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Three years ago I wouldn’t have known to be thankful for scavengers. Today, I do and I am.

As a courtesy to a friend, three years ago I agreed to take hold of some of his things while he tended to things in his life. The stipulation was that I was able to use these things. The things included two bookshelves, one chair, one couch, and one futon with two pads. As far as I can tell we basically had a verbal contract that kept getting extended in the interim.

He phoned a few months ago that he wanted his bed back, the futon. After thinking about what was involved and now not having space to move something of the nature of a futon frame, he was instructed to find someone with a truck to get this things. Unfortunately for us, he, it seems, never had any intentions of getting the rest of his things – only the futon. After receiving his permission, the rest of the items went to the curb today.

We were most worried about the couch as we could no longer see any value in it, at all. The rest of the items would be easy to get to Goodwill, and our conscience would allow it. So, we brought everything to the curb while Levi cheered in his stroller. I took a box we weren’t using and cut into four pieces then writing ‘FREE’ on each and putting one on each piece of furniture. Pete and Levi then ran out for some errands to help a neighbor while I posted the free items on craigslist and freecycle.

About an hour and a half after we put the items to the curb, a youngish couple pulled up in their well used brown pick up with topper. Diligently, they loaded the couch and chair into the back, and then they arranged one bookshelf on top of the topper, tied securely with rope.

I have never been so happy as I was in that moment to see someone come to my curb and take our ‘garbage’ away. It’s true, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. And today, I am thankful for those scavengers, an essential piece to our city’s services.

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How can I clean my home, naturally?

With natural pest management, natural home management seems like a natural next step. Pun intended. We are offered so many choices when shopping for cleaning solutions, it’s often difficult to decide which works best. My years as an adult have taught me to go back to the basics.

What do we need to clean in the home? We need water to moisten messes, a little soap to scrub them off, an abrasive for those tougher scrubbing problems, and a disinfectant. Remember, we don’t actually want to kill off good bacteria because we need that to build our immune systems and let nature’s services do their thing. The first thing we need to learn is anti-bacterial soaps are a big no-no. Not only do they kill bad bacteria, but they kill good bacteria which can lead to drain problems.

Although bleach is a disinfectant, so is vinegar. Since bleach is the poisonous option, I choose to not use it, and not to buy it. Most of us have vinegar in the house for cooking, so buy it big because it’s also something that can be used in laundry and cleaning.

An easy abrasive to keep on hand is Baking Soda. Make sure to buy it from the baking aisle, you don’t want to the special-formulated laundry soap. Sprinkling baking soda, for example, on a stove top with tonight’s dinner caked on top is an easy way to get it clean. Then, you just take your damp sponge (vegetable cellulose) or rag (that old towel that is too ratty to be a towel) and wipe it up. Yes, some ‘elbow grease’ is required, but a lot less than if you were to go at it without the baking soda.

And, of course soap. There are a lot of soaps out there, and a lot of great recipes to make your own soap. The basic thing we need is some lather to help melt those tough to clean things away. I found a natural do-everything soap from People’s Co-op (a local co-op specializing in natural and vegetarian options) a few years ago, but recently, I’ve settled on BioKleen and Ecover. BioKleen is a Vancouver, Washington based company that specializes in an entire line of cleaning products. Ecover is based in Germany. I use Ecover’s dishsoap for nearly everything from washing dishes to mopping the floor. My husband really likes it for washing his hands after working on the car. We don’t even buy Gojo’s Orange Pumice hand cleaner anymore.

The basic three ingredients you need to clean in your home, naturally are vinegar, baking soda, and soap. More on their uses to come…

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