The Water Ride

The issue of clean water along with our overuse/waste of water as Americans (Oh, what? Yeah! That glass of water you didn’t finish and poured down the sink? That would have been saved and used to the very last drop in most parts of the world) has become a hot button topic. In recent years I can’t tell you how many campaigns and fundraisers I’ve seen to build water wells and develop water filters in under resourced areas. To be honest, the over saturation and lack of real exposure to the issue numbed me, as I’m sure it does for most people.

But then I saw how clean water impacted the hurricane affected villages of Haiti and the rural community of Lukodi, Uganda where I worked last summer. The University of New Hampshire Engineers Without Borders team visited over the summer and tested local borehole wells in Lukodi. According to the community members they spoke with, having clean water is top priority. Waterborne diseases from the community’s water supply led to severe illnesses (I’ve personally had a couple of waterborne illnesses and let me tell you-they are very debilitating). They found that roughly 80% of the community’s water supply was contaminated with E. coli. The team then worked to disinfect the wells and educate people on how to protect the water from contamination and fix issues that arise (“Offering a Helping Hand“).

Not only is the sanitation of water crucial to a community’s well-being, but the availability of it is, too. When our Ugandan friends would fetch water, they would carry a full jerry can (which is roughly 45 lbs when full) on top of their head and one in each hand. So, that’s like 135 lbs of water to carry! And most people have to walk MILES to get that. Some kids can’t even go to school when they have to fetch water. It becomes a huge day-long endeavor.

Picture 1
This is a jerry can, in case you didn’t know (photo by Megan Cook)

How do I let this change the way I view and treat water? I don’t take a shower every day. Call me gross, I don’t care. Unless I have excessively sweat or smell bad, I don’t need to take one. Now my goal is going to be to turn the shower water off in between my rinsing and repeating. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. It’s really the little things. I can water my house plants with the water I’m done drinking rather than toss it down the drain. I can shut the faucet off when brushing my teeth. I can avoid buying bottled water. And I can do my small part to encourage others in doing the same. Which brings me to (drum roll please)… The Water Ride.

The Water Ride is happening May 11 in Des Moines. Emily Boyd, Des Moines’ The Move Project and Des Moines Water Works are teaming up with wonderful volunteers to put on a bike ride where 100% (!!!!!) of the proceeds will go toward the $50,000 goal of building a solar-powered well and trench in a TBD location in Africa. There are 85, 40, and 20 (family friendly) mile bike routes to choose from. Prices go up April 12, so reserve a spot here. For additional information click here. Come to reach a personal goal, ride with friends, eat some good food, and do a small thing to make a BIG impact in a community across the world. Spread the word!

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549982_473967639333065_1695089229_nLove, Taylor

A Green Christmas

I purged.

Clorox, Ajax, Windex, Tilex, Frebreze- BE GONE!

And then I converted.

Just this morning I made an all purpose vinegar cleaning spray, laundry detergent, tile scrub, and hair spray.

Most cleaners warn you to wear rubber gloves and be careful about breathing in fumes. So, obviously, they shouldn’t be in the air or on your body. Why go out of your way to use toxic cleaning chemicals? Apart from the health factor (the increase in cancer, reproductive problems, respiratory illness, and allergies are strongly linked to what we eat, absorb, and breathe), using natural cleaning products is CHEAPER. Who doesn’t love that?! And if you’re thinking that paying a bit more for convenience is worth it, think again. It’s pure and simple. Literally.

They are safe for the environment. Conventional cleaners contain industrial chemicals that pollute the air, water and ground when they enter the wastewater stream. Baking soda, fruit sugars that ferment to make vinegar, and vegetable oils used in pure castile soap already exist in nature, so they won’t cause pollution when you clean with them. Their ingredients quickly biodegrade into safe, neutral elements.

They’re multi purpose. Rather than having a cleaner for each item in the house (toilet, sink, mirror, floor, etc) consider using these two products for multiple tasks. Baking soda works for detergent, a scouring paste that safely scrubs porcelain, deodorizes and removes grease from kitchen surfaces. Vinegar shines windows and mirrors, disinfects kitchens and bathrooms, and gently cleans floors.

Seriously, you can do a TON of things with vinegar.

  1. Counter tops – clean with a rag and vinegar.
  2. Drain or garbage disposal – pour in 1 cup baking soda then one cup hot vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes.  Run hot water down the drain.  (Note: some garbage disposals do not react well to this cleaning method check all manufacturer instructions first.)
  3. Microwave –  mixing equal parts vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a boil inside the microwave. Wipe clean.
  4. Refrigerator – clean with a half-and-half solution of water and vinegar.
  5. Dishwasher –  pour a cup of vinegar inside an empty machine and run through cycle.
  6. Plastic food containers –  wipe them with a cloth dampened with vinegar to remove stains and smells.
  7. Glass – remove film from the inside by letting vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.
  8. Tarnished Metal –  make a paste with equal amounts of vinegar and table salt.
  9. Grease – use a sponge soaked in vinegar.
  10. Grill – spray a solution of half water and half vinegar on the cooking surface.
  11. Sponges – placing in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup vinegar. Let soak overnight.
  12. Grout – let full-strength vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrub it with an old toothbrush.
  13. Germs – spray with full-strength vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
  14. Mildew and soap scum – wipe with undiluted vinegar then rinse.
  15. Toilets – pour in a cup or more of vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.
  16. Wood – remove water rings with a solution of equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.
  17. Cutting boards – wipe wooden boards with vinegar.
  18. Dusting – use spray bottle filled with half vinegar, half water and lightly spray a rag to dust all surfaces.
  19. Mildew – spray shower walls and shower curtain with half vinegar and half water to help prevent mildew.

Want to go for it?

Okay, once you’ve used up a product or you want to get rid of it, save the bottle and fill it up with this simple recipe:

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part water
  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • a few drops of essential oil if you want it to smell pretty (optional)

For the bath/sink scrub stirred all the ingredients and poured them into a mason jar. Then, I poked holes in the lid with a serrated knife to make it into a shaker:

Scourging Powder

  • 2 parts baking soda
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part borax powder (found at Target, Wal Mart, and most grocery stores)

*recipe from Wellness Mama

Laundry Detergent

  • 1 55oz. box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1 76oz. box of Borax Powder
  • 1 bar of soap

1. Grate the bar soap with a cheese grater or food processor

2. Mix all the ingredients together (add a few teaspoons of baking soda if desired)

3. Store in a closed container and use 1/4 or 1/8 cup per load

*recipe from Wellness Mama