Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Day Every Day 3--Green hygeine

In observance of Earth Day this week I wanted to write a daily post on habits I've adapted to be kinder to the Earth. 

Today I'm sharing some changes I've made in the personal hygiene category and hope I end up on the right side of the TMI line. 

I'm not quite sure where to start, so we'll start with the morning shower.  I remember as a kid everybody washed with bar soap. I'm not sure when we all got together and decided that we had to convert to using body soap and liquid soap in plastic soap dispensers, but both are everywhere now. The Puff and I have gone back to using bar soap and our brand comes wrapped in paper. As a bonus it's made with pretty good ingredients and I'm more than comfortable using it on my face too. 

I used to purchase shampoo and conditioner from a start-up called Refyll in Venice Beach. I'd take my glass jars and fill up at their booth at the farmer's market. Unfortunately, they no longer set up at the farmer's market and I've been in search of a similar substitute. Now we're buying the biggest sizes of shampoo & conditioner that we can find at the store and refilling our smaller bottles that we keep in the shower. 
I use a safety razor in the shower and double edge razor refills instead of disposable (expensive!) razors. I know I don't have sensitive skin because I can use regular castille bar soap instead of shaving foam to shave with. 

After showering, I use a homemade sunscreen on my face & chest. The sunscreen is made from carrot seed and red raspberry seed essential oils, both of which are 35-40 spf. (Isn't that cool?)  I use a crystal body deodorant stone under my arms and on an extra humid day, a shaker full of baking soda. I spritz perfume every day too. 
I make my own lotion and apply as needed to my usual trouble spots. Hydrating from the inside out is the real key though. Must remember to drink more water. 

My hair is crazy curly and I never even take a brush to it most days. While it's still wet, I used to use something like this to keep it from frizzing. 
Now I make my own hair serum from a few basic oils. After I shower, I apply a few drops of the oil throughout my hair and just let it air dry. Since my hair is curly, there's really only 1 way it will turn out: curly. 

I made some hair serum just the other day. Took me about 40 seconds. 
As I'm typing this it does sound like I make a lot of stuff myself, but with the lotion and hair serum a little goes a long way and I really don't have to make them very often--maybe once every few months or so.

Next, we brush our teeth. It's a total mystery how toothbrushes made their way from our bathrooms
to the ocean, but they did! Crazy!!
We now only use wooden toothbrushes. Our current brand uses nylon bristles, but when we're ready to replace them we'll go with boar bristles. 
Yeah, we use store-bought toothpaste. I've tried making my own toothpaste but the Puff hates it. I've used straight baking soda myself but the Puff is harder to convince. And since I need her to not hate brushing her teeth, store-bought it is. 

And this is where the company Terracycle comes into play for us. Once deciding to go green, it took us a loooong time to use up all the q-tips, soft soap containers, deodorant sticks, shaving cream containers, cotton balls, etc that we had stored. As they were used up, I tossed the empties into my Terracycle brigade box. 

 Without getting too much into the weeds about Terracycle, they basically collect specific categories of your garbage and will up or down cycle it (I guess the up or down  part depends on your personal view). I was able to get a spot in their Toiletries brigade and now I collect empty toiletries containers from family, friends, coworkers, and will send in my box once it's full. 
The problem with Terracycle is that it is kind of a crutch, at least for me, and provides me with an easy "out" to continue to use products that come in plastic. Plastic can not be recycled. A plastic bottle can't be melted down and reformed into the same plastic bottle, like with aluminum. Plastic degrades each time it is recycled. So after Terracycle gets hold of my bottles, they will turn them into a park bench or something else useful (I bought a juice box binder for the Puff), which is nice. But eventually that bench will break and crack and IT will end up in the landfill. Sooner or later, plastic will always end up in the landfill. And sit there until long after we're gone. 

I don't want to make this post too long, so one final thing I'll mention is that time of the month. I've replaced pads and tampons with a Diva cup and home made cloth pads (literally on the rag, ha).I bought 1 Luna Pad and then my mom used it as  pattern to sew me a dozen more from one of the Puff's old nursing blankets. She sewed another dozen for my sister too. I added the metal fasteners with a needle and thread. I rinse them out as I use them and toss them into the washing machine.
If you've used a diaphragm birth control, the Diva cup fits pretty much the same way. It collects your flow and then you empty it into a toilet and reinsert. During the heavy days you're emptying it like once an hour. On the rest of the days, I'll only need to empty it once a day. It took me a few cycles to figure it all out, but now it's easy peasy! 

The Diva cup is for real the BEST part about that time of the month. I don't ever see myself going back to stinky pads or TSS tampons. 

I've also become a pro at finding which public places have the nice bathrooms. Starbucks bathrooms are usually private (at least around here) and that works out nicely if I'm out and about. At work, we have stalls, which means I have to be creative with keeping things from getting messy. And of course, I've had to do it all in a porta potty as well! 

There's still other areas I'm figuring out, namely my make up and hair dye. It's definitely a process but seriously, the satisfaction of finding alternatives really is awesome. 


  1. A While back NPR had a story on the tiny bubbles that go in body scrubs/ face wash, and how those were making it into the ocean, and killing fish, because they were bright and colorful, so the fish ate it. It was awful! We swore we would never buy anything with those evil little bubbles!

    Thanks for the awesome tips! I'm going to look at my routine and see what I can change.

    1. Yes, the microbeads! they're so tiny, who would've thought they'd wreak so much havoc? Crazy.

      (I looove NPR too!)