Tuesday, January 18, 2011


And no, it's not what you think it is.

I've been giving a considerable amount of thought to making a few simple, but impacting, life changes. I cannot make them simultaneously, lest my body and mind be shocked into a chemical free coma. But you know, we are overrun with chemicals in our daily lives and I don't think they can be that good for you. I've known this for some time but honestly I just wasn't ready to take to the plunge all the way. I'm getting there. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Make my hair shampoo free. Yes you heard me. More on this later.

2. Make my face chemical free. I plan to use the oil method of face washing. It's sounds counter intuitive but really the reality is, the more we clean our faces with harsh chemicals, the harder our face works to produce oil to replace the oil we strip off. What you need isn't an oil free face, but a dirt free face. I'm going to give it a go. I already gave up makeup. It's not as awful as you think.

Please don't stop reading my blog. I swear I'm not crazy

3. Make the complete switch to an eco-safe phosphate free laundry soap. I already do this for the baby's diapers. Currently we are using Charlies. It's not offensive smelling and coconut based. I really do love it. Also I bought if from ebay and it came with a bottle of spray cleaner which I love. However, despite this love, I haven't yet been ready to take to plunge into using it for the whole family because, well frankly, because I have boys and they are dirty and I'm worried about getting clothes clean. Here's some of what I'm currently using (minus the fabric softener which I just ran out of). On the right... what I will be using. Charlies and vinegar (with the occasional bleach I confess)

4 .Begin systematically removing the chemicals from the cleaning product stash. I've got a LOT of cleaning products. Here they are:

Some of those I'm not proud to say I use. In any case, you'll see there is quite a variety there. I make green choices when I can but I've yet to give up the hardcore stuff like the comet bathroom spray which cleans a shower without you even having to touch it. It also smells like it's probably giving you cancer (or at the very least a bleeding lung) in the process. What I have been using a lot of is this:

Dr. Bronner's castille soap. It's fair trade and organic and made with coconut oil and hemp. You can use it for like a jillion things. I've used it in the bath, on my face, on my body, on my baby, on our reusable baby wipes and to mop the floor.

I'm not a hippie. I swear (but I think my friend Karen would be proud. Karen, I love you.)

It's about to get serious.

5. Use significantly less paper towels/toilet paper. Yes, I said toilet paper (more on that later). I already use towels for mostly everything and I'm practical, I'm not trying to say we shouldn't use paper towels at all but if you can use a towel, why not? I bought these on etsy.

As for the toilet paper, brace yourself for a radical suggestion.Braced?

ok good. Why not use cloth instead?

Don't get nauseated. Take a breath and get back to me in a second.


OK. I realize that you might be running for the hills right now but wait. Before you do, read this. And then consider. Did you know Americans use 4.6 million tons of TP a year. A YEAR. It takes 78 billion tress and 32 trillion tons of water to make all of that. Trillion people, TRILLION. It seems radical at first glance but it's really not. This idea came to me in a flash of ecological brilliance one day when I was changing Ella. If you read the cloth-diapering post linked above you know we use cloth wipes for Ella. This is basically a bunch of cheap walmart washrags (no they aren't fair-trade or American made of organic cotton, just $2.50 washrags. I'm cheap too.). I would have preferred flannel honestly but my sewing machine was broken and I didn't want to deal with fraying flannel all over the dern place (Yes, Jen I want to borrow yours. Please.). This was the quick and easy alternative. Anywho, I just toss them into a tall tupperware type container and pour a couple of cups of water with about a teaspoon of Dr. Bronner's in it over the top. Bingo. It takes like 15 seconds and I haven't bought wipes since Ella was born. Anyway, as I was getting her little rear so clean I was actually thinking, this seems like a better way to wash a grown up bottom. I mean how fresh and clean is that? Right?


So the next hangup we have to overcome is having wipes with grown up ickies on them around and I think that this can be solved with a simple flip lid trash can. You don't have to LOOK at the wipes. Just toss them in the can and them toss them in the wash with the whites. The good news is if you put a little Bronner's on there (say the lavender scent) they'll actually make your potty smell nice.

Next: Have a hang up about using the same wipe your husband used on his man bottom? (I don't, but I realize I'm unique in that way because I will also use my husband's toothbrush). Solution: color code the wipes. He gets brown. You get pink. Problem solved. The great thing about all of this (besides your fresh and clean backside) is it will SAVE YOU MONEY. I solemnly swear.

Also I swear, I still wear a bra. Well, most of the time.

I'm not THAT crunchy.

Come along with me on my green adventure.

Tomorrow: Poo-free update #1.


The Great Quiram Adventure said...

Sounds wonderful...I think I will give it a whirl. I loved that idea when the "No Impact Man" (from the movie/documentary) suggested it. I think I will brave the smell and give it the effort.

Britches said...

I like your ideas Joni, I really do. I don't know that I am ready to go that green but its great food for thought. PS I loved the man bottom, it had me chuckling.

heather@it'stwinsanity said...

I just found your blog and I have to commend you for ditching the chemicals. We have done it in our house too, but I have yet to ditch the shampoo or TP. I use Dr. Bronner's and a natural shampoo but I would LOVE to hear how your shampoo-free switch goes! And we use cloth diapers/wipes/towels here instead of paper but TP is the one area where I just can't get myself to ditch the paper. I'll be reading along to see how it goes for you!

Lizzie said...

The great thing about all these tips is that not only are they Green, but they are frugal. I bought an ebook about a year ago from the GroceryShrink. She has great recipes for cleansers that are awesome. Passionate Homemaking has toothsoap recipes as well. No need to buy any of this stuff folks. You can make it! I promise!! Mountain Rose Herbs is THE place to get Coconut Oil. I buy it by the gallon bucket.
I too have wanted to switch to cloth toilet paper but I have met with much resistance. I think if I start, maybe others will follow.

I swing toward the frugality benefits. I could care less about being certified Green. I feel personally it is a money making scam. I prefer to be a person of Caring. I care for my planet. Green and all that implies, just gives me a complex. Not to mention there are about 3 billion plus people on the planet who are not playing by the green rules. I'm looking at you China, India, Mexico, etc!

Lizzie said...

Grocery Shrink recommends using cute squares of cotton flannel, cut with pinking shears. Keep a lidded bucked in the bathroom. Squares go in the bucked, at night into the laundry. So if you have some old jammies or sheets, cut those suckers up!

Joni said...

Thanks or the pointers Liz... We have the flannel but I found that pinking wasn't enough to prevent fraying. It is frugal and we are happy about that but the motivator is t environmental impact. Joni Mitchell said "people are the poison, as long as their are people there will be poison". We want to do our part though so that our children know how to live frugally and healthy. :)

Joni said...

Heather I'll be updating the poo-fee adventures regularly!

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