Frank sense in Vita-Myr (Day 193)…

September 9, 2007


Like most people, I do as my dentist tells me and brush at least twice a day. But now that it’s the busiest part of the film festival and I’m running around, shoving random bits of food into my mouth instead of meals, then going for hours without eating anything, I’ll often find that my breath isn’t so minty fresh.

After swearing off gum and really not wanting to pack a tube of toothpaste or sprig of parsley into my purse, I began looking for other solutions.

Eventually, I concluded that a small container of mouthwash would do the trick. But whenever I use stuff like Listerine, it always feels like I’m about to get an aneurysm — it’s so intense and leaves my tongue feeling all tingly (in a really unexciting way).

Then I found a natural brand, which happens to come in travel-size containers, called Vita-Myr. It’s much less painful, due to the fact that it uses distilled water instead of alcohol as its base, and is combined with friendly bacteria-fighting agents like folic acid, zinc, myrrh and cloves.

Now all it’ll take to get fresh breath is a discreet gargle and spit, and I’ll be ready for all the celebrities who try to kiss me (yeah, right).

Making room for natural perfume (Day 175)…

August 22, 2007


At the beginning of this challenge, I promised my cosmopolitan self that no matter how green I became, no matter how many hippies I befriended, there were three things I’d never, ever do: 1) Let my hair clump into dreadlocks; 2) Wear Birkenstocks; and 3) Smell like patchouli. Not that there’s anything wrong with such things — in fact, Birkenstock has been coming out with some funkier styles and colours these days and if they aren’t worn with socks at least … but I digress:

My forays into perfume began sometime in high school, when I wore these sickly sweet scents from the Body Shop like Mango, Peach and Dewberry. Then I went to summer camp and got turned onto Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers. By the time I got to university, I was big into Diesel’s Zero Plus, but the fact that it came in a bottle shaped like a grenade made it problematic every time I tried to fly anywhere. Most recently, my perfumes of choice have been Burberry Brit and Kimono Rose.

But more and more, perfumes began making my nose itch and my sinuses ache, and I wanted something that was a little more natural and didn’t feel like it was eating away at my brain. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options — most hippie stores just offer various essential oils, which on their own are too strong a fragrance. Thistle reader and entrepreneur Anji Murphy sent me some of the natural perfume sticks she’s been working on and they’re fab, but she has yet to officially put them on the market.

So when I stumbled upon these solid perfumes made in British Columbia by a company called Ganesha’s Garden for under $10, I quickly snapped one up. Listed in the ingredients are nothing more than coconut oil, perfume oil, beeswax, almond oil and vitamin E. They come in hand-carved soapstone boxes, which you can reuse afterwards for earrings, knick-knacks, or even your own homemade perfume.

I chose the Oasis scent, which I found out later is what they describe as “a very sweet, sexy blend of cool, juicy mango and coconut notes softened with vanilla and jasmine, all held together with deep woodsy notes. Totally tropical.” I also recommend Plumeria and White Lotus … not so much the Sandalwood, Patchouli or Green Tea. Unless you’re a capital-H hippie, of course. 🙂

Showering in the dark (Day 125)…

July 3, 2007

The light in my bathroom went out this morning — it’s one of the few halogens that I unfortunately can’t switch to a CFL — and I didn’t have time to get a new bulb. So instead, I just brushed my teeth and took a shower with it off. I felt a bit silly at first, but because the sun had already come up, I could see well enough to get all my ablutions done without a problem. Then I thought, “Why not do this for the rest of the year?”

I’m not going to put my makeup on without some decent lighting so I’ll switch it on for that, and when the days get shorter in the Winter I might need to turn it on at some point so I don’t start washing my face with conditioner and brushing my teeth with moisturizer. But for now, I’ll be using a little less power for my shower.

‘Da kinks in my hair (Day 123)…

July 1, 2007

hair iron

This is a sort of Ironing Part 2 (that subject line is a nod to this local play, which was moderately entertaining). In short, I’m unplugging my hair-straightening iron for good. Well, if it’s a super-special occasion — like a wedding or something — then I may cave. But essentially, it’s kaput.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Could you have any more hair-related crap?!”

Why yes, actually, take your pick: anti-frizz humectant, curling serum, holding spray, round brushes and flat brushes … I did warn you I was a product junkie.

Anyway, I guess I just felt like a bit of a cheat when I started restricting my time with the hair dryer while still indulging in a bit of flat-iron every now and then to get those pesky front bits straight. But in the name of saving electricity, it’s being strangled with its cord like my heating pad and shoved unceremoniously into my bathroom drawer.

No more band-aid solutions (Day 106)…

June 14, 2007


While ripping open some mail yesterday, I accidentally sliced my finger on a staple (I have no idea why anyone would staple an envelope, but there you go). Anyway, because my brain is now wired to be in constant eco-mode, I was sitting there at my desk, oozing blood, and the first thing I think is, “Ooh — I wonder if there’s some way I can green my first-aid?”

Unfortunately, band-aids come wrapped in unrecyclable wax paper, are attached to disposable peel-off stickies, and are made from mostly plastic, adhesive glue and just a tiny square of bleached cotton.

So I wandered around the maze of cubicles until I found a first-aid kit, which contained a roll of gauze. The only packaging it had was some plain paper on the outside, and while it probably wasn’t organic cotton or anything, it seemed a bit more eco-friendly than the band-aids. I snipped off a segment, twirled it around my finger and just held it there with my thumb until the bleeding stopped.

If it was a major gash, this solution may not have been applicable, but I’m convinced there are other, greener ways to deal with cuts like this — perhaps that liquid you spray on to make them clot right away? Or is that really toxic? I’d use my hankie but I’m worried it’s not sterile enough.

Either way, I’m going to try and avoid band-aids whenever possible. If it’s the only solution available I’ll have to make an exception, but in the mean time, I’m going to have a little pep talk with my platelets.

Image courtesy of these peeps

Polishing off (Day 102)…

June 10, 2007

nail polish

A while back, a reader asked me if I knew of any eco-friendly nail polish, perhaps a natural brand that used water-based paint and came in a recyclable jar or something. Unfortunately, I don’t. And while I’m more than happy to keep my eyes peeled for one, my nails won’t be peeling at all because there won’t be anything on them — yup, I’m going polish-free for the rest of this challenge.

The point of this is not just to consume less product but to inhale fewer toxic fumes and avoid using what I’d inevitably need a few weeks after applying it: nail polish remover.

Now, I know it’s almost summer, which for some people is nothing without ice cream trucks, sun hats and bright red nail polish. But I won’t forget about my extremities altogether. I’ll still be clipping and filing them, and I’m not about to forgo manis and pedis, either — it just means I need to ask for the natural buff finish instead.

And you know I’m all about the natural, buff thing.

Crazy photo art nicked from this dude

Voluntary simplicity, beginning with the end of my face wash (Day 100)…

June 8, 2007


In the ninth episode of Greentime, Amy speaks about the idea of voluntary simplicity: The idea that having the freedom to do whatever we want in the end actually makes us less happy, so we have to shift our thought processes from wanting to needing: Do I need multiple SUVs? Do I need to sleep in these pyjamas? Do I need this glass of wine from Australia? (Well, yes, actually I do need that last thing).

Now if there’s anyone who knows from happy, it’s a Buddhist — seriously, have you ever seen a statue of a disgruntled Buddha? I didn’t think so. To these guys, happiness is wearing only a robe and sandals, eating a bowl of rice, sitting on top of a mountain and thinking about nothing.

I’m not going to lie, no matter how aligned my chakras or what stage of enlightenment I’m at, my definition of happiness is going to go way beyond rice and sandals. But the further along I get in this green challenge, the greater appreciation I have for minimalism.

I look at Meghan, who doesn’t have a closet, TV, microwave, dishwasher, bath or air conditioning, and she’s perfectly happy. My friend Craig has been known to throw out cell phones and even couches on a whim — yes, he might also need a check-up from the neck-up, but he seems content.

But enough rambling: all this is just long-winded way of saying that I’m done with face wash; I’m using my bar soap instead.

My sister might think this is ironic, as I’ve always reprimanded her for doing exactly this.

“How can you use the same soap on your body that you use on your face?” I’d ask in disbelief. I think I’d heard this same question being posed just as derisively on a television commercial once, and it always seemed to make sense, until I stopped to think about it. In reality, it’s not as though confining oneself to a single soap is akin to washing your face with your armpit residue. Soap’s soap, and skin’s skin.

So when I bought this Kiss My Face pure olive oil bar soap, I thought I’d do as the label told me and kiss my face with it. After rinsing clean and looking up, part of me was shocked that it hadn’t left my pores in ruins and stripped half my freckles away — but no, it was the same as any other product I’ve been washing my face with until now. And it gets all my makeup off too, so no need for separate makeup remover.

One bar of soap, three purposes, two less products needed.

P.S. I can’t believe I’ve made it to 100 days! Woo-hoo!