Monday, April 16, 2012

To Fe, or not to Fe

A recent home inspection revealed that my future house has the original Iron plumbing. (Fe = Iron, for those less nerdy readers.)  At first I was super worried about the cost to replace everything, and the struggle to live temporarily without water. As I researched the process, I learned that the most common replacement is PVC plumbing.

But wait... I'm trying to get rid of plastics in my home!  Why bother with upgrading to glass tumblers and storage containers if my water is pumped through plastic tubes first?  PVC is the go-to material for new construction and remodeled plumbing, but I'm not convinced about it's long term safety. 

Maybe Iron plumbing isn't so bad... don't women need more Iron in their diets anyways?  Does anyone know of any green alternatives for plumbing material?

PVC Health Hazards

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

4 Reasons to Return to Your Roots

Here are the four reasons that I decided to quit dying my hair and return to my natural hair color:
  1. Time consuming salon visits added one more thing to my to-do list, creating unnecessary stress.
  2. Full foil highlights, cut, and tip came to nearly $200, which was just too much for me to stomach when there are so many other uses for that cash.
  3. I don't eat chemicals in my food, I try to avoid them in my home, but for some reason I was still smearing them on my scalp and inhaling the fumes. Not the wisest choice.
  4. I no longer felt the need to be beach bunny blonde... something I strongly identified with in my college years.  I think as I got older, it was just part of becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
About a year ago I asked my trusted stylist to identify my natural hair color, and give me an all-over tinting to make the transition look more put-together.  Of course, you expose yourself to the chemicals one last time and spend the money, but it will help if you are worried about looking unkempt during your transition. I saw it as taking one step back before making a leap forward.

Salons and Your Health

Monday, April 2, 2012

Refusing Birthday Stuff

One of my favorite blog's, Zero Waste Home, taught me the importance of refusal.  Her slogan is Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot... in that order.  It's a lot easier to avoid clutter when you simply refuse to allow it into your home in the first place.

I recently shared with you that I've started refusing receipts, mostly to avoid the BPA on the paper, but also so that they don't collect in the bottom of my purse.  This has been a simple enough thing to do to.  However, I'm a little more challenged when it comes to birthday presents.  April is a big birthday month in my house... four of us will be celebrating another year.  There are two levels of refusal to tackle: (1) Avoid temptation to buy things for each other, and (2) Handle incoming gifts from family and friends.

When it comes to buying gifts for each other, I typically try to use birthdays/holidays as an "excuse" to buy things we need in some way.  The husband will probably be getting a new glass water bottle, since I recently disposed of his numerous plastic ones.  For me, I'm hoping to get a BPA-free, re-usable coffee filter so that I can stop using disposables, or some large glass jars to replace aluminum canned goods. (Even minimalists have "the wants" sometimes!)

As for the fur babies, although I could come up with lots of things to spoil them with, I'm trying to stick to our annual donation to the ASPCA. It does a lot more good than a new toy laying in the yard.  My parents did a similar thing with me as a human kid, taking me to volunteer at the animal shelter as my birthday gift.

Donate to ASPCA

The second challenge is the ever-awkward task of refusing gifts from friends and family. My husband observed that most of the clutter I've hung on to so far has been saved by the fact that it was a gift.  I do struggle with emotional attachments to things I've received from loved ones, even if I really really don't want it.  To avoid more of this problem, I really need to ask my friends and family to refrain, although I do fear seeming rude or ungrateful.  I'd be thrilled to see a donation in my name, and I'd be perfectly content to get nothing at all.  But how do you convey this in a respectful manner?

I'll let you know when I figure that out, but in the meantime, please share your stories of gift management!

Friday, March 30, 2012

On my Soapbox, or rather, my Pink Slime Box

Today in the news, I saw that the makers of Pink Slime are complaining that if we no longer stock/sell this nasty product, then jobs will be lost... Why is it that people think this catch phrase of "lost jobs" is justification for poisoning families or continuing any unsafe/toxic practice?

Do you think we should have kept lead paint and leaded fuel, so the lead people wouldn't lose their jobs?  Do you think we should still behead people, so the executioner has a gig?  I know, lets bring back asbestos... I bet all of those factory workers would be thrilled.  Oh wait, no.

Here's an idea- why doesn't the beef industry re-purpose those plants & employees to make real food, if they are so concerned about the workers and their families.

Beef industry closes pink slime plants 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

DIY Hand Sanitizer

This week I took a little road trip, and I noticed something.  I've been guilty of keeping a bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer in my car, and I am ready to repent.  Because I often travel with my big stinky dog, some sort of cleaner is still needed.  I figured if this recipe is good enough for my kitchen counter top, surely it will work for hands:
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 9 parts water
  • optional drops of lemon or rosemary oil
Sure it's a little wet (not like a gel), but you'll live. The trick was finding a spray bottle to fit in my car's cup holder. But I was glad to have it when the only thing available at the dog park was a port-a-potty!  I took the whole spray bottle in there with me! I even spritzed it on the car seats to get some of the dog smell out... turns out it's way more useful than that toxic antibacterial hand gel.

Toxic Rip-Offs... including hand sanitizer

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pink Slime

I first learned about Pink Slime on Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution.  Pink Slime is a mystery mixture of rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse, all of which has been "cleaned" with an Ammonia shower.  Originally used only in pet food, this yucky mix of chemically cleansed leftover bits made its way onto family dinner tables.

What disappoints me the most is that I don't think the average consumer even realizes what they are purchasing.  You look at the hamburger meat in the store and think, "It's pink, it looks like cow, I think we'll grill tonight." In reality, you're feeding your family something unknown.  Now, it's one thing if you KNOW what it is and make that decision, but that's not what's happening in most cases.

Often, this information is swept aside and labeled as "hippy granola crap" by the average buyer. However, there has been a recent shift in thought, and after the general public came to understand the issue, stores began to take notice.  Safeway, the 2nd largest grocer, recently announced they they will no longer be purchasing this pink slime and marketing it as meat to their customers.  Places like Whole Foods never carried it, but it's so nice to see a traditional grocery store embrace a higher standard.  Maybe things are changing.

Safeway refuses to sell Pink Slime

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moving on Down

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my hubby & I will soon be relocating.  While most people I know dread the whole process of moving, I can admit that it's truly one of my favorite things in life.  For me, it's an opportunity to refine my lifestyle and take a step closer to having a green, minimalist home.

GOING GREEN:  There are many opportunities go to green when finding a new home. I choose to "re-use" by moving into an existing older home, as opposed to building a new one. I'd like a home that needs some updates, so that I have an opportunity to surround myself with eco-friendly materials, green appliances, tankless water heaters, etc. (And I'm a fan of donation & recycling anything that goes out!)

GOING MINIMAL: When you have to pack everything you own into boxes, it makes you very aware of all the crap that you have.  Even though I've been reducing my "things" for a couple years now, there is still a lot of it left.  The process of packing and unpacking is the perfect opportunity to re-examine the less obvious clutter in life. For example, I've been revisiting cabinets and drawers that go unopened and unnoticed on most days... from the bottom of the coat closet to the top shelf in the laundry room!  I sort of forgot that I even had stuff there, which is a good indicator that I don't need it.