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Green Housekeeping Paperback – January 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to the EPA, "the air in the average American home is between two and ten times more polluted than the air just outside the threshold." Sandbeck, a onetime housecleaner and roofer, explains why a homemaker must avoid toxins and pesticides if the home is to maintain a balanced, healthy ecosystem. The first chapter—touting the benefits of tidying up and getting organized—is tedious, but the book hits its groove in a chapter on "Organic Cleaning." Here, readers learn that all too often the very products we trust to keep our homes clean contain toxins and antimicrobials that kill beneficial organisms. Sandbeck touches on a wide array of housekeeping issues, sometimes almost straying dangerously off-topic. From preventing mold and mildew and controlling garden pests, to computer care and avoiding electrical fires, Sandbeck doles out knowledge with an easy-to-digest blend of authority and humor. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This book has everything! From clearing your clutter to protecting the health and well-being of your family. Further, everyone wants to make a difference, and the ideas in Organic Housekeeping make a difference for our fragile, endangered planet."
-- Cecile Andrews, author of The Circle of Simplicity

"For anything and everything you want to know about how to keep your house truly clean, this guide likely has the answer. Keep a copy stashed where you store your ecofriendly cleaning supplies so it'll always be handy with the simple solution for any cleaning dilemma."
-- Danny Seo, author of Simply Green Parties and Simply Green Giving

"Ellen Sandbeck once and for all provides a practical, commonsense guide to cleaning up our messes -- the clutter and disorganization that keeps us from thriving, and more important the toxins in our homes that negatively impact our health and well-being. In a world inundated with toxins on the one hand, and an unreasonable desire for sterility on the other, Sandbeck gives us refreshing insight into how to live in balance, challenging us to recognize that the oversterilization of our environment has contributed to the pandemic of allergic and autoimmune disorders. She also guides us on how to improve our homes and our health without constant exposure to household chemicals."
-- Dr. Mark Hyman, coauthor of Ultraprevention and author of UltraMetabolism

"Ellen Sandbeck's Organic Housekeeping is a lighthearted take on taming the house monster, written by a kindred spirit who would rather be outdoors."
-- Barbara Damrosch, author of The Garden Primer

"As simple as it gets! Sandbeck presents some surprising solutions to age-old cleaning challenges, complete with the 'whys' as well as the 'how-tos.'"
-- Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple

"Organic Housekeeping is uncommon good sense for protecting our health and the planet. It's sustainability with style. Read this book and save yourself and your pocketbook too. All hail the Nontoxic Avenger!!"
-- John de Graaf, coauthor of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic

"Ellen Sandbeck has provided the public with a fabulous catalog of useful information that will help all of us protect our health and our environment."
-- Mary Gant, Program Analyst, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health

"Throughout this book, Ellen Sandbeck's deep concern for the health of our Earth and its citizens is obvious. She demonstrates how to help and protect ourselves by compiling an amazing number of ways we can live our life in a healthier, more organized and less expensive manner. It's a book you can read straight through because it is so entertaining and helpful. I give it my eco-green thumbs up!!"
-- Tessa Hill, Chair, Children's Health Environmental Coalition and President, Kids for Saving Earth

"This wonderful book is about far more than how to remove cooked-on grime from skillets without poisoning yourself in the process (although it does that, too). It's about tending a home in the way one tends a garden. The result is harmony, serenity, and less work. Really. I took a long time to read Organic Housekeeping because I kept leaping up mid-chapter to go off and execute another brilliant suggestion. Thank you, Ellen Sandbeck."

-- Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment and Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood

"Organic Housekeeping is authoritative, clear, and very useful. Readers of the book will be better equipped to protect themselves from the deluge of synthetic chemicals which surround us."

-- Herbert L Needleman M.D., coauthor of Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416544550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416544555
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Sandbeck was born in San Francisco in 1958, raised in Marin County, and graduated from the College of Creative Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1979 with a B.A. in studio art. After graduation she quickly learned what "starving artist" meant.
She and her future husband started an organic landscaping business in the S.F. Bay Area in 1980. They started with tools bought on credit from their first client, and commuted to their first job (tools and all) via the B.A.R.T. (Bay Area Rapid Transit).
Huge amounts of library and field research helped Ellen Sandbeck formulate a philosophy and practice of organic landscaping which was efficient, healthy, and fun. Ms. Sandbeck lost 35 pounds in her first year of landscaping, without dieting or other exercise.
Ellen Sandbeck and her husband moved to Duluth, Minnesota in 1985, in search of a slower pace of life. Their family has now expanded to include two children, two dogs, tens of thousands of composting worms, and a small flock of laying hens.
Ms. Sandbeck grows and sells composting worms and has set up worm composting systems for individuals, schools, businesses, and the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, where a one hundred foot long bin is used to compost food waste from the camp.
Ms. Sandbeck became a writer when a landscaping client volunteered her to write a booklet about non-toxic gardening and housekeeping for a non-profit group. Due to an enormous amount of stockpiled material, the booklet became a book, "Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles," which Ms. Sandbeck then self-published. A few years later, much to Ms. Sandbeck's surprise, a literary agent was able to sell the reprint rights to "Slug Bread" to a major New York publisher. Three books later, Ms. Sandbeck is still surprised to be a writer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By S. Seeley on July 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ellen Sandbeck's book, Organic Housekeeping, has joined The Joy of Cooking on my bookshelf as a reference standard. It is packed full of practical ideas, written concisely and with humor. When it comes to housecleaning, I need all three.

My canine friend left me a mess on my living room carpet, which by the time I discovered it had set itself rather stubbornly. I lined up all the carpet cleaning products from under the sink, grabbed my magnifying glass to read the fine print on all the cans, then tried to determine which would help and which would make the mess worse. My frustration mounted until I remembered recently receiving a copy of Sandbeck's book. I grabbed it and started with "Rug and Carpet Care" and found I had a hard time putting her book down.

I noticed immediately how well indexed Organic Housekeeping is. It was easy to find the answers to quite a number of my current household dilemmas. From my mother-in-law's flour moths to how to avoid bacteria-ridden kitchen sponges, I have found inexpensive, non-toxic, healthful ways to resolve common household problems. I pick it up for one thing and find I am enjoying the insights and her common sense approach to house cleaning so much I have read well beyond the answer to my original question.

I have no problem giving this book a five out of five star rating.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Gordon on July 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The first washing machine inside the door of the laundromat I used to go to in Berkeley was named Cleanliness. The one right next to it was Godliness. I always tried to use those two to make sure my bets were covered both in this life and the next, but I never realized what an ungodly toxic proposition the pursuit of cleanliness is until I read Organic Housekeeping, by the practical organic ecologist, Ellen Sandbeck. The author's wry wit, thorough research, and empirical use of herself, her home, her family, her pets, and her own charming illustrations to demonstrate her eminently sane and healthful approach to housekeeping are solvents tough enough to cut through the greasy buildup of a million commercials for synthetic cleaning products that, as this book shows, not only fail to get things cleaner but slowly kill us while they're doing it. Most of the time, we learn, vinegar, baking soda, and a shot of vodka will do the trick. Full of tips on everything from reducing clutter to cleaning the air you breathe, Organic Housekeeping will dissolve your guilt over never getting things clean or organized enough and save you from having to clip coupons for all kinds of stuff you don't need.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Stinkyluk on July 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book has way more information than just about cleaning. Ms. Sandbeck tells you what will make your life easier then gives hints for accomplishing such as how to unclutter when you live with (or are) a pack rat. She tells of how to keep a home clean and neat without being a clean freak or having to be Martha Stewart. This book is filled with normal things that normal people can do inexpensively. There are great ideas for dealing with insects, water conservation, recycling, and more. I also thought that the writing style was easy to understand and amusing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Plummer VINE VOICE on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Growing up using chemical cleaners, and not growing up with anyone who is chemically sensitive, I never thought about going through life without needing the stuff. This book was a real eye-opener. I picked it up as I am about to embark on owning a new home and trying to maintain it in an eco-friendly (and inexpensive) manner. I found the book thorough, entertaining, and reasonable. It covers a myriad of topics besides household cleaning; eco-conscious fabric/material/building choices, natural personal hygiene, safe lawncare/gardening, home safety, etc. I was not a big fan on how each chapter was set up though. For instance, while the theme may be "laundry," all the laundry info just seemed tossed in without any organization. It also would've been nice to have had a key with all the supplies recommended for each chapter. In order to get an idea of the supplies you would need in order to upkeep your home, you basically need to read through each chapter and just write down the supplies she frequently refers to (there's only a handful of products she refers to throughout the book so she could've even annotated them at the beginning of it). It's not that big a deal, it just would've made it more handy. Even though the chapters seem disorganized, its saving grace is a decent index, so you can get the info you need. While the book alerts the reader of all the toxins chemical cleaners provide, it offers them in an informative manner, not in a way that would make you feel guilty if you used them. I didn't feel like this book was preachy, which is something alternative living books tend to do. All in all, this is an approachable, helpful guide that just may change your life and make you think about your choices in the future. This would make an awesome housewarming gift.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kaiser on July 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ellen Sandbeck's latest is a truly practical guide to getting things clean without killing yourself. Some of the tips are oldies, but goodies that our grandparents used, but there's plenty of new, and quite clever, suggestions as well. I also really appreciate that she encourages the reader to find their own comfort level with what they think is "clean." Instead of dropping twenty or thirty bucks on cleaning products that really do more harm than good, buy this book and leave the world a better place!
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