I’m finding it hard to save the planet

This morning I woke up early, walked into the kitchen, filled the kettle with water and noticed – out the corner of my eye – the little green light on the dishwasher that indicates the wash is over and it’s time to empty it. I despise that green light; it steals my bright morning mood and replaces it with the dark burden of chores.

As I began emptying the dishwasher, I glanced into some teacups and mugs and spotted dark tea stains:


Rich likes to put the dishwasher on low settings to ‘save the planet’. However many times I tell him that when he puts on an eco wash, I have to immediately repeat the wash on the most powerful setting to remove the now somewhat ingrained stains, he persists.

I do care about the planet, but I also care about unstained crockery – and removing potentially harmful bacteria after using knives for raw meat.

Bleach is not only destroying the earth, but it stinks – it fills a bathroom with such potent fumes that I have to open the window, close the door and put an ‘enter at your peril’ sign on the door for the next week. It does, however, clean a bathroom of skid marks, rot and fungal decay. I’ve tried eco-alternatives:


…but they just don’t work as well – wiping over the surface rather than penetrating the filth.

Here are a few other planet-saving rules that I just can’t stop breaking:

1. Heating. If it’s not on when it’s cold outside, I turn blue. Literally. I look down at my knees when I get in the shower after drinking tea to warm up in my heating-free flat each morning and my knees, ankles and elbows are a dark bluey-purple. It then takes hours to warm up.

2. Chemical-free shampoo. I’ve tried this stuff – I like the idea of not lathering chemicals up on my head every day – but my hair looks greasier after application than it did before. Or dries to a straw-like texture and knots itself up into a bird’s nest.

3. Filling the kettle with the exact volume of water you need to make your tea(s). Rich is very good at this. I, however, am not. I fill it for two cups of tea and always get 1.5, so then I either have to drink half a cup of tea, or add more water to the kettle (usually far too much, defeating the object of careful measuring for the first boil) and add it to an over-stewed, luke-warm half cup of tea, which was already irretrievably damaged.

4. Washing my clothes with Ecover, rather than Fairy. It doesn’t clean the clothes. They come out smelling like dirty socks. Fairy leaves them light and fluffy and smelling like heaven.

5. Food waste. I hate wasting food, and I love that we can put it in boxes so that it’s used to replenish the earth, or whatever it does after leaving the box in my kitchen. But those boxes smell, they’re hard to clean and they get in the way. Like all planet-saving products and devices – the food waste box is UGLY. But this last rule I don’t break – it annoys me but there’s no way around this, so I use the stinking greasy box.

Of course, I could build a cupboard in which to store the ugly food waste box. I could wash up in the sink to solve the dishwasher setting dilemma, and wash my clothes in the bath – scrubbing and squeezing until all traces of dirt are removed. And then scrub away all scum from the bathroom with similar rigour, crushing the life out of any bacteria loitering around the loo.

I could put solar panels on the roof – so that the heating could be turned on a bit more often, with less guilt. I could stop washing my hair altogether (apparently it starts washing itself after a month of greasy tendrils hanging over your no-doubt newly-spotty forehead).

But these changes would be too time-consuming, too expensive or simply damage my reputation (greasy hair, dirty smelly house).

And so, instead, I’m on a mission to find an as yet undiscovered plant, with the cleaning characteristics of chemicals – but without the harmful components – that can be transformed into shampoos, bathroom cleaner, dishwasher tablets, oven cleaner etc. When I find it, develop the *not ugly* products and make millions – I’ll be able to afford those solar panels.

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