Energy Diet

Cleaning Up My Act

Going on a diet is always an opportunity for self-discovery — you find that certain changes aren’t as bad as you expect them to be, and encounter points of resistance that maybe you didn’t expect.

This week I was put to the test on the task of “substituting old printer paper, magazines, retail shopping bags and catalogs for wrapping paper,” as I had a birthday present to wrap. Even as I added this to the list of tasks when we conceived this diet a few months ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d really have the courage to hand over a gift to a friend or family member wrapped in… old printer paper? What had I been thinking?

The present in question had come in a big shipping box (yes, strike one against me for that), and I was sorely tempted to gift-wrap it, because it looked so ugly. But instead, I got in touch with my inner high-schooler (the one who liked to make collages) and covered the box in ads from one of my magazines. The recipient was so amused by this presentation that I think I want to wrap all gifts this way now. There are lots of great ideas out there for cutting back on wrapping paper — my family is a big offender at Christmas, but in recent years we’ve gotten a tiny bit better by reusing sturdy paper gift bags.

I’ve also been able to let go of many chemical cleaners. Baking soda works just as well to clean the tub and doesn’t asphyxiate me in the process; and believe it or not, toothpaste and other natural methods are just as good at cleaning silver as one of those jewelry cleaners with skin warnings on the jar.

But I’ll confess that I have an unreasonable attachment to those horrible blue glass cleaners — I’m just not convinced anything will work as well, though I haven’t tried. And only recently was I able to get over my skepticism and try concentrated laundry detergent. Can just a little bit of detergent really work as well as a big capful from a jug? I’m not optimistic, but am going to try it. In the meantime, if anyone has tips about an environmentally friendly glass cleaner that works just as well as the toxic ones, please share!


  1. clipton
    April 1, 2011, 9:50 am

    Taken from the book, “Ecoholic”: For environmentally friendly glass cleaners, avoid the toxic butyl cellosolve (aka butyl glycol, Dowanol, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE)). One website said it causes liver and kidney damage and is also a neurotoxin.

    A recipe for window cleaner: In a spray bottle, combine 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon natural dish detergent and 2 cups water. Or for a glass cleaner that dries much quicker, purchase through Ecover ( Earth Friendly ( should also have good choices.

  2. Christina Nunez
    April 1, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Thanks, Chad! Realistically, I will probably never mix my own glass cleaner. BUT I will look for those brands in the store.