Home Featured News Living Green is Truly Living Cheap

Living Green is Truly Living Cheap

Alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals. Photos by Jacquelyn Zeman
Alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals. Photos by Jacquelyn Zeman
Alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals.

By Chelsea Jenkins – Collegiate Staff

Cleaning products, beauty products and toiletries are all very expensive. Beyond the cost, most products are loaded with harmful chemicals that can be toxic to our water systems and the environment.

Thankfully there are some inexpensive and safe green alternatives to chemical-based products. Using very few products and homemade concoctions has not only been easy on my wallet, but I don’t get light headed when cleaning my apartment due to the fumes. Here are some green and cheap ways to clean your house and self.

Home Cleaning

The best ingredients for green cleaning around the house include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, coffee, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, almond milk, mason jars, aloe plants, lots of rags and bandanas.

An even mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice can get any scrub cleaning job done. Just be careful to not mix the proportions too much unless you want to create an elementary science fair vinegar volcano. I use this mixture for everything from cleaning floors and tubs to even my dishes. I keep a premix in the soap pump at my sink. For the dishes, I like to add more lemon juice than usual just for the great citrus scent.

Paper towel is costly over time and environmentally wasteful. My first investment in washcloths was at the dollar store where a 12 pack only cost me $3. My second investment was bandanas. Some places like dollar stores sell them as cheap as 25 cents. I love cleaning with bandanas and also use them in place of tissues. They leave my nose much more loved after cold season than conventional tissues that make it raw and red.


I use baking soda and peppermint oil mixed in a small glass jar as my cost efficient, environmentally safe toothpaste alternative. If your teeth are feeling especially grimy, you can also add a small amount of sea salt to scrape away any extra plaque.

Oil Pulling

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Coconut Oil

Oil pulling involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil, swishing it around in your mouth for at least 10 minutes and spitting it out. If you’re a multi-tasker, oil pull in the shower while you do your routine. Oil pulling removes impurities and can save you a trip to the dentist. If you ever experience acne, oil pulling will also help, allowing your skin to be healthier from the inside out.

Face Masks

During my morning and nighttime rituals, I use homemade face masks. When my skin is feeling very dry, I do a mixture of ground oats, honey, and almond milk. It feels incredibly soothing, I usually leave it on while making coffee, picking out my outfit, or doing dishes at night.

My mask for acne is honey and aloe I squeeze from my plant. Honey and aloe are naturally antiseptic, helping destroy the acne causing bacteria without the harsh chemical effects.

For an exfoliant, ground coffee works the best. If you experience some acne scars or marks add in nutmeg and a small amount of honey.

When my skin is in check, and I’m just giving it a break, a plain honey mask is the best way to go. It tightens pores, makes your skin have a glow.

After mask care I usually make my own anti bacterial moisturizer by combining coconut oil and aloe.

There are two options for spot treatments: one is tea tree oil for an emerging zit, and the other is honey and nutmeg for a zit that’s been there a while.

When your skin feels really inflamed, or your eyes are red and puffy, make some green tea, then freeze the bags to later thaw out on your face letting all the cooling soothing green tea benefits sink in.


When washing my hair I usually coat it with coconut oil on the ends before even getting in the shower. Mostly the hair at the scalp is the only hair that requires to be cleaned, so this just protects the natural oils at the ends of your hair.

Instead of shampoo I use honey. It is a natural antiseptic giving it awesome cleansing properties. For a conditioner I just put almond milk on the ends of my hair to dilute the coconut oil.

Mason Jars

They’re cute and inexpensive priced at less than $1 per jar. So misplacing one is less of a disappointment than losing a fancy expensive plastic water bottle. I use mine to make pour over coffee cold brews. To do this you let coffee grounds sit in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for 12 hours, then strain and have delicious cold coffee. To make infused water, cut fruit in a jar of water, and let sit for 12 hours so all the antioxidants fill the water. My personal favorite is blueberry, cucumber and lime. Mason jars all come with lids, making them very portable and ready for school or work.

Women’s Health Alternatives

The culture most women are brought up in today deems menstrual talk as something left for young women, their mothers and doctors.

Women have periods. It’s just natural.

Ideas are placed upon women in society as to how we should act and look, the careers women should take part in, and how we should take care of our bodies does not always come from the most holistic of places.

It is really exciting that a woman has the ability to carry a child, and sustain a human being as it is developing. This still blows my mind. Women’s bodies are so amazing.

The good news is there are several green ways to make the experience of a period more comfortable.

I have never been the person who blindly accepts what other people tell me as fact. I’ve always liked my own way of doing things, so naturally I questioned tampon use at a young age.

Tampons tend to be off-putting and take a toll on your finances.

Companies market tampons as convenient, but how convenient is dishing out a chunk of change each month for a single use tampon that will soon end up in a landfill near you.

But you may ask if not a tampon, then what? The following is a list of alternative menstrual products that promote healthy, chemical-free lifestyles that are sustainable to local economies, as well as being good economic choices, so you can save your pennies for great adventures.

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A homemade pad, sponges, and a diva cup.

Menstrual Sponges

You may have had the thought, “What did women do before tampons?”

There is a company called “Holy Sponges,” they use sponges that come from the ocean. Sponges are nice and comfortable.

Diva Cup

If you’re not ready for the fully natural experience of sea sponge, but still want to try some of the amazing benefits of using alternatives to tampons, “Diva Cups” just may be for you.

Diva Cups are small silicone vagina-sized bowls. Diva Cups have been rated to last up to 10 years by some eco sites, but the company does recommend replacing their product once a year.

The cup is very comfortable and can be worn during all activities from riding a bike to swimming.

Soft Cup

A soft cup is a flexible cup that can be worn around the cervix to collect menstrual flow. It can be reused multiple times during a period, and can be worn for up to 12 hours.


Mass-produced pads are made from the same materials as tampons. Like tampons, these pads are disposable.

On the other hand, reusable cotton pads save money, feel softer and come with a much smaller environmental impact.

Cotton pads can also be found on Etsy in many shapes, colors and thickness. Cotton pads range in price from $7 to $24 for a pack, Patterns are easily available and very cost efficient. These can be not only a great gift to yourself but to the women and girls you love.

Periods can be uncomfortable, but using more earth-friendly and sustaining resources they can feel much less irritating.

Practice using more reasonable natural resources in your life, but don’t stop there. Be apart of women empowerment globally! Pass on information, inform others, be open and honest about your period. Contribute to awareness and global world aid and loving yourself more.

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