Howdy! I've talked a lot about our food choices (isn't food one of the most important inanimate things, after all?!) and our cat goods, but we've also been trying some non-edible eco-friendly products, too! After all, there seem to be a million ways that people can go green. So, here are some of the products that we've tried, and what we've thought of 'em:
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As far as toiletries go, I've been more adventurous (to a fault) than Dave. We have lots of non-eco stuff stocked in our home that he's doing a good job of trying to use up first. I was so excited to try out the items that I tend to swap between the old and the new. In general, the shampoos don't do it for me. I consider myself to have "normal" hair (not too greasy, not too dry and flaky), so it's been disappointing to find that the eco-friendly versions tend to completely strip my hair of any natural oils, making it completely impossible to comb through afterwards. Bummer! I currently have Nature's Gate Daily Cleansing Herbal Shampoo and alba shampoo. Maybe I need to rethink the beauty regime ideas I've been cultivating since elementary school; I've changed the way I think about eating and shopping, after all. Either way, I've had MUCH better luck with alba's facial scrub and body wash, though!
We've also been using Tom's of Maine toothpaste and neither of us has had a single cavity at our recent dentist visits. I guess we don't need to rely on Colgate or Crest so much! (Plus, I've grown used to the taste and kind of prefer it now. It took awhile, though.) On another "weird" point, I've started using Tom's deodorant, too. I don't hate the stuff, although it smells a little...manly (a hint of Old Spice or something I can't put my finger on)...and I have to reapply at least once a day. Yes, I like it, regardless. :-) I think it'll just take some trial and error on what works for me, but we all have our preferences. I can't WAIT to try more Burt's Bees products, as suggested by my future sister-in-law (can't wait to cut out the "future" part!).
All of our paper goods, from tissues to toilet paper and paper towels to napkins, have been replaced by Marcal's SmallSteps brand items. The price is comparable to the usual products PLUS there's a coupon in our weekly paper at least once a month, which helps. It seems to always come out just as we're getting low on one item. How convenient! (Oh, there's an occasional Tom's coupon, which helps, too.) By the way, if you're interested in any of these products, just Google the item and "coupon" and it'll help with the initial going-green wallet drain.
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I've dreamed about going green as far as wardrobe is concerned, but the best I can do is shop at thrift stores, which, honestly, is a challenge. My wardrobe is one of two things: professional (hard to find anything not circa 1980, and I'm NOT rockin' the 80s comeback, thanks) or incredibly casual (mostly a variation of tee-shirt and jeans, both pretty disgusting when you find them at Goodwill -- pit stains or nearly see-through material). That's probably one of the biggest issues I've had with going green -- knowing about sweatshop conditions and feeling guilty when I purchase ANY new article of clothing. I've done lots of research on eco-friendly clothing online (and even more "window shopping"), but the prices are just too steep for me, and the designs leave a LOT to be desired.
However, today I made a big step. I've been in dire need of new running sneakers (still another item I won't buy from Salvation Army or Goodwill...sorry! Sometimes ya just gotta put your foot down -- pardon the pun), and even with all the back-to-school sales, I just didn't feel right purchasing "regular" ones. So, after still more research, I placed an order on 6pm.com (INCREDIBLE prices!) for a sneaker called END Stumptown (hee hee). For $32, these sneakers give the support I look for with recycled webbing and lacing, bamboo-infused lining & a Biosmart midsole made partially of recycled materials. Better than nothin', and the price couldn't be turned down. The only thing I'm worried about was that they had limited availability, so I had to order one of my two possible sizes (I'm a 9 or 9 1/2, depending), but that's a concern anytime you order online. So, one small step (again with the puns!) towards a more eco-friendly wardrobe...let's see if I can find my traditional work outfit of black slacks made of organic cotton at a good price!
The biggest winner in our household by far has been for cleaning: Dr. Bronner's liquid soap. I use it to clean pretty much anything and everything, and it smells AWESOME. (Currently using peppermint.) Plus, it lasts FOREVER since you only need to use a drop. It's by far our favorite product. For other cleaning, I'm trying out different laundry detergents (can't wait until we have a water-saving washer! Saving up and dreaming and researching, oh my!), but I'm most impressed by adding good, old-fashioned 20 Mule Team Borax. I love that all they had to do was change the packaging from the 100+ year-old version to the green yuppie-pleasing kind to make it marketable again, lol. I mostly love picturing the women (hate to be sexist, but isn't that how it was?), and mostly, my ancestors, who used it to give their soap a boost. Plus, the price ain't bad ($.86 a pound)!
There are other cleaning products that we've been using for awhile, like the GreenWorks line. The one thing I have to say about them is that my mother is wrong. Before she knew that I was using green products (I'm still not sure that I've "come out" to her completely about our new eco-mindedness; I've just spouted off knowledge here and there, probably hinting about it...and she's seen my hotdogs, so she must be aware), she told me that a friend of hers tried eco-products and that they didn't cut grease or do a good job at all. I don't see where that's at all true, but then again, I'm a really good scrubber. ;-)
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Oh, and we're trying to use more rags and I purchased some microfiber clothes at TJ Maxx for good 'n cheap so that I can dust without spreading chemicals about the place, especially with a cat with really bad respiratory problems and two humanoids with allergies (and, at times, asthmatic tendencies).
Final Thoughts (Nope, you didn't just tune into Jerry Springer)
It just makes sense to start these trends now for several reasons. If we can balance our budget to make room for things like organic foods and all natural cleaning products now, we'll be in the habit of doing so when our budget is much more strapped (hint, hint: future babies). Also, I'd like to know that our kids are surrounded by as few chemicals as possibly, hopefully lessening their possible issues that our poor genetics will inevitably giving them -- I wonder how much of my asthma, major allergies, and generally "always sick" childhood could be attributed to genes vs. environment. All-in-all, we also want our kids to be aware of their environment, inside and out, and the idea of how precious it is; to teach a general responsibility and accountability for actions, not just "don't hit your sister", but "don't keep flushing the toilet" and "littering is being mean to the Earth". Hopefully, they'll be well-rounded and aware, moreso than we ever were. We're grateful for our upbringings or else we probably wouldn't be as sensitive these days; we're just considering how to make the place better for the future inhabitants.
If you have any suggestions on eco-products or web sites, please feel free to comment! Sharing is the best way to get reliable, valuable (and free!) information.