In amongst my ruminations about the role of money in an earth-based spirituality, I find that I return to the place where frugal and environmental meet. My mother was a forerunner of the “reuse” part of the waste hierarchy, because she had to make too little money feed and clothe too many children. Being mindful of how one spends one’s money often has the side effect of being the more sustainable choice.
So I thought it would be worthwhile to look at some of the homemade products I’ve adopted, or I’m testing. They are less toxic, and because the ingredients are packaged in bulk (often in recyclable cardboard). they use less plastic packaging. They also tend to all look very similar (off-white, flaky-to-pasty), so it’s a good idea to label them carefully, lest one get a surprise when brushing one’s teeth.
- Deodorant. Baking soda, tea tree oil, coconut oil. Rock-hard if you keep your house cool in the winter, and liquid for some time if you don’t air-condition in the summer. The coconut oil was optional in the recipe I found, but I haven’t tried it powdery yet.
- Toothpaste. Baking soda, mint extract, sea salt. The salt was the optional ingredient here (more abrasion), so I used about a tenth the recommended amount. I’ve been using it for two weeks and I swear it tastes saltier now, like the salt ate the mint.
- Laundry detergent. Ivory soap, borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. I shaved a bar but using flakes if you can find them will yield less packaging. The last product is soda ash, a water softener, while the borax is a detergent, which isn’t the same as soap. First wash turned out clothes without visible stains or detectable odors.
- Shampoo. Water, baking soda. Seriously.
- Hair rinse. Water, cider vinegar, cinnamon stick, vanilla extract. I tend to lean more on the vinegar than the water, because it fizzes away the baking soda and leaves a clean finish. I stopped using this recipe when I installed dreadlocks, but I plan on returning to it as soon as my present supply of “residue-free shampoo” runs out.