Monday, February 14, 2011

Whole Foods Market: Affordable Options for Simple Living

A few weeks ago I posted a bunch of recipes for homemade body and housecleaning alternatives. I'm in love with my deodorant and tooth powder, and formulated the absolutely best dish washing soap i've ever used:
  • Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds ($7 for a HUGE 32 oz bottle) 
  • Vinegar  
  • Water
Simply mix 1 part Sal Suds, 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water in a squirt bottle, old dishsoap bottle, or spray bottle and bam - dishwashing, counter cleaning, refrigerator scrubbing goodness! A little bit of Sal Suds goes a really long way. I used to swear by Mrs. Meyer's dish soap. That stuff goes a super long way as well, but it's really spendy and isn't concentrated like the Bronner's. The label recommends mixing 1 tsp to a full sink of dishes or gallon of water for all around household cleaning. I mixed some with some baking soda and cleaned the disgusting stains of my fridge door handle. Amazin' stuff!

Anyway, it is obvious that for environmental, health safety, and frugal reasons I've been trying to learn and formulate new cleaning products from the household and natural ingredients i have on hand. I just read a blog post about using lemon halves to bleach the sink or tub - genius! I cleaned off the nasty scuz from my car's battery with some baking soda and vinegar just yesterday before giving a neighbor a jump. I like to make things and make due, but it's also nice to find a good product available in stores for a modest price.

I've been contacted by a lot of PR folks lately looking to get me to pitch their product. I like free stuff as much, or probably more, than the next guy, but An Austin Homestead has standards and I will only accept products or articles that i feel will benefit my readers.  When a representative for Whole Foods contacted me, i jumped on the opportunity. Austin is the headquarters of Whole Foods and home of their very first store front. It's a doozy! They are remodelling as well, and the already vast realm of organic foods seems even vaster. I'm completely obsessed with this bulk food section and could spend all day there. Thus, i moved along quickly. I do have to wonder though, we are in the capitol of Texas and everything, but will all those lovely leeks really get purchased before their no longer fresh?

I had been asked to review some of the new and affordable cleaning products under the Whole Foods or 365 brand. I was almost out of my Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent, so i grabbed one of those and a glass cleaner. The prices were similar to the budget eco-friendly brands like Seventh Generation, but were much less than Mrs. Meyers or Ecover. The ingredient list is very clear and discloses all, and the packaging is attractive and ergonomic.
I'm pretty sure the people behind me in line through i was a nut taking pictures of the counter
The detergent smells DIVINE and seems to clean the dishes really, really well - even with blenders full of lotion. I don't love that the box is oversized to the amount of detergent inside. It comes wrapped in a plastic bag inside the recycled cardboard box (thin plastic, but plastic just the same) with a plastic scoop for divying out the detergent. This is more convenient than the normal pup out metal spout thingy, but i feel that packaging inside packaging is kind of misleading. I guess i'll be saving up a lot of little plastic scoops if i keep buying this brand of detergent - they're useful, but i'd probably rather use the metal spout, despite increased awkwardness. Whole Foods is very fashionable (i've actually wanted to work in their design dept working on packaging, but alas) and knows what the consumer has an eye for.

The glass cleaner and all purpose cleaner's bottle are very attractive and made from partially recycled content. It isn't see through, so there's no need to add freaky blue dye to the solution. The glass cleaner i have been using is some $1.50 grocery store brand with ammonia. I'm not sure if ammonia is terrible for the environment. Probably is. It sure works well though. The WF glass cleaner doesn't cut through the puppy nose prints as well as the ammonia cleaner does, and it doesn't spread out as easily. It seems more concentrated. It does wipe off streak free, so i'll continue to use it when the heavy duty toxic stuff isn't necessary.

I'll still be calling Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck" and keep most of my grocery shopping confined to HEB and Central Market - but it's nice to find out that there really are very affordable options to be found within the temple of Whole Foods.

Now, if only they wouldn't support Monsanto and GMO Alfalfa.... but that's for another post....

*Disclaimer: i was given a Whole Foods gift card in order to purchase these items, but was under no obligation to choose the 365 or Whole Foods brand items, or even to review them here. My opinions are solely my own.

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