Do It Yourself

Home made Toothpaste, Bath Bombs that are Healthy Video with WZZM Valerie Lego and Angela Fox

Time to dig into your cupboard! We're making homemade toothpaste and other personal care products with Angela Fox of Green We'll post the recipes in the comments section. Hope you'll join us!

Posted by Valerie Lego on Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Do It Yourself

Green Cleaning Tips and Recipes


Green Cleaning Tips and Recipes

One of my favorite websites for learning about ingredients and the safety of the products we use every day are by the Environmental Working Group a nonprofit organization that not only helps to educate the public, but also works with corporations to make products safer.

The EWG site is the go to place to learn about toxicity in ingredients and to see how safe your current household products are compared to others. Most name brand cleaners rate poorly on the EWG site as ingredients are often not defined and can contribute to asthma. They are linked to cancer and can be harmful to the environment. Not only does the site rate the products, but breakdown the ingredients and also rate those and they even include an explanation of how the determined the rating they did.

The good news is that just about every name brand cleaner has an easy green alternative that is safer, cheaper and pretty easy to make. Here are some of my favorites.


Go to All Purpose Recipe

1 Cup Vinegar
1 cup Water
15-20 Drops of your favorite essential oils (optional)

Glass and Stainless Steel Recipe

The cornstarch might seem like a weird ingredient but I found that it really helps with stuck on grime and smears from dogs.

1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol
1/4 cup Corn Starch
1/4 cup Distilled White Vinegar
2 cups warm water

Scouring Powder Recipe

One of my favorite recipes is a scouring powder that can be used to clean any surface that you would normally use a brillo pad or a more powerful cleaner. This is my go to recipe for cleaning my stainless steel sink and stovetop.

2 cups baking soda or for extra strength use borax with a pair of gloves.

1/2 cup liquid castile soap

4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (preservative)

5 or more drops essential oil (optional–try tea tree, rosemary or lavender)

Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar; shelf life of 2 years.


Drain Cleaners

Traditional brand name drain cleaners are some worst offenders in terms of toxicity.  Here are some great tips to try instead.

Be proactive – there are a wide variety of drain covers on the market for showers and sinks. They trap hair and large items from going down the drain making the need for a drain cleaner almost obsolete.  I personally use a drain cover on all of my drains. A mesh stainless steel one for the kitchen sink,  and silicone covers for my shower and bathroom sinks.

Unconventional Actions – I have two methods I swore by before incorporating drain covers into my regiment. The first is a wire hanger. Simply bend the wire hanger to have a hook at the end and straighten the rest of the hanger to go down the drain as deeply as needed. Use the hook to pull out any clogs. The second is my favorite. A toilet plunger is perfect for not only unclogging toilets but also unclogging sink and shower drains. It is my first step to resolving a clogged drain and works perfectly without any chemicals what so ever. Try a plunger the next time you notice a bit of a backup. If it is a sink with an overflow drain, plunge slowly so water does not shoot out at you.

Recipe – Baking soda and vinegar when mixed together makes a great drain cleaner. Pour baking soda down the drain wait a bit of time and then pour down an equal amount of vinegar. Start with about a quarter cup of each.


Stain Remover – Peroxide is one of my favorite stain removers. Store in a spray bottle and use an old tooth brush to rub in for stubborn stains.
1 part Castile Liquid Soap
2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide
1/2 part Baking Soda

Laundry Detergent – This is my go to powdered laundry detergent
1 cup soap flakes (not Fels Naptha or any soap that uses tallow as an ingredient)
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
½ cup of baking soda

Fabric Softener – Most people are not aware that soaps with tallow as an ingredient and fabric softeners use rendered fat from animals as one of the main ingredients.  Tallow is a controversial ingredient and many of the ingredients in fabric softeners are not properly explained. Most importantly they are not necessarily needed.

White vinegar – added to the rinse cycle can be an excellent replacement for fabric softeners. The easiest thing to do is not to over dry clothes if using a dryer. Over drying is what leads to static cling.

Wool Dryer Balls – are a nice addition to the dryer to soften clothes and reduce dryer time. Essential oils can also be added to them to naturally add fragrance to clothes. The ones I use can be purchased here.


If making your own cleaners still seems like too much work after reading, head on over to the website and research greener safer alternatives. Try to stick to a cleaner that falls within an A or B rating. If you have a recipe you would like to see, email us and we can help find a perfect alternative.

Do It Yourself

Healthy Green Cleaners Video with WZZM Valerie Lego and Angela Fox


We're making all natural cleaning products with Angela Fox from ! Joins us

Posted by Valerie Lego on Thursday, September 28, 2017

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty Creating a Circular Economy/Triple Bottom Line

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Haiti Foundation Against Poverty has created the first true circular economy or true triple bottom line organization. My definition of a circular economy is helping a social need (people in need), economical need (the bottom line), and the environment all at the same time.  All three aspects actually feed off each other and help of each other for a sustainable model.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty have really figured this out and implemented it well. They have partnered with a couple of local corporations and businesses and have asked them to help with expertise in recycling, and logistics. They have also asked for the corporations and businesses scrap fabric which is extremely hard to recycle in the USA.  By taking the scrap fabric from the USA to Haiti and adding the expertise from these organizations they have created quality products of bags, dolls, and other products.  These products are then shipped back the USA to be sold. Here is the link to the store.

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They also have a boutique in Midland MI and sell their products at the The Bridge in Holland MI.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty is helping solve a large problem of how to deal with waste materials while helping the poorest people. They are a true shining light of what can be accomplished.

I would Encourage you to look into this organization and its great products.

Below is a Diagram showing how this can help every company and non-profit.



Here is a video more about the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty

Urban Agriculture: Detroit

By: Lydia Whitbeck

Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a town or city. It can be used to meet a community’s need for jobs, a use for vacant lots, educational opportunities, or access to fresh produce. The current local food movement stemmed from shifting farm policy in the 1970s when Nixon promised to cut food prices. He made good on his promise by cutting the farmers’ federal dollars. This led to big business farms purchasing smaller farms which turned into mega farms that mass produced commodity items such as soy and corn. The large influx of corn and soy into the economy led to America’s diet shift from a variety of vegetables to a market of processed soy and corn goods. The shift of America’s grocery stores created food deserts: areas where fresh produce was not readily available to the community members at a reasonable price. These deserts became common in inner city areas where child obesity rates were skyrocketing and family diets were dependent on what the local convenience store had in stock. The realization of this growing issue led to the idea to have these communities grow their own food and urban agriculture was born as we know it today.

Despite these recent realizations, urban agriculture has been utilized many a time in history, especially in Detroit to bring the city out of economic depressions and stressful times. Urban agriculture began in the 1700s when Detroit was a French outpost. The settlers at this time utilized ribbon farming along the Detroit River to allow residents to farm and grow food for their families and communities. Later, in 1893, an economic depression struck the United States. To combat the increasing unemployment rate in Detroit, the mayor started Pingree’s Potato Patches: a movement that turned vacant lots into gardens,

Pingree’s Potato patches in Detroit during the 1893 economic depression.

providing both jobs and food. A similar program was created in 1931 during the Great Depression called Thrift Gardens which was a top-down approached project by the government. Similar initiatives were created during World War I, the Great Migration, and today’s local food movement.


Currently, there are 70,000 unemployed individuals in Detroit. Of those 70,000, 30,000 could pass the GED exam. This means there are 40,000 people that need jobs. This is where urban agriculture comes in by providing jobs. Not only will it provide work, but it also creates community centers, educational opportunities for kids and adults, and a fresh supply of produce to eat and sell. Urban farms have the potential to level the playing field between socioeconomic groups in an area. Wealthy neighborhoods also do not have immediate access to healthy foods, but they have the transportation to easily gain access. These neighborhoods have access to community and education centers that inner city neighborhoods often lack. Urban agriculture can create these spaces for a community, therefore leveling out some of the disparities. Community gardens have the potential to transform an otherwise unused vacant area to a beneficial space for the community that lives there.

Today there are more than 1,300 community gardens within city limits. Non-profits such as Keep Growing Detroit, Greening Detroit, and The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative are working to create more green space and to create a food sovereign city. They work to meet these goals by providing farming education opportunities throughout the city, repurposing vacant land, increasing bike paths, working to foster communities and developing a strategy to meet the food needs of the city.

To learn more about urban agriculture in Detroit today, check out any of the links listed below. There are many opportunities to volunteer and donate to the urban farming movement in Detroit. There are also events throughout Detroit that offer urban farm tours via bike and bus every couple of months. Check out our events page for the next urban farm tour event!

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Composting Basics: by Ken Freestone


Materials provided by Ken Freestone, Master Composter
Decomposer organisms work best with as varied a diet as you can feed them. The ingredients are all around us. Almost anything that once lived is a candidate for the compost, so try for lots of variety to get a good mix of textures and plant nutrients. In composting jargon, woody materials that are high in carbon (autumn leaves, paper, peat moss, sawdust, cornstalks, hay and straw, etc.) are called “brown” ingredients. Materials like garden refuse, manure, tea and coffee grounds, feathers, hair, and food scraps are high in nitrogen, or “green.” Some materials can actually be both: fresh grass clippings are “green,” for example, but dried grass is “brown.”

For successful results, you can use the simple rule that compost needs to be about half “brown” and half “green” by weight. Don’t bother to weigh your ingredients, though: an estimate is fine. Composting soon becomes a matter of instinct, like the cook who bakes without a recipe. If the pile doesn’t heat up, you know there’s not enough “green” in the mix, while a smell of ammonia means it needs more “brown.”

Materials to Use
• Algae
• Bone meal
• Coffee grounds
• Eggshells
• Feathers
• Flowers
• Fruit and fruit peels
• Grass clippings (fresh)
• Hair
• Manure
• Seaweed
• Tea Leaves
• Vegetables and peelings
• Weeds

• Buckwheat hulls
• Coffee filters
• Corn cobs
• Cotton/wool/silk scraps
• Grass clippings (dried)
• Hay
• Leaves (dead)
• Paper
• Peat moss
• Pine needles
• Sawdust
• Straw
• Tea bags
• Wood chips
• Wood ash

This list is far from complete. Anything organic can, in theory, be composted — some more easily than others. But common sense suggests a few exceptions. The following materials may cause problems in a backyard compost pile.

Materials to Avoid
• pet wastes can contain extremely harmful bacteria
• meat, fish, fats and dairy products are likely to smell as they rot and may attract four-footed visitors
• insect-infested or diseased plants may persist in the compost
• materials contaminated by synthetic chemicals or treated with herbicides or insecticides should never be used
• weeds with mature seeds, and plants with a persistent root system (like crabgrass, ground ivy, or daylilies), may not be killed by the heat of the compost
• leaves of rhubarb and walnut contain substances toxic to insects or other plants so most people choose not to compost them.

• Your compost pile should be as damp as a wrung-out sponge — moist to the touch — but no water should come out when you squeeze a handful.
Too dry?
• You can poke holes in the pile and water it from the top with a trickling hose. Better yet, pull the pile apart and rebuild it, wetting each layer as it goes on. Very fibrous materials such as dead leaves may need to be soaked in a bucket for an hour or two.

Too wet?
• A soggy pile should be turned so that clumps of material are broken up, letting air in and water out. If the compost is absolutely soaked, you can spread the materials to dry in the sun, or scatter peat moss through the pile as you rebuild it with the drier materials in the center

Composting Tips

Composting is one of my favorite activities. It is the “original” recycling (think about nature and the woods doing it all the time), it is something every human can do and it can be as difficult or simple as you would like to make it.

There are many good resources for composting instructions (building bins, materials to use, science, and ordinances) that will fit almost every life style. Here are a few resources.

When creating an active compost system think about these basic ideas:
What you need for composting:


Open air   ~Spreading yard waste throughout a wooded area

Piled  ~Pile in yard or woods. Not to high, because after all you don’t see      leaves, and woody debris piled in the woods.

Fenced  ~As simple as wire fencing, pallets or other fencing material to     keep it corralled

Contained  ~Built enclosure to aid in moisture control, heat, keeping out     unwanted critters and more visually appealing for some     neighborhoods


Carbon –   ~Brown & Dry  See attached list of materials

Nitrogen –   ~Green & Moist  See attached list of materials

~To create a more active pile and to get finished compost sooner it      is important to turn materials. This also cuts down on odors by      “refreshing” the pile

Water  ~Not too wet or too dry. A good compost pile should feel like a    wrung out sponge

Heat  ~Optimal temperature is around 130° – 150°. Or dig a 10” hole in     the pile and put your hand inside. If it is steamy and warm/hot it is     probably doing well.

~They are the critters that are doing all of the work.
See attached sheet for who your best composting friends are.

Materials to Use

  • Algae • Coffee filters
  • Bone meal • Corn cobs
  • Coffee grounds • Cotton/wool/silk scraps
  • Eggshells • Grass clippings (dried)
  • Feathers • Hay
  • Flowers • Leaves (dead)
  • Fruit and fruit peels • Paper/Shredded
  • Grass clippings (fresh) • Peat moss
  • Hair • Pine needles
  • Manure • Sawdust
  • Seaweed • Straw
  • Tea Leaves • Tea bags
  • Vegetables and peelings • Wood chips
  • Weeds • Wood ash

This list is far from complete. Anything organic can, in theory, be composted — some more easily than others. But common sense suggests a few exceptions. The following materials may cause problems in a backyard compost pile.
Materials to Avoid

  • pet wastes can contain extremely harmful bacteria
  • meat, fish, fats and dairy products are likely to smell as they rot and may attract four-footed visitors
  • insect-infested or diseased plants may persist in the compost
  • materials contaminated by synthetic chemicals or treated with herbicides or insecticides should never be used
  • weeds with mature seeds, and plants with a persistent root system (like crabgrass, ground ivy, or daylilies), may not be killed by the heat of the compost. !!NEVER COMPOST INVASIVE SPECIES-Purple Loosestrife, Garlic Mustard, etc.!!!
  • leaves of rhubarb and walnut contain substances toxic to insects or other plants so most people choose not to compost them.

Here are a couple of my compost bin designs along with the basic supply list for building them yourself.  If you would like us to build them for you the prices are:
New Lumber – Cedar        $200.00/delivered in West Michigan
New Cedar
Reclaimed Lumber           $100.00/delivered in West Michigan
Reclaimed4 Reclaimed2
Flipping Bin
New design turning a barrel into a compost bin! I am working with
the West Michigan Environmental Action Council on this product.

Built it yourself supply list for wooden compost bins:
Compost Bin Materials list

Other resources:
MSU Extension – Soil testing kit

Testing Kit Fee Schedule-
Testing Information-

MSU Extension – Questions/Answers



Wall Street Journal compost system testing video/Hosted on
Sierra Club website
Wall Street Journal compost video follow up

Gardener’s supply company
Gardener’s supply company – How to choose a composter

Red Worm Composting Video

Clean Air Gardening Website