July Household Helpers #2

Eco-inspiration: “Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well.”  (Laudato Si, #200)

Eco-tip: The next set of July household helpers awaits!

  1. To eliminate ink stains from a carpet, soak the stained area with lemon juice.
  2. To remove mud or soot from a rug, sprinkle the stained area with salt. Allow the salt to dry or settle before vacuuming.
  3. To clear a clogged drain, pour 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 1/4 cup of vinegar down the drain. Close or plug until the fizzing stops, then flush with boiling water.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Engage in a thoughtful discussion with others this week using the reflection from Laudato Si. Some deep thinkers today feel we have already lost our moral compass, our collective soul as a nation. Divisions run deep and we can’t seem to talk to one another amiably. Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB suggests that we need to reclaim our soul. On Sunday, May 26 she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for Super Soul Sunday. Check out the OWN app this week (it’s free!) and look up this episode of Super Soul Sunday. Listen to the 41 minute presentation. Use that as the springboard for your conversation with others!

Tawas Trillium 07 11

East Tawas, Michigan, USA


July Household Helpers #1

Eco-inspiration: “Politics and the economy tend to blame each other when it comes to poverty and environmental degradation. It is to be hoped that they can acknowledge their own mistakes and find forms of interaction directed to the common good.”  (Laudato Si, #198)

Eco-tip: Since we are “in the groove” of household tips (vinegar and baking soda!), we are sharing a few more, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. We will share a few each week during the month of July.

  1. To clean copper-bottom pots, use ketchup.
  2. Wrap cheese in parchment or wax paper, then place in an open plastic bag; store in the refrigerator.
  3. Water houseplants with club soda that has gone flat. The chemicals that remain in the soda add vigor to the greenery.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: This week’s sentences from Laudato Si are powerful. We see this on display in the United States as well as around the world. The “blame game” will get us nowhere fast. All reflection, of course, comes home to roost in our own souls, does it not? This week take time to reflect on your own life. Do you find yourself blaming others, institutions, “life” in general for your own sufferings? If so, how does the blame manifest? Be non-judgmental … just notice … and then reflect on what positive changes you could make for personal growth. Then, transfer this reflection skill to the big issues in our world. What is one small change you could make to begin a ripple effect of accepting responsibility on a global scale rather than blaming it on government or society in general?


Botanical Gardens, Washington, D.C., USA

Green Cleaning: #12 — The “Last Hurrah” for Baking Soda!

Eco-inspiration: “Often politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies.”  (Laudato Si, #197)

Eco-tip: The last of the tips for our faithful cleaning agent! If you are camping this summer or grilling in the backyard at home, these are noteworthy tips!

  1. Deodorizing RV Water Tanks: Sweeten your RV water tank periodically by flushing with 1 cup baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon warm water. Drain and flush the tank before refilling (do not use baking soda in your drinking water). The baking soda will eliminate stale odors and help remove mineral build-up that makes water taste off.
  2. Cleaning Grills: To clean your grill like a pro, try sprinkling dry baking soda on a damp brush. Scrub and rinse clean. The baking soda works well for the light duty clean up associated with exterior surfaces, such as knobs and trays, and it will not scratch shiny surfaces. For tough stains and burned-on foods, try using Washing Soda in the same fashion. You will be all set for your next barbecue!

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: We have finished a long round of vinegar and baking soda tips, thanks to the UW Extension Society (University of Wisconsin) in Winnebago County. Hold on to these tips and use as needed for home, car, school, office, and any nook or cranny in need of the sparkle that comes from good cleaning! Which tips were your favorites?


Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh (Black Wolf), Wisconsin, USA

Green Cleaning: Baking Soda #11

Eco-inspiration: “The mindset which leaves no room for sincere concern for the environment is the same mindset which lacks concern for the inclusion of the most vulnerable members of society.” (Laudato Si, #196)

Eco-tip: Oil and grease bothering you in your driveway this summer? You will want to try this trick!

Remove Oil and Grease Stains: Use baking soda to clean up light-duty oil and grease spills on your garage floor or in your driveway. Sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush. For heavy duty or stubborn stains, try using Super Washing Soda in the same fashion.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Consider how sincere concern for the environment is truly a bottom-line pro-life issue. Have a conversation about this with others in the coming week. Make some life choices that will enhance the health of our planet to be habitable and sustainable for all life: human, plant, animal, etc.

Casita cactus 5.jpg

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Green Cleaning: Baking Soda #10

Eco-inspiration: “Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.”  (Laudato Si, #194)

Eco-tip: More car care this week with our good friend baking soda!

  1. Deodorizing cars: Why does your car still smell after you left the windows down all day? Because the odors have settled into the upholstery and carpet, each time you step in and sit down, they are released into the air all over again. Eliminate these odors by sprinkling baking soda directly on fabric car seats and carpets. Wait 15 minutes (or longer for strong odors) and vacuum up the odors with the baking soda.
  2. Deodorizing car ashtraysPour 1/2 inch of baking soda in the car’s ashtray to eliminate stale tobacco odors and to aid in extinguishing cigars and cigarettes. Empty ashtrays regularly and replace baking soda.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: How would you define “progress”? What are essential elements of progress if it is authentic progress for the common good? Where do you see these elements at play in society today? Where are they missing? What might we do as citizens to work for honest progress and the common good in today’s world? Gather friends and have this conversation this summer!


Lake Winnebago, Oshkosh (Black Wolf), Wisconsin, USA

Green Cleaning: Baking Soda Week #9

Eco-inspiration: “Benedict XVI has said that ‘technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.'”  (Laudato Si, #193)

Eco-tip: On to batteries and cars … with baking soda in hand!

  1. Cleaning batteries: Baking soda can be used to neutralize battery acid corrosion on cars, mowers, etc. because it is a mild alkali. Be sure to disconnect the battery terminals before cleaning. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion from the battery terminal. After cleaning and reconnecting the terminals, wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion. Please be careful when working around a battery: batteries contain strong acid!
  2. Cleaning cars: Use baking soda to safely clean your car lights, chrome, windows, tires, and vinyl seats and floor mats. Use a baking soda solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth to remove road grime, tree sap, bugs and tar. For stubborn stains use baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge. Rinse and dry with a soft towel. You will get a clean car, with a scratch-less non-toxic cleanser.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Last week we paused to contemplate our personal consumption habits. This week think about the energy you consume: at home, school, work, in your house of worship, in terms of transportation, etc. What patterns emerge? Anything you can shift or change for good?


Stanley Park, Westfield, Massachusetts, USA

Green Cleaning: Baking Soda Week #8

Eco-inspiration: “…given the insatiable and irresponsible growth produced over many decades, we need also to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits and even retracing our steps before it is too late.” (Laudato Si, #193)

Eco-tip: Monday Wash Day, here we come!

  1. Freshen laundryBaking soda is especially effective on sour smells and perspiration odors. Also try it on sour towels in the summer and clothes that smell musty from storage.
  2. Freshen laundry hampers: Sprinkle baking soda liberally over dirty clothes in the hamper to keep the hamper fresh until you are ready to wash. When you wash add 1/2 cup baking soda to your wash with your detergent to freshen your laundry and help liquid detergents work harder.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: This week think about your own consumer habits. Do you always buy “the latest thing” that comes on the market? If so, think about what drives you to engage in this type of consuming. If you do not purchase new items immediately or on impulse, think about what drives you to behave in this way. How does the way we buy influence “growth” in the wider schemata? What is a way to be more balanced and responsible in our consumption and production? Think about all this … and talk it over with a friend!


Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Elverson, Pennsylvania, USA