Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 146 of our Green Year: A Clean Alternative With Olive Oil

In the Baird household, we often use olive oil when we are cooking a meal. As well, it can be used as a nice little salad dressing when mixed with some spices. However, beyond food, we never knew there were other uses for olive oil.
The use of olive oil dates back nearly 6,000 years, and today there are about 750,000,000 olive trees around the world that are cultivated. One of the cool things about these trees is that they can survive in many different areas of the world, including very harsh conditions like those found in Australia. Usually, the olive oil trees that are outside their native environment of the Mediterranean are farm trees, and kept from spreading into the native tree population.

Olive oil has three grades. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from when the olive oils are first pressed. This is the top quality olive oil available. Virgin olive oil has less than two percent in acidity, and there is no refined oil content. Pure olive oil is a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. To refine the oil, charcoal or chemical filters are used. We use extra-virgin olive oil because it has not gone through any other processes and is pure without chemical filters being used.

As for what you can use olive oil for, here are just a few suggestions that we will be trying in the Baird household. Most of these methods will keep you from having to buy chemicals that are harmful to yourself and the environment.

  1. After you have polished copper items in your house, you can use olive oil to slow down any appearance of tarnish on the copper.
  2. To keep your wooden cutting board from cracking or staining, rub some olive oil into it.
  3. Instead of applying paint thinner to your hands, use a cotton ball dipped in olive oil to clean the skin or hair with paint on it.
  4. No need for WD-40 when you have olive oil! If you have something squeaking, just put some olive oil in there to fix it.
  5. Plenty of times each day, someone jams their zipper. Olive oil can fix that when you dip a cotton ball in it and apply it to the zipper.
  6. We love to garden and have plants outside and inside growing items for us to eat. To work in the garden, we use garden tools (obviously), but they can rust when they get dirt sticking to them. To prevent that from happening, coat the garden tool blades in a little olive oil. This will also prevent the blades from rusting.
  7. Goodbye Pledge! With one part lemon juice and three parts olive oil, you can make a great wood furniture polish.
  8. If you do not want to use shaving cream, try some olive oil. It is natural and from what we hear, works just as good.
Two more interesting uses for olive oil is to use it on a sore throat for relief, and to help alleviate snoring (take a teaspoon before bed).

So, for Layla and I, we will be using olive oil in these applications rather than other products that may be harmful to the environment and ourselves.

Today, I read a story on that detailed the danger of Greenwashing to consumers. Greenwashing is when companies will tout themselves as green in an effort to sell something to an environmentally-conscious consumer, when the product is not green at all.
Recently, the environmental marketing firm, TerraChoice, went to big-box retail stores to look at the advertising claims of the products sold there. They looked at 1,018 products and only one, yes ONE, product lived up to the green claims of the product.
Why are companies beginning to greenwash their products to this degree to consumers you may ask. Well the reason may have something to do with the fact that in 2007, organic product sales amounted to $20 billion, a $10 billion increase over 2003.
If you are worried about greenwashing, then you can check out the Greenwashing Index, which rates ads by companies that claim to be green.

Remember, each day we list what we have done as part of Our Green Year on Our Green Year Journal, which lists what we buy and what we do to be green on a daily basis. While we do not put comments on the blog as it is only a journal, we welcome comments through e-mail, which we will address in the next entry.

As well, we want to hear from you and your own green stories. If you have a green story you want to share, e-mail it to us at the e-mail address on the side of the website. We will feature it here, along with any photos you send that show you going green.

We have also been featured on The Green Room, which is part of David Suzuki's Nature Challenge. It can be read here.