What toxic chemicals are lurking under the kitchen sink or at the back of the shelf in the basement or even in plain view on your bathroom countertop? This is a photo of what I found in my house.

Since it is Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in I have been scouring the house and garage for corrosives, flammables and poisons in my home. I consider my family to be conscientious about NOT bringing hazardous materials into the house but I surprised myself with the items I collected in 10 minutes of searching.

Many items we use and discard with our trash are actually similar to EPA regulated hazardous wastes that are generated by industries that make the products we buy and use. Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away.

In the kitchen: oven cleaners, drain cleaner, floor-care, soaps and cleansers

In the bathroom: toilet cleaner, cosmetics, hair color, aerosol deodorant, nail polish remover

In the laundry: spot removers, chlorine bleach, spray starch, softeners, brighteners

General: pool chemicals, paint strippers, glue, furniture polish, air fresheners, metal cleaners, paint/stain/varnish, turpentine, paint thinner, wood preservatives, ammonia cleaners, moth balls and flakes

Cars: gasoline, antifreeze, brake/transmission fluid, solvents and degreaser

Lawn and Garden: insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, flea and tick powder

Why is household hazardous waste a problem? At home accidental burns, poisoning, or even death if not used, stored and disposed of properly. Septic systems and sewage plants are not designed to filter toxic materials. If you pour these things down the drain or in the sewer this can affect everyone’s water supply ultimately contaminating our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound. Often solid waste is burned and if the waste has hazardous materials then the residue ends up in the air we breathe and the ash contaminates the ground water. Last but of course not least toxins in our water can affect fish and other wildlife.

I think I have reasons why I have some of the items I have, you might, too – for example, a few years back there was a huge hornets nest in the garbage shed, then it was useful again a few years later when there was another yellow jacket nest in the ground under the lilac tree outside the front door – so I thought we needed a spray to knock them out. But I still have half a canister. I also have paint thinner, pet odor attack and indoor house plant food, a few half empty spray paint cans left over from Josh’s graffiti days, charcoal starter fluid (don’t even have a charcoal grill…) and liquid ski wax (no one skis anymore).

What to do? Best solution? Don’t buy or use these things. Oh, no! No more nail polish and remover? Hmmm.

Well, anyway, we can begin to think about the products we bring into our homes. Can we do without something, or substitute a natural option? It is much easier to find non-toxic cleaners at your local grocery stores these days. Check out this list from ecomall.com and seventhgeneration.com and . Under my sink today I have products from Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Bon Ami, CitriSolv and plain old vinegar.  Or make your own and make some more. Buy only what we need, use what we buy. Pass on partially used products to neighbors or friends who can use them.

Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away. I mean, where does our hazardous waste get stored or disposed of –  is there any place safe?

What we can do is keep all our hazardous products in one place and dispose of properly by taking to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

How to find one near you: Best to search on the internet under “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day” and add your state and county. Here is a great informational site for the Twin Cities. There will be something near you, too.

Gina’s New Year Advice

January 14, 2011

Gina Lazenby is a dynamic and joyful as well as wise and dear-to-me girlfriend in the UK. Here is her New Year’s advice in 7 steps:

How is your 2011 shaping up?  Do you need some help preparing for the year ahead??

I know I do.

I’ve made a very slow start to the year but that’s normal for me as I always view the real new year as starting on Feb 4th when the feng shui year begins.  That’s the actual date when the new energies come in … until then, at least for me, it’s hibernation central!!

I take January as a non-month and use the time to process the last year, tune in to what I need to let go of and make preparations for another annual cycle. And that takes quite a bit of physical and psychic energy to do.  Maybe you are struggling and feel that because a new year has started you should be feeling more bouyant, optimistic and productive. Forget it. Now is a time to simply get by and go with the flow. Here are some tips to help you (which are really helping me).

  1. Clear out excess stuff: make space for the new.  Whatever you can let go of, books, clothes jewellery, old invoices & paperwork … get rid!  (The Charity shops are crying out for gear to sell)
  2. Take as much quiet time as you can to reflect. I have really been taking things slow; I’ve  not initiated many phone calls and have kept myself under the radar. Plenty of early nights and solitary walks as well as a diet of nourishing food with raw, crispy veggies.
  3. Stay in the moment: do what you are guided to do, follow your hunches and intuition. When I spend quiet time like this I am often drawn to watch movies and whilst enjoying myself I also receive subtle guidance in the stories on the screen.
  4. Ask yourself these eleven powerful questions. They arrived in my inbox from Shiloh McCloud and I think they are brilliant: Go here to read them. Very thought-provoking. 
  5. Ask for help: I use divination cards and can while away many hours asking questions and getting extremely practical advice back from the cards, runes and stones. I already intuited that I need to live a bigger life this year and guess what Goddess card appeared as my energy for the year?  Freya – with the message to be bold. Bold I shall be.
  6. Get more help & support: sharing the goal-setting and visioning journey with others is always useful and stimulating.  This year I have been asked by Transformational Coach Gosia Gorna to speak at her one day in London nextSunday January 23rd.  For the last decade she has run a popular event calledThe Year I Would Love to Have. If you are in London then this is just one example of spending time with like-minded folk visioning a wonderful future while learning some great manifestation skills from Gosia. It would be lovely to see you there!
  7. Make sure your infrastructure works: replace the light bulbs that have gone, replenish the larder and ensure you are stockpiling essentials, charge up your batteries…. just make sure you have order around you so that when the energy speeds up and the pace of life is faster you are ready to cope. I think it is what as known as mending your fishing nets while you are not fishing!

I love this concept. Electrolux plans to retrieve plastic floating in the ocean and recycle into vacuum cleaners and more. We have to remember every moment that we cannot throw things away- there is no away.

Via: Flossie! thank you!

Clean the Windows

October 14, 2010

After all the pollen, dust, leaves of autumn, my windows are dirty outside and inside. There are many reasons to keep your windows clean – dirty windows are an insidious form of clutter. The film creeps up on us slowly so we don’t notice that our view/vision of the outside world is getting cloudier. And there is a connection between our personal clarity and the clarity of our world. Tell me, who likes a dirty bathroom mirror? Spring and Fall are great times to wash windows, inside and out. City dwellers deal with more things that accumulate on windows. If you can’t clean outside, at least keep up with the inside of your windows.

Read this good post by Stephanie Bennett Vogt about the Feng Shui of clean windows. And then consider making your own window cleaner instead of spraying (and consequently breathing) toxic Windex or other window sprays.

Window Cleaner recipe:

2 tsp  white vinegar

3 cups water

1 cup alcohol (optional) helps evaporate more quickly

Put in spray bottle, shake and spray. Lasts forever.

Wipe with newspaper or paper towels (if you must) or cotton rags.

For more options:check out informative article at Livestong.com

What is “HOME”

September 13, 2010

ET wanted to go home. Dorothy wanted to go home. As my mother-in-law was dying she told  us she wanted to go home. As a child, I never wanted to leave home.

What is that universal yearning for “homeness”? Is “Home” a place where your memories and secrets and unfinished business is stored? Here is an article and a beautiful short film by Richard Levine about Home. Inspired by reading Lee Kravitz’s book, My Unfinished Business, Levine, a former commercial producer turned cross-platform media creative through his company,  Cyberia Media, uses his known medium, film, to create his personal journey into facing his emotional unfinished business. The power of naming, facing our deep emotions from the past is a powerful form of internal feng shui/clearing. Levine’s poem set of evocative music and powerful imagery is moving for me. I found myself walking, walking and exploring my childhood home and my old memories and now see many things in a new light.

Hat tip: Jackie Austin

Can Less Be More

August 17, 2010

Do we need all our stuff? How much stuff do we really need to live? What does one really need? Just received the link to interesting site via Josh. Kelly Sutton’s site where he has listed all of his possessions and is selling everything off except what he can fit into 2 boxes….

He says on his blog:

Inspired by a a book or two, I’ve decided to try to see if I can rid my life of most of the clutter. The goal? Condense my life into 2 bags and 2 boxes.

How will I do this? It seems simple to just say: get rid of everything. To realize how much junk I own, I have put myself through the misery of documenting every single possession of mind, no matter how insignificant. This gives me a solid metric to measure my progress against. I will be explaining the finer details of this in future posts.

The 2 bags and 2 boxes principle will hopefully allow me to live anywhere and move instantly. This is the Cult of Less.

“On the whole, it’s led me to cherish my few purchases more. Every possession also requires a certain amount of upkeep, and I find myself with more time and less possessional guilt. Every thing owned begs to be used constantly; every second not utilized comes a shred of buyer’s remorse. Everything I own I use at least once per month, save for my winter clothes.”

I say, all well and good if yu are young and it is feasible to live that way. Everyone in the US particularly accumulates lots of stuff. I feel burdened by the house and the contents that have attached themselves over the past 25 years. But as someone replied:

“This is a completely crap and meaningless “trend”. There’s no real sacrifice involved whatsoever, and the people involved seem to enjoy the illusion of asceticism without the actual hard work involved. If you’re happy only owning five pairs of underwear or whatever, more power to you… but to blog about it as some great emerging movement or philosophy is a waste.”

I could do without the potted plants, but they do give me oxygen and bring life into my home. I could without the art on the walls, but most of the art in my house was created by people I know and it enriches and inspires me to have it around me. Do I need 2 pianos? No, anyone want to buy one? It’s not easy to sell a piano. I also don’t need more than 1 cutting knife but I have 4 or 5. I don’t know that I will go minimalist, but I certainly could as Josh recently suggested: hire someone to help me, put up a tent in the backyard and bring it all out into the daylight and then make some choices……Perhaps it would be comforting to have a list of everything I own in one place?