for our spotless counters and clean loos? In the US, 69 percent of streams contain traces of disinfectant and detergent compounds from household cleaning products. Some ingredients will break down in wastewater treatment plants but others don’t so they end up discharged into seas and rivers to pollute aquatic life (and threaten our own water). Seeing as it’s still Earth Month, it’s seems apt to chat pollution.

Water pollution is a big problem – WWF says 80% of marine pollution comes from land based activities – and it’s not just industrial waste that’s to blame. Household cleaning products contain major culprits too. There are so many that can be harmful to our health and environment, but two to highlight are phosphates and APEs (alkylphenol ethoxylates).

APEs can mimic the hormone oestrogen harming the reproduction of salmon and other fish (I actually wrote about the feminisation of fish in The Ecologist a few years ago) and phosphates act as fertilisers which promotes the growth of algae blooms that starve marine life of oxygen. So it basically all dies. The over-use of farming fertilisers causes a similar contamination in waterways and imbalance in marine environments. There’s a ton of info online about other chemicals and their effects – for starters check out the Wiki page on the environmental impact of cleaning agents.

So what can we do? Go green with our household cleaning products of course…

Ecover-green-cleaning-products

I moved house recently and had to do the fun task of stocking  up on new cleaning products – none of the local corner shops had anything as advanced as eco-friendly cleaning products so I bought the nearest thing to a natural ingredient, Bicarbonate Soda Spray.

Then by chance, the Ecover PR team got in touch (magical timing) and asked if I wanted to try some Ecover cleaning products – of course, would love to. I’m already a consumer – I use Ecover Laundry Liquid, Stain Remover (it’s excellent) and Washing Powder, as well as Floor Soap (when I had wooden floors).

My favourite Ecover product that I was sent to try was Window and Glass Cleaner; because I have to actually be inside my shower cubicle to clean the glass walls, I don’t feel like I’m suffocating myself with crazy chemicals with this. I can jump in, clean and not worry about how I’m going to breathe.

What’s under our kitchen sink and in our toilet bowl inevitably ends up in our rivers and streams so choosing greener products, where possible will at least help minimise our contribution to the problem (obviously it won’t eradicate the problem, but what if we EVERYONE used better products? Then we’d really make a difference!).

I’ve always been aware of toxic waste, whether it’s the environmental impact of manufacturing chemicals, the potentially harmful pollutants we expose ourselves to at home, or what we release into the wider world. Who knows, maybe in years to come it will be law or standard practice to use safer and greener products. Let’s hope so. 

For brands like Ecover products still do the job of anti-bacterial cleaning but ingredients are plant-based so they actually break down and don’t pollute the environment. It’s a no brainer really! For more reading, Ecover gives a nice round up of the ingredients it does and doesn’t use in its FAQs section here. Ecover also now owns method (another green-clean brand I love using) so there’s even greater chance that more people will convert. And on the subject of household / waterways pollution, I read a good post on what we should and shouldn’t flush down the loo (hint: it’s not very much) on another green living blog.

Oh and talking of loos, I might as well impart some random hygiene trivia: Did you know that around 16,000 germs hang around a toilet seat and up to 40,000 in the metre square area after the loo is flushed with the lid up? Since reading that a few years ago, I’ve always flushed with the lid down, to keep all the pesky bacteria in, and never keep my toothbrush above the loo either.

Happy cleaning xx

How to Grow Avocado Plants

how to grow avocado plants
Avocado plants in bloom – the tall ones in the centre of the pic

Clearing out some old pictures I found this one of my old avocado plants. Taken over two years ago just before I moved from my old house, I remember snapping a pic as they were in full bloom and feeling so sad to be leaving them, my avocado babies.

It’s not the best pic but if you ignore the spider plants on the left and right, the avocado plants are against the wall and one tall one in the window.

They were my babies, all planted from real avocado stones. They love to grow long, tall and fairly quickly. Unlike native avocado plants, which are like big trees, these are slightly gangly with tall, thin stalks and floppy leaves.

Give it a go – after eating your avocado, pop the stone into a pot of soil and see what happens. First a little shoot and before long, hopefully, you’ll have an avocado baby of your own.

(Funnily enough just found a post on this already, had completely forgotten I’d written! Oh well, two posts on this amazing plant)

How to grow beautiful avocado plants

how to grow avocado plants

I’d like you to meet these beautiful avocado plants, grown straight from avocado stones. They are the slightly tall and lanky plants on the windowsill and growing fast, high and tall against the wall. I eat a lot of avocados so we decided to see what happens if you just popped the stone in soil. Voila. A plant. We had a bit of a farm going at one point (I think I counted 11 one time) and while they’re unlikely to grow into big trees to fruit, they still look great and very special to watch grow as we never expected it to work.

This is the last day in my lovely flat so I wanted to show them off before I leave.  Try it! Eat, plant and grow.

Another reason why Christmas is environmentally-unfriendly

Ethical living writer, Lucy Siegle, wrote a great column in today’s Observer magazine about how each year in the UK we chuck away enough wrapping paper to stretch around the equator nine times, if laid end to end. I knew we wasted a lot of paper at Christmas but that figure is immense!

She then points out three major issues with paper:

1. the harvesting of trees, some of which are endangered

2. the process to turn wood fibre into pulp

3. and the disposal of the product – even recycling isn’t always a win-win situation

So what’s in your paper that’s so bad? Synthetic inks, plastics, chlorine, metal-based foils and of course glitters, all of which are not easy to dispose of or recycle.

So what’s the alternative? Be creative! Reuse and recycle pretty papers you receive (something I’ve been doing for years!) or branch out to more alternative papers – Lucy suggests the Observer magazine’s own paper.

Now, I hadn’t thought of that but maybe I’ll give it a go.