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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Right Livelihood

A recent post by The Minimalist Mom got me thinking... she says that if you desperately need to go on vacation, maybe you ought to reflect on the quality of your day-to-day life.

This hit home for me as I prepare to relocate with my hubby and find myself a new job.   I feel that having the "right" job will make a big difference in loving my daily life. After all, a full time job does consume a large percentage of our waking hours.

Allow me to be less cryptic and confess that my line of work has not always been eco-friendly. I've worked in a chemical plant that makes the plastics I am now phasing out of my house. I've worked in a coal-fired power plant, which is why I can be skeptical of electric cars.  I've worked in the oil & gas industry, where I saw first hand the effects of emissions and spills.

Given my skill set, finding a job that supports my desire to live a green life will be a challenge. However, I have a strong personal belief that each of us should be our true and best selves in every aspect of life, including our work.

The Concept of Right Livelihood

Monday, March 19, 2012

Giving away BPA

It seems that the common first step for many people in pursuing a BPA/plastic free life is to stop using plastic leftover containers.  Rubbermaid, tupperware, whatever it is... switching to glass containers with BPA free lids is an achievable goal.  But what do you do with the old plastic set?

Mine are like new... I have a barely used, high quality set that I received from my wedding registry.  I know that someone out there would be grateful to have them.  But is it morally right to give away something that I feel is slowly poisoning me?

I can't bring myself to just throw them out... they are just too nice.  However, I don't feel good about donating them either, because of the potential health risk.  This conundrum has prevented me from actually making the change to glass, so something needs to be done soon.

A guide to your Tupperware

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Green Smoothie, part 1

Now that warmer weather has finally come, I've been wanting to jump onto the Green Smoothie bandwagon.  My daily serving of vegetables used to come from a can of V8 which is (1) not organic and (2) in a can.  So I thought maybe an icy, fruity treat would help me get some veg into my diet.

The problem was that I forgot to buy the critical ingredient... green leafy stuff.  But I did have a tiny head of broccoli, so I googled a new recipe.  Into the blender went 1 banana, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup frozen blueberries, and a splash of OJ.

Firstly, I realized my blender doesn't work nearly as well as my food processor. Score One for the donation box... I'm all for getting rid of kitchen clutter.  Secondly, broccoli was a bad choice. I am "chewing" my smoothie at this very moment... no amount of blending seems to break up those tiny little green dots. Lesson learned.

Green Smoothie Recipes

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Donation Game

Although I've always had the natural inclination, minimalism is something I've only started to put into practice recently.  As a result, my home is full of past purchases and gifts that I no longer want around.  Donating unwanted items can seem like a daunting task, but as my husband says, "Take one bite at a time."

So on occasion we've started playing The Donation Game.  Usually whenever I find myself with an empty box, we'll set it in the living room and take turns adding an item to it, until it's full.  Sometimes we get so competitive with our little game, the box overflows with donation items.

The best part is, I don't miss a thing. In fact, I can hardly remember what I put in the box.

Donating to Goodwill

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

BPA Receipts

Yesterday I told my hubby about chemicals on paper receipts, and how they are absorbed through the skin.  He thinks I'm a little OCD about the whole thing, but it's as easy as saying "No thank you" when offered one. Then I proceeded to clean out all the old receipts from my car... with my hands... but from now on it's "No thank you!"  An added bonus... less clutter in my car and purse.

BPA in store receipts

EDIT: I recently learned that Chipotle uses BPA-free receipts. Just one more great thing they're doing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Canned Tomatoes & Febreze

Today I read about all the scary things that come with being a consumer.

Simple, daily items... like the canned tomatoes I'm using in tonight's Taco Soup, whose acidity eats away at the BPA infused inner coating of the aluminum can they are packaged in.  So much for the Organic label.  I'm going to have to learn how to recreate my fire roasted tomatoes from real fresh tomatoes... mason jars?

7 Food Experts Won't Eat... including canned tomatoes

I also read that smelly-good things are made primarily from a variety of scary chemicals.  So, I threw away two Febreze noticeables plug ins.  Time to bring out the mini-crockpot and fill it with orange peels and cinnamon sticks- a smell that takes me back to holidays at Grandma's house.  Not only is this an all-natural solution, but it's much more economical.

12 Household Toxins... including synthetic air fresheners