Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 1: homemade deodorant...you and I are going to get along just fine.

So far, this deodorant has been superb. I wore it all day, and it was a pretty warm day today, too. Then after meeting some friends for a beverage, I was telling them about it and they rocked a semi smell test...pretty legit to do in the middle of a pub for sure...and unless they were trying to save face and not tell me, I think it was a success - I couldn't smell anything either. Later on, as a second check, when changing into pjs, I did the smell test of the t-shirt and, nothing! I think that means it was a great success. Of course, I will have to try it whilst exercising but in all honesty, I'm loving what I'm using, and the results I'm seeing thus far.

And, on a somewhat related side note, the makeshift travel edition of my shampoo/conditioner:

I re-used the bottle and just put apple cider vinegar in it, and then as you can see, the bag is full of baking soda; all I need is water. I hope I calculated my amounts correctly, and if not, it's not a huge deal to find some more of this stuff.  I tried to find an old pill bottle, or something equally small, to put the baking soda in but alas, I could not find one that was empty. The bag I used, however, is re-used and will never be tossed as long as I'm in possession of it. 

Now, in theory where I'm going will probably have baking soda but I figured I might as well bring it, just in case. And, the plan is to find a cup, or two, where I'll be staying (which shouldn't be hard) and then I'll be able to mix the goodness and bask in the glory that is. 

Just hoping security likes this idea as much as I do. If only I could powderize, aka dehydrate, the apple cider and I'd be at an even higher level of  good to go-ness, with no risk of spillage. 

Reducing the Cluttery Toxins and Replacing with DIY (Toothpaste & Deoderant)

Edit: June 16,2012 - I did make toothpaste, as noted below; I've since stopped using it and I only use my toothbrush & water - it works great, and I've been doing that for the past 6ish months - I've also gone to the dentist in that time, and she confirmed that my teeth were clean as can be! For those who have "soft teeth" as I noted, it might be good to do a fluoride rinse - but that is something you need to assess, and see what is best for yourself - this is also just what works for me - we are all different. 

As you may know, I've been slowly trying to adjust my daily routine to rid myself of exposure to harsh chemicals/toxins. I recently acquired a whole slew of products from my sister - who moved to a different city and decided not to haul all that with her - she figured she'd give them to me so I could figure out how to deal with them  i.e. use them. Had this been a year ago - I would have gladly jumped at the opportunity to use her state-of-the-art products from various high-end hair salons. It's funny how things change, how aware we can become of the toxins that surround our every-day lives.

Here's just a snapshot. I decided to display all these chemicals just to get some perspective on the matter. Granted, some of my old products are in here too but it really makes you realize how much STUFF we accumulate over they years (or even year!) I'll bet if you go into the homes of most North Americans and you'll find tonnes of this stuff. We either get in the habit of switching products out of boredom, we feel it's not working for our hair anymore, or a lot of us just get lured in by a new packaging or "beauty technology breakthroughs" ultimately, marketing ploys to buy more stuff.  We have to keep consuming and keep that GDP rising, right? Long story short - it's all toxic! And, at risk of being overly dramatic, these toxins are killing us slowly and are extremely harmful to the environment.  There is an enormous amount of information out there now showing us which chemicals/toxins and lots of helpful tips and tricks - so check them out! Some examples include - Gillian Deacon's handy pocket guide for toxins to avoid (I take this one everywhere - I printed it in black and white, and on paper I found in the recycle bin, cut it out and put it in my wallet), or another one put out by David Suzuki Foundation. It can be extremely overwhelming to realize everything you've ever put on your body is bad for you - but no stress - the answers and options to alternatives are there, and they're better than ever.

Before I get into the alternatives I wanted to mention, I was a little bit flustered on what to do with all these products, that's obviously a LOT to just dump out and then recycle the bottle. As such,  I did some research and in Calgary, The Mustard Seed's location at 7025 44 St. SE, (403)-723-9422 accepts opened/used products! I know that some other local shelters in Vancouver do as well so, fret not! This is far better than dumping it in the landfill.

I must also express my struggle with trying to reconcile the conundrum of.... "not good enough" for me, but good enough for those less fortunate. And, to be honest, it's a struggle. So, if you have any comments or tips, I'm all ears. My desire to reduce waste is being pushed up against my desire to show love, respect, and compassion to all. But then I think - well, maybe I'm just extreme, and isn't something better than nothing? ...it's a back and forth thing that happens in my head.

Alternatively, your empty bottles can be used for the new, toxic-free products you make - which is what I did with the empties, and I've been saving some good ones for a while now. I've heard it's best to use either glass or plastics numbered 2, 4, or 5.

And now, here are some I've tried:


I used the same recipe that Clean Bin Project's Jen and Grant used during their waste-free year, see their blog. It's great but a couple things:

1. I accidentally used peppermint essential oil versus extract - BIG mistake (kind of). Peppermint oil is significantly more potent than the extract and it can be really dangerous if you don't know what you're doing with it so - a word of caution - do your research and use your judgment. The menthol within the peppermint oil can be lethal at certain levels, and can cause a number of ailments - exercise caution, please. When I first used the toothpaste it hurt my teeth - especially where the enamel is missing - I think it's largely due to using 15drops of peppermint oil - so just a heads up on that, too.

2. The texture is somewhat rough, and may be too harsh on your teeth if you have softer teeth than average. I definitely have softer teeth so we'll see how  it goes. And, unfortunately I'm one of the unlucky people who needs fluoride on their teeth otherwise they start to ache/enamel wears off....previous to this toothpaste, I was using Tom's without fluoride, as a result, my teeth were becoming super sensitive so I've since had to add a fluoride rinse into my regimen. There's definitely a lot of people in arms about fluoride - I'm of mixed review - for those who are fortunate enough to not need it - great, I envy you - my teeth seem to need it.And on that note - if you do, too - I imagine you may be able to add something to the homemade stuff, or else rock the rinse, too.

Update:  I thought it was the peppermint oil that was hurting my teeth but I'm thinking it's the salt. I did my own test and took some of each ingredient on my finger, then touched it to my tooth where the enamel has chipped off - the one that stung the most was salt, though baking soda did hurt a bit, too. As such I altered the recipe a bit - "Sensitive Teeth Alternative" - putting significantly less salt (may not even need any - it's there for the abrasive qualities but quite honestly the toothpaste exists for freshness, not really for cleaning, it's the bristles and the brusher-of-teeth that do the work!), I also added a bit of water to dilute the glycerin but you only need a a small amount otherwise you have to add a lot more baking soda. Just roll with it - put more or less of one thing or the other as you see fit.


Kind of wanted to eat it at this point - looked and
smelled like peppermint cookie dough.

The recipe is from a fellow student at MPAcc! She says it works great and she can even use it when she plays sports.
1/3 arrowroot powder
1/3 baking soda
1/3 coconut oil
+Essential oils as you wish.
I put in 3 drops of tea tree oil because of it's natural healing properties and ability to disinfect, but I also threw in a couple drops of peppermint essential oil. I was also told that you can get the unrefined coconut oil and then it smells like coconuts still. I bet that would be good. I suppose I inadvertently purchased the refined oil, as it does not smell like coconuts.

I had saved my old Tom's deodorant bottle so I used that but you can put it in anything really. The coconut oil is hard at room temperature, but as you stir it in it mixes. An alternative is to mix the ingredients on the stove and then mix it with a hand held blender but that seemed like too much energy for myself, and the environment - so I stuck with doing it by hand! It does get pretty liquidy after you stir it due to the friction, so after I put it in my old bottle, then placed it in the fridge for a bit to harden. After that you can store it in a cool dry place and it should be good to go. I also had some extra so I put that in some lip balm containers I had saved - which will double as travel-sized deodorant and I'm pretty excited about that.

The end result.
And as you may notice - some of the ingredients I bought to make these things, unfortunately, came in plastic bottles.  I'm going to reuse them though for future items I create, and in theory, I will be using less plastic because buying these few ingredients will make a bunch of products, over a longer period of time. However, I'm going to try to look for bulk items such as bulk arrowroot powder (assuming it may be at SaveOn where they have bulk everything) and re-fillable items (for example - you can bring your own container for Castille soap at Community Natural Foods in Calgary - so I imagine you can do it in many places in Vancouver!)

I must say, the more I remove the toxins and replace with safer alternatives, as above or how I use baking soda + water as shampoo, and apple cider vinegar + water as conditioner, the better I feel. It's interesting how fast your body realizes, too - now if I smell heavily scented hand creams or shampoos - even if people around me have used these products, I will get a headache and feel somewhat nauseous.

Hooray for Zero-Toxins and Zero-Waste!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Community: makes the heart feels good

Dear Permaculture;

You've done it again - never ceasing to amaze me. You, along with the people you bring into my life, make my heart feel good.

More on this, later.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mouthwash Debacle - In Transition

I use Listerine every night, as part of my "teeth cleaning routine":

Step 1: Floss
Step 2: Brush
Step 3: Rinse with mouthwash for that o-so-fresh-and-crisp feeling

...and then it occurred to me - what IS this stuff I'm rinsing my mouth with? And as much as I love that burn, why does it burn oh-so-much.

I've been using mouthwash (the original flavoured Listerine, to be precise) for as far back as I can remember, which kind of scares me as I begin to consider its impact on my body. And, in the past little while it's started to make my mouth sting even more. So - here's the scoop (or should I say....Scope?) ....

I've been slowly changing over all the products I once used to chemical-free/minimal packaging ones, and I've come pretty far. Here's a list off the top of my head:

Chemical --> Natural 
Pantene ProV Mouse ------------> Homemade Flax Seed Gel (scroll to bottom)
Shampoo ------------------------> Baking Soda & H20
Conditioner ----------------------> Apple Cider Vinegar & H20
Deoderant -----------------------> Witchhazel + Tea Tree Oil ---> EDIT:Coconut Oil, Arrowroot Powder, Baking Soda
Face Wash ----------------------> *see conditioner*
Face Cream & Body Lotion -----> Jojoba Oil
Bug Spray -----------------------> "My Bug Stuff"

Turns out there are a number of things wrong with what I currently use to rinse my mouth, and as much as I love that crisp and stinging feeling, it's got to be put to an end. I did a little research and it turns out that oral washes that have alcohol in them greatly increase the chances of oral cancer if used over a prolonged period (yes, I realize everything gives you cancer). If I wasn't already convinced, upon examining the ingredient list, I came across Benzoic Acid and according to my cheat sheet that I keep in my wallet, from the book "There is Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon, that is a toxin we should avoid. The acid in there, and my continual use of this product, could be a major reason as to why every dentist I've ever had always asks me if I have acid reflex when looking at my teeth...

In conclusion - I am sorry Mr. Listerine, but you're life in my mouth is officially over. Sigh, breaks-ups are hard, but I think my mouth and body will be happier now. I'm thinking I will just use a sea salt/water concoction, and maybe add some mint leaves for good measure? Any ideas?

I need to do some investigating. I'm wondering, though, will the sea salt impact me, in terms of sodium intake? Would this be cause for concern? If anyone has any tips, do, please, let me know.