I used to get a little lax on this one when I thought I was the only one seeing the dirt. My new house is transforming my perspective on keeping things neat and tidy. I now clean for me , and it feels good. I'm reading (who would have ever thought?!) The Joy of Green Cleaning by Leslie Reichert and contemplating making my own cleaning products. In the interim, I'm sticking with the products I know are good for my little house and me. That means seeking out cleaning agents—listed on cleaning labels as "surfactants"—that are plant-based and not laced with a bunch of chemicals that are known to harm human health. (Take a look at my Clean and Green post for details.)
Set the Mood
I light the candles and play the sweet music for myself. Most candles are made from paraffin wax, which is derived from crude oil (yet another sneaky way petroleum seeps into our lives) that results in the emission of carbon dioxide when burned. Look for candles made from soy or—my favorite—local beeswax and scented with essential oils. They'll still put soot into the air—anything that burns does—but will be much better for your lungs and indoor air quality. As for music, I heart Pandora Radio , a free online service that builds radio stations off the songs and artists I key in and introduces me to other artists with a similar sound.
Clothing is often described as our second skin, so I want everything that touches me to be soft and loving. I gravitate toward my most worn-out T-shirts, made silky from years of washing, and newer items that are organic. Twenty-five percent of all pesticides used are sprayed on cotton crops, so an average T-shirt contains about one-third of a pound of pesticides, and an average pair of jeans contains about two-thirds of a pound of the stuff. Pesticides are petroleum-based and seep from the crops on which they are sprayed into the soil and water. That residue also ends up on the farmers who work the land and lingers in our clothing.
You can find organic cotton clothing in big chain stores and small indie outlets. My favorites are sexy T-shirts from Edun , a company committed to not only using organic fibers but making sure the people who make the clothes are paid a living wage, and cheeky Eat Organic panties from BuenoStyle.