Last month, I received an email from Carmen Drahl, senior correspondent for Chemical & Engineering News, wanting to know if I had heard about the new solid body wash products from Lush and Bomb Cosmetics, and if so, what I thought about them. To be honest, I thought she was just talking about bars of soap. What’s so new about that? But no. Actually, just as I learned that liquid soap and solid soap have different chemistries, so too do soap and shower gel. And as Carmen explained to me the difference between soap and shower gel, I started to get excited… Not for myself, but for my sister and others of her ilk.
So, you’ve been reading about ways to reduce your plastic use, including bringing back empty bottles and containers of personal care and cleaning products to refill, and you think, “I’ve got to try that sometime.” (The BULK mobile site can help you find refill locations.) But that means planning ahead and remembering to bring your empty containers back to the store. Once you get in the habit of doing it, remembering is no big deal. But getting started can be difficult for folks just beginning the plastic-free, zero waste journey. If only there were a service that would pick up those empties and deliver freshly filled ones right to your door.
If you live in the Bay Area, Stéphanie Regni can help! Her company, Fillgood.co, delivers refilled glass containers of natural personal care and cleaning products to local customers. I paid a visit to Stéphanie at her home in Albany, CA, last month, and chatted with her… Read the rest
Are you still rubbing plastic all over your face?
Since I first reported on microbeads–those tiny bits of plastic added to facial scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal care products–in 2007 and then again in 2013, the NY Times has reported on them, several U.S. states have passed legislation to ban them, Canada is on the verge of banning them, and the Story of Stuff Project has created a video and campaign to get other states and countries to follow suit. (Please follow that link, if you haven’t already, to take action and ask your representatives to ban microbeads where you live.)
But the trouble with some of the proposed legislation is that it allows companies to switch to “biodegradable” plastic microbeads. That’s a problem because most “biodegradable” plastics will not actually biodegrade in the cold waters of the ocean, making them just as much of a problem as the original… Read the rest
So, I kind of screwed up. I brought a tin of Chagrin Valley bug repellent with me to Hawaii, intending to use it and review it on this blog. (We don’t really have too many biting bugs in the Bay Area, so I hadn’t had a chance to try it.)
It seems great. Comes in a metal tin and contains only Organic Virgin Shea Butter; Organic Jojoba oil; Organic Unrefined Beeswax; Organic Neem oil; Organic Essential oils of Lemon Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Citronella, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Basil, Thyme.
Yesterday, Michael and I were only planning to hang out in town, so I didn’t bother applying the bug repellant, … Read the rest
Six years ago, I posted a rant about the fact that many commercial facial scrubs contain tiny plastic (polyethylene) beads meant to exfoliate the skin. These beads are too small for water treatment plants to filter out, so they end up in our waterways and eventually the ocean. In the ocean, tiny plastic pieces mix with the zooplankton to enter the food chain. What’s more, plastic in the ocean acts as a sponge, absorbing and concentrating toxic chemicals. It’s one thing when plastic ends up there inadvertently, but it’s inexcusable for companies to produce plastic products intentionally meant to be flushed down the drain.
Now, it turns out, plastic particles aren’t just in facial scrubs, and they aren’t only made of polyethylene. According to a recent position paper (PDF) (PDF) published this year by a coalition of ocean advocacy groups lead by 5Gyres:
Microplastic particles and microbeads can be … Read the rest
Every time I stay in a hotel (and nowadays, with all the travel I’m doing to promote my book, I’m getting to visit more and more of them), I inevitably roll my eyes at the preponderance of single-sized, plastic-packaged amenities: little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and single-sized soaps. Sure, many guests love them and stuff them in their luggage to take home, but does that justify their wasteful existence? I’ve blogged many times before about saying no to single sizes, which have a higher ratio of plastic packaging to product than larger sizes, and now an Albuquerque luxury hotel is promoting the same message by providing a better alternative: bulk amenities.
Not Like At the Gym
But let me back up a bit because offering personal care products to guests is not a new idea. The showers at my gym have dispensers for body wash/shampoo afixed to the wall, as do all of the hostels I have stayed in during my travels. … Read the rest
As someone with fair skin that burns within just a few minutes, I’ve used heavy duty sunscreen in plastic tubes for years. And even after going plastic-free, I’ve found sunscreen to be a challenge. I blogged about sun protection a while back and got some great suggestions from you guys. And this year, I discovered a couple of companies making all natural, non-toxic, plastic-free (or nearly plastic-free) sunscreen. I even saw a demonstration on how to make your own! And what better place to test out various sun protection methods than the hot, dry playa at Burning Man?
Radical States of Dress
Before I talk about sunscreen, though, I want to discuss other practical methods of sun protection. The first: clothing. Burning Man is known for radical costumes, as well as states of undress. Yeah, I saw a lot of nudity. I also saw a lot of sunburns. So I decided to be radical in my own way (one of BM’s tenets, after all, is… Read the rest
A few nights ago, while cleaning out the pile of stuff that has collected once again by my desk, I found a box of MadeOn Lotion products that the owner, Renee Harris, sent me to review in the beginning of this year and which sadly ended up at the bottom of the giant pile of stuff by my desk, unopened and unappreciated.
I have to apologize to Renee because she emphasizes the freshness of her products and is probably horrified to know that they’ve been sitting here for so long. But I have to say that even after waiting unopened for 6 months, these products are still wonderful and smell great.
Packaging: All of the products in this review come in recyclable/reusable metal tins with no plastic. And they were shipped to me with only tissue paper and cardboard and without plastic shipping tape. Make sure you specify zero plastic packaging when placing an order, and Renee will be happy to comply with your request.
Three years ago, trying to find a way to have liquid soap without the plastic bottle, I discovered that you can’t actually make real liquid soap from a solid soap bar. What I ended up with was a slimy green failure. And the reason is that liquid and solid soaps have different chemistries. The lye used to make solid soap is sodium hydroxide; whereas, the lye used to make liquid soap is potassium hydroxide. According to Wikipedia:
The saponification of fats with KOH [potassium hydroxide] is used to prepare the corresponding “potassium soaps”, which are softer than the more common sodium hydroxide-derived soaps. Because of their softness and greater solubility, potassium soaps require less water to liquefy, and can thus contain more cleaning agent than liquefied sodium soaps
So for the past 4 years, I’ve been doing without any kind of liquid soap. But recently, attempting to deal with some fungus problems in my garden, I’ve… Read the rest
Queen Helene’s hugely popular mint julep masque is widely considered to be a safe product. I mean, it’s found in all the health food stores, so it must be okay, right? Or is it? And is there any actual mint in it?
I’ve had this same plastic tube of the stuff sitting in my bathroom cabinet for years and had pretty much forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I noticed my face was getting dirty from all the work in the garden. (For those who don’t know, mud masks are used to suck out the oil and dirt clogging your pores and leave your face baby soft.) Following my resolution to use up the plastic-packaged stuff I already have before looking for alternatives, I dug out the Queen Helene and got ready to slather it on my face… until I read the ingredients.