Latest posts in Queen of Green

How to make non-toxic dog shampoo

August 22, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: How to make non-toxic dog shampoo

Store bought pet products are loaded with toxic ingredients like parabens, SLS/SLES, and fragrance. (Credit: Laura Milne)

You read ingredient lists on personal care products to avoid the Dirty Dozen. But parabens, SLS/SLES and fragrance also lurk in pet products — from shampoo to ear wash and tooth gel.

Shop smarter. Avoid ingredients which may cause cancer, interfere with hormone function and harm fish and other wildlife.

Next time your dog rolls in it make dog shampoo:

Dog shampoo recipe

Time needed: five minutes
Shelf life: approximately one month

177 ml (¾ cup) water
60 ml (¼ cup) liquid castile soap
15 ml (1 tbsp) aloe gel (optional)
5 to 10 drops essential oil (optional) Try any combination of anti-flea essential oils including rosemary, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, spearmint and citronella.

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How messy yards help bees

August 15, 2016 | 1 comment
Photo: How messy yards help bees

Place found materials — twigs, plant stalks and old sunflower heads — inside a reclaimed or repurposed box in your garden. (Credit: Garry Knight via Flickr)

Protecting pollinators means not using harmful pesticides. It also means providing welcoming habitat, even in your own backyard. And that's easier than you think!

Be a bee hugger

You can make your backyard a bee sanctuary. (Kids can help!) The secret? Keep it untidy! Chances are you're already doing at least one of these:

  1. Let veggies bolt and flower. Besides being a great way to witness a plant's full life cycle, you can sit back and watch pollinators at work!
  2. Collect twigs, bundle them up and leave them outside for bee nesting habitat.
  3. Leave a patch of ground bare. About 70 per cent of Canada's native bees nest underground.
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Ten simple "green" cleaning substitutes for borax

August 9, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: Ten simple

Try lemon juice or food-grade hydrogen peroxide to disinfect and baking soda to whiten laundry. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Last week I suggested you ditch boraxa salt of boric acid — as a "green" home cleaning ingredient. (I used to call it "a less toxic but not least toxic" ingredient.)

Six reasons to go borax-free:

  1. Your home is already pesticide-free (borax kills ants)
  2. You can clean well with food-grade ingredients only — baking soda, salt, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (treat stains, too)
  3. You can use borax-free "green" cleaning recipes — here are nine
  4. You won't risk poisoning your child or pet
  5. You can clean risk-free while pregnant
  6. Your children can help make the cleaners AND do the cleaning!

Simple substitutes for borax to clean "green"

To disinfect, use:

  • Lemon juice, a mild antibacterial acid that bleaches and disinfectants.

TIP: Rub half a lemon on a dirty cutting board, then wipe clean. (Add salt for extra cleaning power.) Place the other half in a bowl, microwave for one minute then use it to rub down the inside of your microwave. Let sit for a few minutes and wipe clean.

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How safe is borax?

August 4, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: How safe is borax?

You can clean without borax. Try my borax-free green cleaning recipes! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Borax, or sodium borate, is an alkaline mineral salt. It's a naturally occurring element. But "natural" doesn't mean "harmless." Consider asbestos or mercury.

A brief history of borax

Before 2000, borax was a common household item. It was a popular, effective cleaning product. It disinfects, whitens and fights mold and mildew. It also kills ants (used as a low-risk pesticide).

Many DIY cleaning recipes featured borax as an eco-friendlier option to petroleum-based ingredients in conventional cleaning products.

In 2008, the European Union (PDF) classified boric acid and borax as reproductive toxins. But it said consumer exposure to low doses of borates in cleaning products—soaps and detergents—is 'negligible.'

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How to use herbs

July 20, 2016 | 4 comments
Photo: How to use herbs

Combine one tablespoon (15 ml) each of dried chamomile, lavender and lemon to make a tea. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

I don't know all the uses of the herbs I grow. So I asked Rocky Mountain Soap Company herbalist Tara how to make the most of garden herbs.

What are some simple ways to use common herbs?

Herbal tea to treat fevers, headaches and anxiety:

Combine one tablespoon (15 ml) each of dried chamomile, lavender and lemon. Steep one teaspoon (15 ml) of mixture in one cup (250 ml) boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.

Also try:

  • Peppermint and chamomile tea for digestive issues and headaches
  • Rosemary and peppermint infused in oil for massage and sore muscles
  • Dried thyme, rosemary, mint and lavender in sachets to keep pests away (in drawers, closets or pet bedding)
  • Rosemary and thyme to flavour vinegars and oils for cooking or salad dressings
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