All You Need Is Less, Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living

Green House Week One: Intro

(Also known as Hippie School: 101)

Welcome! This is the first official post in the Green House series, and it’s also the most boring SORRY but it’s important, I’ll try and keep it lively.

Today I’ll be laying out the format, sharing the supply list, and walking you through a rough post schedule. I am not a wizard, so some things may get shifted around a bit over the next few months but this will be the general framework.

So, let’s get started!

Sweet Madeleine's Green House Series: Week One

First, your shopping list. This list includes everything you will need to participate in the whole two-month series. You can either go and buy everything all at once, or wait for each week’s post to see if you are interested in making the recipe featured that week, and go get the ingredients at that point. It’s up to you!

Most of the items on this list can be found at a grocery store, but a health food store will be the best bet for good quality essential oils and Dr. Bronner’s soaps.

These ingredients will be enough to last you six months to a year, so don’t panic if it seems pricey at first. You’ll recoup the costs in no time!

Supply list:

  • Baking soda (Get the big box! We’ll be using this a lot)
  • Tea tree essential oil
  • Spearmint essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil (or a different calming scent if you don’t like lavender)
  • Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (a small bottle will last you ages)
  • Dr. Bronner’s bar soap (2)
  • Borax
  • Washing soda
  • White vinegar
  • 3 spray bottles (feel free to wash and reuse ones you already have)
  • Apple cider vinegar (try to get the best quality you can afford, preferably something organic with some sediment at the bottom)
  • Black tea

If you have any questions about the list, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Aaaand here’s the schedule for the next few months:

Week One: Intro (that’s us!)
Week Two: Bathroom
Week Three: Bedroom
Week Four: Kitchen
Week Five: Living Room
Week Six: Playroom
Week Seven: Ladies Room
Week Eight: Laundry Room

(We’re just going to dive in and start with the bathroom first, because it’s one of my favourite places to clean. I know. I would clean a bathroom over a kitchen any day, I have no idea why.)

Each week the room will be broken down into four pieces:

What to Phase Out: The key word here is phase, as in slowly change. Don’t feel like you need to immediately throw out everything on this list and replace it, just gradually transition to the green alternative suggested as you run out. Slow change is sustainable change – don’t overwhelm yourself!

What to Bring In: This will offer suggestions for Eco-friendly replacements for the items/products you’ll gradually be taking off your shopping list, as well as positive things to start doing.

Recipes: Fairly self-explanatory, 1-2 a week.

Extra Credit: I think of green living like I think of sexuality – we are all along the spectrum somewhere. Very few people are 100% green or 100% enti-environmentalism, most of us fall somewhere in the middle. So, the “Extra Credit” bit is a suggestion aimed toward those who already skew a little bit hippie, and want to stretch a bit. Basically this section is like that girl in your yoga class doing the extreme version of every pose. Cool to look at, but most of us aren’t there yet (and might not want to be) so just admire the view and carry on.

OK! I think this sets us up pretty well, let me know if you have any questions, happy shopping and, duh,  remember your reusable bags!

(Also, in case you were wondering, YES, the colour of the “Green House Series” text WILL change with every week! I know! Can you believe it?! That’s reason enough to follow along right there. What will the coming weeks bring? Mint? Fuschia? A deep ochre? STAY TUNED!)

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  • Reply Jenn May 6, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    I’m very excited about this series!!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 5:06 PM

      Eeee! I hope it lives up to your expectations 🙂

  • Reply James May 6, 2015 at 3:22 PM

    Impressed that you have a ‘ladies room’ in your new place! Must be a palace! Is that near the drawing room or the guest wing?

    Seriously though sounds like a great idea – hope you enjoy writing it!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 4:54 PM

      You don’t have a ladies room? In my house it’s adjacent to the library, just to the left of the conservatory. Perhaps your butler can help you find it?

      • Reply James May 6, 2015 at 6:00 PM

        It just conjures up images of ladies reclining in large sea shells being fanned by men in togas, while sipping from long-stemmed glasses as cherubs hover above. Clearly with iPhones in hand so they can update their blogs

  • Reply Stefanie May 6, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    I’m an keen to try recipes, but I live in Australia and I don’t think we get Dr Bronner’s here. Do you mind describing what it is / contains so that I can try to find a substitute? Thanks very much!

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      Dr. Bronner’s is a liquid castile soap, I am going to look around and see what a good alternative would be 🙂
      If we get stuck, any natural bar soap will do, and we can use a natural dishwasher liquid in place of the liquid Dr. Bronner’s 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 6:24 PM

      I asked our Facebook page and a lovely woman responded that you should be able to find it in Aus! Here’s a list of retailers:

      • Reply Stefanie May 6, 2015 at 6:31 PM

        Great! Thanks so much, I will track some down : )

        • Reply notthehare May 7, 2015 at 1:45 AM

          I googled Dr. Bronner’s and it came up on Amazon UK – do you have Amazon in Australia?

  • Reply Olivia Masters May 6, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    Super excited for this! 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 4:59 PM

      Oh god. The pressure is on. Really feeling the need to manage your expectations on this one 😉

  • Reply yeg mcrp supersu (@redworm_mama) May 6, 2015 at 8:24 PM

    awesome! cannot wait for the series – thxs for posting

  • Reply Kate May 6, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    I’m in Australia too and I’m struggling to find Borax. Should I be able to find it in a supermarket? Maybe I’m looking in the wrong aisle….. ? What other items would it be near in a supermarket?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 6, 2015 at 10:58 PM

      In a supermarket, it would typically be on one of the lower shelves in the cleaning or laundry aisle. I tracked down this comment thread which says it is available at Coles. I hope that helps, and you haven’t gone on too much of a wild goose chase!

      • Reply Kate May 7, 2015 at 1:18 AM

        Thank you! I have looked in the cleaning and laundry aisles but probably not low enough. Next shopping trip I shall let my toddler out of her trolley seat and I’ll be sure to find it, if it’s at Toddler height! Excellent! (We may also have to buy the ten boxes she has busted open).

  • Reply notthehare May 7, 2015 at 1:44 AM

    Possibly a daft question but in the UK we have either baking POWDER or bicarbonate of SODA not baking soda… you know which of those baking soda would be?!

    Looking forward to this series as well, I really want to start being less dependent on chemicals and additives and so on and this seems to be a nice easy way to start making the shift!

    • Reply notthehare May 7, 2015 at 2:13 AM

      Was being lazy there….Have googled and baking soda is apparently bicarbonate of soda in the UK!

  • Reply notthehare May 7, 2015 at 2:05 AM

    Ah, another hitch! Borax has been branded unsafe in the UK and apparently we can no longer buy it here. I have found borax substitute – would this be ok?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 12, 2015 at 8:07 PM

      I think it should work fine if it has the same applications as Borax – what is it called?

  • Reply Fernanda Vazquez May 7, 2015 at 1:57 PM

    Can’t wait for my today shopping and of course next week “Green House Series” color!

  • Reply Olivia Masters May 7, 2015 at 6:36 PM

    Question…… laundry soda the same as washing soda? I have been to 5 stores and have only found laundry soda at one of them. If it’s not the right stuff I will have to order it online. Thanks 🙂

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 8, 2015 at 1:22 AM

      I did some digging, and without knowing the brand, I can’t say for sure if it’s the same thing. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. BUT, I did discover (and this is news to me, so it was cool to learn!) that you can MAKE washing soda from baking soda, just by baking it in your oven!

  • Reply Olivia Masters May 8, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    Thanks for getting back to me. It was called Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda. Will check out the link on how to make my own.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 8, 2015 at 5:06 PM

      You know, we are only using the washing soda to make laundry detergent so I’m sure this would work!

      • Reply Olivia Masters May 8, 2015 at 10:54 PM

        Awesome ……..and to be honest I don’t think I have time to make my own washing soda…… 16 month old keeps me too busy for that 😉

        • Reply sweetmadeleine May 8, 2015 at 10:56 PM

          Haha! Ain’t nobody got time for that! Glad it’ll work, sorry for the wild goose chase !

  • Reply Fernanda Vazquez May 12, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Hi Madeleine, I have a two questions, I haven’t been able to find everything.

    Where can I find Lavander and tea tree essential oil?
    Would mint extract work for the spearmint essential oil?

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 12, 2015 at 3:00 PM

      Some grocery stores (like Whole Foods? Not sure if they have those where you live) will carry them, but health food stores definitely should! The spearmint essential oil will be used to make toothpaste, so as long as you like the taste of the mint extract (I think it would be fine!) that should be a great substitute!

      • Reply Fernanda Vazquez May 12, 2015 at 7:30 PM

        Hmm, great thanks. I’ll keep on looking, I’m only missing the Lavander essential oil now!

        • Reply sweetmadeleine May 12, 2015 at 8:08 PM

          Fantastic! Feel free to pick any scent you find soothing or relaxing – it will be used for a room spray, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be lavender!

  • Reply Green House Week 2: Bathrooms - Sweet Madeleine May 13, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    […] to the bathroom, friends! If you’re new to the series, the Intro post is here. I’m going to try my very best to keep it short and sweet. Here […]

  • Reply Green House Week 3: The Bedroom - Sweet Madeleine May 20, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    […] Week 1: Intro Week 2: The Bathroom If you like these hippie ramblings and you’d like to read more, my book is available at most public libraries, on Kindle, in your local bookstore and here!  […]

  • Reply T May 23, 2015 at 8:08 PM

    Hi Madeleine,

    Does the flavour of the Dr Bronner’s matter? I’m in Australia too and too lazy to visit the stockists 🙂 I was going to buy online but they don’t seem to have a ‘plain’ flavour? I’m sure I’m just over thinking it, but thanks for your help 🙂

    (for Australian’s reading this blog the link is:

    • Reply sweetmadeleine May 23, 2015 at 9:02 PM

      No, it’s totally personal preference. I typically use peppermint just because I liked how “clean” it smelled, but bought almond last time and have been living that, too!
      If you do want unscented, I think the baby version is fragrance free 🙂

      • Reply T May 23, 2015 at 9:43 PM

        Thank you for such a quick reply 🙂

  • Reply Green House Week 5: The Living Room - Sweet Madeleine June 3, 2015 at 6:54 PM

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  • Reply Green House Series Week 6: The Playroom - Sweet Madeleine June 17, 2015 at 2:38 PM

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  • Reply Green House Week 7: Ladies Room - Sweet Madeleine July 1, 2015 at 10:09 PM

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    […] Week 1: Intro Week 2: The Bathroom Week 3: The Bedroom Week 4: The Kitchen Week 5: The Living Room Week 6: The Playroom Week 7: The Ladies’ Room […]

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