Green: kitty litter and trash bags

I’d like to follow up on a few past posts about my search for green kitty litter and environmentally friendly trash bags.

Trash bags

As noted before, the BioBag, while it is a great idea, continued to biodegrade inside my trash can in the kitchen within about 72 hours, so that every time I went to take out the trash, half the bag was gone and I had a mess inside my trash can. So, now I’ve found the Enviro-Bag, which is a trash bag made out of those thin plastic grocery bags recycled through school recycling programs. While I realize that these bags still don’t biodegrade like BioBag would, this is supporting two really good things: reusing and school programs. So, ethically, I feel that this is a good alternative for us.

Kitty litter

This was a more difficult search. I am now on my third brand, but I am thinking right now that the third time might be the charm! Right now we are using something called “World’s Best Cat Litter“. It does seem to hold the odors well, and the particles, while larger than traditional litter, are not as large as the other brands I tried, and not as sharp and pointy when I step on them with bare feet. It’s biodegradable and clumping. I’ve filled both the litter boxes with it so far and it is working great!

So, I am excited about these new developments. In other “green” news, we have currently lost all our sources for waste vegetable oil, which is what we have been running our Mercedes on. If anyone reading this knows someone who owns or works at a restaurant in the DFW area who would have access to waste veggie oil, please contact me. Otherwise, we are kicking around the idea of selling the MB.

Green Automatic Dishwasher detergents – FAIL

Much like my search for a green kitty litter, my search for a green automatic dishwasher detergent has not gone well. I have tried 2 so far, Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel and Seventh Generation Dishwasher Gel. Since we rent our home, we don’t have control over the type of dishwashing machine that we have, and ours isn’t the newest. However, with regular (non-“green”) dishwasher gels, we have never had any trouble getting the dishes clean. With both of these green products, we had to actually completely scrub everything we put into the dishwasher before running the washer. Not pre-rinse, but actually pre-wash completely. And even then, somehow both these products managed to deposit more detrius back onto the dishes and glasses than they went in with. When using them, I had to wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and then again afterward. What was the point of wasting all that time and money in the dishwasher at all?

Here is an example: I made fried okra last night and I used a stainless steel slotted spoon to scoop the finished okra out of the pan. That is all I did with it. There was nothing encrusted on it, it was just greasy. I wiped it with a soapy sponge before putting it into the dishwasher and then I ran the dishwasher. When I took the spoon out, it was still completely covered in grease. I had to get a non-green cleaner and scrub it, because my green hand-dishwashing liquid didn’t work either.  Argh!

So, I had to go to the store today and buy non-green automatic dishwashing pellets so I can go back to having clean dishes. Very sad. I want to be green with the dishes, really I do…but it doesn’t make sense to wash everything 3 times!
On a related note…I have 2 barely-used bottles of green automatic dishwashing gel…anyone want them?

UPDATE: I continue the search with 3 more green automatic dishwasher detergents here.

Biobag, “Flavors of Entanglement” and TMI

Several people have asked me about the “side effects from medicine” that I mentioned in my last post, so this is the TMI (too much information) part of the post, feel free to skip ahead. It turns out that at the age of 30, I have developed the beginnings of adult acne. When I realized this I went immediately to a wonderful dermatologist who has me on the Retin-A cream. This makes my skin peel. Its very tiny peeling but I feel like it makes me look like I have a kind of peach fuzz, and it is embarrassing to me!! I have been trying to remind myself that this means it’s working. Hopefully it will stop soon.

OK, so now for a few reviews.

In our efforts to go progressively more green, we have stopped using plastic grocery bags altogether for our groceries, but were still using plastic in our kitchen trash. I had read about BioBags, which are biodegradable and compostable, so I picked some up at Green Living last time we were there. This is my second week to use them. Due to the amount of things we can recycle and our curbside recycling program here in Dallas, we only go through about one kitchen trash bag every 7-10 days. I am not actually composting anymore but that is a different and longer story. The first week, right before I took the bag out of the trash can and to the trash bin behind our house, I emptied an entire kitty litter box into it in addition to the trash already in it. This was a bit harsh, I know, but I wanted to test it to it’s limits! FAIL. It sprayed a fine line of kitty litter throughout the house on the way out the door. I thought, OK, that was a little too much. This week I only put our regular trash into it. (I guess there were some wooden BBQ skewers too) But when I went to pull it out of the trash can – it had already started decomposing! Oh no! Half of one side of the bag had disintegrated into nothingness. I had to carry the whole kitchen trash can out to the trash bin in back. Then I had to hose out the kitchen trash can. Gross!! I have 10 more bags left in the box, so I am going to keep using them. If it gets any better, I will let you know. But my early conclusion is that these bags would only work if you change out the trash every 3-5 days before the bag has had a chance to disintegrate.

“Flavors of Entanglement” by Alanis Morissette * Alanis Morissette - Flavors of Entanglement (Deluxe Edition)

OK, so I love many of the songs on this album, currently my favorite is “Straitjacket”, because it talks about someone who drives her crazy because they don’t listen and I feel like that at work sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work, but I do work with some completely insane people, too, mostly because they don’t listen. I think that Garrett would like the song “Citizen of the Planet”. The song about missing someone (“Torch”) is so real and sad that I can hardly listen to it without being extremely glad I am married and won’t ever have to go through that again, but also filled with sadness thinking this might be how I feel if I were to be widowed when I am old. She still has several songs about her struggles with people-pleasing (“Tapes”, “Moratorium“) and control (“Incomplete”), which I think is what I always identify with in her albums. Anywayz, thumbs up to this album! 🙂

* rant * Look here, if you start reading this thinking of Alanis Morissette as only the artist who sang “You Outta Know” in 1995, you might as well stop reading. In my opinion, although that was her biggest hit, it was the worst possible portrayal of her music and her attitude toward life. Even if you only listened to the rest of that one album “Jagged Little Pill”, you could tell that she is actually a spiritual and peacefully seeking person. She has had many albums since then, all of whom have outlined her increasing spirituality, if not her continued failure in love. This is not to say she is a Christian artist, far from it. But, I think the way she writes of accepting things and letting go is very much a characteristic that those of us who follow Christ should have. * rant *

Patience – UR doin it wrong

Since I work only 2 1/2 miles from home, we always feel like it is a shame that I have to drive. But, with Dallas weather often getting up to 100 degrees by 8 AM I can’t ride my bike because I would be a sweaty mess by the time I reached work. Also, it would take a significant amount of time due to the circuitous route through neighborhoods that I’d have to take to avoid major highways. But an electric scooter would be perfect because it would go faster than a bike and I wouldn’t be sweaty….or at least, not as much. Some sweat is pretty much a given, even if you’re only walking between the car and a building.

We did go look at some Vespa scooters, but it turns out that since they run on a mix of gasoline and can go at pretty high speeds, you actually need a motorcycle license for them, as well as insurance and vehicle registration. While we are keeping that in mind for the future, that is not our current intention. Plus, it would still use fossil fuel.

Then we found this ad on Craigslist. Oh yes, Craigslist has everything. Compost, hubcaps for our Mercedes, scooters….So yesterday we drove out to the suburb and took a test drive of the scooter and loved it! We had to talk to our community group first but now we are ready to buy it!! Unfortunately, there are timing issues and the matter of finding a truck to transport it home. The Mercedes is still in the shop and Christian is having to drop me off at work. It is supposed to rain on Friday. I am ready for the scooter RIGHT NOW!! I am really having trouble being patient.

“Green” kitty litter: SWheat Scoop

On my quest for a more “green” kitty litter, Real Simple Solution Seekers suggested I try Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter. I was very excited about this working out.

Our litter boxes (2) are in a hallway closet in the house which leads to all bathrooms and bedrooms and also holds the washer and dryer where I spend a lot of time folding laundry, so odor control is the #1 concern.

I have tried Feline Pine in the past and it was a terrible failure. The odor was unbearable with two cats, and it wasn’t scoopable.

So, Swheat. They are correct, it is scoopable. It does clump. And the first day or so, it did control odor. But it was all downhill from there. After a while the ammonia smell was unbearable. And it apparently requires scooping EVERY SINGLE DAY in order to even maintain some of the odor control. After about 5 days, you have to change the the entire litter box out just so you can breathe in the vicinity, due to the ammonia and poo smells. At $5/box more than my usual Arm & Hammer kitty litter, I can’t afford to be changing 2 litter boxes every 5 days. My Arm & Hammer goes at least 10 days before needing to be completely changed, and it only has to be scooped about every 2-3 days.

Another problem with the Swheat was the tracking. The particles for Swheat are much larger than typical kitty litter. For some reason the mats we have outside the litter boxes didn’t catch Swheat like they do typical litter, and the cats were able to track it much farther into the hallway and the rest of the house. And because the particles are so large and sharp (they are wheat husks), when you step on them with bare feet it HURTS!

So, big thumbs down for Swheat. I had to go and buy another box of the old Arm & Hammer because I haven’t had time to go to the specialty pet store for more “green” options. I have one more brand I’d like to try and then I am afraid I will have to give up.