Seventh Generation Drawstring Tall Kitchen Bags…Pure Trash

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, plastic, product review

Wow. This is a whole new level of suck. I know…I know…I always say their products suck. Well..their dishwasher detergent and their laundry detergent do in fact suck. But…up until now, in all fairness, I have been using their recycled TP and their regular recycled 2-ply trash bags with relatively few complaints. Drugstore.com was having a sale on the drawstring bags so I decided to give them a whirl just to spice up my trash life a bit. No wonder they were on sale. I might as well line my garbage can with tissues.
trashbags So what is my big complaint with the trash bags? They are completely non-functional. Out of the 10 we have used guess how many have completely ripped apart? If you guessed 10 you win the grand prize of knowing not to buy these things. Seriously…when you pull the drawstring up it actually rips off the top of the bag. Yes…I said actually rips the top off the bag! You can see how this might compromise its function as an actual trash bag. Now what I can’t figure out is what the hell they are doing to make these bags so crappy. The regular trash bags we have been using from them have 80% recycled content and only have an occasional blow out. These have only 55% recycled content and are so amazingly weak I am afraid to look at one for too long or my stare will penetrate the bag and spill its contents all over my hall.

So…once again…I find myself admiring their purpose…but not pleased with their results.  By all means use their Trash Bags and clean your tush with their paper, but save the drawstring bags for holiday gifts for people you really would enjoy watching spread their garbage from door to curb.  We all celebrate the season in our own special way.

(Image from drugstore.com)



G Diaper Give Away….Yes…Give Away…As In FREE

Posted by organicneedle in family, green cleaning

We have all done it.  Gotten all excited about a new way of doing things that is going to be soooo much better for the environment.  We make our plan, buy our cool new supplies, and get all jazzed up.  Then reality sets in and the thing you plan just doesn’t work out as smoothly as you wanted.  It happens to all of us. (Hence my giant box of smelly worms.)
But sometimes…it can work out in YOUR favor.  My very good friend was excited when she heard about g diapers.  Seemed like the perfect solution for a very busy, yet trying to be green, lifestyle.  She bought the kit and got ready to change some poop.  Well…she put the kit up on the changing table…and well…that is about as far as it got.  (Her baby is a bit of a squirmer….beautiful…but has the strength of a greased ill tempered orangutan when getting his tushy cleaned. )  Plus, since she has a nanny she loves, she didn’t want to force a change on her too fast. Well..the little stinker outgrew the starter set before it was even opened.  Rather then toss them out she passed on to me to pass them onto you.  So if you have a person in the house who still poops their pants…and whose butt is between 13-28 lbs leave a message and these babies can be yours.
(Image is from g diaper’s website)



Spring Green Cleaning Step 3: Yes…Another List

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, recycling, reuse

listMy last tiny bit of advice for your big spring clean out…which I know you ARE doing is to make yet another list…one of things you need/want. BUT DO NOT BUY ANYTHING YET!!!!!! Wait until you are completely done with all of your clean out. Why? Because chances are 50% of the things on your list you really don’t need. Some you may already have, some may have a perfectly good alternative which you already have, and some, in hindsight,..may have been more of a want than a need. Plus…if you are able to nag/encourage your friends to do their clean outs around the same time you may find in their out baskets things you need and vice versa. The truth, people, is we all have way too much crap…chances are what you need/want exists in your little universe. Don’t be afraid to ask. Besides, moms secretly LOVE to unload their kids’ old crap…it gives us a sick high to see junk march out the door. Moohahahahahha.

By not buying all the stuff right away you prevent future clutter, save resources, and save money…some of which you can use to buy the few items you may need in better quality and more responsibly made. I, for one, will be working on greening up the art closet. But if you have had your eye on that lovely but pricey hemp jumpsuit, go for it!

*And for those of you worried about all the trees harmed in my manic list making…don’t fret. I use smelly old used envelopes. Bloomberg makes sure to send me about 400 a day…so I am quite well stocked. We get it, Mike…you like being mayor.*



Spring Green Cleaning Step 2: Make A Checklist

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, recycling, reuse

This post is really one for me more then anything else…trying to be very thorough this year in the clean out.  If you too are doing spring cleaning it may be very helpful, in addition to having a list of places to bring your old junk, to create a master list of goals you want to accomplish this season.  (If I write about it here I feel more obligated to actually follow emu through…like you guys might secretly be spying on me…right now…this very minute… and see my piles of untended to clutter and just shake your heads in disbelief.)

So the following is my dreaded list of clean outs and respective junk recipients…

1. Pull out summer clothes, put up fall/winter clothes, pass on things that don’t fit or have too many of, make list of summer needs. (We have a favorite neighbor baby that gets all of our kid hand-me-downs, dress clothes go to Dress for Success .) Check

2. Clean out boys’ closets and pass on the forgotten toys. (Neighbor baby and a local church that runs a charity thrift shop.) CHECK

3. Clean out art supplies…you have no idea how much we have.  This is a great one to enlist some free labor…the miniature people.  My boys love testing markers…and it keeps them very busy while I check off some of the other things on the list.  (Unfortunately dead art supplies go in the trash.)  In Progress

4. Steam clean rugs and couches and vacuum/wash all drapes.  I have a small steam cleaner that I use really hot water in and a touch of Dr. Bronner’s…which has so far not damaged any of the color on anything.  For my washable curtains I use the 7th…although it does not thrill me for deeper cleaning needs.   CHECK

5. Clean out desks and unnecessary paperwork and see if any additional bills can be paid online.  Our paper trail has been greatly reduced over the years by following a few simple steps …so worth the time if you haven’t done so already.  Tossed paper will either be turned into art supplies or simply be recycled.  Don’t think anyone wants my old student loan bills.   Haven’t Touched

6. Clear out unwanted/watched media..books & movies. These will be going to the charity sale …and leftovers donated to a church that sells books to raise money for habitat for humanity. In Progress

7.  Dust Mite Patrol and bedding & stuffed animal clear out…cook pillows, animals and blankets in high temp dryer, wash what can be washed, pack up unneeded blankets for summer.  Pass unwanted blankets and pillows on to the ASPCA .  Sadly…unwanted stuffed animals have no almost no chance at a second life…keep it in mind when choosing gifts for kids.  In Progress

8. Clean out bathroom cabinets…cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and medical supplies.  Toss expired junk…recycling what I can of course.  Check cosmetics for the toxic goodies.  Make a list and order any emergency meds necessary.  Haven’t Touched

9. Go through educational supplies and plan summer projects, make list of possible reuse applications…like seedlings in paper egg carton.  In Progress

10. Finish painting.  Yes…sad but true…I never finished painting the trim in my hall.  Plus I have a whole big ol’ living room/dining room/nook to paint.  I did finally pick a color…which has been the majority of the hold up. I will be using Aura this time because Benjamin can make the color I want whereas Freshaire is limited to their stock. In Progress

11. Clean kitchen shelves and stock pantry. And while I was stocking the pantry I realized 3 things:

A) The freezer had way too may UFOs…unidentifiable frozen objects.

B) Oats should never smell like feet.

C) Rubber nipples are no longer required in my home…at least not in the kitchen.  Snicker snicker.

Which means this step now includes cleaning out the old food, the freezer and the cabinets.  In Progress

The point of being organized is that it will hopefully mean a lot less waste…a lot less headed to the landfill. It is just too easy to end up tossing things in the garbage out of frustration when too much piles up without a destination. Now this is just MY list.  You actually need to go make your own.  Right now.  I’m waiting….and watching.



Spring Green Cleaning Step 1: A Charity List Review

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, projects

cleaning It is that time of year again…time to go through all of your junk and clean those nooks and crannies that never see the light of day.   One key to not being overwhelmed by spring cleaning, besides ebbing the the crap tide coming in all year round, is to be organized .  Step 1, of course, is to have less crap in the way of cleaning.  Since most of us crunchettes have a really hard time sending anything to the land of garbage, we need to take the extra step of having a plan for our crap.  Start by creating a list of local charities or even people that might be good recipients for your goods.  (For example…the single mom of 4 down the block who has kids slightly younger than yours might think your ol’ hand-me-downs are the bee’s knees.)  Also make a list of random things you would like to get rid of and start asking around.  Your best friend just may happen to be in desperate need of that extra electric banana peeler you have laying around. I find knowing my old stuff will be well used by someone else makes it much easier not to hold onto things and makes the process go much faster…no time to reconsider needing that neon green and organge afgan/poncho.

So get in those closets and start letting go! You never know what you will find….like this old post I ran around the holidays.  Perfectly good…only slightly used…slightly moldy.  (I am not  lazy blogger…just an accomplished recycler.)

As mentioned, I ran this list around the holidays to help with post holiday clutter…but find it comes in handy for spring cleaning too.  Some of these are specific to NYC, but I am sure you can find equivalents in your neighborhood.

Who :Dress for Success
What they want :office and interview appropriate attire, dress shoes, purses, and accessories
What they do : Dress for Success is a nationwide organization that helps women get back on their feet and into the work place through practical general job skills training, interview practice, and job placement and support. Once a woman has completed her training courses the organization goes one step further; it, through your donations, helps her literally dress for success. Can you imagine living cent to cent and being forced to purchase an entire office appropriate wardrobe? It can be a real roadblock for someone without even enough money for food. If you have things to give click on their link and find a local drop-off. They have offices in almost every major and even many minor cities.

Who : Baby Buggy
What they want : baby gear of all kinds including furniture
What they do : Baby Buggy works with social services to provide families in need with the necessary baby gear by collecting the millions of unwanted items from the 5 boroughs and redistributing them where needed. Their efforts are brilliant because they provide desperately needed relief in our poorer neighborhoods AND save tons of very useful gear from hitting our landfills. They do only serve the NYC area, but if you contact your local social service agency they may know of a similar organization.

What they want : pillows, blankets, pet food and pet supplies
What they do : ASPCA provides care for unwanted animals and assists in finding them loving homes. Your old blankets and pillows can provide a touch of home and comfort to an animal awaiting a home. There are ASPCAs in almost every neighborhood.

Who :DonorsChoose.org
What they want : classroom supplies
What they do : They allow you to choose a specific subject, age, town and even income level of the area to help.  Teachers post exactly what they and their students need.  Trust me…schools need this.  The budget cuts are ugly…and teachers and students feel it.

Who :Materials for the Arts
What do they want : Art supplies of all kinds…including frames
What do they do : In their words,”Materials for the Arts has provided thousands of New York City’s arts and cultural organizations, public schools and community arts programs with the supplies they need to run and expand their programs. Materials are gathered from companies and individuals that no longer need them and redistributed to the artists and educators that do. In the process, hundreds of tons are removed from the waste stream every year and kept out of landfills, helping to sustain our environment and promote reuse and waste reduction. MFTA helps artists realize their visions, provides students with a richer educational experience and furnishes businesses and individuals with a simple and efficient way to enhance the cultural life of their city.”

Who :Dell Inc., Epson, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lexmark, MPC Computers
What they want :old or non-working computers, printers, etc
What they do : According to NYC Charities, the offices here in the city will take them back and recycle/refurbish them. Couldn’t find out a lot of details, but since broken computers are virtually impossible to find a home for otherwise, it is certainly worth the effort of returning them to their creators.

Who :Housing Works Thrift Shop
What they want : Clothes, accessories, and housewares, furniture, books, etc.
What they do : The Thrift Shop provides….thrift stores.  Seems simple…but frankly we don’t have a lot.  By providing a place and opportunity for these goods to be purchased they are keeping millions of lbs of unwanted goods out of our landfills and providing affordable goods for lower income families.  And guess what they do with the money they make? They provide for NYC’s population of homeless suffering with HIV and AIDS. This organization is such a great example of how to help so many groups at the same time even when extra funding dollars are scarce.Clean out your clutter, keep goods out of the landfill, help the poor get what they need, and provide for our neediest all at the same time. Brilliant!

I think this list covers just about any household items you might be looking to clear out. If you have something you aren’t sure what to do with, leave a comment and I will try to track down a home for it. As I mentioned in my first charity post, get your friends on board and each take up one charity/ one collection/one drop off. You can even make a little party out of it. After a few glasses of good wine it will be much easier to let go of that old sequence bell bottom jumper 2 sizes too small that is still in your closet. Yes… we know it is still there.



Dr. Bronner’s….Burnt Crayons and Clean Hands

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning

After reading on Beth’s blog about yet another company slipping some questionable ingredients into our cleaning products, I decided to finally find a better shampoo alternative for the little guys.  I wanted something chemical free and in decent packaging…organic and Fair Trade would be icing on the cake.  I had heard from a few readers that Dr. Bronner’s works well as an all purpose bronner cleaner…including people washing.  So…I picked up Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Peppermint Pure Castile Soap…Organic and Fair Trade  in a nice big 32 oz recyclable #1 plastic bottle for around $14.  No plastic would be swell…sure…but this seemed like it would last a lifetime and a half…meaning a lot less waste then the dinky baby shampoo bottles I have been using.

So…all good to go…no?  Weeeeeeellllll…not so much.  Washed my little angles with the stuff and guess what?  They smelled like burnt crayons.  It wa revolting.  It took 3 washing with the old Aveno and all its chemicals to remove the horrifying smell.

baby bee I did however, find a good ol’ reliable choice in Burt’s Baby Bee Tear Free Shampoo & Wash.  Very gentle, no harsh chemicals, and smells NOT like burnt crayons, which pretty much sold it for me.  The only glitch is that it comes in a puny 8 oz plastic bottle …meaning a lot of bottles in the recycler and costs $7.29 for those measly 8 ounces. Does anyone know if there is a way to get chemical free baby shampoo in bulk?

As for the ginormous bottle of Bronner’s…don’t fret.  I found a perfect use for it.  I water it down 4 to 1 for hand soap in the bathroom.  (Remember my poison control run in?)   I had purchased one of Trader Joe’s chemical free hand soaps right after that…but was disappointed that there was no refill option.  This totally solved that problem and it should last me a few months at least.  Watered down the smell is actually surprisingly not revolting and even pleasant.



Joy in a Box: Method Smarty Dish Diswashing Tablets

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning

Ahh…I’ve been away for a couple of weeks…and I’m back and quasi-relaxed. What has gotten ol’ Needle all in a frenzy after her amazingly relaxing week in the middle of absolutely nowhere?  Dishwashing tabs, of course.  Today I present to you a little long sought after dishwashing success.
The Positive….THEY WORK! THEY WORK! THEY WORK! THEY WORK!  I mean like ACTUALLY CLEAN the dishes without coating them in a film of sticky grotesque residue .  Finally…some genius on the green team realized that people put dishes in the dishwasher to get clean.  It took a few years, but by gum, they’re onto something over there at Method: cleaning products that clean.

The Negative….Packaging suuuuuuuucks.  Big plastic tub for 20 measly tablets…which means if you run your dishwasher once a day you are going through 18 containers a year!  It is recyclable #2 plastic, but we all know that story .(Thanks Beth! )  It is a cool little container that could definately get some cool reuses with its decent construction and little flip top, but who can use 18 of them?  The price is a bit of a downer too.  $8.49 for 20 tabs…compared to $6.29 for Electrasol’s poison pods.

So will I continue to buy ’em despite some flaws? You bet your sweet petunias. Did you get the part about CLEANING!!! Actual green cleaning. As far as price and packaging…I have been snapping the tablets in half getting a little more millage out of each container. Plus, my son has already pre-claimed the first 6 or so containers for a critical Lego sorting operation he has in the works. A few for sewing, a few for oddball art supplies, a few really unflattering hats….. I will also be writing to Method to encourage them to sell in bulk and/or find better packaging. I’ll keep you posted when I hear from them. In the mean time, I must be off; I set a few precious hours aside to stare at myself in my uber shiny spoons.



You Had Me at Phosphate Free…and Then You Threw Bleach in My Face

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, recycling

Meet what I thought would be the new love of my life.palmolive

4.19 for 75 ounces. Great price, no?

It does come in a giant plastic bottle. I am guessing it will last me about 21/2 months? A load a day? So that is 5 bottles a year. It is recyclable #2 so this alone it isn’t a deal breaker.

Cleaning? To quote a very wise woman, “You Betcha!” I have to tell you…I was pathetically jittery opening my machine after the first run. (The fact that I have butterflies over a new green cleaner shows that my life has taken some decidedly dull turns.) I was quite pleased with the shine and lack of powder caked on everything. Although…I did notice a bleachy smell which caught me off guard. Not a bleach user; bothers my sniffer. Not to mention it is a wee bit…I don’t know…toxic. Ran a load the next day…same thing….joy at the clean…confused by the smell. Finally by the third load I decided to use my super sleuth detective skills and investigate the bleachy smell. Because I am a crack detective I was able to decipher the cryptic code on the bottle…”contains chlorine bleach.” Huh…that doesn’t seem so green. I have once again been totally green washed!  Not feeling like the shiniest coin in the fountain today.  But then again…I wash with green cleaners…how shiny can I be?



I Take Back Anything Nice I Have Ever Said About 7th Generation Cleaning Products

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, product review

Which hasn’t been a whole lot to begin with. A few weeks back I reviewed their dishwasher detergent and gave them a generous…doesn’t completely suck. Ahhhh…what a naive fool I was. It, in fact, does completely suck. I may be saving the world from phosphates but I am certainly not saving any energy or water. I often have to run the machine 2x…or simply hand wash everything because the detergent doesn’t dissolve…meaning many dishes are coming out dirtier than going in. I have used the vinegar rinse…no difference. I have tried not over crowding…no difference. Not for nothing…but when I was using the old toxic brand Electrasol I could put things in there with entire meals caked on and they would come out spotless…no pre-rinse, no rinse agent, no after washing. Now I don’t plan on going back to a phosphate brand but this is ridiculous. I am using at least 2x the water and energy if not more. There must be a better alternative!


While I am sharing my warm fuzzies about 7th Generation, let me share with you a little discovery…Planet. I was using 7th’s liquid soap for hand washing dishes but this stuff is soooooo much better. It actually cuts grease. Who would’ve thunk a green cleaner could do it? (Planet’s auto dish detergent doesn’t get such rave reviews.)

Don’t even get me started on 7th generation laundry products. Trust me, you don’t have that kind of time. Nor have I mastered enough profane vocabulary to express my feelings fully. (I really do need to go back to teaching middle school so I can bank up on the bad words for just such a review.) Planet does make a well reviewed powder detergent that I will be investigating soon. I’ll keep you posted.

So… yes…while I will still allow 7th to produce wipe for my who-diddly-whos…that is about all they will be doing in this house. But that in and of itself is quite an honor, no?



Why Yes…I am Peppermint Scented from Head to Toe: Burt’s Peppermint Shower Soap Review

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, plastic, product review

But….why are you sniffing my toes Strange Man on subway? A few months back we discovered the very cool Burt’s Bees Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar . Well…it has completely replaced the big ol’ plastic shampoo bottle in our house with surprisingly no complaints from the family, unlike my recent dental care swaps. (Yes, my husband actually took the time to go out and buy his own tube of Colgate. Some husbands cheat, gamble, dress up like Cher. Mine squirrels away conventional toiletries. Such a bad ass, no?) Yes, yes, there is an actual review coming. soap Loooove it. I smell minty. And it has little gritty bits to buff… everything. At $4.89 a bar it is not the cheapest…but not insane. Packaging couldn’t be better: paper box with NO plastic wrapper inside or out. The only real problem is that it is exactly the same color as my shampoo bar. After a few washes the carved letters indicating which is which go bye bye. I’m sure I will be able to think of some complicated system for keeping them straight- like two separate soap dishes. Certainly don’t want to be washing my head with my hiney soap. Although…now they are equally as minty.