Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ditching Disposables

I first heard about the Ditch the Disposable challenge back in 2008. I made napkins out of old t-shirts.

It's always been on my mind since then, in one way or another, what things are reusable, or could be reusable that I am throwing away?

Thought it is one that many people don't feel comfortable with, toilet paper was the second thing I worked on ditching the disposables with. Family Cloth is the name I found, and have used for it. It's not my favorite name, but it works.

I basically took terricloth and just zigzagged the edges, got a bucket with a lid, and away I went. For people who don't want to hear about my number 1 and 2 wiping, skip past these stars and onto the next stars.


The terrycloth is really nice for wiping poo. It just is. I had to use toilet paper the other day, and felt like it was just smearing things all over, instead of actually wiping it off. Family cloth though, is just excellent. Superb.

The terrycloth is a bit less effective for me wiping when I pee. My last ones were better, so I think it must be the kind of terrycloth I have. As you will read below, I am planning on getting some bamboo terrycloth, and I want to make some cloths out of that specifically for urine.

The cloths also work very well for blood when I'm on my period.


To help with the smell, I will sometimes pour a bit of vinegar in the bottom of my bucket.

Now, my new ambition is to replace paper towels. I never really used them a lot before, but with cats, spills happen a lot more often, and so they are just a lot more necessary.

I saw something on pinterest that was a bit like this, but having had experience with my terrycloth not always being the best at absorption, I wanted to look at other options. What I've settled on is bamboo terrycloth. I got a sample in the mail yesterday, and it feels so nice, and it is supposed to be like 50% more absorbent than cotton. So score on that count too.

My cheapy side says I should just find something cheap and use that, but when I went around the shops, all they had was bright pink terrycloth, and I was like, nah I'd rather get something nice and make it look nice in my kitchen, so my plan for these is to use the bamboo terrycloth and then use food-fabric for the backings for ones that will be kitchen use, and then something else for cleaning/bathroom use. But yeah, so at some point I'll order that stuff and make those.

And just a word out there, because I got a lot of bamboo samples in this pack - bamboo fabric feels amazing. The growth of bamboo is also good for the environment. The process for turning it into fabric is not the most environmentally friendly in general, although it can be - just more research needs to be done on the process for the particular one you're buying, if that is something important to you.

So here's to ditching disposables! I've ditched a few. More to come as time wears on!

No Poo and other "natural" hygiene adventures

I haven't used shampoo since January.

I'd heard about the No Poo movement before, but the person who was doing it had short hair, so I thought it was just more a virtue of having short hair, and that with long hair, it wouldn't really work. (My sister has the same thoughts). I don't remember how I came across this again, but I stumbled upon the blog of a lady who had gone No Poo with long hair. Hmm...this was getting more interesting. So I read a lot, finding out about the transition period (greaseball hair for 2-3 weeks, then your hair will adjust and be beautiful!), and prepped myself to do the experiment...which really involved doing nothing.

Now, before I came over to Australia, I used to use Ouidad products, which are pretty great for curly hair gals. Postage plus really tight money meant no Ouidad for Jennie, and I was madly missing my curls. So voila, curls reappeared straight away with no poo. I think I went about a month before my first baking soda wash. There was a bit of build-up in my hair, and that took it out very nicely. I used a bit of apple cider vinegar wash, and that brought a nice feel to the ends. I heard that the best thing for distributing the hair oil is a boar hair brush, so my mom bought me one and sent it over.

The boar hair brush is really nice, smooths out the hair and makes it look nice and shiny, but it doesn't quite distribute all the sebum, and so I have some buildup, particularly in the back where I can't see as well what is going on. So I've been wondering all along what to do, and then also wanting a wide-toothed comb to brush my hair in the shower, as that is numero uno for keeping your curls nice. Not brushing your hair after it gets wet.

So while I was searching around for some solution to my problem, and also the problem of how to clean out all of this grease out of my brushes (it looks like a buildup of dust - really weird looking, especially since you can't really see it at all in the hair). Well, I came across this method called the wash cloth method, where you basically use a washcloth in a brushing motion in the shower, and it helps distribute a lot of that sebum all throughout the strands.

Ladies and gents, this is the real deal. I have come to the perfect method for dealing with my hair. Now I haven't done this long enough to figure out if I'm still gonna need baking soda, but so far I am high flying with the water only washing. I have a fine-toothed comb, and I go through the hair with that before the shower, then washcloth and wide-toothed comb in the shower, come out, scrunch, and beautiful, lovely curly hair is my reward. If I comb it up into a ponytail or clip to dry, it drys out really nice straight with some body, and I think it'd go nice to go through it with the boar hair brush. Haven't tried it yet, but for sure will.

So yeah, I've been in love with my no poo anyway, but now I am head over heels in love, because this is the best my hair has ever been. Feels amazing, looks amazing, and is super simple. Also my scalp feels amazing. Like, just like nothing.

So this whole concept of no poo got me thinking about other things that seem necessary, and wondering about alternatives to them. Deoderant. I've tried a couple different things for deoderant. Vinegar was alright, but the smell is very strong. Right now I'm using lemon juice, and I really like that. Really like the smell when I put it on. It works for a while, an then starts to wear off, which is fine for me, because I like having a bit of my smell for my husband. Part of what allures us to people after all. I love his smell too, and nasty deoderant isn't a smell I enjoy! But he's not indulging me on that...yet.

The real thing that inspired me today to write this (besides just hopping out of the shower and being overjoyed again with my hair) is that I bought a miswak and tried it for the first time today.

MIS-WHAT? If you google miswak, you'll find a lot of people talking about the prophet Muhammad, which isn't exactly my cup of tea, but if you sift through all that, you'll find some actually pretty cool scientific backing. A miswak is the root of a tree grow typically in the Middle East. When you shave off a bit of the bark and chew on it, it forms into little bristles, which can then be used to brush your teeth, tongue, gently on the gums etc. In a study done comparing typical toothbrush and toothpaste to miswak, miswak performed better, and removed more plaque, and less bacteria in the mouth.

So I bought my first one today at an Afghan Supermarket. Now I know there are environmental impacts involved in importing plants halfway around the world. Ideally eventually if I like how this goes well enough, I'd like to plant my own tree and harvest my own sticks, but that's getting a bit ahead of myself. (Also potentially finding a source that uses ones grown closer to home).

My first impression: this smells weird...really weird. It tastes weird...really weird.

But once I got past that, by which I mean, it just comes out most when I was chewing on it, I really liked it. Like now, I am sitting here and my teeth just feel great. I also love that I don't have to go to the bathroom to do it, so I can have a miswak here on the couch by the TV, and just be casually cleaning my teeth while enjoying my television, without having to walk to the bathroom. I always hate that at night, because I am dead tired and just want to go to bed, so half the time I skip teethbrushing in favor of just slumping over and falling asleep in bed. If I can take care of my teeth while also being lazy, what could be better than that!?

Nah, but the real reason I found the miswak is because I've been brushing my teeth, and it just seems like however long or whatever method I use to brush them, they still don't feel clean, and that the time they feel the cleanest is when I run a cloth over them. So I figured there had to be something better out there for them. Behold the power of google to bring the miswak into my life.

So those are my hygiene adventures. Coming soon (ie as soon as I finish writing it, because I'm gonna write it right now) is a post on my ditching of disposables!