Category Archives: Green Living

there’s something in the water

My friend Rachel emailed me an SF Gate article I thought was worth sharing. It’s about the adverse effect of sunscreens, which wash off people’s bodies at the beach, on fish and coral reefs. The article talks about how sunscreen is one of the many chemical personal care products that end up in the water supply, including medications. They suggest that the solution is to educate people about these chemicals so that they can demand safer products and a better water filtration system (as of now we go right ahead and drink this stuff aparently). They also have a list of sunscreen products that are better for the sea.

I remember a similar discussion a couple months back about birth control hormones ending up in the drinking water supply. I sort of shy away from this topic because (a) it’s really gross to think about drinking water that was formerly pee! and (b) I’m really conflicted. I’ve always been a pretty strong live and let live person. I certainly would never want women who wanted it to not have access to birth control. At the same time, I think these cases are good reminders that “live and let live” has some serious challenges, in that we all live in the same place.

The same issue comes up for me with chemical laundry detergents and dish cleaners. In general, I don’t use them myself (to be honest, more because they give me a rash), but I’ve never really pushed them on people in my life. Still, nothing really goes away when it goes down the drain… and sometimes it’s just coming right back out the faucet.

I’m conflicted because I guess I am feeling a little burned out on the idea of a consumer revolution. Are we really going to demand safer products? Do we have time to? Many alternative are available now and most people don’t buy them (can’t afford to? can’t find them? don’t care?). But the idea of regulation is a scary ethical minefield. Some things, such as sunscreen that still protects from sunburns but doesn’t hurt the ocean as much seems pretty uncontroversial. But birth control? What about life-saving drugs that get into the water supply?

I wish we could trust the government to decide what is reasonable for public health and safety versus individual rights, but it’s pretty obvious that we can’t (and if we do while the person we like is in power, it’s all subject to change when their term is over).

I might sound a bit pessimistic, but I’m not. I’m just mulling it over. I definitely know a lot folks who think changing consumer behavior is where it’s at. I just don’t think we can do it until we change consumers back into citizens, and that’s a formidable task. (I’ll do it if someone else pays my rent.)

In the meanwhile, there is a silver lining – at least our internal organs and our sushi won’t get sunburned!

a pretty informative and overly balanced link on tap water (though admittedly not without bias)


the real secret

I’ve been running around like a madwoman, and haven’t had time to invite everyone to join me on the make-your-own deodorant challenge. So I have to admit that I started it without y’all (sorry!) and it is so successful, I’m in shock. I was sure there must be something toxic about my recipe, it works so well, but my holistic doctor ok’ed it as of yesterday, so go for it!

Using natural deodorant has been a quest of mine for about two years. Many of the ingredients in non-natural deodorants have negative impacts on health, especially for women, who tend to shave before applying, allowing the chemicals to enter the bloodstream. Antiperspirants in particular clog the sweat glands, causing stagnation of toxins in the breast area. While there are no definitive studies that prove antiperspirant increases your risk of breast cancer, I’m not taking my chances.

I’m also trying to embrace sweating, as it is such an important part of clearing toxins from the body and also plays a role in making us attractive to other people. I’m super prissy about smelling bad, so if I can do it, so can you!

The challenge is to make and wear your own deodorant for a full week. Now’s a good time of year because it’s not super hot yet. However, I’m pretty sure it will work fine through the summer because all my running around has resulted in a load of sweating, completely BO free (and with a slight lovely lavender fragrance). Just a note, this is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant, so it doesn’t stop sweat, just stink.


Natural Deodorant Powder

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
a few drops essential oils (I’m using lavender).

Place the ingredients in a glass jar (I’m using a parmesan cheese shaker).
Shake to blend (It doesn’t clump, don’t ask me why).
Sprinkle a light covering of the powder on a damp washcloth.
Pat on. Don’t rinse.

Putting it on damp is important, because baking powder can irritate your skin if you put it on dry (the same way sand would).

I found this recipe here.  The best part? NO WHITE RESIDUE! This is a natural, cheap deodorant. I’d love to hear how/if it works for you & your thoughts on the deodorant dilemma in general.

agua de beber, camara

802180.jpgWhen I was in the Israeli Army (!) for a week as a teenage tourist in Israel, they told us to drink water for everything: headache, cuts, fatigue, bad dreams… drink water!

Drinking water is so important, but what are we supposed to do now that we know bottled water is bad for the environment and ultimately bad for all of us? Additionally, plastic bottles – disposable & not – are a bit suspect in my opinion, especially when they warm up (plastic tasting water, anyone?).

For awhile I was carrying around a glass bottle from GT’s Kombucha for my water, but it was too heavy (not to mention breakable). I was keeping my eye out for a light-weight, non-toxic water bottle and I finally found the perfect one through Carbon Conscious Consumer, a website where you can join challenges to reduce your carbon footprint.

I’m not super impressed with their website design, but my SIGG water bottle is great. I got the one pictured here. It’s the perfect size, so light weight, and includes a screw-off top for gulping and a secure spout that’s great for on the run or running at the gym. It’s made of aluminum.  Water tastes like water in here.

The one thing I don’t love about it is I had to order it on the internet, which means shipping and not supporting local businesses (though I’m not sure there are water bottle manufacturers in Brooklyn). However, if you sign up for the no-more-bottled-water challenge at Carbon Conscious Consumer, you get a discount (normally cost around 20 bucks). Happy drinkin’!

no impact man impacts me

noimpact.pngI want to give a shout-out to a blog I’ve been reading: No Impact Man. It’s actually a year-long, well-funded project where a writer, his wife and two-year-old daughter live for a full year in the middle of Manhattan without making any environmental impact what-so-ever. No subway even. No appliances. No packaging AT ALL.

While obvious there are issues to be worked out with how the rest of us could live more like this, I find it really inspiring. Both my roommate and I drastically reduced our use of plastic bags (so much so that we’re out when we want them!).

What I like about his point of view is that he points out the many health benefits (both physical and emotional) that his family has experienced from the project. Here’s a post on that topic and also a link to my favorite post (on how he entertains his daughter without TV).

My one complaint is that I wish he would be more explicit about how much time and money his activities cost. I have no doubt they are saving tons of cash, but it’s unclear to me what changes I would have the time to spend to complete them (i.e. doing all laundry in the sink, baking bread, etc.). Either way, the health benefits are clear and inspirational.