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What I Learned from Mr. Pearson

How you can clean your windows in an environmentally friendly way.

The historic building in which I once worked was over 200 years old. In the afternoon, the sunlight would come through the old, wavy glass windows and fall across the planks of the floor. I always noticed how sparkling the windows looked.

Mr. Pearson was the person who kept the building clean, and one thing that amazed me about him was that although he was in his 80s, he did such a great job. Not an easy task with a building old enough to have been a village store during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin had a charge account, and Washington’s troops were housed there. 
Mr. Pearson had lived in town since the turn of the 19th to 20th century, and as we became better acquainted, I came to know and respect Mr. Pearson’s abilities and to look forward to his telling me of the local lore.

One day, as I leaving the building, briefcase in hand, I noticed Mr. Pearson doing an odd thing. He had scrunched up a newspaper, and was rubbing the windows with it. I didn’t say anything, but I did check out the windows the next day, wondering.

What I saw were clear, sparkling windows. I was mystified, and the next time I saw him, I asked, “What were you doing with the newspaper the other day?” 

“Cleaning the windows,” he replied.

“With scrunched-up newspapers? How could they make the windows sparkle like that?”

“Well,” he smiled. “I s’pose it had somethin’ to do with the vinegar I put on ‘em.”

“But the windows are sparkling. Are you sure newspapers and vinegar were all you used?

“Yes’m,” he replied. The next weekend, feeling a bit silly, I tried it at home. Oddly, the windows looked better than they had with any fancy cleaning agent I had used before.

Mr. Pearson passed away 20 years ago, but I’m telling this story, because last week, someone wondered why I said vinegar could be useful as a cleaning agent. Unfortunately, so many of the cleaners we buy at our stores contain ingredients that are dangerous to the environment, and poisonous to ourselves and wildlife. It’s a wonder, we all seem to have bought into the idea of thinking commercial products in pretty packaging are better.

Woops! Gotta go. My window looks dirty. I’m going to wad up a newspaper and grab my bottle of vinegar. It’ll be sparkling in no time! Thank you, Mr. Pearson!


Feel free to email me your environmental tips and questions!

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