Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Step of Going Green

Recently Mr. Philly Organic and I had a slight plumbing problem: A small clog caused a slight back up into our utility sink. Gross!

We avoided using any harsh chemical clog dissolvers. This is especially important when a plumber might snake your lines because splash back could burn his face or hands.

We tried to reduce the clog with a technique that keeps our pipes clean and removed clogs in the past: baking soda, salt, and boiling water. There was a slight improvement but ultimately the plumber came out for a mechanical repair.

Unfortunately we've had this problem more than once but the baking soda, salt, boiling water technique has kept the pipes clear for two years. After the plumber's visit, Mr. Philly Organic bought pipes and sewer plumber so he can mechanically fix the problem in the future. We also decided to perform more regular maintenance with baking soda.

What's the recipe for the baking soda flush? Dump a cup of salt into your drain. Follow that with a cup of baking soda. Then wash it all away with a quart of boiling water. For smaller vanity sinks, reduce the amounts by one quarter or one half.

Sadly we had to clean out our utility sink. We still had old pine disinfectant in the house. Ms. Philly Organic has relied on natural cleaning techniques like baking soda for many years and assumes this is an old product from before we combined households. Why not throw it away and replace it with a green product? Simply, that's not a green behavior. The first step of going green is not throwing away anything; it's using up the toxic items first.

Throwing out toxic products does not prevent them from joining the water cycle. In fact, many chemicals are removed from treated waste water that comes out of drain pipes. They are not removed from the garbage dump but leech slowling into the ground water. So this time the green choice was to use what we found in our cabinet and to plan a replacement. In the future we'll rely on vinegar, which has anti-microbial properties.

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