Monday, January 2, 2012

Chemical Free Household

I was chatting with a friend the other night and he asked me about eliminating chemicals from his home. He spoke of dish soap and cleaners, and said he would like to eliminate the petro-chemicals and artificial scents in the products that they currently use in their place. It is something I have also longed to incorporate in my own house. I watched a film about two years ago called "Chemical Nation". The filmmaker helps a family of 4 explore ways to rid their home of potentially cancer causing, and environmentally harmful chemicals. They discover how these chemicals are produced, and how bad they are for our water ways and air. The family is shown how to make their own hygiene products from common household products. Toothpaste, hair gel, deodorant, multi purpose cleaners and laundry soap. In addition to being safer these products are much less expensive.

I began by informing Russ about using soaps with plant based surfactants(the actual cleaning part of the soap),  that are biodegradable and scent free. While I don't make my own creations, I do buy my soaps that are all of these things. I find that cleaners and soaps that are scented smell artificial and really offensive. When you are used to have a scent free environment, you realize how powerful these deodorants are. I much prefer to smell life than smell something created in a lab in New Jersey with dinosaur blood.

When it comes to a general cleaner I use vinegar pretty much exclusively. The acid the vinegar makes it useful for dissolving mineral deposits and it has antibacterial properties. It cost about a dollar a liter. I add it to my dish rinse water to help kill bacteria that may be present on the dishes. Vinegar has so many uses, it is something that should be in every kitchen, in large volumes. It has a natural smell, that reminds me of eating French fries and it is safe for people and for our waters. In my dish water I use one of several brands sold at Thrifty Foods, that use plant surfactants and are bio-degradable. I find they have the same grease fighting ability as the traditional brands, cost a little more and are easy on the nose and the hands.

As for sink and shower soap I use a product called Doctor Bronners Magic Soap. This soap is made with organic plant oils  It is available as a bar or in liquid form. I buy the unscented variety, the baby mild. The soap is also produced with a variety of essential oils including peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree. This soap leaves no residue, and it doesn't dry the skin. I feel a little oily after a shower and this oil absorbs quickly leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth. I also use this product as shampoo, and find that it works just fine.

A trick I learned a while back was how to re-use the foaming soap pumps that are sold in stores. If you pour in about a third of the bottle with Magic Soap and the rest with water, it works great and costs a fraction of what the pre-mixed refills. I find the end of the pump gets gummed up after a little while. It is easily fixed by running under some hot water and the residue washes out.

One of my favorite products I now use are Soap Nuts. Soap nuts are a naturally growing berry of the Soap Nut tree, from the jungles of Nepal and India. It is a great product with a multitude of uses, from cleaning jewelery to making toothpaste. I have not used them for anything beyond laundry detergent. The laundry is clean, fresh, scent free and there are no artificial chemicals that can cause or inflame skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. I believe the cleaning agents in soap nuts are easier on the fabrics of your clothes, which is great when you wear as much Merino wool as I do. Gentle detergent will allow the clothing to last longer.

I also purchase organic natural toothpaste that has no fluoride, or strong flavors. I purchase my hand creams and lip balm and other such toiletries from Marigold Pharmacy in Courtenay. They have in house made toothpaste, creams, balms and topical ointments. It is a neat place to find items that are good for you and the planet.

I would not have gained this much knowledge with out gleaning this information from my girlfriend who showed me the way to this greener living. I was wanting to make these changes but was unsure how to incorporate it. Even if I was a little skeptical of soap nuts at first, now I am a believer in all these products and ones like them.

I also came to another realization. Unless I am in a high stress situation or not well for some reason, I don't have much body odour. I no longer wear deodorant, ever. Don't be afraid to smell like a human, it is not that bad.......

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