Monthly Archives: November 2011

Natural Makeup: Why and How

We are what we eat…and put on our faces. With the potential side effects of the chemicals in makeup including things like cancer, reproductive and hormonal problems, birth defects or brain damage, the more educated we are as consumers the better.

The first step is learning which chemicals to avoid. Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics or the Environmental Working Group for up to date information on new studies. EWG’s Skin Deep database is also a great resource where you can enter the name of a product you use and search for both ingredients and associated health effects.

Labels that explicitly state, paraben-, phthalate- or PCB-free are a good place to start. For products that contain food ingredients like avocado, honey or cinnamon, search for the USDA-organic certified label. Know your organic terms before you go. “100% organic” means the ingredients must be (you guessed it!) 100% organic, while a product with “organic ingredients” must only
contain an organic ingredient here and there.

As with all advertising, watch phrasing carefully. Don’t be fooled by the words “green” or “natural” which, in some products have as much validity as saying a drink has “natural flavors” when in fact chemicals outnumber them ten to one.

If you want to enhance your natural beauty naturally, break up with your normal routine. The beauty industry is making great strides toward delivering natural products. If you’re having trouble finding what you need, reach out to your network, see what others are using and connect with other like-minded folks who are concerned with similar issues. And of course, the internet is a great resource for deals and information on natural hair care, makeup, personal and skin care products.

The chemicals that make cameos in our beauty regimens are scary, but there are plenty of great natural options if you’re willing to do a little research.

Additional references

Greening Your Thanksgiving

Say what you will about the Puritans, they were pretty green. This Thanksgiving, get back to the meaning of the holiday and celebrate the harvest like they did back in olden times: with local, organic food.

If you live in a region lucky enough to have a true autumn, you’ll likely be able to stick to the classic Thanksgiving foods.  For our autumn-less brethren, take a good look at what’s in-season within one hundred miles and get creative. You will likely find produce for at least one or two classic Thanksgiving meals, and your new find will save your guests from the tedium of another one of great-grandpa’s, “When I was your age, we didn’t even have food” stories.

Try going organic and free range with your turkey or with a heritage breed ­­­- one at risk of going extinct due to the favoring of breeds better for mass production.

Once you’re in the store, apply the same kind of thinking to all of your purchases. Buy local, organic produce, and consider your real needs carefully. How many sweet potatoes do you really think any given person can eat? That said, if  you will be entertaining a big crowd, buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste. And don’t forget your reusable bags!

When setting the table, ask your friends to supplement your chinaware with their own and fully load your dishwasher to cut down on energy usage. If you must go disposable, at least make it biodegradable.

Now, what to do when it’s all done and you’ve still got an excess of food? Send it home with guests, donate to a food bank or freeze it and enjoy the fall bounty year round!

Even excess fat can be recycled into biofuel – the turkey’s, not your own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Upcycled Home Decor

Stuff. Most of us have way too much of it. Even as we grow more eco-savvy trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle, sometimes we still are faced with the question of what to do with what we have. Used to be we would throw it away, give it away or store it. Today there’s another option: Upcycling. Upcycling is the process of converting useless things or products you no longer want – including waste materials – into new goods or objects of a higher environmental value. In other words, you get creative with the stuff you already have by fashioning it into something new! It’s all about ingenuity, and having fun, too. But if crafts aren’t your thing, you can still participate by buying upcycle merchandise, which cuts back on the consumption of raw materials for new products. And that ultimately ends up reducing energy use, air and water pollution and even greenhouse gas emissions.

The following is just a tiny peak at what some people have done with their discarded stuff to decorate their homes and at the same time efficiently upcycle their odds and ends. Keep in mind, if you are not handy with crafts and the like, there are a number of websites that offer upcycle home decorations. Buying upcycle is a great alternative to purchasing something new plus it helps keep our landfills free of needless waste.

iMac Aquarium from home-designing.comSo here’s a wild one: The Mac Aquarium. Do you still have one of the original iMacs kicking around? Remember the Apple computer that came in thirteen “flavors”? Imagine turning it into a colorful fish aquarium! Well, that’s just what some folks have done, and it’s a real showstopper.

Staying with the tech theme, how about that stack of useless old floppies? Here are several clever solutions:  assemble a small book using recycled paper for the inside and two floppies for the outside.  Punch two holes through the ‘book’ and bind with a couple of loose leaf rings. Take four floppies to construct the sides of a pencil holder with a fifth for the bottom.  Use old CDs to craft a lampshade or the face of a small clock.

Fabricate a fashion statement: Cut up the bright sides of soda cans, add earring hooks and you’ve got a unique set of earrings. Speaking of jewelry, dust off those outdated vintage brooches, remove the fittings on the back, glue on a super strong magnet and you’ve got yourself some glamorous refrigerator magnets!

Upcycled can candle holderLight up the room: Create eye-catching candles out of graphic tea tins, sardine cans, olive oil cans, etc. Break a tea saucer? Fill the cup with candle wax and add a wick for an elegant flame.  Single coffee cups, cute but never used eggcups, teapots – they all are good vessels to hold wax and can be one of a kind gifts to give.

Mirror mirror … on the table? Repurpose small wall mirrors as decorative trays. Glue on a backing of felt and dress up your dresser top!

A stitch in time could save nine or it could make a new table runner, rug for the hall or throw pillows for the window seat.  Sew together vintage napkins for the table, tea towels, napkins or soft shirts for the pillows and rag rugs for a comfy hall runner.

As you can see, the ideas are endless and the results original, distinctive and eco-friendly.  Repackage ordinary objects in your house and delight your family and guests with your surprising design and decorative solutions! Who knows, you just might inspire them to do the same.

Check out these and other great ideas at:

home-designing.com

countryliving.com/crafts

countryliving.com/homes