The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: soaps and lotions

July 29, 2010

The Story of a Headache

Flying home from Maryland on Saturday, I sat next to a really cute guy. Unfortunately, the plane was completely full, so I couldn’t switch seats to get away from him. Well, not him. He was cute. But his Axe cologne, or whatever heinous product he was wearing, made my eyes water, nose itch, throat close up, and left me with a throbbing headache.

I reached for a handkerchief to cover my nose, but sadly my very helpful dad had tossed in a Bounce dryer sheet when he did my laundry, and my hanky just made me sneeze even more.

While on vacation, I caught a nasty cold/flu, which I can deal with because my body will fight it off.  But the body doesn’t fight off the effects of environmental chemicals the way it does an infection.  Instead, it becomes more and more sensitized with repeated exposure to allergens. In fact, I just recently noticed my nose itching from Michael’s stick deodorant that he has used for years. How can I get away from the onslaught… Read the rest

July 15, 2010

Why are body washes in plastic bottles more popular than bar soap?

While I love my boyfriend Isaiah Mustafa’s hot and funny Old Spice commercial, I do not love the product he is selling: Old Spice Scented Body Wash.

But according to a recent NPR story on men switching to bath gels, more and more men seem to think that body wash gels work better than bar soap. As a woman, I find bar soap to work fine, if not better than bodywash. So why the sudden unfortunate switch among men?

Why unfortunate? Because first of all, the ingredients suck:

WATER, SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE, SODIUM SULFATE, COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE, FRAGRANCE, SODIUM LAUROAMPHOACETATE, CITRIC ACID, SODIUM BENZOATE, POLYQUATERNIUM-10, DISODIUM EDTA, METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE, COLORANTS

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database gives the product a score of 5: Moderate Hazard.

And second, of course, is the plastic bottle. The NPR story ends with a brief mention of the environmental impact:

Mr. John … Read the rest

December 9, 2009

Plastic-Free Organic Essence Lip Balm & Body Cream

I have another treat for you that I discovered at the San Francisco Green Festival last month: Organic Essence plastic-free cream and lip balm. As far as I know, Organic Essence is the first company to develop completely home compostable containers made from cardboard for such products.  Materials include Forest Stewardship Council (FSC #SW-COC-001530), Post Consumer Waste (PCW), 100% recycled paper and organic adhesive and glaze.

The lip balm tube is ingenious. It’s made with a squeeze bottom which pushes up the lip balm instead of a twist bottom. What’s more, the products contain USDA certified organic ingredients with no petro-chemicals, preservatives, parabens, or artificial fragrances.

I asked Organic Essence to send me some samples to review, and I can tell you that they work very well. The lip balm, surprisingly, does not get crushed in my purse. The cream is very thick and concentrated: a little goes a long way, and in… Read the rest

November 4, 2009

Baking Soda: So Many Uses; So Little Money… and Plastic

I hear people bemoaning the high cost of “going green.”  And while organic food does cost more than its chemical-laden counterpart, I’m here to tell you that it’s easier to spend more for healthy food when you save money in other ways.  We can skip many of the green cleaners, deodorizers, and personal care products, most of which are fairly expensive.  To that end, baking soda is our friend. (Ha! I rhymed.)

What’s so great about baking soda?

1) It’s cheap. On Safeway.com, a 1 lb box is $1.40. But I save money and packaging by buying it from the bulk bin at my local natural foods store, filling up my own reusable cloth bag.  That way, it’s only 89¢/lb!

2) It’s simple. One of  the ways I try to protect my health and that of the planet is to buy products that contain the lowest number of different ingredients possible.  Baking soda is just about as simple as you can get.

3)  It’s non-toxic. Need I say more?… Read the rest

December 18, 2008

Liquid Soap Fail – What am I doin’ wrong?

This is a 1000 gram block of olive oil soap I bought from Body Time (a shop in my neighborhood) a while back. It was completely unpackaged. I thought I would use it to make liquid soap — to replace the Dr. Bronner’s we have been using for dishwashing once it’s gone. I figured all I’d need to do is dissolve the bar in a pot of water and voila! Liquid soap. Did I check any recipes or instructions? No way, man. It just seemed way too obvious.

So, I put the entire block of soap in a stock pot on the stove, filled it up with water, and started stirring. And stirring. And stirring. Thinking I’d save time, I didn’t bother grating the soap beforehand. So yes, this process took hours. Hours of gas stove energy. Hours of occasional stirring.

After the whole thing was dissolved, I let the pot cool. When I checked it the next day, I found a huge stock pot of solid soap!

Okay, I guess an entire kilogram of soap (2.2 pounds) requires more water.… Read the rest

June 12, 2008

Pure & Natural is just a name, not necessarily a description

My friend and co-worker Marika picked up a bar of Pure & Natural soap for me while shopping at Target. Marika is very sweet. She makes the best cupcakes and brownies in the world, and she lives to love and protect animals of all kinds (even though she tortures her dog by making him wear orange sweatshirts.)

So anyway, she thought of me because Pure & Natural soap comes packaged in 100% post-consumer paperboard packaging that is embedded with flower seeds to encourage users to return it to the earth rather than throwing it away. Cute idea. And the soap itself is labeled as 99% natural origin. That’s great. But what’s the 1% that’s not natural?

Listed among all the ingredients you’d find in most natural soaps is “fragrance.” That must be the unnatural 1%. And what is in the fragrance? I didn’t know, so I called Pure & Natural’s toll-free number (1-877-711-8188) to find out. Will answered… Read the rest

April 9, 2008

Lush responds, for what it’s worth

The letter-writing continues. After mentioning Lush solid shampoo and deodorant bars in my post two weeks ago, I received several comments from readers who had mail ordered Lush products hoping to avoid plastic packaging, only to find that the products that are sold “naked” in the store are packaged in all kinds of plastic when shipped through the mail.

So I wrote to Lush. I’m not going to reprint my actual email because I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t very nice. I must have been in a crappy mood when I wrote it, and rereading it tonight, I realize it’s pretty confrontational, which is not the best approach when we want someone to make a change for us. Flies and honey and all that. Nevertheless, the response I got back was very polite. And while I still don’t agree with all their packaging choices, I’m happy that they’ve obviously thought about the issue a lot and are working to get better.… Read the rest

March 24, 2008

Soap and Shampoo and Deodorant, oh my!

One of the best ways for us to eliminate unnecessary plastic is to eliminate the water. No water = no plastic bottle. The easiest step in that department is to switch from liquid hand soap and bath gels to solid bar soaps. But there are other products that many folks don’t realize come in a solid form, like shampoo, so here’s an update on my experiences with solid soaps, shampoo bars, and even plastic-free deodorant.

SOAPS

Plastic-free soap bars are hard to find in mainstream grocery and drugstores, I will admit. Even Ivory comes packaged in plastic wrap these days. But natural stores like Whole Foods are chock full of Castile soaps wrapped in little to no paper. Dr. Bronner’s is a good choice for many. Right now, I’m enjoying two different solid soaps:

Dessert Essence lemongrass/calendula soaps that I found, believe it or not, on sale at Grocery Outlet for a buck a piece and are packaged with just one strip of paper.

Iyoba Body… Read the rest

January 4, 2008

Hand lotion. Is it for the bees?

Have you ever wondered how honey is harvested from beehives? This fall, Michael and I got to find out firsthand while visiting our friends, Jerry and Mea, at Draper Farms in San Anselmo.

The hives are wooden frames with beeswax starter cells. The bees fill the cells with honey and, as each cell fills up, cap them with their own beeswax. When the hives are full of honey and ready to harvest, the beeswax caps are removed from both sides of the frame with an electric heated knife. This was the first part of our demonstration. The hives had already been gathered into the barn prior to our arrival and the bees sent on to create new hives.

Next the frames are placed into a centrifuge, where they will be spun to extract the honey. The honey flies out from the combs onto the sides of the centrifuge and then runs down the walls and out a spigot into a waiting bucket.

We all got to take home a jar of raw honey. Mmmmmm… but my question was what happens to all the leftover beeswax.… Read the rest

July 24, 2007

Plastic Microbeads in Facial Scrubs — We’re Flushing Plastic Down the Drain!

06/10/2013 Update:  Several organizations have waged a campaign to get companies to eliminate polyethylene micro-beads from their facial scrubs.  Please read my updated post to take action and learn about what other kinds of products contain microplastics.

Here is the text of my original article from July of 2007, which was updated in December 2011:

Say what? The little grains in exfoliating scrubs more often than not are made of plastic these days! Plastic that is meant to be rinsed down the drain, where it enters our waterways and the bodies of aquatic creatures. I almost didn’t believe it when I read it in this article: Polymers Are Forever. So I did a Google search, and this is what I found…

MD Formulations Face & Body Scrub contains polyethylene granules. Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Face & Body Polish contains micro-fine polyethylene beads. SkinCeuticals Body Polish contains polyethylene beads. Helen Pensanti Exfoliating… Read the rest