A few weeks ago, our eldest son jokingly called me “Mrs. Suzuki,” an obvious reference to the well-known environmentalist.  I smiled and reflected on when and why I became so passionate about protecting the environment (also known as earthkeeping).  I was reminded of my former jobs at Environment Canada and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but soon realized that I was committed to protecting all of God’s creation even when I was a young mother and housewife.

When our sons were born, my husband and I engaged a local cloth diaper service company to lessen our family’s impact on the environment.  Disposable diapers were reserved for emergencies and special outings.  To save energy, we washed all clothes in cold water and hung them to dry on an indoor clothesline.  We continue these energy-saving practices to this day, with a view to protecting the Earth for future generations of God’s children.  Our sons have also adopted these practices, recognizing that their favourite cotton t-shirts will last longer and acknowledging that they will be less tempted to be drawn into the consumerism trap of replacing items when they are already abundantly blessed.

Other suggestions for environmentally friendly housekeeping include the following tips, which appeared last year in various publications.

Salt and club soda are effective stain removers for fabric, and are much less expensive than commercial stain removers.  With regard to cleaning bathrooms, it should be noted that toilet cleaners contain harsh chemicals.  For a safer cleaner, use undiluted vinegar.  Vinegar is also a great general cleaning product and a natural disinfectant.  If you do not like the smell of vinegar, you can minimize the odour by adding a few drops of lemon or a few drops of an essential oil.  Another common item, baking soda, is an inexpensive natural odour absorber (great for refrigerators).  To scrub dirt and stains while reducing odours, use a paste of baking soda and water on a cloth.

To make your own non-toxic furniture polish, pour two teaspoons of olive oil into a 500 ml (approximately 16 oz.) spray bottle.  Add 20 drops or more of pure essential lemon oil.  Add 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar.  Fill the bottle with purified water.  Shake well before each use (in order to combine the oil, water and vinegar).

In the kitchen, always make sure that the dishwasher is full before running it.  To save water when washing dishes by hand, rinse the dishes in a basin (or second sink) rather than running water over the dishes.

As we approach Earth Day on April 22, let us consider daily practices which will preserve and protect this magnificent world that God has created.  For additional earthkeeping ideas, you may wish to consult the Sierra Club’s Green Home website (  You are also invited to view the new stewardship bulletin board across from the Friendship Lounge.

Your sister earthkeeper,

Barbara Henessy, Chair

Stewardship Committee