Spring: Gentle Cleaning and Conscious Shopping

These past couple months have been INSANE! In all good ways, but INSANE none the less. I have been the musical director for a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream-coat” and shows began this month! It has been SO much fun, but definitely all consuming. When I haven’t been obsessing about the musical, I’ve been preoccupied with all things BABY! I have really tried not to be “that” person that finds out they’re pregnant and talks about nothing else, and the musical has definitely helped me bring balance in that area, but alas, I get home from a long day at work, and can’t help but think and plan for baby. 

Speaking of baby… this is not related to anything “Gentle Project”, but just for fun, here are a few pictures from our Gender Reveal last month:  

The good thing about becoming mildly baby obsessed has been that it ties in nicely with my March and April projects. Learning more about chemical-free cleaning, and organizing seems timely.

So with no further adieu, here are 5 easy ways to keep your house clean, organized, and chemical free: 

  1. Stay Organized: I find when everything in my home has a place, it is far easier to keep the house clean. Tidying becomes quick when every item in my home has a place, and quick surface cleaning becomes a breeze. I have become a fan (as many have) of all things Marie Kondo; I find many of her tips and tricks very practical and easy. What do you love? Keep it! What doesn’t make you happy? Get rid of it! What you keep? Have a place for it! Marie Kondo’s Netflix series “Tidying Up” is worth the watch; it’s like a not-as-gross “Hoarders.”
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    I went to Ikea and got a few closet organizers– I am slightly obsessed now.

    One of the things I love about her style of cleaning and organizing is how specific she is about having a place for everything. Little boxes and jars designated for everything! This way of tidying hasn’t just help me stay organized, but it has made it so much easier to clean the house quickly.

  2. Keep it simple: One of the most helpful discoveries I made this month was the Thieves Household Cleaner from Young Living. Add a small capful to a spray bottle with water and use it on literally EVERYTHING! I used it to clean the kitchen counters, the shower, and even my washing machine on the clean cycle. Having one cleaner (and one that is chemical-free no less) has really helped me clean more often. I also really enjoy not worrying about what I’m breathing in while I clean. 
  3. Fresh Air: Such a simple, small thing to change, but keeping the air in the house fresh inspires me to keep the house itself fresh and clean. Our beautiful weather lately has been a great excuse to open the windows, and breakout the diffuser to freshen our home up. I have been slowly ridding our house of harmful, harshly scented candles as well, and instead using my diffuser from Saje. 
  4. Norwex: I don’t sell Norwex, or Young Living, but both companies have products I really enjoy. I’ve slowly started acquiring some Norwex cloths and I find they work stupendously to clean the house, completely free of ANY cleaning products. I want to expand my collection, especially with a baby on the way. 
  5. Less stuff = More time: I am a ruthless purger of things! But I wasn’t always; I used to have SO many sentimental items that I could never dream of letting go. I changed after I spent some time in Uganda. It wasn’t necessarily my time in a third-world-country that made me turn from my selfish first-world ways and purge my excess belongings. Truth be told, it was the fact that my time back and forth in Uganda (and the fact that I was never sure where I was going to land) caused me to evaluate my stuff more carefully. I found myself asking, “is this thing worth packing, shipping, and unpacking, potentially several times?” Most of my things inspired a resounding NO! I still apply this concept to my life now that my husband and I are settled in Canada, and I must say that having less stuff does not solely benefit ones ability to travel. Having less stuff in our house truly causes us to have more time. It’s good to be clean and organized of course but nearly impossible when there’s stuff consuming every corner of your house. Less stuff means we have more time to things other than clean.

Gentle Cleaning has also caused me to ask some questions (that I fear are dumb, but I’m going to ask them anyway):

  1. Where do you bring old chemicals that you want to get rid of? 
  2. Do you have any solutions for an inexpensive, chemical-free, freshly “scented” (or at least leaves your clothes fresh feeling) laundry detergent? I want to try Saje’s dryer balls and get rid of those toxic dryer sheets… but all the other laundry detergent that’s “natural” seems crazy expensive. Any great suggestions? 
  3. What about car-washing? Anything environmentally friendly for washing the car? 
  4. Coming into the new season of parenthood, how do you stay clean and organized with a baby? And don’t say it’s impossible! How do you control toy accumulation? Organize laundry? Clean your floors easily?

Now, here’s the temptation I often have once everything in my home is clean and organized: I want to shop! There’s space for things, empty hangers, and time to kill… why not indulge in a little shopping? And to take it further, THERE’S A BABY COMING! I NEED ALL THE THINGS! I don’t, but you know, first baby! Who knows what I need? So I should just get it all right?! 

Which leads me to my April project: Gentle Shopping. 

My Rules for April: 

  1. No impulse shopping or mall-wandering 
  2. Learn about “Fast Fashion”
  3. My mantra for the month, “I have everything I need.” 
  4. Learn some DIY’s for things I’d usually buy
  5. There is no baby here yet, I don’t need to buy baby things this month. Say it again ASHLEY! You don’t need to buy any baby things this month! 
  6. Maintain the habits I’ve developed thus far:
    1. Reducing household waste
    2. Make more vegan adaptations to my diet
    3. Continue to rid our house of all chemical based cleaning products

Know of any great resources when it comes to Gentle Cleaning, or Conscious consuming? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

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February: Gentle Eating Rules for the Month

Ecological Footprint: 1.9 earths (down from 2.3 in January), 19.3 hectares (down from 20.3 in January) 

I eat animals. 

I LOVE sushi, a good charcuterie board, and a breakfast platter adorned in animal products. 

I have also proclaimed several times in my life that if I were to ever discover I was lactose intolerant, there would be no need for me to go on. If I can’t partake in a hearty cheese board, what is life really about anyway? 

Here’s the kicker: I really love animals. I can not even watch a movie where trouble or harm befalls an animal. I can watch a movie where the entire human cast dies, and not miss a beat, but a dog gets injured and I’m a mess for days. Case in point: the new Dumbo movie is coming out… I sobbed… at the TRAILER! One glance at Dumbo dressed like a clown and being mocked by the circus crowd… Ugh, I can’t even talk about it anymore. 

I have been finding myself presented with this idea a lot lately: how in the world can I say I am an animal lover and also consume them? To take it a step further, I would never eat a dog EVER, why do I think a pig is any different? Or a cow? Or even a chicken or a fish (gasp)? 

Family Values

Much of the way I eat is reflective of how I grew up. Meat, cheese, butter, and milk were staples; I’m Italian for crying out loud, isn’t that a birth right? My husband makes the same retort; he is Ugandan, therefore it is his right to eat chicken and pork. But just because this is the way our parent’s eat, and our communities eat, does that mean it’s right? 

The New Canadian Food Guide

Canada recently rolled out the new Canadian food guide and there are significant changes from what I remember as a child. The biggest changes being the removal of emphasis on meat and dairy, and the focus on eating a plant based diet.

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Apart from the animal cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industry (which is indeed a big deal), there is also the matter of the damage these industries have on our environment. Here are just a few statistics from http://www.onegreenplanet.org:

  • Raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) now uses a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass. (Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization)
  • The massive amounts of excrement produced by livestock farms emit toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia into the air. Roughly 80% of ammonia emissions in the U.S. come from animal waste (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases world-wide (this is more than all the cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined)  (Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization)

For the past few months I had been trying to transition my diet to “plant-based.” I was doing pretty well until December… and then I fell off the wagon… hard. Like, sausage and egg McMuffin hard. Now for the month of February I am going the cold-turkey route (so to speak that is) and am going to live that sweet Vegan life. My hope is that it sticks for good. 

My rules for February are few but mighty! 

  1. Eat zero animal products (I am not including yeast, or “bee” products)

Education: 

  1. Learn from a real life Vegan
  2. Watch: Food Inc., What the Health… Any other suggestions?