Category Archives: personal care

I’m ready, I think.

I have been thinking for a quite a while about switching from toilet paper to cloth, because our daughter uses cloths when she uses the potty. She’s switching to using the toilet more and more and I hate that it means moving to toilet paper too, but she wants to be grown up and that’s what we grown-ups do. I wanted to make the change to cloth rather than having her move away from it, but it seemed a bit “out there” even for me and I live “there”. When some one says “out there” they mean the place where the weirdy beardies like Sarah McGaughey live. Yes, I really was called a weirdy beardy, and yes, I liked it.
A while ago Kyle and I had a little communication glitch that resulted in there being absolutely no toilet paper in the house on a day of a blizzard. I decided to try using the wee ones cloths. It was way easier than I expected. I’m going to go into detail now so if you are squeamish, stop reading now!
Pees were no problem. It seemed natural to use cloth. As for poos, it was way easier. It took one warm soft wet cloth to get a very clean bum rather than wads of scratchy paper, and it was really easy to rinse and throw in a bucket after.
Kyle still thinks the water usage for cloths make it equal to toilet paper, but I don’t buy it. I didn’t use much water to rinse and when they are washed in our little portable machine and hung to dry, I’m sure the water usage is less than the water, energy, chemicals, plastics, and carbon that go into making (even recycled) toilet paper. Unfortunately there are no unbiased studies that I can find on the topic-the one study of cloth diapers which claimed the energy and water usage was equal to that of disposables was very biased. Firstly, it was funded by PAMPERS. Secondly the studied diapers that were washed industrially with bleach and dried in a dryer. Thirdly they didn’t study the water or energy used to make the disposables.
Back to me, my daughter didn’t want me to use her cloths again, and I haven’t been able to buy or make them yet. I’ve read about using old flannel sheets (cut up into small squares and sewn around the edges) and I think it’s a great idea but I haven’t done it yet. I may just order these ones and some bamboo wipes from the same seller. I can make them but there is such a line up of things I have to sew before I get to them, and I want to make the change soon. In fact, just this second I set a deadline for myself to do it by the end of February.
Obviously this isn’t for everyone. I am not at all bothered by bodily fluids.* I still find poo and fart jokes hilarious. I use reusable menstrual pads and cups. We used cloth diapers and natural infant hygiene when our little one was a baby. Scatological is one of my favorite words. I can’t believe I didn’t make this change before. I also can’t believe I could come up with a funnier title for this post!
* Just to clarify, I am bothered by unknown bodily fluids, like huge puddles of urine on my doorstep (dog, person???) or puke on the sidewalk, but my own or my family’s or friends is not a problem to me*

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Beauty and the Beast

A friend was recently talking about a website that rates products on their healthfulness and environmental accountability. She was talking about the fact (which is another reason I make my own products) that what we put on our skin goes directly into our body so we should be as careful about that as we are with food. I can’t find the specific site she was referring to ( I will ask her and post more later) but I did find a lot of information about ingredients that are harmful to living things. I knew about most of these before-that’s why I make as much of my own body and skin care as possible. The problem is that I am really forgetful, so while I retain the knowledge that many products should be avoided, I often forget the exact things I should be avoiding. I found many sites with lists, and this is the one that I found most helpful . They are all very similar but this one seems to have the most information and sources to back it up.
One of the chemicals I cam across on the top of every list was Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. Laboratories actually use this to irritate skin so they can them test healing products. It delivers nitrates straight into the body, which have been proven to cause cancer. Greeeeaaat. I was pretty sure my products were safe, but I decided to check. My Shampoo, is in a bottle I keep refilling and the ingredients have worn off. Kingston Soap Company doesn’t have an ingredients list on their website so I will have to ask them on Saturday when I go to the Farmer’s Market. The conditioner I have is Green Beaver and it seems to be good across the board-though it makes me head really itchy so I’m not going to buy more. I will try their other products though because they do seem to be actually healthy and “green”
I just dyed my hair with “Ice Cream professional dye” that I somehow convinced myself was a natural product. Ha ha ha. It has almost all of the EVIL CHEMICALS TO AVOID in it. Oh Dear! It has Ceateryl Alcohol, Glycerol Stearate Se, Ammonium Hydroxide, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Cocoyl Sulphite, Propylene Glycol , synthetic fragrance and more! EEEEK! OK no more hair dye for me (wipes tear from eye).
It amazes me how we ( I) can put vanity in front of so many things. The other day I rode my bike in high heels just because I got them for free and wanted to wear them. It was so stupid. My foot kept slipping off all over the place. Fortunately I didn’t have an accident. Dying my hair is kind of like that but way worse. With the bike scenario, I was really only hurting myself and maybe one other person (if I ran into someone, but that would. be unlikely as I couldn’t even get going!) The chemicals however, have consequences that far surpass my own body. What exactly are these compounds doing to the water and the fish, the air, etc.? And now that I have it in my home, how do I get rid of it. this is not the first time I have been faced with this type of conundrum (once it was Ritz crackers). I accidentally buy something terrible, and I don’t want to use it but I don’t know how to dispose of it.
So now what? The simplest solution would be to go without shampoo or conditioner and use simple things on your skin, like olive oil. Soap nuts are another option, as is making your own products or buying from me:) There are a growing number of products out there that are environmentally sound. Farmer’s Markets and Etsy or Hyena cart are a good place to look (though I suspect that the shampoo I get from the farmer’s market has SLS in it and that’s why my head is itchy).
As for hair dye, pure Henna seems to be the only good one and you have to look at labels carefully to make sure there are no synthetics added. Or we could all just be happy with the way we looked in the first place. Did I just say that? GASP? What about the economy!?!?!

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Goodbye old friend

After 15 years of use, my reusable razor has died. Since I do occasionally shave my legs (quite frequently in the summer) and even more occasionally shave my armpits, I need a new one.
The obvious choice for me, as I am way too clumsy to try out a straight razor, is PRESERVE. They make personal products and kitchen ware out of yogurt containers and accept all their products back for recycling. Some of the products now come in postage paid mail in packages to send back when you are done with them.
We already use and love their toothbrushes. In fact, I just printed out a postage paid mail in form to mail in our growing pile of used toothbrushes to be recycled. I’ll keep you posted once I receive my razor.

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It’s not easy being Green (a Confessional)


If you don’t know us, you may have guessed it anyway…we are broke. We are living off a student loan which would be hard for a single person to get by on. We are doing OK, but we have been finding it difficult to afford some of the  “green products’ that we previously purchased regularly, and we are constantly looking at our buying habits to see what can go. One of the items we used to regularly by was Organic Essentials Cotton Swabs. They cost more than other “regular” brands, but I always insisted they were worth it. The packaging always bugged me a bit because the box is wrapped in plastic, so I pay twice as much for something that is biodegradable but it comes in packaging that is not. Anyhow, we couldn’t find them here in Kingston and ordering them online was looking to be too expensive, so I broke down and bought LIFE Brand cotton swabs with paper sticks. I wondered why they were not biodegradable. I mean if they were, wouldn’t they want to advertise that on the package? I have done some research and I can’t find an answer. It seems that because the sticks are paper, they should be biodegradable unless some chemical treatment makes them not so. I will have to call the company and then post an update.  If you can afford it, I  would still argue that Organic Essential are better because they are organic, and the farmers are treated and paid well. But for the time being, unless I discover some pernicious property about them, we will be using LIFE brand cotton swabs.
The other big problem we have come across is our apartment. We had to find somewhere cheap and fast at the busiest time of the year for apartment hunting, so we are in an apartment with no yard or balcony (for growing food or hanging laundry) and no ventilation. That means we have to keep the windows open even in the winter (please don’t tell the energy efficiency police) and we can’t hang laundry to dry because our apartment is so humid that any added humidity causes major mold problems.
Also, we are not always buying organic or even local-we still try, but when things are really tight, we close our eyes and go to the supermarket.

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What is the one item you can’t live without?

Have you ever noticed that most interviews of famous women (especially if they are sex symbols) include this question? Sometimes they say “What is the one thing you can’t like without” and I always think “air”, but the answers are things like “My #12 red Mac lipstick” or “My Prada stilettos”.
If I was asked that question (not that I am claiming to be a sex symbol;), I would have to answer baking soda!
We use it in baking, wash the house with it*, brush our teeth with it, put it under our arms, and now I’m washing my face with it. I tried it on my hair but that experiment failed.
I do, however, highly recommend it as a facial cleanser. I was having a hard time with finding or making a good cleanser that didn’t leave my skin dry and pimply at the same time. Yes I am a thirty something with pimples-what of it? Finally I broke down and started washing with Dr.Bronners mild baby soap, which I can buy in bulk at Grass Roots, Big Carrot or Eco-Existence. It works great! Just wet your face and rub the baking soda on until it looks like a mask. Then rinse it off,with hot water, then cold. If I need to moisturize I use a little coconut oil, and if I want to exfoliate I use baking soda. It kind of tingles and leaves my face feeling clean and soft.
* Since we have had a child we use baking soda way more than borax because borax is a little caustic. We use baking soda and vinegar for the toilet, sinks, bathtub, walls, and diaper pail. We also use baking soda on pots and pans that have had food burnt onto them. Just dump a bunch in with a bit of water and let it sit overnight before scrubbing ( a scrunched up and knotted onion bag makes a great scrubber).

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Apparently I love talking about underarms-that’s trashy right?

Despite the fact that someone has asked me why I already talked about deoderant more than once, I am going to mention it again.
We have been using home-made deoderant which works really well, cuts out trash and is simple and easy to make. It’s coconut oil, baking soda and tea tree oil and or patcholi. We discovered it irritated Kyle’s skin, but fixed that by making an oilier version. The problem is the oilier version is staining our clothes. So far using baby powder to soak it up and then dish soap has seemed to work. I thought of getting mainstream stain remover or even grease fighting dishsoap, but that seems to sort of defeat the purpose of having all natural deoderant.
Hmmm what to do, what to do.
I finally tried the Thyme to wash cleanser that I mentioned in the DIY hygiene post. I don’t like it. I have way more pimples then before and I have to keep it in the fridge, which I find terribly inconvenient. Really, I want to be able to just leave it in the bathroom so it’s there when I need it. It’s not pure laziness- once I am in the bathroom for a shower, I can’t leave again because Aurora will see me and freak out “mommm-MEEE!” I have to sort of sneak away.
I think I’ll try the ginger one next and tell you how it goes.

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Fuch’s No, Preserve is a Go!

If you read my post about what I do in the bathroom, you’ll know that up until now I used Fuch’s toothbrushes because they were biodegradable. I tired the brand with Aurora and she refused to brush her teeth altogether until I figured out the toothbrush was the problem and switched her to a softer brush.
About a month ago a friend asked me how I liked Fuch’s. I hadn’t really thought about it at all, I just used them because it seemed the right thing to do. Upon ponderance ( I made up that word but I’m going to use it any way), in the three years I’ve used them I’ve never seen one break down in the compost and I’m not sure how long it takes. When I stopped to think about how I liked them, I had to truthfully answer, not very much. They are very stiff and boxy and the bristles fall out in my mouth. Fuch Fuch’s!
Said friend told me she used Preserve, so I bought one yesterday and Oh I have happy teeth! It is so soft and sleek and my teeth feel so clean. I just want to brush all the time. They are also made out of recycled plastic and you can mail it back to the company (free of charge) to be recycled when you are finished.
I’m hoping they make a child’s one because I think Aurora would like it. I think I can convert the whole family-this toothbrush is amazing.

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