by Emma Greenwood
There’s a noxious smell drifting down the stairs. I go investigate and find the Other Half standing in front of the toilet bowl with the door open composing trickle music. ‘Gross!’ I shout. ‘Shut the DOOR!’ and stomp downstairs again muttering ‘drink more water’ and ‘toxic waste’.
Later, he of the venomous bladder claims it was vinegar, NOT oppressing the household with public peeing and offensive fumes but testing a green cleaning method he’s found on the web: half a bottle of vinegar, down the loo, left overnight and HEY PRESTO, with a scrub of a brush, all that vile yellow scale will miraculously disappear.
Like watching David Copperfield, I’m sceptical.
Come morning though, the u bend is dazzling and there follows a burst of further cleaning adventures by the newly titled greenman: ground egg shells and baking soda for scrubbing pans; essential oil in water for air freshener; lemon juice instead of laundry bleach.
And a plunger!
In the Seventies, we had a plunger under the sink, covered in dust and housing a spider. Its brick-red rubber mouth was Dad’s sure-fire method of unblocking pipes. Never did we go to the shop and buy an ominous-looking bottle of super fast sink-unblocker adorned with more death’s heads than a Goth’s bedroom. If the plunger failed Dad simply unscrewed the trap and gave it a rinse. No plumbers, no poison, no poorly poisson.
Fast forward forty years (eek) and consumers would rather squirt a stream of nose stripping toxin down the waste pipes than check out a Videojug on YouTube, get a bucket, bend down and unscrew a pipe; no one wants to get their hands dirty.
But we are getting our hands dirty aren’t we? In the Pontius Pilate sort of way. What we put down the sink ends up in our rivers. Household cleaners compromise aquatic life.
Elbow grease is biodegradable. So is vinegar. The only thing our fishy friends have to fear from a bottle of your chip shop’s best is when it’s accompanied by chips.
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