Getting gifted with a free spray bottle was so exciting to those of us who had gathered for the Green Team’s soap-making workshop, that we were getting a bit crazy, egging each other on with the sing-song voice of Oprah during her annual  Favourite Things show.

The spray bottles in question.

The spray bottles in question.

“It’s a spraaaayyyy bottllllleeeee!”

This was just one of the many antics that took place during the hour-long session Quy and Michelle (the Green Team co-chairs) put together for all interested staff and volunteers. The idea behind the Green Team is to encourage sustainable practices both at work and at home (and it also fosters staff camaraderie). They recently organized a week-long vegan diet challenge and are gearing up for a plastic-free July event.

The Green Team is all about walking the walk and not just talking the talk. It’s easy to say it’s important to lead a greener, more sustainable life, but what does that actually mean? And how do we do it? Enter Linh from The Soap Dispensary. She’s passionate about chemical-free cleaning products and passing what she knows on to others.

Orange peels were needed for the vinegar all purpose cleaner.

Orange peels were needed for the all-purpose vinegar cleaner.

Linh had prepared plates upon plates of juicy orange wedges, which was a pleasant surprise, until we realized we had to eat them in order to use the rinds for a vinegar disinfectant. Although some of us weren’t particularly hungry, we scarfed them down anyway with the promise of a more fragrant all-purpose cleaner. While we ate, she told us about how the detergent industry is not very well regulated and reminded us about all the crazy chemicals in many our household products.

I’m not sure if the heavenly smells of tea tree and eucalyptus finally got us, but at the end of the session participants were heard saying things like “I can’t wait to go home and clean!” as they prepared to head out on a sunny Friday afternoon.

You can make your own cleaners:

All-purpose cleaner (vinegar infusion):
– 1 cup 20% vinegar
– citrus peels
– cinnamon stick (optional)
Let the citrus peels and cinnamon stick sit in the vinegar for about 2 weeks or more. Strain and pour vineager in a spray bottle and add an equal part or more of water.

Mixing a batch of all purpose scour.

Mixing a batch of all-purpose scour.

All-purpose scour for heavy-duty scrubbing (recipe from Whole Simple Life blog):
– 1 cup baking soda
– ½ cup salt
– ½ cup washing soda
– 20 drops of essential oil (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix with a spoon. Hammer holes in the lid to turn into a shaker.

Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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