Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thrifty and Healthy Changes

While not really an article that many would consider to have great spiritual significance, I thought that I would share with you some changes that we have made over the past several months that have not only saved us money and kept us healthier but also caused me to evaluate my weaknesses when it comes to change.  
Cleaned out the toiletries
This was a BIG undertaking for me. I love great smelling lotions, liquid soaps, body washes, shampoos and conditioners but they all ended up in the garbage. It took two garbage bags to handle all of it. I have heard for quite some time how bad the ingredients are in standard lotions, shampoos, and conditioners but have reluctantly turned a cold shoulder to it. (Sound familiar to any areas in your life that you know better but refuse to do anything about?). Well, enough is enough and with the encouragement of my hubby and children the pitching began.  I started by making a list of no-no’s for our toiletries.  

Here’s a great resource in case you are interested in making safer toiletry choices and want to see the list that I used: http://static.ewg.org/skindeep/pdf/EWG_cosmeticsguide.pdf . The most common bad ingredient I found lurking in my toiletries was sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate which is toxic to our bodies yet found in nearly every liquid toiletry including baby wash!   So now that we had nothing left in our showers or by our sinks I had to figure out what to replace it with. There are options that can be found at the health food stores but they are expensive, so I decided to make my own. Here are the recipes of standard things we are using:
Combine 4-6 tablespoons coconut oil with ¼ cup baking soda and ¼ cup corn starch or arrowroot powder (I prefer arrowroot). I like to add a couple drops of lavender essential oil for scent. Mix it up and put into an old deodorant container. Once mixed, I put it in the refrigerator to firm up overnight and then store it in the medicine cabinet. This works great for me- no complaints at all.

Brad is using a crystal rock, which is a natural salt, and he's happy with the results so far. This crystal is pretty cheap and is found at nearly every store. It seems like it will last at least a year. He began using the crystal rock in the Fall, so he’s hoping that it still does well when he is working outside this summer.
We’ve moved over to good ol’ fashioned bar soap. It eliminates much of the undesirables. Fortunately, some store-bought soaps aren’t so bad. Of these, Ivory (best option) and Irish Spring are our favorites. Brad and I prefer the No. 72 Lavender Soap from Sprouts for our faces. At some point I would like to make my own, but that is for a different season. I have considered making our own liquid hand soap and have a friend that made it simply by grating a bar of soap and melting it down with water adding in a bit of glycerine. It makes a huge batch which makes it an even cheaper way to stretch a bar of soap. Brad has stopped using shaving cream and now uses the soap and hot water to work up a lather on his face before shaving. He was also using soap for an aftershave, but he is now cheating until he can find an alternative that he likes.
Dishwashing Soap
It goes on my hands just as much as it does the dishes, so unless I use gloves (which I don’t) I knew I had to change what I was using. I have been using a natural dishwashing soap from Costco (Kirkland Environmentally Friendly Dish Soap) that doesn’t have the bad ingredients. I suppose we could use this in all of our soap pumps even in the bathroom but we’ve just stuck with the bar soap for now.
Shampoo and Conditioner
This has been a BIG transition for us and I can honestly say that it took a few weeks before I was content with the change. I bought several condiment bottles from the Costco Business Center in Phoenix. For shampoo, I fill one nearly full of water with about 3 Tablespoons of baking soda. For conditioner, I fill another bottle nearly full with water and 3-4 Tablespoons of vinegar. Just rinse thoroughly in between steps and that’s all there is to it. My hair “acts” much better with this treatment and doesn’t get weighed down like it used to. The only thing I miss is the lack of scent, so I have been using a little rose water and spritzing my hair with it when I get out of the shower. Brad tried a sample of a more expensive lavender scented shampoo and conditioner found at Sprouts, but he said the expense wasn’t worth it.
I have to tell you that this was the hardest thing for me to give up. I was a lotion junkie but am now satisfied with my new lotion- coconut oil. Years ago, my sister mentioned coconut oil and how wonderful it was for your skin but I never really thought much about it. Now, I use it every time I get out of the shower. It is a solid under 76 degrees and over that it starts to melt. Just rub it in- for my face I just use a teeny tiny bit since it spreads so well. Remember, skin is your largest organ and if you wouldn’t eat it then you certainly don’t want your skin to.  This works great on the kids as well and it might work for the aftershave that Brad still needs to find an alternative too.
While put into perspective, changing our toiletries certainly is a minor issue but I have discovered some bigger truths while doing so.  I found yet one more example in my life of my tendency to just go along with the flow and neglect to examine what I am doing.    Even after I began to uncover the “truths” of what I was putting on our skin, I stubbornly turned my eyes from it and continued to indulge in what I knew was wrong.  It literally took months before I willingly acknowledged that something needed to change and even with that recognition, it took the prompting of my husband handing me a trash bag to get started.  So, now I need to ask myself “What other areas of my life need to be cleaned out?” Are there any areas in your life that could use a shovel and garbage bag to clean up?  It’s all a part of the journey and I am thankful to be on it.

1 comment:

  1. We can relate very much to your journey. Mom's health problems forced us to make these same types of changes about 25 years ago and (I'm sure) all of us have benefited as a result. I'm thankful to see a young family willing to make these surprisingly tough choices without having to be "forced" into it by a health crisis. The older you get, the more you'll be very glad you made these changes.