Go Green Under Your Sink!

Julie Chen with David Bach
Americans generate about 60 billion pounds of plastic waste each year, and almost half of it comes from discarded cleaning products.

But on The Early Show Thursday, financial author and green living expert David Bach shared tips from his latest book, "Go Green, Live Rich," on how to detoxify, de-clutter and simplify the cleaning products lurking under your sink.

"Go Green, Live Rich" outlines 50 ways to make your life, home, shopping, and finances greener.

By eliminating the toxic cleaning products under your sink, you'll not only have a healthier home but, in the long -un, a fatter wallet, Bach says.

He demonstrated ways to simplify and remove toxic cleaners and incorporate a variety of techniques and products to help viewers go green under the sink.

Bach, known for his "Latte Factor" (how spending a little bit of money each day adds up to a huge amount over time), is now talking about the "Litter Factor," and how wasting money and hurting the planet go hand-in-hand.

His tips:

Trash Bags: Plastic garbage backs take centuries to biodegrade, meaning all of your trash sits in landfills unable to decompose. Replace the usual trash bags with Perf Go Green biodegradable recycled plastic trash bags. They only take about a year or two to break down. They cost $4.40 for 12 bags.

Paper Towels: If your household uses a roll of paper towels a week, you could save more than $100 a year by switching to dishcloths or old t-shirts. One roll a week isn't much; think about how much you used the last time you had a big spill!

Concentrated Cleaners: Buy concentrated. Many cleaning products are diluted with water. Buying newer, concentrated products will save you time, money and space in your shopping bag and under the sink. Try concentrated, natural dishwashing soaps, which are free of dyes and synthetic perfumes. They save water, so you'll buy less of it. An example: Seventh Generation natural dish soap, $3.49 for 25 ounces.

All Purpose and Glass Cleaners: Limit clutter by keeping ONE, good, all-purpose cleaner to use on most messes. There's really no need to have a different cleaner for each mess. Example: Sun & Earth All-Purpose Cleaner, $4.09.

Arm & Hammer has a line of cleaning products in reusable bottles - empty bottles to which you simply add water and the contents of a concentrate refill cartridge to produce a plant-based cleaner, reducing the number of plastic bottles you dispose of and saving space under your sink. Bottles can be reused seven times so, instead of buying a whole new bottle, you simply buy a refill cartridge and add your own tap water, saving 25 percent over time. Arm & Hammer streak-free glass cleaner and multi-surface cleaner sells for $2.79 for 32 ounces.

Drain De-Clogger: Drano and other de-cloggers can be among the most harmful products under your sink, and are also some of the most expensive. Go green by de-clogging your sink with old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and add vinegar; you'll get the same drain clearing results without all the harmful toxins. Baking soda only costs $1.00 a pound.

Shopping Bags: One of the biggest wastes at the grocery store is the amount of plastic bags we go through. Look under most people's sinks and you're sure to find a messy pile of plastic shopping bags that will most likely never be used again. Instead, invest in a reusable shopping bag that you can use again and again. Now, more and more stores are selling their own bags right at the checkout line. For instance, a reusable shopping bag is 79 cents at Whole Foods.

Not So Fun Facts:

  • At any given time, the average American has eight different cleaning products under their sink.
  • This adds up to 40 pounds of cleaning chemicals in their homes that they spend up to $600 on each year
  • Americans generated 60 billion pounds of plastic waste in 2006 alone, only a meager 7 percent of which was recycled.
  • Plastic from discarded cleaning products generated 28 billion pounds of plastic waste in 2006.
  • Cleaning products rank last in terms of top-of-mind items that people consider recycling.

    The price difference isn't dramatic, but many people still believe that going green is going to COST them more money. Below is a clear example that green products are not only helping the environment and providing you with a healthier home, but are also cost effective:

    The "Before Sink" features:
    Plastic drawstring trash bags ($3.69 for 10 bags)
    Cellulose kitchen sponges ($2.49 for 4 sponges)
    Two large roll paper towels ($3.98 for 2 rolls)
    Antibacterial liquid dish soap ($1.79 for 16 oz)
    Ammonia-based glass cleaner ($2.79 for 32oz)
    All purpose cleaner with bleach ($3.29 for 32oz)
    Toxic drain de-clogger ($4.29 for 32oz)
    Disinfectant wipes ($4.49 for 35 wipes)
    Lysol disinfectant spray ($2.99 for 12.5oz)
    Copious non-biodegradable plastic bags!

    Total Cost: $29.80

    The "After Sink" features:
    Biodegradable recycled plastic garbage bags by Perf Go Green ($4.40 for 12 bags)
    Biodegradable washable, reusable sponges by Euro Sponge (2 for $3)
    Two recycled old t-shirts to use as kitchen towels ($0) or wash clothes ($5.99 for one special MuCloth cloth)
    Non-toxic biodegradable natural liquid dish soap by Seventh Generation ($3.49 for 25oz)
    Plant-based, refillable streak-free glass cleaner from Arm & Hammer ($2.79 for 32oz)
    Plant-based, refillable multi-surface cleaner from Arm & Hammer ($2.79 for 32oz)
    Non-toxic drain cleanser can be made with baking soda ($1 for 1lb) and hot water
    Reusable shopping bag made from recycled plastic bottles designed by Sheryl Crow exclusively for Whole Foods Market ($0.79)

    TOTAL COST: $24.25