Monday, March 25, 2013

Totally Natural Organic Cleanser, Has Various Uses

Castile soap is a great product made of organic, vegetarian oils.

Dr. Bronner’s includes water, organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid, and tocopherol, or vitamin E (a fat soluble chemical). It’s highly concentrated, so a tiny bit goes a long way.

It can be used as hand soap, face soap, body soap and shampoo. You can wash your clothes with it, as well as your dishes and even your food. By adding some baking soda, you can create an effective soft scrubbing cleaning paste.

You can squirt a little in your toilets and sprinkle some baking soda, then scrub. The peppermint scented castile soap, will leaves your bathrooms smelling so refreshing after cleaning your sink, toilet and floor with it. (Clean your sink and floor with a squirt of castile soap diluted by a lot of water.)

You can have your children can help you clean with Castile soap and it’s not dangerous. You won't have to worry about them accidentally exposing themselves to toxic cleaners – it's doubtful they would ever swallow castile soap, but even if they ever did, you wouldn’t have to panic.
Castile soap also naturally eliminates pests: simply squirt a mixture of castile soap and water on plants to get rid of insects!

Here’s how to clean almost anything with castile soap:

1. Scrubbing cleanser: Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with a few squirts Bronner’s liquid soap for an effective, yet non-abrasive cleanser. Use a thinner version (more soap added) for a toilet bowl cleaner.
2. Floor cleaner: Mix several tablespoons of liquid soap in a bucket of water (roughly 1 part soap to 40 parts water) and stir gently.
3. Laundry detergent: Use a quarter to a third of a cup straight liquid soap for a full load of clothing. Those in hard water areas may require the full third of a cup. For an added laundry boost, throw in a few spoonfuls of baking soda.

4. Plant pests: Add 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint scented liquid soap to a ½  gallon of water. Spray on plants to kill aphids and other pests.
5. Dishwasher liquid: Mix together ½ cup liquid soap, ½ cup water, 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice and ½ cup white vinegar. Blend well and store in a plastic bottle. Two tablespoons will do for one load of dishes.
6. General Purpose Spray Cleaner 1: Use 3 tablespoons liquid soap, 2 tablespoons borax, 6 cups filtered water, and 2 cups distilled white vinegar for a truly green cleaning product. Bring water to a boil and pour over the soap and borax to dissolve. Whisk in the vinegar and let cool. Store in a spray bottle.
7. General Purpose Spray Cleaner 2: Same as above, but exchange vinegar with 3 tablespoons baking soda.
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile soap comes in several all-natural scents, including: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree Oil, Almond, Citrus, Lavender and Rose. For those with sensitive skin, it also comes in an unscented Baby Mild formula. Any of the scented soaps may be used in most of the cleaning recipes above with the exception of the laundry soaps, as some of the oils in the scents may stain fabrics.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beautiful Homemade Hair Care

I could go on about the perils of bathing in the allergens, hormone disruptors and carcinogens in some 80 percent of commercial beauty products in Canada — pointing out how those same toxic ingredients, when
 washed down the drain, go on to pollute our water.
But I won't. You know all that.
Instead, let's focus on what's really standing between you and a non-toxic, super-simple, ultimately effective hair care routine:
Fear not — it works! Doubtful — Try it! Change — can be beautiful!

Do It Yourself!

What You'll Need:
1. Baking soda
2. Apple cider vinegar
3. Your favourite essential oil (optional)
It doesn't sound sexy, but I promise, the results are fabulous!

DIY Shampoo

Combine two tablespoons baking soda with a few drops of water to make a paste. This is your "shampoo" — and why not? It cuts grease, deodorizes and lifts dirt! Work it into your hair, rinse and condition (see below). It doesn't lather — but you'll adapt.

DIY Conditioner

Rinse with one tablespoon apple cider vinegar mixed into a cup of warm water. This balances the pH of your hair and leaves your locks silky smooth. Once you've tried this system, you'll be hooked! Download this and other homemade hair care recipes or mix a larger batch for convenience.

DIY Mist

If you shop with your nose popping open a new product for a smell before you buy — combine a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle full of water and mist yourself after toweling off.

Tovah Paglaro, Queen of Green

At House Smart Home Improvements, we care about people and the environment. That is why we offer energy-efficient home improvements to lessen your carbon footprint, oh - and save you money! Call us today for a free in-home consultation. 604-585-2020

Monday, March 11, 2013


No genetically modified fish, fowl, or livestock is yet approved for human consumption. However, plenty of foods are produced from animals raised on GM feed such as grains. To avoid products from animals fed GMOs, look for organic products, wild caught (such as wild fish or game), and 100% grass-fed animals.

 Cattle, particularly cows, have been the target of many environmental groups that believe raising animals for food is contributing to climate change and causing environmental harm. While true about the vast majority of American livestock that are raised using feedlots, pastured animals that are rotated among fields actually help to improve environmental conditions.
Because grass is a perennial plant, it will continue to grow indefinitely, being spurred to new growth each time cows eat it. Grass roots retain water and microbes which helps to keep the soil healthy. As cows graze, they also work manure into the soil along with other decaying organic matter, enriching it with nutrients and carbon.
Conventional beef raising, on the other hand, confines cows to densely-packed feedlots where they are bulked up on corn and soybeans for the final segment of their lives. Millions of acres of land that once grew grass have been converted into fields that grow corn and soy specifically for animal feed. Much of these crops are likely genetically modified.
 Almost all the beef found in grocery stores comes from cattle fattened up in large grain feeding operations called feedlots.  If you were to visit a ranch and then go to a feedlot, you would immediately notice a couple of striking differences.  A cattle feedlot is like an urban city, populated by as many as 100,000 animals. It is crowded, filthy and stinking, with open sewers, unpaved roads and choking air.

 Back to Pasture. Since the late 1990s, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements.  Instead, they are keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.

At House Smart Home Improvements, we care about people and the environment. That is why we offer energy-efficient home improvements to lessen your carbon footprint, oh - and save you money! Call us today for a free in-home consultation. 604-585-2020

Thursday, March 7, 2013

47 Different Pesticides in Lettuce - Buy Organic or Grow Your Own

"90% of lettuce tests positive for 47 different pesticides and 57 different chemical residues." That's because (non-organic) plants aren't just sprayed with pesticides… they soak up pesticides. No amount of washing will remove substances embedded in their tissues. BUY ORGANIC -- better yet, buy organic from local farmers whose growing practices you can see for yourself. Another thing you can do is to grow your own lettuce. You can grow lettuce in a shady spot on your balcony in a planter. Lettuce will grow in as little as 4 inches of dirt.

Growing lettuce is great to do with kids, because it’s so easy to grow and it grows so quickly. Lettuce goes from seed to baby greens in 5-6 weeks, and seed to salad bowl in 6-8 weeks.

Photo source: The Healthy Hybrid - A life in transition
Post source:

Lettuce is grown mainly for its leaves, although the stems are used as well in Chinese cooking.
As long as it gets regular water, lettuce can thrive in trays as shallow as 4” (10 cm), and pots of any kind, so it’s a great plant for container vegetable gardening.
Because it grows so quickly, lettuce, like spinach, is an ideal short-season vegetable to interplant between long-season vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower.
Looseleaf and butterhead lettuce varieties can be grown in cut- and- come-again beds, where the plants are clipped off an inch from the ground and the stumps regenerate to give you a second cutting a couple weeks later.

This environmentally friendly tip is brought to you buy the professionals at House Smart Home Improvements, specializing in energy-efficient home improvements like windows, doors and furnaces.
Call today for a Free In-Home Estimate! 604-585-2020

Monday, March 4, 2013

Avoid Toxic Chemicals and Use Natural Alternatives that Work Better Instead

All Natural Orange Vinegar
All Purpose Cleaner

Put orange peels in a jar, fill with vinegar, let sit for 2 weeks and presto, you have natural all-purpose cleaning solution. Transfer to a spray bottle using 9 parts water and 1 part of the orange/vinegar solution.
Enjoy a fragrant clean home.

Natural Homemade Furniture Polish

Recipe #1
1 cup mineral oil
3 drops lemon oil or extract

Recipe #2

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar

 Brought to you by House Smart Home Improvements

Friday, March 1, 2013

Backyard Organic Gardening is Good for the Environment, Your Health and Your Pocketbook!

The cost of everything seems to be higher these days, especially at the grocery store. But you can drastically slash your bill, and dramatically cut down on your intake of genetically modified foods from the grocer, by growing your own food.  It's at least one way to be able to afford 'organic'.

Growing fruits and vegetables seems overwhelming to most people, but it’s actually much simpler than it sounds.  All you need is a few square feet of the great outdoors, a water source, and a little time. Your grandparents did it, and so can you.

If you still aren't convinced, consider these benefits of backyard or balcony gardening:

  1. Improve your family's health. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy. When they’re growing in your backyard, you won’t be able to resist them, and their vitamin content will be at their highest levels as you bite into them straight from the garden. Parents, take note: A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that preschool children who were almost always served homegrown produce were more than twice as likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—and to like them more—than kids who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.
  2. Save money on groceries. Your grocery bill will shrink as you begin to stock your pantry with fresh produce from your backyard. A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, and if you buy heirloom, non-hybrid species, you can save the seeds from the best producers, dry them, and use them next year. If you learn to dry, can, or otherwise preserve your summer or fall harvest, you’ll be able to feed yourself even when the growing season is over.
  3. Reduce your environmental impact. Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.
  4. Get outdoor exercise. Planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting add purposeful physical activity to your day. If you have kids, they can join in, too. Be sure to lift heavy objects properly, and to stretch your tight muscles before and after strenuous activity. Gardening is also a way to relax, de-stress, center your mind, and get fresh air and sunshine.
  5. Enjoy better-tasting food. Fresh food is the best food! How long has the food on your supermarket shelf been there? How long did it travel from the farm to your table? Comparing the flavor of a homegrown tomato with the taste of a store-bought one is like comparing apples to wallpaper paste. If it tastes better, you’ll be more likely to eat the healthy, fresh produce that you know your body needs.
  6. Build a sense of pride. Watching a seed blossom under your care to become food on your and your family’s plates is gratifying. Growing your own food is one of the most purposeful and important things a human can do—it's work that directly helps you thrive, nourish your family, and maintain your health. Caring for your plants and waiting as they blossom and "fruit" before your eyes is an amazing sense of accomplishment! You are making a difference and leaving a legacy.
  7. Stop worrying about food safety. With recalls on peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes and more, many people are concerned about food safety in our global food marketplace. When you responsibly grow your own food, you don't have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant, or transportation process. This means that when the whole world is avoiding tomatoes, for example, you don't have to go without—you can trust that your food is safe and healthy to eat.
  8. Reduce food waste. Americans throw away about $600 worth of food each year! It's a lot easier to toss a moldy orange that you paid $0.50 for than a perfect red pepper that you patiently watched ripen over the course of several weeks. When it's "yours," you will be less likely to take it for granted and more likely to eat it (or preserve it) before it goes to waste.
Even if you don't have big backyard—or any yard for that matter—you can still grow food. Consider container gardening if you have a sunny balcony or patio or an indoor herb garden on a windowsill. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers can grow out of one pot. Or find out if your city has a community garden, where you can tend to your very own plot.

If you need more inspiration, read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which chronicles her family's yearlong commitment to feeding themselves. In beautiful prose, she describes how they grew or raised close to everything they ate, and by the end of the year, they didn't want to quit!

Whatever your motivation for breaking ground on your own backyard garden, chances are good that you’ll take pleasure in this new healthy hobby, and that your wallet, the environment, your body, and your taste buds will thank you!

Brought to you by House Smart Home Improvements: Specialists in Energy-efficient Home Upgrades and Improvements like replaced windows, doors, furnaces and heat pumps. 604-585-2020