We never cease to be amazed by the good sense of Metro, the regional governmental group that's responsible for a good part of the quality of life in the Portland, Oregon area.
Thanks to Metro, we've discovered a website and a downloadable PDF that are both fantastic, free, and well-designed resources to recognizing the hazardous substances in everyday products around your home... and then making better choices the next time you need to clean something. Read on for a few highlights.
We think part of Metro's success is a long-term view to the future. For example, Metro realized that charging residents to dispose of hazardous waste would mean it would go down the drain or get dumped out in the backyard. It would still have to be dealt with, just at some point in the future when it would cost more. So residents with household hazardous waste can take it to the dump for no charge, where it's disposed of or recycled appropriately. We had oven cleaner left over from a previous owner of our house, and when we dropped it off, we were given a print copy of this brochure. Metro even recycles leftover paint into a high-quality product called MetroPaint, which they sell on the cheap: $20 to $39 for five gallons.
A few good ideas on keeping clean and safe from Metro:
• The EPA recognizes soap as a legitimate disinfectant. Use vegetable-oil based soap to clean hands and produce; you don't need to use added disinfectants like Triclosan.
• Scrub grimy hands clean with a mixture of 4 parts beach sand and 1 part pumice powder, moistened with glycerine. (We could have used this one when we were in the thick of our renovation.)
• Vinegar is a great multi-purpose cleaner, but some people don't like the smell. Try using apple cider vinegar instead!
image via Metro PDF file linked above