Low waste living - Part II
The list of products we "need" to look after our hygiene and our home is never ending, it's a flourishing but massively unconscious industry. How often are we exposed to new products that promises an even better way to clean ourselves (or our homes), look younger and smell good everyday? Well, considering how we have gone from being exposed to 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s, to as many as 5000 a day today, I tend to think there is a big chance our subconscious have picked up on a few more than we are aware of.
"The bathroom is the second biggest polluter in the household."
When I decided to commit to a zero waste lifestyle, the bathroom was the second biggest polluter in our household. Even though I had already converted to natural cleaning products, sustainable toilet paper, natural deodorants, toothpaste and bamboo toothbrushes many years ago, I had a big wakeup call when I went through my bathroom items from my new level of awareness. So many of the products had not been used for years and was just sitting in my bathroom cupboard taking up space. A few empty, some half full, most of which I had no intention of ever using again.
"I had a big wakeup call when I went through my bathroom items from my new level of awareness"
To minimize the amount of products we use makes a lot of sense from an environmental and health perspective, but also for our mental health. Clutter of any form can cause overwhelm, anxiety, depression and even weight gain according to some studies. Sensory overstimulation is a serious matter (both in regards to information and "stuff") and your bathroom would be an even greater place to escape to (if you are a parent, you know what I mean) if only it wasn’t so full of junk...
“To minimize the amount of products we use makes a lot of sense from an environmental and health perspective, but also for our mental health"
Many everyday products, such as toothpaste, can contain many toxic chemicals that are of no good to anyone. Such products should be avoided at all cost. Natural products are always a better alternative but the price and unnecessary packaging is still an issue for me, so I look for zero waste products or make my own from ingredients I can buy bulk. It's been a fun journey because what I was using from my bathroom cupboard didn't all run out at once, so I started removing or replacing one item at a time. I now not only use less products, I also use less of the products. On sites like Pinterest you can literally find thousands of recipes of homemade cleaning, laundry and personal care products (...and everything else). All you need is some coconut oil, vinegar and baking soda and you're half way there! I would encourage you to try some of this at home, but before you start make sure you keep some of the bottles, containers and jars to store your products in. The smaller sizes are great for travel! Here is of what I currently use...
For all my cleaning: Vinegar, a dash of dishwashing liquid (both are available on tap) and eucalyptus or lemon oil.
For the laundry: Soap nuts and essential oils, or gray water safe laundry detergent (available to buy bulk). Put 4 nuts in a muslin draw string bag in the wash with a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Compost after 4th wash.
For the teeth: Fractionated coconut oil mixed with bentonite clay, activated charcoal (all available to buy bulk) and some peppermint oil. There are so many recipes, try until you find one you like. Bamboo toothbrushes, of course, and I recently found travel cases for them at the Source Bulk food, which has already come in super handy many times.
Deodorant: I think I have experimented with this for over 14 years! I have tried everything from lime slices to baking soda only to finally discover the salt stone, or crystal deodorant. I did try a similar salt stone many years ago but I didn't like it so I must have used it wrong. Believe it or not but this little stone even works on my husband on a 40 degree day, so I have finally gotten rid of his toxic deodorants. It's basically just a rock of salt that you moist with water and apply directly onto the skin. It sometimes takes a few days for the body to get used to, if you haven't gone without before, so I recommend you do an armpit detox prior, to get rid of all stored toxins. Crystal deodorants can last for years and only cost a few bucks.
Feminine hygiene: Menstruation cup. I seriously wish I had discovered this sooner.
For the skin: I use coconut or jojoba oil for everything and I love a good epsom salt bath when my body feels run down. If I want to treat myself, my husbands makes a killer coffee scrub from his used coffee, but I also make an amazing face mask from bentonite clay and sweet almond oil.
Makeup: I very rarely use makeup so my old stuff (my mascara and bronzer) will last me a while longer, but raw cacao makes a pretty delicious bronzer, and it's very good for the skin.
For the hair: I have only just started experimenting with shampoo bars and apple cider vinegar, ultimately to ween my hair off schampoo and conditioner all together. My parents did this years ago and now only use water to wash their hair. As I have very long hair I was hesitant to try this at first, but the refill was getting so expensive so I figured it was a great incentive for me to train my hair to clean itself! Once I have come out the other side, I will let you know what worked and what didn't.
"The energy is totally different"
Even the smallest change makes a huge difference so don't feel that you need to do it all at once. Start with what inspires you, experiment with it and have fun. I am sharing this because I have really enjoyed simplifying my life and creating a more conscious lifestyle for myself and my family. When we eat better, we live better, feel better and do better and who doesn't want that? As a family we are so much more aware of the impact our choices have on others and on the world. There is really nothing we can do in isolation, every decision we make impact others in some way and we want to be part of the solution, not the problem. Even if the OCD gene didn't make it though to my family, what we have done has helped us live a little less chaotic life with two young children. We are focused on creating a sanctuary not a cluttered dumping ground. There is still so much more to do and learn, as always, but the energy is totally different! It definitely feels like we're on the right track.
The human species is the only species that does not live in alignment with nature. Isn't that a thought worth pondering on? I will leave you with that. Good luck on your journey, I can't wait to hear how you go.