This one is super crazy easy. I adapted it from The Family Homestead. Thanks for the inspiration, family homestead!
Here’s the recipe I’ve adapted:
1/3 c grated ivory (or fels naphtha) soap
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax
2 gal water
25 drops of lavender essential oil (or your favorite essential oil)
Grate the bar soap (it’ll be about 1/3 of a bar) and add it to 6 cups hot water. Stir til dissolved, then add the dry stuff and stir. When it’s all dissolved, add the rest of the water, 24 cups. This will bring you up to 2 gallons of water total. Add the oil. Let it sit in a big bucket overnight until it gels. After that, pour it into an old laundry soap bottle and go to town. Use about 1/2 c each load.
I love this stuff. It’s gelly, smells good, and is crazy cheap. I paid no more than ten bucks for the boxes of borax and washing soda and a package of ivory soap, and I’ve made quite a few batches this year. Since I put the soap into “real” laundry bottles, my roommates use it, too. They were afraid to do so when I stored the soap in jars. Now, in conventional containers, they don’t know the difference. Bam.
Richard Heinberg (the video at the link, about 12 min long) pontificates exactly how and why I want to simplify:
We can use and buy less and actually be happier.
We can use oil (or other resources) more sparingly, save money in the process, and be healthier along the way.
Hard work is rewarding, not a punishment (and this from a notably lazy person).
In other posts, I’ve calculated out how much having a car costs me each year. Now imagine how much less a smaller house, more meals at home (and sourced from home), and my own sourced power would all cost me. I could easily cut my life-costs in half, I’m thinking. Green actually is cheap!
But then something caught my eye in that original article from GOOD. It reads “Rather then [sic] redirect that money to programs that will actually cut our oil demand, immediately save American families money, and more efficiently ease gas prices…” My emphasis. Because why, indeed, aren’t we aiming to use less oil and gas? The problem isn’t that it’s expensive and we should pay less for it by any means necessary (such as subsidies, or underhanded dealings, or lower quality, or drilling in Alaska, or fracking or whatever else craziness there is out there), the problem is that when the prices go up, most of us have no option for any other transportation. Our cars run on it. Our buses and trains run on it. Our heaters run on it. When it’s expensive, people go hungry, freeze, and sometimes lose their jobs (if they can’t afford to get themselves to work).
We need options, people. We need to be able to say “no, today I’m not driving my single-occupant vehicle. Today I’ll a) carpool. b) take public transportation*. c) take my bike. d) walk. e) work from home. And while we’re at home, maybe it’s under the roof where my solar, wind, or other non-oil fuel source is gaining energy. Or in my energy-efficient house that doesn’t need as much heating (or cooling for that matter). Maybe we should take the GOOD challenge and stop driving so damn much this month.
I did the math recently for myself (you can, too, with this quick calculator). I based mine off of my expense history, which gave me a handy-dandy chart divided up by gas, repairs and maintenance, and of course tags, inspections, and insurance.
I’m betting that not everyone is like me: I live fairly close to work (I planned it that way when I bought my house). I have an old beater that gets pretty good gas mileage. I have the bare bones insurance plan. And I’m at the tail end of investing in my little beater. I might get it some new tires, but when the big stuff hits, I’m not planning on investing more big money into it. When the time comes, I’ll try to go car-lite and then eventually car-free.
But maybe folks live farther away from their work. Maybe work is along freeways that offer absolutely zero chances for cycling or walking, and no public transportation. These are the kinds of options we need to grow as a community, and they’re options that can only be requested locally.
At worst, there’s carpooling and maybe even working from home. If one person could carpool with two other people three days a week, then work at home one day per week, that person could save 60% of his or her normal commuting costs. That’s without any gas subsidies, no extra sidewalks or re-striping for bikes, no bus fleets, and no public transportation of any sort. And, by the bye, how about we take those oil subsidies and put them into public transportation, bikeways, and sidewalks? New projects like those mean new jobs to boot.
I dunno, I’m just thinking out loud here. I just wish people would open their eyes a little bit and see that making gas cost less at the pump, making cars go further on a gallon of gas, and even finding other fuels for cars isn’t really taking care of the problem. It’s just lessening the symptom of high fuel costs.** If fuel subsidies really don’t bring the costs down, then let’s stop with them. Everyone can still pump as much—or as little—as they want. They can drive as much or as little as they want. But geez-o-pete, let’s get some options for the ones who don’t want to pay or drive as much, mk?
*Ideally, any options we give for non-fossil fueled vehicles will also extend to public transportation. In the short term, though, public transpo is cheaper for a person than operating his or her car.
**Just like making disposable bottles from compostable materials is solving the symptom of too much waste.
Now that I’m getting weekly product bushels, I wonder if I could hack this. Dairy’s not much a part of my life, and most produce is better eaten right away anyway. I’d already been thinking about this desert cooler from Africa (a zeer pot), for my little back-yard structure. No, City of Austin, I’m not building a house back there. It’s a shed… in which I happen to work and sometimes fall asleep, and in which I like to store snacks for myself and also have a sink to wash my hands after gardening, and also with a waterless toilet for… um… use with the pool, so people don’t have to go inside. Yes, that’s the ticket.
I can save 20 miles worth of gas, 2 feet of ribbon, buy 25% less food at the store each time, and emphasize mega-buying less at the holidays. I bet you can, too. Hey, we’ll even save money in the process!