ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Liquid Handsoap #2!

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I wanted to try a non-foaming liquid soap this time using the same basic ingredients as the one I have been using – Castile soap, water, olive oil and essential oils.  I got a great pump attachment for a mason jar that’s been waiting to be put to good use.  I got it at Masonauve, a Canadian company in Ontario that sells lids and accessories to retrofit Mason/Bernardin jars. Many of us have a few already floating around our homes.

The solution for a regular pump dispenser needs to be thicker so that it won’t run down the pump. I did a bit of research and found that you could change the consistency by adding salt. Who knew?  I tried this and it does work! I didn’t add too much so it only slightly thickened it.

Essential oils aren’t necessary but they do add a nice natural fragrance and depending on the oil it can add some beneficial properties.  This time I thought bergamot oil might be a nice addition. I love the calming smell and it’s one that I have been reaching for a lot lately.  It speeds healing of scratches on skin and is great for reducing inflammation and soothing irritated skin.

  • 1 cup distilled or boiled water
  • 4 tbsp castile soap
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 15 (approx) drops essential oils

I find you can play around with amounts a bit. Start with fewer drops of oil and try it out. You can easily add more to your bottle.

ENVIRONMENT, Zero waste

My Evolving Curbside Pile

My house needs breathing room. Cleaning out the clutter is priority these days and although I have known it for quite some time I have managed to put blinders up and ignore it’s importance. Everywhere I turn now it is mentioned lately. People are jumping on the bandwagon. Between books, articles, podcasts, etc. I can’t escape the reminders. It shouldn’t be that hard but to some it is.

Decluttering, dejunking, minimizing or whatever name you want to use is also about considering the environment.  It is a decision that impacts how much waste we produce. The less stuff we bring in our spaces, naturally there is less packaging, the by-product of purchasing items. This movement that is happening has called attention to something that has been talked about for years and that is the importance of minimizing our environmental carbon footprint.


Household recycling started the ball rolling.  I remember when waste management started adding blue bins into the mix.  It was a learning curve and an exercise in shrinking the pile size of our garbage. Over the years the system has developed and changed. The number of items that can go into our boxes is always improving and so has my diligence in filling it up.

Composting took another chunk out of the pile.  I live in a rural area so I can do my own composting. In the towns around my home there are municipal green bin programs where along with your garbage and recycling is a weekly organics pickup. Every spring the gorgeously fertile soil is available to residences for free, which I think is a great added incentive.

Now it is about reducing the size of my blue bin. When I began using my reusable bags at the grocery store it was amazing how much my recycling pile shrunk. When I began shopping more thoughtfully and sometimes in bulk, it shrunk a bit more. I aim to buy fewer processed items and try to shop at markets during the summer. I try to spend more time on the outskirts of the grocery stores.  The inside aisles are full of cans and processed goods, boxes of cereals, and jars, etc. I still go there because there are things I need and want but I try to use them less often than more because of health and conscious food choices. Recently I began bringing reusable produce bags but it is still hit and miss whether I remember to bring them. sometimes I get there and realize I have left them at home. Buying bulk is another way to cut down on packaging. For snacks and lunches on the go I refill containers from larger packs of food. My next step can be filling containers where I can buy from bulk bins.  More and more businesses are beginning to support this which is a really good thing! It’s an indication of the demand from eco-minded consumers.  Momentum is starting to grow.

 

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Ordinary Days

The small changes that we do in our daily lives will eventually add up to make a significant difference. Every time we make a choice to leave our reusable bags at home instead of putting them to good use at the grocery store it makes an impact. Sometimes I forget and get to the counter and they are out of boxes. I still have a choice of coming back later with my bags but sometimes my load is just to much and I live outside of town, so I am guilty of taking a couple of bags here and there. For the most part I have grown accustomed to always having some or just carrying my items in my hand. I use the example of the bags because it is a switch that many around my area have already made. I still notice a lot of the plastic bags being used but not nearly the amount even 5 years ago. The grocery store I go to is so accustomed to me have bags they are surprised when I don’t. More often than not I get asked in stores if I want a bag and being able to say “no thank you”, without hesitation is becoming easier all the time. That is the goal – to make all these adjustments big and small and make them ordinary.

My list of things is growing. I can’t say its a huge list but I am working on it and my hope is that it evolves as I move along. It really isn’t that hard to make these changes one at a time.

Here are some of the simple switches that I have already made:

Revamping My Cleaning Regime

Hand-Soap

Litterless Lunchbox

ENVIRONMENT, ESSENTIAL OILS

Revamping My Cleaning Regime

So many cleaning products have passed through my door. Many have made me wonder why on earth someone thought it would be a good idea. Results never work out the way I wanted them too. Either it fell short of my cleaning expectation or some other physical side effect such as a sore throat or having to hold my breath so I don’t pass out. I’m extra sensitive to all those intense ingredients, perhaps more than your average person. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

There is a surge of healthier and environmentally friendly products in response to the demand for alternatives to keeping our spaces clean. In conjunction with that there are so many ways that you can make your own products. People are taking matters into their own hands and coming up with their own designs, tweaking and personalizing recipes. I started switching out my items by slowly replacing them with my own concoctions.

The most obvious one to go in this house was glass and counter cleaners. I buy a lot of vinegar these days! By adding essential oils you add extra cleaning properties plus it leaves the room filled with natural fragrance.

The All Purpose Mixture

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 15 – 20 drops of Essential Oils (some good ones for cleaning are Lime, Lemon, Orange, Onguard, Tea Tree)

Tables and counters: I use this on counter tops and for spot cleaning small messes on the floor. I mix it in a spray bottle and keep it handy.

Appliances: This is great for giving everything from your stove to your fridge, a quick wipe down. For a deeper clean and to dissolve tough food stains try adding baking soda or soap.

Floors: A micro-fiber mop with a solution attachment works great to do the floors. The same mixture can be used. The nice thing about this is you can sometimes get extra bottles. You can mix something different in each and swap the bottles depending on your need or mood.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Litterless Lunchbox – (yogurt)

One less item in my daughters lunch box that goes to the recycling bin.

Lately I have stopped purchasing those individual yogurt containers and fill a small one up for her to bring to school. This simple switch was easier than I thought! She had no qualms about not having the cute flashy packaging, I have no qualms about the extra little cup to wash. So what is the deal – why did it take so long for me to do this? I was the one who did the shopping and made the decision that she would be more likely to eat it if she had a lunch that looked like her friends. I decided when I was shopping that it would be convenient. She still eats her yogurt everyday, it takes me a few extra seconds to pack it in her lunch box and wash it at the end of the day (I am washing dishes anyway).

By doing this: There is one less plastic container in the school recycling bin each day.

By doing this: I save in cost as the packs usually cost more.

By doing this: One by one it will gradually influence others in their choices. The more common it is to have people do this the better.


Update: One thing I changed since then is sending the small mason jars for things like the yogurt and fruit cups. My daughter actually thinks these are super cute and enjoys using them! I can’t believe it took me so long to use them for this reason because I have them already and have been using them for spices and small food storage for a while now. I guess thinking that she was so young I was nervous sending the weight plus the glass into school with her. She is getting older now and more responsible with things like that.  Those mason jars are quite thick and the small ones are pretty light.  They do sell silicone covers if I am ever so inclined.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Making Hand-Soap

This goes on my list Simple Switches. There are benefits to making your own soap. I could take it a step further and make my own bars if I want to get even more environmentally friendly but at this time this is what I am willing to do. For years I have been purchasing large containers of soap and refilling our pumps. I bought one of a bottle I liked and just kept refilling.

  • Dr. Brommer’s unscented pure-Castile soap: 1 part (this works out to 2 tbsp)
  • Spring or distilled water – 10 parts (1 & 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Wild orange essential oil (or any other preference)
  • Good soap dispenser

It is that easy! A bottle of Brommer’s goes such a long way.  It is super concentrated and when diluting it myself I can play around with the ratio a bit. I also has so many other uses although I haven’t tried them yet.

In retrospect I would find a glass dispenser but I can’t bring myself to buy a new one when the plastic one that I am reusing is working fine. Until it breaks or something … a great replacement will be one of my mason jars with a replacement lid with a pump.  A note about the essential oils – they are not necessary but if you do appreciate the aroma or want to give it an extra boost during flu and cold season it’s a great way. I have found it does not bother my sensitivities.

The real reason I want to do this is because with my skin and the amount I wash my hands they have taken a beating. They’re dry and are prone to eczema breakouts. Plus the older I get the more worn my hands are starting to look. Mom was right. She always told me to look after my hands, always wear dish washing gloves and moisturize.

Many of the ready made ones in the stores are perfumed and irritated my skin. I considered searching and trying different brands but the cost and wastage (when products fail me) seemed impractical. Basic is best! Our last batch ran out and we had a small amount of what I used before left so I wanted to use it up. For a couple of weeks my hands were itchy and red and particularly dry. I developed dark spots and had a regiment of having to lather on some of my serious “wonder creams” throughout the day. I switched back to the Brommer’s a couple of days ago and do I really feel the difference!