Flossing

So the topic of today’s post presented itself to me a few days ago when I vowed to myself to floss more often, only to pick up my dental floss and realise that it had nearly run out. A bit inconvenient, but I decided I’d have a think about what was best to buy next before I headed down to Boots as usual!

What bothers me most about the dental floss I use is that it comes in a plastic container, which of course has to go to landfill once the floss has run out. Plus the floss itself is designed to be disposed of after one use. Just a quick search on Boots’s website found five pages of floss-related products, the vast majority of which – excepting an expensive Rechargeable Power Flosser – are disposable after one use.

My next thought is – is flossing essential? Unfortunately, as I’m not a dentist, I don’t feel qualified to answer this question, but I have made a mental note to ask my dentist the next time I see her. It would be great to know her stance on it, but then I’m sure that dentists have differing opinions on this anyway. Do you know what yours thinks?

So for now assuming that I would like to keep flossing, what can I do instead? I have found a great article written by Beth Terry of the blog My Plastic Free Life, which runs over a number of options (in this post she also discusses toothbrushes and toothpaste). They are American products, so if you’re not American they might not be available to you, but interesting reading to see the different options out there nevertheless:

Eco-Dent dental floss in a cardboard box

Eco-Dent:My choice, after weighing all the options, is Eco-Dent dental floss. It’s what I’ve been using for the past two years, and I really like it. Unlike any other brand of dental floss I have found, it comes in a recyclable cardboard container. That was the deciding factor for me. While there is a very thin plastic wrapper inside the box and two protective plastic stickers on the outside, the amount of plastic packaging is minimal compared to all other brands.

What’s more, the floss is waxed using 100% vegetable waxes rather than beeswax or petroleum-based wax. The Gentle floss contains enzymes that help break down food particles between the teeth. The Vegan floss does not, as those enzymes are grown on a dairy substrate. Either sounds great, right? Well…

The floss itself is made from Nylon. Plastic. But I’ve compared Eco-Dent to other brands of floss, and to me, it’s the best choice currently offered.

Radius: Radius natural dental floss is made from silk. If you’re vegan, forget it.  If you’re not (I’m not), you still have to consider the packaging. The outer cardboard box can fool you. Inside is a regular plastic dental floss container.

Tom’s of Maine: The floss is made from Nylon with a hard plastic container inside the cardboard box.

DenTek Natural Floss Picks: In addition to their plastic floss picks, DenTek has created an “eco” option: individual disposable floss picks made from compostable starch rather than petroleum-based plastic. According to the company, they will break down in 180 days at a commercial compost facility. And the FAQ on the web site includes a link to instructions for building your own compost bin if you don’t have a commercial facility nearby. It seems like a green idea. But when you dig into the reality of it, you find just more greenwashing.

Bryton picksBryton Picks: Okay, this option just seems weird. I had to post the picture from the site because I couldn’t even figure out how to accurately describe these things. Bryton picks are not floss. Instead, they are made from flexible stainless steel strips that you slide up and down between each tooth. The handle is made from plastic. On the plus side, the device can be cleaned and reused for up to a month, probably longer. But I simply can’t imagine them actually working in the way that dental floss is supposed to work — below the gum line and around the teeth.

I’ll ask my dentist and get back to you.

Glide and other mainstream flosses: They’re made from Nylon or Teflon (worse), come in plastic containers, usually inside plastic blister packs, and are synthetically waxed. So why even consider them?

After doing some reading, I’m really interested in trying the Eco Dent Gentle Floss that Beth recommends. I’ve found it available on Amazon so I might try it (incidentally, I have been feeling unsure whether I want to continue shopping from Amazon so much when I do shop, but that is a big topic so I will save it for another post!)

It’s disappointing that the Eco Dent floss is still made from nylon though – nylon is synthetic, and is made from petroleum products, so you can see why this might be one to avoid. But cutting down on the plastic packaging is a step in the right direction. If you’re more concerned about the nylon, you could try to find a product made of silk (see Beth’s discussion of Radius, above).

How have you got round this problem? Which floss do you use?

Advertisements

Conditioner

So I’ve discussed shampoo and soap already, but I thought that this week I’d like to turn my attention to conditioner. It’s something I haven’t always bothered with, but my hair isn’t as healthy as I’d like it to be at the moment, so it’s time to investigate an eco-friendly option!

As with many other things, conditioners are generally full of chemicals, and they come in plastic bottles. If you’re a regular reader, you won’t be surprised to know that the first place I turned to for a better option was Lush! (I’m not being paid to advertise them, honest!)

American CreamMy instinctive approach was to go for one of their solid conditioners – Jungle. For what it was, it was pretty good, but I didn’t feel like it was getting to all my hair like a liquid conditioner would do, so I didn’t think it was doing as much good as I’d like.
So now I’m trying Lush’s conditioner American Cream. This does come in a plastic bottle, but it is labelled as made from 100% recycled plastic, so as least I know that Lush are doing their bit to reuse and recycle! So far I’m quite enjoying using this conditioner, so I’m going to stick with it for now.American Cream

 

 

You can also make your own conditioner – and, as usual, there are loads of ideas out there that you can try. I haven’t tried any myself (yet), so I can’t vouch for any.

If you want somewhere to start, I would have a look at this list of 5 Hair Conditoners You Can Make at Home; here’s a snippet:

Avocado Deep Conditioner

  • 1/2 mashed ripe avocado
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 drops lavender or rosemary essential oil

Combine ingredients and apply to hair, focusing on the ends. Leave on for at least 10 minutes, then rinse.

From Beauty By Nature by Brigette Mars

[…]

Vinegar Rinses

Vinegar rinses relieve itchy scalp, dandruff, and dull hair and restore the scalp’s natural acid mantle. They are best for normal and oily hair, rather than dry. Use white vinegar for blondes, apple cider vinegar for brunettes, and red wine vinegar for red-heads. Leave the rinse on for at least five minutes if you are going to rinse it out. You can, however, leave it on and any smell will disappear once the hair is dry.

From “Herbal Hair Care,” by Cristi Nunziata

  • Herb blend: For blondes, calendula and chamomile; For dark hair, nettle and marshmallow; or make up your own
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil
  • Distilled water

1. Fill a quart jar half way with herbs. Cover with vinegar and cap tightly. Place the jar in a warm spot for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily.

2. Strain the vinegar and add essential oils. Store in a plastic bottle.

3. Dilute the rinse with distilled water. For oily hair, dilute one part rinse with four parts water. For dry hair, dilute one part rinse with six parts water. After shampooing and rinsing, pour vinegar rinse slowly over hair, massaging it into the scalp. Rinse with water.

From Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal

I’ve love to know what you’ve tried! Do you think it’s best to buy from an ethical company like Lush, make your own, or go without altogether?

DIY: Night Time Face Cream

Lovely eco idea for a night-time moisturiser from Lexi’s Green Guide:

Lexi's Green Guide

Shea Butter

This DIY face cream only needs three ingredients. It will leave your skin smooth, moisturized, and fight blemishes.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoon of unrefined shea butter

3-4 tablespoons of sweet almond oil

5 drops of lavender essential oil

Directions:

  1. Add shea butter and sweet almond oil to a mixing bowl
  2. Use a hand mixer or manually stir ingredients until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps
  3. Stir in essential oil

Shea butter is non-comodegenic meaning it is less likely to clog your pores. Shea butter will moisturize your skin and leave it feeling soft and supple.

Sweet almond oil is also non-comodegenic and is rich in vitamin and minerals to combat dryness and heal your skin. Sweet almond oil is easily absorbed by the skin and won’t leave your face feeling greasy. If you do not have sweet almond oil then jojoba or grape seed oil are great substitutes.

Lavender…

View original post 56 more words

Soap

I am a big fan of soap – I much prefer it to using shower gel. But I’m aware that loads of people use handwash instead of soap, so I’m going to deal with this in a future post.

One of the reasons I like soap so much is that it can come with much less packaging than a bottle of shower gel or handwash. Obviously this does depend on the product itself and where you buy it from, as lots of soaps do come in boxes, or wrapped in plastic (or both!)

But, soap will very often contain palm oil. The way that palm oil is produced generally means that huge amounts of land are planted up with palm trees, making for a very unvaried ecosystem which doesn’t support a great amount of wildlife. These plantations often take the place of rainforests, meaning that a lot of the world’s fragile natural environments are being destroyed. It is often very hard to avoid palm oil as it is often just listed as ‘vegetable oil’ in lists of ingredients. There is a great article on Lush’s website about The Problem with Palm Oil – it’s an eye-opening read, so I would recommend you take the time to read it!

Lush sell palm-free soaps – the only problem is that they can be a bit expensive, so you might want to just buy a small bar to start with to make sure you feel you’re getting your money’s worth!

I’ve also tried natural soaps that use sustainable palm oil, such as those made by Handmade Norfolk Soaps. I’ve tried their rose petals and rose geranium essential oil soap, and it smells amazing! It’s likely there are plenty of other companies out there selling similar products, so take your time to find something that will suit you.

You could also try making your own soap. I would be careful when doing this as homemade doesn’t necessarily always mean natural or good for the environment! For now I’m happy to buy soaps as I enjoy using them and I feel content about where I’m getting them from.

Do you use soap regularly? Have you ever considered switching to a more environmentally friendly soap?

Sponges and Cleaning Cloths

I use a sponge every day in the shower, and I’m too ashamed to admit how long I’ve had mine for! So I decided it’s time for a new one, and I’m having a search around to see if there are greener options available. Just a quick search on Google found this Calypso Belle Body Sponge (downside: comes in a plastic bag) and an EcoTools Loofah Bath Sponge. There are lots of similar products around – just be aware of postage costs, particularly on Amazon, as they like to sneak those in when you go to pay!

(If you want to know more about the different materials that can be used to make eco-friendly sponges, have a look at this article here.)

I’ve also found on Etsy an idea which I hadn’t thought of – a handmade sponge! Here there are lots of crochet sponges for sale, or you could take the plunge and make your own. There are cleaning sponges as well as bath sponges on this site, so it caters for all your spongey needs!

Regarding eco-friendly cleaning sponges and cloths, there are a whole host of these around – you can probably find some in a large supermarket with the other sponges etc. I particularly like the idea of the e-cloth. These might not have zero impact on the environment, but the idea is that you can use them again and again – saving you from using disposable cloths, sponges and paper towels!

If you’re looking to save money, an even cheaper idea is to cut up old clothes and use the rags as cloths – you can then put them in textile recycling collections/bins when you’ve finished with them! And you can find plenty of patterns for knitted dishcloths too (for example, see this free pattern on Ravelry).

I haven’t yet decided where I’m going to get my new bath sponge from, but it’s great to know there are options out there! Or I could stop using one altogether! Have you got any more tips on eco-sponges and cloths? I’d love to hear them!

Week 11: Deodorant

I’m continuing my theme of toiletries by investigating deodorant this week. I’ve chosen toiletries because I’m trying to make small changes so that I don’t feel too overwhelmed. And this way I still feel like I’m making a difference to my life, however slowly.

My conventional Nivea roll-on deodorant is about to run out so I decided that instead of buying another similar one I would try and make the next one more eco-friendly.

The choices I’ve come up with are:

  • Switch to a deodorant in a glass container – this way it’s a bit more eco-friendly than a plastic one if you can recycle it afterwards. My Nivea is one sold in glass, although it does have a plastic lid.
  • Try a crystal deodorant – more natural than a conventional one. I’m afraid I haven’t looked into this much as this wasn’t the option I chose to go with!Lush's Aromaco Deodorant
  • Switch to one without any packaging – This was my choice, so I decided to buy an Aromaco deodorant block from Lush. It came as a solid chunk and only wrapped in paper. I’ve already had (negative) comments about its smell just from it sitting in the bathroom, and I think Lush could have made more effort with that! But so far I’m glad I don’t have the guilt of buying something encased in plastic. I may sing the praises of Lush fairly often in this blog – this is because they’re committed to trying to reduce their environmental impact. I talked to a helpful assistant about switching to one of their deodorants, and she recommended Aromaco because it’s the most similar to a roll-on. They also do powders, which I feel would be a bit more inconvenient and messier. After a few days of using it, though, I’m not convinced it’s doing the job better than my old deodorant, and it’s making me a bit itchy! I’ll give it a few more days and see how it goes…
  • Make your own. Make sure the recipe you find uses only all-natural ingredients: making your own doesn’t automatically mean that it’ll be eco-friendly. I’ve found some really good options for this, including a rose and lavender one, a homemade probiotic deodorant (this page also has some useful info about the nasties you get in most deodorants), and an antibacterial one . I think that with these you just have to try them out and alter them until you have something that suits you individually. If it doesn’t work out with my Lush deodorant then I’d love to give this a go.
  • Stop using it altogether (not for the faint-hearted!) I wouldn’t even consider this to be honest – I think I’d smell too bad!

How’re you doing with your efforts to go green?

Week 6: Razors

This week I’ve been trying to figure out the best alternative to the disposable razors I currently use. This post will be based on feminine razors/equivalents as I don’t know much about the ones men use, but I imagine most of the points I make will apply to those too.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that I didn’t have to use a disposable razor. I really don’t know why it didn’t occur to me for such a long time, but once it did, I tried to figure out a way to stop using one. For me personally, the main options seem to be:

1. Use a razor with disposable blades (so you only have to buy new blades, rather than replacing the entire razor).

2. Buy a razor blade sharpener to prolong the life of your razor blades (saves having to keep buying new ones!)

3. Use an electronic shaver or epilator.

(As with many things, the utterly no-waste option, stop using a razor altogether, isn’t an avenue I really want to explore. There are always personal limits involved in going green!)

Well, I bought myself an epilator a year or so ago, although this wasn’t so much to replace my use of a razor altogether but more to see if it be more effective than a razor on my legs. (If you’re interested, there’s a photo below (best I could manage), and I bought it from Boots. They don’t seem to sell it anymore, but they do sell similar ones. Also, they might seem expensive, but I managed to get mine in a sale.) Even though it has turned out to be effective, I still use a disposable razor on my underarms, so this is what I’m trying to alter.

Philips Satinelle Soft epilator

I have looked around and tried to find razors with disposable blades, and blade sharpeners. Although I have found both, I still feel somewhat dissatisfied with the idea of resorting to either. Even if you’re just buying disposable blades, they are still expensive and come with a great deal of packaging, and eventually the razor itself will give out and you’ll have to buy a new one. I think if you do want to go for this option then a blade sharpener is a good idea (I did a quick search on Amazon and found a few – I’m sure there are loads more out there.)

For a useful article, see this one on using an eco-friendly razor. Although it’s from an American point of view, meaning the suggested products are American, it still gives useful tips. My favourite is the idea to look for razors made of recycled materials. If you’re going with the disposable option then I can’t recommend this enough!

Anyway, my option has been to return to my epilator. It came with a shaving attachment, in addition to the epilation head, which for a reason I can’t quite fathom I have ignored so far. Since I bought this epilator before I started my drive to become greener, I feel that throwing it away would be more wasteful than keeping it, and so I’m going to try to make more use out of it. It might take a bit of time to get used to, but I feel that for the moment it’s the most eco-friendly option I could go with. Goodbye disposable razors!