Monday, March 1, 2010

February Small Change

My small change for February was to make homemade bodycare products. It didn’t exactly work out how I’d planned. The first thing I tried to make was deodorant. It was fun mixing up the product, but I was less than pleased with the results. The first day I wore it, by the afternoon I could smell myself! and was embarrassed to go to work so smelly. So I ended up trying 2 different kinds of all natural store bought deodorant. I settled on Tom’s of Maine, it works okay although I do have to reapply it a couple of times a day. So my searching in that area is not done yet. I would like to find an antiperspirant that is all natural, but have had no luck yet. If anyone knows of one please tell me!

The second issue I had with making my own body products is that I had to buy most of my ingredients in plastic bottles. For the deodorant alone I brought home 5 new plastic bottles. Since one of the main reasons I was doing this was to reduce the amount of plastic in my home, it seemed counter-productive. Neither was it very cost effective.

Buying plastic to get rid of plastic?

The one thing I did make that I was happy with was shampoo. Even though, I still had to buy a big plastic bottle of castile soap, which to me defeated the purpose.

So, I’ve learned a lesson. I would still like to make my own lotion someday, but only if I can find the ingredients I need in non-plastic containers. Also, there are good natural bodycare products on the market that will satisfy my desire to live a natural life.

Moving on to March…I am really excited about this month’s change. I’ve recently bought a 50’s era bicycle that needs to be fixed up. Once summer hits I plan on riding it to work every day. So this month’s pledge is to ride my bike to work at least 3 times a week (This leaves some leeway in case of rain, snow, lateness, etc). This will be good for my health and great for the environment.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Urban Beauty

Today was a beautiful day, bright and sunny with no clouds in the sky. It was very cold and windy, the kind of day that tugs you outside, almost against your will.
I spent some time with Sister and Nephew walking downtown and admiring the urban beauty. I am used to assuming that beauty can only be found in wild places, in the county, beach, mountains or forests. I am wrong.

Beauty can be found anywhere, in the light playing on a tamed river

In an installation left over from last year's art festival

And in the simple pleasure of hot chocolate on a cold day (check out that chocolate mustache!)

When is the last time you found beauty where you didn't expect it?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My January change, and how it went

Well January is almost over. I have been plastic bag free all month. It feels great to not have that drawer-full-of-plastic that has characterized all my past living situations!
I managed to go the entire month without bringing home plastic bags from the grocery store. I even started to take reusable bags with me when I went thrifting or to the craft store. On my last shopping trip, I forgot to bring my bags with me. I almost caved and got the plastic bags, thinking to myself that I could use them as liners for my bathroom and kitchen garbage cans. But I resisted, and told the clerk I didn't want any bags at all. I just put all my groceries back into my cart, and piled everything into my backseat. I got a funny look from the store clerk but I'll take that instead of plastic bags anytime.

My February change is going to be about the products that I put on my body. I've read some about the horrible things that go into commercial beauty products (is anybody else freaked out by sodium lauryl sulfates in our shampoo and body wash? So my commitment this month is to make my own shampoo, soap, deodorant and lotion. I'll use the recipes here (lotion), here (deodorant), here (shampoo) and here (soap). I'd also like to make homemade laundry detergent, but I have really sensitive skin, so hopefully I can find a recipe that will work for me.
So here's to chemistry and mixing, making and preserving! I'll be spending this month hunched over my stove, muttering to myself "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble".

Good luck everyone with your changes!


Monday, January 18, 2010

My Small Part

I am jealous of some of the things that people are able to do to be more environmentally conscious. Using solar power, buying energy efficient appliances, starting a big garden and planting trees are some things that I cannot do. This is because I am a renter and not a homeowner. Until I am able to buy my own house, which won't happen anytime soon due to my student status and part-time job, some things are off-limits to me.

I won't be discouraged, though. These are some things that I do now:

1. I recycle. I am lucky to live in a city that comes and picks up your recycling right from the curb. Therefore, I consider it my duty to recycle everything I can (sometimes this involves picking through the trash to take out the cardboard and plastic my roommate throws away, another topic entirely)

2. I have a no-new plastic bag policy. This was my January commitment for the One Small Change campaign. I have a small stash of plastic bags and cloth bags that I bring every time I go shopping. I also recently found a pattern for pillowcase shopping bags online that I am planning on making, as soon as I get over to the thrift store for some pillowcases!

3. I compost what I can, although this is limited at the moment because a. I have no compost pile or barrel because I just moved into my house, and b. it is the middle of a frozen winter. It kills me to throw food scraps away! Luckily, my roommate just brought home a 5-gallon bucket which is currently sitting right outside our door waiting to be filled up.

4. I watch what I eat. This is 1/2 for environmental reasons and 1/2 for health/moral reasons. I try to eat vegetarian most of the time, because I believe the way that the meat industry in the US is run is immoral, disgusting and unhealthy. I eat fresh and local when I can and avoid processed or convenience food.

These things and others I consider my small part, and they are things that are doable for me, considering my situation. My hope is that everyone can find some small things that they can do to help the planet and each other to live a little brighter.

This picture of my nephew enjoying fresh yummy peaches cheered me up in the midst of winter's chill. Something to look forward to!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


So far, so good. Luckily I have a sister who goes out often, and who lives just around the corner from me, so I can easily get to the store when I need to. I've also been good at remembering my cloth bags.
Today I am going thrifting, looking for some curtains for my front door and other odds and ends. I watched a video on this site called the Story of Stuff. It is all about where our stuff comes from, and where it goes, and it made me very determined to limit the amount of new stuff I bring into my home.
The problem is, I live with 2 other people who maybe don't have the same level of conviction about living sustainably, recycling and composting. Every day I walk into the kitchen and see cardboard food boxes, plastic cartons and other recyclables in the trash can. I spent time each day picking through the trash! I can't wait until I have enough money saved up to buy my own house, so that I can stop renting and be able to control everything that comes in and out of my home.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A note about my title

I forgot to mention, the title of my blog comes from one of my favorite quotes by the legendary John Muir: ""Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul".

To me, it sums up life.

A new challenge

When I saw the One Small Change challenge on Hip Mountain Mama, I decided to start this blog and take part in the challenge. The challenge asks people to make one small change toward a greener lifestyle every month until Earth Day, and blog about it. Your changes could be as simple as replacing old lightbulbs with CFL bulbs, or as big as buying a hybrid vehicle. What will you choose?

A note about myself: I grew up in the country. My parents were hippies with a devotion to wilderness, growing food, and living a sustainable life. They passed a lot of those values onto me. I've spent most of my life in small villages or surrounded by acres of land that I could wander and plant how I wished. However, at the beginning of this year I moved into the inner city, for various reasons. So my personal challenge is to find ways to maintain my environmentalist lifestyle in this urban situation I find myself in. This blog will document my experiences.

So, my change for January will be food related. I'm pretty passionate about food. As my brother-in-law would say, I could talk about it for hours. I recently discovered the wonders of homemade bread, and it's my new favorite thing! So, choosing this month's change was easy. I am going to try cutting out processed foods, taking my own bags and carpooling to the grocery store. Good food is local, seasonal, and fresh food. I believe that your body and spirit receives more goodness from food that you have made yourself, and part of living sustainably is knowing where your food comes from.

Good luck to the many others taking part in this challenge, by doing this we can put a little more love back into the earth that's given us so much!