You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of the new when it comes to household greening. I’m drawn to envelope-pushing items that are both curious and contemporary and incorporate the innovative use of sustainable materials, energy-efficient technologies, and unlikely upcycling.

However, it must be pointed out that there are also plenty of simple, old school domestic staples that boast serious enviro-cred — things that have been around for years and may not be fashionably green but will help you minimize your household eco footprint.

This is why I’m starting a monthly “Back to basics” feature that highlights low-tech and low-price items for the home … simple stuff that you may have passed over at the store because it doesn’t have flashy packaging or the phrase “eco-friendly” written all over it.

First up is Bon Ami 1886 Formula Cleaning Powder, a versatile, still-around-120-years-later cleaner that’s free of detergent, bleach, dye, and perfume, making it an excellent eco-alternative to products like Comet. Plus, the retro packaging with the just-hatched baby chick is pretty cool.

With sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate, and feldspar as active ingredients, biodegradable Bon Ami Cleaning Powder is still kicking around although it's not as easy to find in supermarkets as the updated Bon Ami formula, Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser (still chlorine-, perfume-, and dye-free).

The scratch-free uses for Bon Ami Cleaning Powder are vast — it cleans and polishes just about every household surface imaginable: glass, mirror, porcelain, chrome, aluminum, ceramic tile, stainless steel, and the list goes on and on. It’s even used in NASA’s SkyLab and is recommended by Kohler and Corning Ware.

Never invited this all-natural, American-made “good friend” into your home? Checking out your local hardware store is a safe bet or you can buy in bulk at Agelong Bands. The super nifty “eco-friendly general store” Priscilla Woolworth also carries it.

And by the way, said vintage-chic packaging is in excess of 75 percent recycled material. 

Is there an eco/old-fashioned household item that you'd like to see featured in a future "Back to basics" post? 

Image: ozfan22

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