A Quick Guide to Organic Basics
For a multitude of reasons, the world has been swept up by a wave of environmentally-oriented consciousness that has started seeping into all facets of our society. Because, whether we like it or not, Mother Earth is in a whole lot of danger, and we must do something about it now.
Many people balk when it comes to getting started on the bio-friendly journey. We’ve lived all of our lives barely thinking about the environment, discarding plastic left and right, driving our cars recklessly, and burning car tires in open spaces.
Now, we have to consider how to act otherwise.
We’ve quickly put together this article to give you an idea of how to slowly transition to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle without turning everything upside down.
Why Should We Go Organic?
The reason why everyone needs a drastic change in perspective is that we pollute the planet at such a rapid rate it’s likely we’ll dig ourselves into a hole we’ll never get out of. Almost everyone has heard of the term “greenhouse gases,” and let us tell you they’re very much a real boogeyman.
To explain it in simple terms, human activity has increased the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other gases such as chlorofluorocarbons we pump into the atmosphere. This is due to a variety of factors, a big one of which is fossil fuel usage.
To make matters worse, stopping is almost impossible since our society depends on the energy acquired from fossil fuels. If we were to cease using them, then everything we know would grind to a halt.
Thankfully, we can make a difference in small ways.
Three Core Organic Basics
First of all, when we refer to organic basics, we’re not pointing out the clothing brand. Although we’re sure they’re very impressive on their own, we’re rather talking about the concept of household, everyday items that are widely accessible and environmentally friendly.
If you’re curious about what those would be or how you could transition to a bio lifestyle, then read on!
1. Change Your Carrier Bags
If there’s one thing that unites all of us, it’s a need to carry what’s important wherever we go. It’s fair to say that we’ll never stop using bags, which is bad because their production is horribly damaging to the environment. Fortunately, eco alternatives exist.
Enter tote bags: a concept that was considered so tied to grassroots movements that it wasn’t until the 2010s that it really started to take off on its own. For a long time, tote bags were considered the avenue of hippies and exceedingly fancy heiresses who wanted to spend several fortunes on crocodile skin interpretations.
That’s no longer the case. Some states in America, like New York or Delaware, have outright banned single-use plastics from the market. The best alternative, people have found, is to adopt the tote bag trend. After all, tote bags don’t harm the environment and they’re getting more popular with each passing year.
The primary advantage of making a change from using plastic bags to organic bags is that they can decay properly. Plastic doesn’t decay easily, taking as much as 700 years to degrade in some conditions. Conversely, an organic bag decays at the same rate as food waste, which means that you’re not going to slowly kill the planet if you lose it in a forest.
On paper, it might seem like transitioning to exclusively using tote bags can be costly and inconvenient. But tote bags are reusable, meaning you don’t have to throw them away after a single trip. A single tote bag can last you for months on end!
Furthermore, we have a large collection of wholesale tote bags under $1, which in the long run makes you save a significant amount of money. And that’s not the only piece of advice we have, either.
2. Make Your Own Soap
Have you ever thought of making your own cleaning products? As you might know, soap isn’t a new invention at all, having been used by humans for thousands of years before we even realized what bacteria is.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of methods to making your own soap in the comfort of your home and with nature in mind. Because sadly, the mass production of store-bought soap harms the environment so much it’s worth considering if we should just remain dirty for the rest of our lives.
But let’s not think about that. You can make homemade soap that will allow you to remain squeaky clean and also keep the environment safe and healthy.
Preparing for Making Soap
The very first thing we’ll start of is an emphasis on how critical lye is to making soap. Although popular alternatives (like using Draino) exist, our recommendation would never be to use them since they can imbalance the mix of the soap and contaminate it with toxins and chemicals.
Instead, make sure to acquire lye, also called sodium hydroxide, which you can typically find in hardware stores. Previously, finding lye in supermarkets was easy, although that seems to have changed. Lowe’s stores are almost always stocked with different types of lye. You should aim to purchase 100% pure sodium hydroxide - nothing less!
Here’s the list of ingredients you’ll need for a batch of about 4 ounces of soap:
- ¼ lye
- ⅔ cup unrefined coconut oil
- ⅔ olive oil
- ⅔ almond oil
- ¾ cold water
Furthermore, you will also need the proper mixing equipment. You can’t just use any old dish or crockpot you have lying around for the risk of it reacting adversely to lye. We’re all used, for example, to having aluminum dishware somewhere in the house.
Did you know, then, that lye makes aluminum completely dissolve? It would melt through it like a scene out of a Sci-Fi movie and leave you with one dishware less. To make matters worse, lye and aluminum also create hydrogen gas, which is flammable. As such, make sure that you’re using stainless steel, glass, or enamel when starting the mixing process.
Besides your ingredients, then, you will also need a:
- Pair of gloves
- Soap mold
- Stainless steel or glass mixing bowl
- Silicone or stainless steel spoon
If you have all of that set aside, you can get started with the process in earnest. It’s very important to remember, however, that lye is caustic, which means it can burn fabric it comes into contact with as well as severely damage your skin. Therefore, it’s recommended you always use gloves when working with lye.
Additionally, eye protection such as from goggles could also be desired depending on the intensity of the mixing process, especially since making lye soap creates toxic fumes that can easily irritate your external organs.
The Soap-making Process
Once you’ve gotten a hold of your ingredients, prepare the work table so that you don’t inconvenience yourself during the mixing process. That could lead to an unfortunate scenario as you’ll be working with lye, which is a highly acidic substance that has the potential to deal severe burns.
It’s very easy to ruin whatever you might have lying around with the ingredient mixture, so our recommendation would be to cover your table with a newspaper or some other sort of protective material. Remember to put on your gloves, too!
Take a good measure of your lye and start pouring it into the cool water. Stir as you do so, but also make sure to stand back, as the mixture will start producing noxious fumes that you shouldn’t breathe in. You can let it sit after the water has absorbed all of the lye.
Combine all three of your oils in a jar. You’ll need to heat them afterward, which can be done by placing them in heated water or simply sliding them in the microwave. The correct rule-of-thumb temperature for both your oils and lye mix should be around 100°.
It’s very important to ensure you get the temperature right, as it is arguably the most critical aspect of the process. If you mess up this step, then you’ll have to start from scratch.
You can start mixing the oils with the lye when the temperature has cooled down but do it slowly, stirring all the while. You should stir by hand for about five minutes as the lye needs to be properly blended into the mixture. Some people say that the mixture should look like pudding when it’s done.
If there’s anything else you want to add to the mixture, you should do so now. Examples are herbs, essential oils, or more solid materials to opt for a scrubby soap - all of which can make an otherwise basic soap significantly better than anything you might find on store shelves.
This is arguably where the process becomes highly entertaining! There’s nothing stopping you from experimenting with a variety of ingredients and creating your own unique blend with which to hydrate and nourish your skin. Besides, make your own brand of soap and you’ll be able to gift your friends and family!
After the mixture is done, you should pour it into the mold you’ve prepared. Cover it with plastic wrap afterward and ideally wrap it in a towel. This is what kickstarts the saponification process, which is what turns your mix into a bar of natural soap.
Depending on your mixture, your soap could take anywhere between 12 hours to 3 days to start taking shape. If you check on it too early, it can be too doughy, in which case you should let it sit for several more hours. If it’s either cold or hard, you can start cutting it in bars, as it’s almost done.
There’s more to do after you’ve cut up the soap into bars: it has to cure, which is the final process of saponification in which any water kept inside slowly evaporates out. This takes roughly about a month, so while it’s natural to feel excited about your soap, you’ll unfortunately have to practice some patience until you are able to use it.
A month later and your soap should be completely finished. Take it out of its mold, look at it, smell it, appreciate it! This is the fruit of your labor, and you should be proud of it. Now, you can start considering what to add to the next batch. Maybe some cardamom?
3. Adopt Green Cleaning
We’re all used to buying cleaning products from our local stores when we’re getting ready to clean up around the house. But is that really the best choice we have at our disposal? The plastic used to store all the liquid detergent we’ll need in our lifetime is sure to shave off a few years off of Earth’s life expectancy by itself, so it’s only conscientious to consider alternatives.
Enter green cleaning, the concept of drawing back to nature and eschewing chemical cleaning products. With so many household cleaners lying around, it’s a surprise people still choose to spend money on store-bought items!
Vinegar has always been one of the best disinfectants in human history. It can be used for almost any cleaning procedure due to its acidic nature, which means that it’s easily able to erase materials such as hard stains, gum, and even rust.
All you need to do is to make a vinegar cleaning solution from water and vinegar. Half a bottle of each should be more than enough. Store this mixture in a spray bottle and use it to your heart’s content!
If you have more specialized needs, then you can add lemon juice to the mix, which can make the spray very deadly against bacteria. Liberally spraying this mixture around a building can really help add the finishing touch to a germ-killing spree.
The counterpart to vinegar is the alkaline baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate. It has a large variety of uses, one of which, for example, is to eliminate any unpleasant odors and smells. An old folk remedy for smelly shoes - in some countries, at least - is to sprinkle baking soda inside.
Baking soda is perfect for removing grease. If you’ve got a handful of greasy pans that look like they’re covered in thick lard, then you might as well bust out the sodium bicarbonate. Boil a handful of white vinegar, sprinkle a fine layer of baking soda over whatever surface you want to clear out, and then carefully pour the vinegar over the soda.
Get ready for a chemical reaction too, by the way. Ever wanted to be a chemist?
You should let the mixture sit for half an hour while waiting for the reaction to finish. After that, you can use a wet rag or a sponge to wipe it off. It works like a miracle, doesn’t it?
Furthermore, cleaning an oven can also be a breeze with baking soda. Let’s say that you’ve had a grease bomb explode inside and now everything is all oily and slimy. You should mix up a semi-solid paste from baking soda and water with which to coat the insides of the oven.
After that, you should spray the paste with white vinegar, which is going to break down any material stuck inside. Rinse and repeat until you can effortlessly wipe everything off!
Also known as sodium tetraborate, borax is the much stronger counterpart to baking soda. While you might be able to drink a bit of sodium bicarbonate when you have acid burns, drinking borax is liable to kill you, so don’t even think about it.
On the other hand, it can be used to get rid of stains and mold, kill insects, and act as bleach. While baking soda might help with the first two, it’s definitely not able to bleach anything, which should speak volumes about how strong borax is.
As with baking soda and vinegar, borax can be mixed together with acidic liquids in order to burn down any material it comes in contact with. Including your skin, so take a lot of care.
You Can Make a Difference
Already, we’ve detailed three major ways in which you could help the fight against climate change and pollution. And that’s only the beginning! As we’ve no doubt proved, making the switch to organic products might feel drastic (as change always does), but it’s certainly not impossible.
In the end, you’ll be much better off. It takes time to get used to something new, but once our three suggestions become habit, then everything will start paying off. Less money spent, less stress on the environment, and more years for us and our planet.
Therefore, next time you go shopping, make sure to bring your own bag! You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it could make.