Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homemade Window Cleaner --- What is a homemade solution to clean windows?

Homemade window cleaner: remembering the good old days

Do you know that our homes are one of the most toxic places--- even sometimes more toxic than the outdoors?

As kids, my siblings and I were taught how to clean the house.  I remember Papa assigning each of us a house chore in the morning and walking around the house to see how well we do our tasks.  

One of my favorite tasks is cleaning windows.  I would smile, feeling I have done a good job, whenever I see our windows shine in the sun after wiping them with nothing else but newspapers dipped in some solution my father would prepare.  

I never realized that there is value not only in being taught how to do chores but also in the simplicity of the way we cleaned. 

Green cleaning

It is really interesting how the products we buy to clean our homes are the same toxins that pollute it, causing various diseases such as cancer, asthma, and other lung problems. 

Chemicals in cleaning fluids that are available in the market contain some of the most common environmental toxins. The average home today contains 62 toxic chemicals. Chemical cleaning supplies found in our homes not only threaten our health but also end up polluting our soil, rivers, oceans, and air. And because moms, infants, pets, and the elderly spend most of the time home, they are more exposed to these chemicals! 

Because household cleaners take up a large portion of our budgets, and they can make us sick, pollute our environment, and threaten our loved ones, green cleaning using nontoxic cleaners is something we should all learn.

Homemade solutions to clean windows

Baking soda, vinegar, and salt are timeless, nontoxic, and effective household cleaning agents. 

Here’s a very simple, cheap, nontoxic and effective homemade window cleaner recipe from Papa:

1 part vinegar 
4 parts water 
lemon juice (optional, I’d rather make lemon juice to quench my thirst after cleaning the windows!)

1. Mix vinegar and water (and lemon juice). 

2. Crumple old newspapers into a ball. The size will depend on you but the bigger the ball, the easier it is to use to wipe off the grime from your windows.

3. Dip the newspaper ball into the solution. The newspaper ball only needs to be wet (not soaked) with the vinegar solution to allow you to use the ball to wipe your windows without it being torn to pieces.  (Besides, this recipe is very effective you really don’t need too much of it to be able to clean!)

4. Wipe your windows using the newspaper ball dipped in the vinegar solution. 

5. Polish windows with a dry newspaper ball for a gleaming, beaming finish.
Simple enough?  You can find other homemade window cleaner recipes over the Internet or buy available nontoxic and biodegradable cleaners sold commercially. The key thing in buying these products is to read the labels. There’s a good chance that if you can’t read the label, less pronounce the words, it’s not good for you or for the environment. 

For cheaper, safer, and more nontoxic cleaning recipes, check out this book by environmentalist Karen Logan.

We really don’t have to kill ourselves trying to keep our houses clean. Being green can be as simple and as cheap as using a homemade window cleaner.

Photo thanks to photos/ dominicspics/

Monday, August 8, 2011

Types of Eco Tourism --- How to have a green vacation

Types of Eco Tourism: Going out on a break

My friends from the office and I went to the Caliraya Watershed to plant trees for Haribon Foundation’s ROAD to 2020 reforestation program.

I haven’t been on vacation this year and going out this weekend even for a day to get my hands dirty was for me a really good chance to de-stress and have a change of environment. On the way to the site, I was telling my friends how nice it is that in the province of Laguna, most of the streets are still lined with trees. It was no surprise that we saw a lot of bikers along the way given the challenging but clean and green trail going to the watershed.

ROAD to 2020 is an environmental conservation movement to restore 1 million hectares of Philippines rainforests using native tree species by year 2020.  ROAD stands for Rainforestation Organizations and Advocates. The end goal of the program is to recover and conserve biodiversity, optimize supply of forest benefits and ecosystem services, reduce the risk of natural hazards, and enhance options for sustainable livelihood by planting native tree species.

According to the Journal of Environmental Science and Management, the Caliraya watershed, located in Cavinti, Laguna, is considered a forest reservation with special uses as reservoir for power generation in Luzon. However, due to varying conflicting uses such as: agriculture production, ecotourism, recreation, real estate, resorts and rest houses, among others, the watershed is now at the state of degradation and over-exploitation.

If you love the outdoors or if going green is something you wish to explore, it is worth knowing that there are different types of eco tourism that offers a lot of benefits not only to the environment but also to your health, to your pocket, and to our society.

What is ecotourism?

Ecotourism is simply travel where nature is the main attraction.  But what separates it from your usual hiking or beach excursion (and this is something we need to understand) is that ecotourism is meant to:
1.    minimize impact to the environment
2.     build environmental consciousness and respect
3. contribute to the empowerment of local people and improve local economies
4.     contribute to natural conservation
5. raise sensitivity to host countries’ political and social climate, and
6.     support international human rights and labor agreements

As I mentioned earlier, the Caliraya Watershed is one of the victims of ecotourism gone wrong due to poor practices of tourists and businesses that exploited the site. Positive results are what ecotourism aims for so when you do go and take your eco vacation, keep in mind the real purpose of your travel. You are out there not just to have fun but to do good by giving back to the environment and society at large.

What are types of eco tourism?

Today, ecotourism is becoming a booming trend and there are a lot of types you can explore.  Some of these are:

1.)   Agro-tourism: Agro-tourism is travel that encourages people to experience agriculture first hand. 

Through our immersion program back in college, I got to live with a farming family for a week and experience, first hand, how it is to plant rice!  Go and look for possible agro-vacations organized by rural farming and fishing communities or NGOs that support them, and enjoy the benefits of getting in touch with the people that provide you with what you eat! Priceless!

2.)   Local tourism:  Experiencing culture and heritage increases appreciation of ones roots and provides endless opportunities to empower local communities and improve local economies. 

Whenever we go white-water rafting or surfing with friends here in the Philippines, we do not only enjoy these fantastic activities or see extreme natural sights. We also get to talk and even make friends to our local guides and understand the local communities --- their way of life, problems, and ways of how tourists can help them.  Plus, we also get to discover and buy really good products produced by the community. 

After several trips to Baler (a famous local surfing site), my friends and I got to connect to Baler’s local government to organize a trip to plant mangroves, learn about vermiculture, and explore Baler through Baler people’s eyes.  The experience is worth another blog spot but for now, all I can say is that you to try it!

3.)   Pro-poor tourism: This is a type of tourism that focuses on supporting developing countries and their causes. Volunteer vacations are a subset of ecotourism and while there really are high-end eco-resorts, there a lot inexpensive means to travel especially if it involves volunteering your time. 

In support to Gawad Kalinga (“give care” in English, a famous movement in the Philippines that aims to building communities and ending poverty), our office’s CSR team organized a farm-build where we got to visit one of the communities supported by the program and to help them build their farm.  The main aim of this program is to promote food sufficiency and eradicate hunger by empowering the people through plots of land that can provide them with food everyday.

If you want to make a difference by going green, check out how you can support various pro-poor programs near you!

For very minimal costs, the different types of eco tourism provides priceless memories that will definitely change the way you see nature and society.  If you are from the Philippines or if you wish to come here to go on vacation, check out how you can help through Haribon or Gawad Kalinga.  If you are from the US, you can check out David Bach’s “Go Green, Live Rich” to find green vacation tips.

I really look forward to going on vacation soon. If you are thinking the same thing, it is worth noting that we can have fun, save money, and do good through the different types of eco tourism.

Photo thanks to http://www. pinksherbet/