Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The latest in greenification: No Poo... wait, is greenification even a word?

In an effort to be more environmentally friendly as well as healthy, I've been eliminating disposables & personal care products containing toxic chemicals from my stash. This has been a very long, ongoing process. Here's where we're at so far:

Menstrual products:
  • Got a Keeper about a decade ago & a couple of years back replaced it with a DivaCup. Not purchasing pads & tampons has saved me hundreds of dollars & I've contributed a lot less to the landfill.
  • Bought some Lunapads sometime in the last few years. I prefer the Divacup most of the time, but the cloth pads were great postpartum when you can't really use anything internal. Nice for lighter days at the end of my period too.
Skin Care products:
  • I recently discovered Val's Natural Soap & like it a lot. The chunky bars seem to last a long time, it's not expensive & it's creepy chemical-free.
  • Finding moisturizer has been a lot more of a challenge. It seems EVERYTHING has at least one or more toxic chemicals in it like parabens or phthalates. Sadly, greenwashing & the lax labelling laws allow companies to hide these chemicals in the ingredients list. If you see 'fragrance' or 'parfum' on the list, it's sure to contain something nasty. 
  • I was using Lush's now discontinued Aromacreme deodorant for a few years & found it really effective at preventing pit funk. However, I looked into the ingredients & despite Lush's championing of natural ingredients & desperate attempts to have a wholesome image, their products are just as full of crap as all the regular old drugstore stuff, with my deodorant being no exception. Sigh. I found some Green Beaver deodorant at Capers or Whole Foods & find it's all right, though it doesn't pack the odour-killing power of the evil stuff. 
Oral care products:
  • I don't really use mouthwash, but when I'm sick I'll gargle with salt water. 
  • We use Tom's toothpaste, which I prefer not just because of the lack of weird stuff in it (like Triclosan!?!?) but also because it tastes better.
Hair Care products:
  • I stopped dyeing & bleaching my hair about three years ago. Despite the fact that I notice a new grey hair nearly daily on my head somewhere, I am not going to subject myself to even more chemicals than I already have. Between about 1996 & 2008 I nearly constantly had other hair colours: black, red, pink, blue, blonde, more interesting shades of brown than I naturally have.
  • I haven't been a big user of hair goop (spray, mousse, wax, gel, pomade, etc) for a while, but when I do, I've got a lovely hair paste from my hair stylist, Shai. It actually has all-natural, mainly organic ingredients & it works well to tame my bangs or texturize it into chunks.
  • I've looked around for reasonably priced, toxin-free shampoo & come up short. Bert's Bees is good, but still pulls the old hide-the-bad-stuff-in-the-fragrance con. Lately I've been reading about the small 'No Poo' movement online & decided to give it a go. I last used shampoo on Friday, April 8th. Yesterday my hair was a bit oily, so I tried using baking soda & water, as I read about online. I thought I'd skip the suggested apple cider vinegar conditioning rinse, just to see how the baking soda left my hair. It felt a bit oddly crispy in the shower after I rinsed out the baking soda--as dry as it used to feel when I bleached the hell out of it. However, after it air dried, it didn't feel any different from when I used shampoo & it looks just as shiny as always. If this works out for me, I will save a lot of money: baking soda is dirt cheap.

Things we still need to switch:

  • Liquid hand soap: we are still working through a massive jug of this stuff from Costco--the bastion of over-packaged mainstream brand-name crap case lots--which we bought more than eight years ago. I think the best thing to replace this with would be Val bars, like we already use for bathing.
  • Facial moisturizer: when I use up my current tub, I'll go for something 100% natural. Not sure what yet...
  • Sunblock: I know there are a number of less-/non-toxic brands out there. However, my vanity might win this one: as far as my rudimentary research has shown me, the only way to properly block UV without unpronounceable chemicals that absorb into the skin is to use a physical barrier that sits on top of the skin like zinc oxide, giving my skin a lovely goth pallor.
  • I want to figure out the proportion of salt & baking soda in the NeilMed Sinus Rinse packets & mix my own. I find sluicing out my sinuses with this stuff is remarkably satisfying, but I hate the over-packaging: are individual packets really necessary? Are we not intelligent enough to be able to measure out the mL or two of powder ourselves?
  • Does biodegradable dental floss exist? I just thought of this, as most of it seems to be plastic these days.


  1. If you do feel like changing up your hair there's always henna! Personally I love the smell of it, and it makes your hair feel wonderful! :)

  2. I am so happy to read that you are rinsing those sinuses! I agree completely about the over-packaging with those little packets. I really object to all the heavy cards they place in the refill boxes! I mean we are already converts if we are buying refills.

    If you come across a recipe let me know as I don't want to buy the refills either.


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