Part Two next week.
Read an interesting book recently called Craeft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands. He describes a number of areas of traditional craft from the simplest such as the uses of sticks to the complex, including sheep herding and beer making. His main observation is that traditionally human ingenuity worked within an ecological framework, responding to and being influenced by natural cycles and the co-existence of plant and animal life. In today's much more technologically complex environment, the experience of craeft is harder to come by. But I think that we can still see traces of it in all kinds of manual labor, cleaning included. When I clean out an old radiator, I have to use ingenuity to adapt my tools to the project at hand. A coat hanger, bent in the right way, does the trick. This is using a material not from nature directly but nonetheless from the environment that I find at hand. It is, I would say, a modified form of craeft.
Part Two next week.
I've recently found that microfiber is a major ecological burden, creating a fine silt of plastic that has been polluting the oceans. So I've been looking for alternatives while maintaining my high standards for cleanliness. For mopping, I've found a good alternative. I wrap a clean cotton hand towel around the mop-head and that does the job very effectively, leaving a squeaky clean floor after mopping.
You've heard of a Cuban sandwich, but have you ever heard of a Cuban mop? A Cuban mop has a handle and a simple short stick crosswise at the end (more precisely, a dowel). Upon this stick you wrap a damp towel and proceed to mop.
Why do I mention a Cuban mop? Because, in my search for an alternative to microfiber mop heads, I came across it. And it's the basis (modified) for a new kind of mop that I've come up with to clean well using natural fibers. More on this in the next post,
Old radiators can accumulate a lot of dust inside or cat hair, bits of paper, and other odd things. And these accumulations can be difficult to clean out because of all the narrow crevices in the radiators. But the job can be done with a radiator brush (available in hardware stores), a smaller bottle brush (available at Target or the supermarket) and a vacuum cleaner. The brushes are usually constructed of bristles on a wire stem. The wire can be bent to get into the crevices. You can use the brushes to loosen the debris and the vacuum cleaner, left on nearby where you're working, sucks it up.
I wrote a couple weeks ago that I was investigating wood fiber based cleaning cloths as an eco-friendly alternative to microfiber cloths. I have tried them and they work just as well as microfiber! I'm making the switch and I recommend them. A good place to get them is: Stonewallkitchen.com.
When I started using microfiber cloths a few years ago, they were touted as the environmental way to clean because they don't require chemicals. But I've recently learned how microfiber fabrics shed in the laundry and have contributed to a growing problem of micro plastics entering the oceans and also the food chain.
So I've been doing research into alternatives. And wood fiber cleaning cloths might just be the one, since they are also very thorough cleaning tools that pick up 99% of microbes without chemicals but are natural and easily biodegradable. In my research I've found, though, that you have to be careful about where the wood fiber is coming from. Some manufacturers use pulp from native trees in places like Indonesia that are slow growth and not easily replenished. But there are companies that use environmentally sound practices in their manufacture. Two companies that make these cloths, "Durafresh" and "Stonewall Kitchen," have (by their own account) responsible manufacturing methods. I'll let you know how the cloths work when I receive them and can try them.
Cleaning burns about 180 calories an hour. Compare that with 300 calories an hour for walking at a medium clip.
Those high areas are often overlooked in cleaning. If you're in a mood to really get your home spruced up don't overlook these areas: wiping top of cabinets in the kitchen, wiping top of fridge, vacuuming tops of curtains, dusting up around the upper moulding near the ceilings in older homes.
This is a quick one. Use an all purpose cleaner to clean the outside and inside of all your trash and garbage containers. Put a few drops of an essential oil into the containers when you're done.