Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Carrotmob – Rewarding Local Green Businesses!

Have you been seeing all the posters around town or all the Facebook posts? It seems Perth is being over-run by… carrots. But what is a Carrotmob and why should I even care? I managed to get to the bottom of it after chatting with the amazing Dom Berry – a campaigner for Carrotmob Perth

From the Carrotmob Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/CarrotmobPerth

So, what the hell is a Carrotmob?

In a Carrotmob campaign, a group of people offer to spend their money to support a business, and in return the business agrees to take an action that the people care about. Instead of organizing boycotts, we offer to spend money as a group if a business agrees to make a socially responsible change.

We are called Carrotmob because we use the “carrot” instead of the “stick” method of encouraging behavior. Traditionally, people who wanted to influence businesses would threaten or attack them. We believe people can have more influence on businesses by giving them a positive incentive to change: our money.

The crazy part is that it actually works! Carrotmob organizers have already created a growing movement, with over 175 campaigns all over the world! Join us.

Here is a great little animation that shows exactly how organised consumer purchasing can change business…

Why should we take the time to vote?

Carrotmob is the perfect project for the ‘slacktivist’, people who care about an issue but are only willing to put in a minimum amount of effort. Voting online and then going out to eat and drink at the winning venue on mob day, requires minimum effort and will directly result in positive change. We tend to forget how much power and influence we have as consumers. As a community we can choose to reward those business’ that are doing the right thing and avoid the ones that are not doing their part to minimise their carbon footprint.

When will the mob take place?

Voting closes this Sunday the 18th March so there are only a few days remaining! So watch the videos and vote here! Then we will be working with the winning venue to determine which date works best for them. We are aiming for the first week of April.

How did the businesses react when you approached them about the Carrotmob?

It was very mixed, some saw the potential of the project straight away; lots of free marketing and then the possibility of additional revenue, and immediately said ‘where do I sign up?’. Others showed an alarming lack of concern or interest for anything related to sustainability… Although I’d love to name and shame them, I’ll just say that many of the high profile bars and restaurants in Perth that are charging top dollar, don’t even recycle their glass bottles and literally throw hundreds into landfill ever day! Most people wanted to do the right thing but didn’t really know how so there seems to be a major lack of information and education out there.

I have noticed that all these restaurants are in the Perth City area. Will there be more mobs in more suburbs once this round one has finished?

For this particular project we submitted an application for an environmental grant to the City of Perth. We were awarded the grant and therefore the competition needed to be run in the City of Perth boundaries. We have a lot of feedback from people that have voted that have requested more information on holding their own Carrotmob, which is exactly what we were hoping for! It is designed so that anyone can do it, even if you don’t have a budget. We certainly hope that people like what we are doing and would like to carry it on in their local area!

So why do you think it is so important that consumers choose to buycott rather than boycott?

I think anything that has a positive reinforcement is going to work better than something which is negative. It just feels nicer when everybody wins. Lets face it consumers can’t live with out providers and visa versa, so we should work together for the greater good of all.

“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites”  

~ William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

Something I have noticed is that consumers complain that businesses use unsustainable practices so they have no choice but to buy ‘bad’ products yet businesses complain that consumers don’t want to pay the extra cost that is sometimes associated with choosing ethically. Seems to be a chicken or the egg situation. Who do you think needs to take the first step?

I really commend businesses that pave the way to change, it can mean isolating yourself in the beginning and perhaps having a niche market for a period of time, but as the demand for sustainable products and services grows, so will the supply and in turn they will become more available at a more affordable price. As for consumers, I understand what it is like to be on a budget and if you can just get a few items or services when you shop that are sustainable it all helps towards the shift we are aiming for. In the documentary Food Inc, they mention that when you go to the check out, you are voting for what you want to see on the shelf, that really resonated with me.

What are your top tips for becoming an ethical consumer?

  • Start local! Support local business – it’s great for the community and it cuts down on that carbon footprint.
  • STOP using plastic bags! Plan ahead, take your own bag, or ask for a box at the shop.
  • Don’t buy bottled water, get a reusable non-plastic vessel. Same goes for take away coffee, get a keep cup.
  • Ask at your local restaurants, bars, cafes what they are doing, do they have a ‘Green mission statement’. The more people that ask about these things, the more owners will realise it is of importance and will get in the market for your ethically, sustainably conscious business.
  • REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle – In that order of importance.

A big thank-you for Dom and all the other dedicated Carrot Campaigners for all your hard work in making Perth a greener city. Now get involved! Follow the Carrotmob on Facebook or via their website. Share it with friends and family. 

DIY Herbal Facial Toner

Hate to harp on about it… but I hate single-use items. Things like plastic containers and wet-wipes. Things often found in cosmetics. So as I suggested in my DIY Cucumber and Coconut Facial Cleanser, the best place to start if you want to avoid these things is by making your own cosmetics.

I decided to make a herbal toner because my herb pots are going crazy at the moment. My first thought was to head for the mint but after a little research I discovered I was over-looking a herbal superstar in my sage plants.

Health Benefits of Sage

  1. Sage is rich in calcium and vitamin A which are needed for daily cell regeneration. In short it stimulates cell renewal and increases blood circulation which minimise the onset of wrinkles.
  2. Sage is high in Ursolic acid which acts as a natural exfoliant and antiseptic and treats acne, eczema and skin fungus.
  3. Sage has astringent properties which will help clear your skin and make it soft and smooth.
  4. Sage oil also assists in improving skin conditions like athlete’s foot and chapped skin as well as relieving symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
  5. Because it increases blood circulation it is the perfect weapon for cellulite. Weekly use of sage oil on cellulite affected areas has been shown to reduce it.
  6. The oil is great for brittle and dry hair.
  7. Tastes and feels nice and is a pretty colour.

Ingredients

  • 100 gms fresh sage leaves (or 40grams dried sage)
  • 400 mls boiling water
  • 400 mls Apple Cider Vinegar
Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Method

  • Place chopped fresh or dried sage leaves in a bowl.
  • Pour boiling water over the leaves.
  • Cover the infusion and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the liquid from the sage leaves and discard the leaves and pour the infusion into a measuring cup.
  • Pour an equal amount of cider vinegar into the measuring cup with the infusion and mix the liquids gently.
  • Pour it into a reused glass bottle and close tightly.

Storage

  • Store your sage facial toner in the refrigerator.
  • This toner will last a long time – a couple of months.

Application

  • Use your sage facial toner after cleansing.
  • Moisten a cloth with the toner and wipe gently over your face
  • Pat your skin with warm water.
If you have sensitive skin and it stings or shows irritation then stop using the toner. However, my husband has very sensitive skin and he was absolutely fine and actually loves the product.
Good luck and if you give it a go let me know! 

The Big Fissue

To be honest there are times when I don’t want to pick up a newspaper for fear of what I’m going to read. The bad news can be too overwhelming. I am sure that everyone who gives a damn about our environment has times likes these and sometimes you need to allow yourself these little ostrich moments and just stick your head in the sand and wait for it to pass. But when we are looking at the worlds fish declining fish stocks we cannot afford to look away. This is an issue that is as terrifying as it is large but it is not hopeless. Yet.

“Globally, 75 per cent of wild marine fish are now either fully-exploited or overfished. This means these species require conservation and management in order to survive in their present numbers”.

~United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO)

If the world continues its outright assault on our fisheries then we will have no more edible fish left in our oceans by the middle of the century. By 2048 (by which time the global population will have increased by a third) we will have eaten 90% of the fish population from 1950. Already 90% of our big fish (tuna, marlin, swordfish, and sharks) are gone. If we cannot control our appetites now then we compromise the food security of millions of people in the future. The only way that the world can prevent this from happening is by reducing the catch and weight quotas, eliminating unsustainable practices and setting up large marine parks – and lots of them. And the only way that this will happen is if we – the consumer – vote with our dollars. (More on how to do that tomorrow). So how have we got to this stage? What is wrong with the way we are fishing?

Bycatch and its nasty bonus!

Bycatch

Every year a quarter of all the fish caught worldwide are discarded – considered an incidental waste product known as bycatch. Bycatch is any other marine animals that are unintentionally caught along with your target species. So your target species may be Cod which will result in bycatch of turtles, sharks, whales, fish, seabirds and dolphins. The methods that are often used by industrialized fishing fleets are described as non-selective – they lack modifications that deter or completely exclude unintentional catch. Common examples of non-selective techniques are Bottom-trawler nets (which have a heavy steel bar that drags along the sea bed), seine nets (which hang vertically in the water dragged by a boat to encircle marine creatures) and gill-nets (charming devices that snare fish by their gills). Looking at all of these methods it is easy to understand how other species get caught up in the haul whether they are scooped up or entangled.

Pic by Ross Flett - Orkney Seal rescue

Pic by Ross Flett - Orkney Seal rescue

In the tropical waters of Northern Australia the average bycatch ratio for Prawn Fishers (which use bottom trawlers) is 15:1 – for every 1kg of prawns caught there are 15kg of other species hauled up as well. These species are then scooped up and dumped onto the deck while the workers sort through the creatures and get the priority goods (the prawns) into freezers. After being trodden on and left in the sun the remaining animals are thrown overboard, where the majority of them then die if they aren’t already dead.

Pollution

http://www.bycatch.moonfruit.com/

Large industrialized fishing fleets litter the ocean with literally millions of tons of organic and non-organic debris every year. Fleets regularly dump overboard gear, twine, food containers and plastic bags which have obvious effects on the surrounding ecosystem. These floating factories (fish processing plants) also unload unregulated wastes and effluents into the water. Referring back to the above paragraph and we see that bycatch poses another serious problem. It amounts to approximately 27 million tons of marine life thrown overboard every year.

Then there is ghost fishing. When equipment, like pots or gill nets, are lost or discarded they continue to catch and kill marine life until they break apart. They are designed to be resilient and can take a very long time to breakdown. I used to watch The Deadliest Catch (reality show about dangerous crabbing season on the Bering Sea) and see the Captains frequently lament the price associated with loss of crab pots in storms. Not once did I think about the price that the environment was paying for every pot that sunk into the darkness. One study into a US squid fishery by the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that .06% of driftnets were lost each time they were set, resulting in 12 miles of net lost for every night of the season which equated to 639 miles of net lost in the North Pacific Ocean alone each year.

Global Warming

Fish are often considered as the “environmentally-friendly” meat because they do not produce methane, need forest to be felled to produce them, drink a lot of water etc. But boats still burn an incredible amount of fossil fuels when not only catching the target species, but in the case of farmed carnivorous fish, catching their dinner and then processing them into pellets. Overfishing also severely reduces the ocean’s ability to resist diseases, filter pollutants, and absorb carbon dioxide thus worsening the effects of global warming.

The Human Cost

For us (the privileged) we can choose our proteins the way we choose our undies – whatever feels right on the day will do just fine. This is not the case for 20% of the world who depend upon fish as their primary source of protein. Fishing is central to the livelihood and security of 200 million people. There is no denying that global fish stocks are in free-fall (since the 1980’s) and a practice that is being hailed as the solution to world hunger is farmed fish. Penned as an industry that will help ‘feed the world’ – salmon farming in particular is actually responsibly for mass starvation and huge environmental damage as well. Salmon are carnivorous and in the wild eat smaller fish like herring and anchovies. Because Salmon stocks are now so low (but small fish are in abundance) richer nations make deals with poorer countries to export their small fish which are then turned into pellets that are fed to the salmon. Not only is it an extremely inefficient means of food production but it is removing a vital food source from locals in developing nations. It takes 5 pounds of small fish to make enough pellets to sustain 1 pound of salmon. These controversial deals already exist between Europe and Northern Africa and Britain is also under heavy fire for the effect this practice is having on the people of Peru.

“Overfishing cannot continue. The depletion of fisheries poses a major threat to the food supply of millions of people.”

~Nitin Desai, Secretary General of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg.

Damaging Ecosystems

Non-selective fishing techniques damage the environment. Yes - those are dolphins. www.news.sciencemag.org

As I mentioned, we use bottom trawlers when shrimp-fishing and it is also the method of choice when fishing for cod, sole and flounders among others. The problem is they literally drag a weighted steel bar along the bottom of the seabed damaging formations, fragile ecosystems and stirring up sediment as they go. Particularly sensitive networks are those with sea grass fields, coral reefs, algal beds or when tube worms or sponges are present. The bottom trawler does not discriminate and can literally damage an entire ecological community. Not only that but the sediment that is stirred up from essentially ploughing the seabed then drifts downstream to another community where it blocks sunlight and suffocates sponges, corals and other marine animals that form the base of the surrounding ecosystems.

Deforestation

Well this one had me scratching my head. There is now huge demand for prawns and developing countries are clearing mangrove forests at a rate of knots to make room for farms to capitalise on the demand. There are varying estimates and studies supporting each regarding what per cent age of mangrove forests have been felled for this purpose but they range between 10 and 45%. Regardless where the figure falls between those ranges, it is too high. These farms also are heavy polluters which then affect coastal towns and villages and the ecosystems that they live off.

Dolphin Friendly?

When that terrible footage surfaced back in the 80’s – the footage of dolphins being drowned or left to die on the deck of a tuna boat – there was a worldwide call to boycott tuna. By the 90’s it was estimated that over 7million dolphins had died by the fishing methods employed by industrial tuna fleets. Fleets used to harvest yellow-fin tuna by spotting, encircling and then drowning the dolphins in seine nets. Horrific. Since then there have been various standards put in place to make tuna fishing ‘dolphin safe’ which includes no intentional chasing and netting of dolphins, no accidental drowning and then paradoxically not allowing any dead dolphins being put into the ‘dolphin-friendly’ wells in the boat hull. This is still a gargantuan improvement from the days of yore when fisherman were deliberately hunting down dolphins. Today, the annual kill of dolphins due to tuna fishing is estimated to be around 3000. Just another statistic to throw at you, the annual quota for the Taiji Bay dolphin slaughter – the slaughter that has the world up in arms – was approximately 2,400 and now sits at 200 dolphins every year. How is it any different?

Why are we overlooking this?

For me all those factors combined are enough to give up marine products altogether (except for oysters – which I will explain tomorrow). It is so easy to become complacent with seafood because it really is a case of out of sight, out of mind. The big blue has always provided and under the surface we do not see the fish stocks plummeting – it is not like watching the Amazon slowly falling, the icecaps melting or Indonesian jungles being burnt to the ground for palm oil. But I can guarantee that there are island nations and developing countries that are watching them visibly disappearing.

Fish are also handicapped by their lack of ‘cuteness’ for want of a better word. How many Fish-Eating-Vegetarians have you met in your life? They have no warmth in their eyes and are easy to pass off as mindless clones that don’t feel pain. There have been countless studies that disprove this however if that still doesn’t sway you – bycatch is effecting all the ocean favourites from the cute and cuddly (seals, albatross) to the awe-inspiring (dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles).

This being said, we don’t all have to abstain to make a difference. We don’t have to stop eating fish – but we do need to adopt a much more responsible attitude towards our oceans. Tomorrow I will blog about how you can as a consumer switch to more sustainable fish habits and what we need our governments to do as well.

** Editors note – Vegetarians and Vegans… it has been brought to my attention that I didn’t put a “Already have given up fish!”. How did I forget myself??? Maybe because this information so long ago was what made me give up fish? Please just vote for the top option if you already do not eat seafood. 

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need,

but not every man’s greed”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Nicole Foss – How To Prepare For The Upcoming Financial Crisis

Fremantle Town Hall

So, last Friday night at around 7:46pm my brain exploded. It happened without warning and hurt quite a lot. When I decided to attend a seminar starring world renowned Peak Oil and Finance Analyst Nicole Foss I, somewhat stupidly,  thought I was going to be delivered with a bit of hope! Instead I was handed the dirty, stinking truth. We are in big economic, social and environmental trouble – at both an individual and global scale.

The crowd... about to get their minds blown

I intended for this post to provide a really succinct summary of the presentation in my own voice. Unfortunately, due to the size of the issue it could not be whittled down any more than Nicole already did – it is incredible that she managed to explain such a gigantic problem and possible solutions within an hour! Either way – I have employed her skills again and embedded youtube videos of her explaining. They are somewhat lengthy but really are worth watching. I just wanted to explain that it wasn’t laziness… just inability.

Who Is Nicole Foss?

Sweet looking... but don't be fooled. She will give you nightmares.

Nicole (who also goes by the moniker Stoneleigh) is virtually a giant brain with legs. She has degrees in biology, neuroscience, psychology, international law and air & water pollution. Like I said… GIANT BRAIN. She was also the Editor of The Oil Drum Canada where she wrote about peak oil and finance and now spends her days as co-editor of The Automatic Earth. I hate to say it but with all those achievements under her belt I expected to be fronted with the stereotypical academic -pompous, stuffy and possibly a little bit detached. Nicole shattered any expectations. Despite her formidable intelligence Nicole managed to communicate complex problems in a fairly easy to understand way.

What Is The Problem?

Nicole started by explaining that we need to focus on the financial aspect of this global problem not because it was the most important aspect of the crisis but instead because it has the shortest timeframe to work with. In other words – the financial ‘bubble’ is going to burst very soon. She spoke a lot about ‘bubbles’ and it was the part of her talk that resonated with me the most – perhaps because it was the simplest concept to grasp. (*ten minutes passes). Maybe it is still not simple enough for me to explain but when Nicole says it, it at least sounds simple. So here she is to do exactly that…

How do we prepare ourselves?

Well, she didn’t mince words. I kept checking myself because I couldn’t believe this little lady in the flowy sleeves with the sweet Canadian accent was saying all these mean things. She broke the news that the only ‘solution’ to this problem was adequate preparation of our homes, our communities and ourselves. She asked everyone to consider how they fulfil the big needs of their lives i.e. how do you get your heat, power, water, transport and nutrition? For example do you have a water filter? Nicole said that she wasn’t saying that water was about to run out but that the quality may degrade – it takes a lot of systems all running smoothly to produce potable water! Do you have practical skills? It left me looking at my home and thinking “Wow! If I didn’t have a car, power supply or communication… I would really be stuffed”. Below Nicole explains what she has done to prepare and what she suggests that you could do also. Well worth a watch.

If You Want To See Her…

Even though I have painted the whole thing as a negative experience it really wasn’t. It was eye-opening that is for sure but you need to have the information (no matter how scary) to pick yourself up and get ready for action. Nicole will be presenting on Sunday, March 11th 10am – 4pm at an All Day Ecoburbia Conference and the Fremantle Town Hall. It will cost $20 and is well worth it.

If you would like to see Nicole Foss please RSVP to Shani Graham on stay@thepaintedfish.com.au or 0417 941 991

Shani rallying the crowd

Loved all the sustainable transport outside the Town Hall!

Toothpaste – Not So Squeaky Clean

How can something so minty fresh be so sinister? Whenever I picture the great villains of this world they never smell nice. Freddie Kruger, Gollum, Colin Barnett… I just don’t get a peppermint-y vibe from them. Maybe this is how toothpaste snuck into our bathrooms, seemingly unnoticed? It seems so non-threatening. However toothpaste has earned the title of Head Villain in our bathrooms. Why?

Image by Em Ehlers – Old Envelope

Packaging

I have never found toothpaste that has been wrapped without the use of plastic. Whether it is polyethylene coated aluminium or an upright container, whatever way you look at it is an item designed to be thrown away made from a material that is designed to last forever.

About 1 billion toothpaste tubes and dispensers are sent to landfills every year, many of which are recyclable. Though both typically end up in landfills, the average tube of toothpaste produces about 70 percent less waste than a pump dispenser, so is the preferable packaging option.

– Green Your.com

Animal Testing

I am not for shock tactics. I think conning someone into reading an article about DIY toothpaste and then punching them in the face with pictures of rabbits and puppies having chemicals poured into their eyes is not the way to go. But, if you in anyway doubt that this is the reality of the situation – google it. It is happening in cosmetic labs across the world every day and approximately 100 million animals suffer or die from testing and experiments every year. As hard as it is to look at, I think the alternative of looking away is harder.

Image by Emily Ehlers

Health

It is pretty hard to find a scientific study that categorically proves that toothpaste is unhealthy for you. Then again, I trust my common sense far more than a piece of paper handed to me by a scientist being commissioned by a cosmeceautical company. Here are some ingredients you may find written on your standard tube, and some side-effects that I am sure you won’t…

  • Triclosan – registered pesticide
  • Aspartame – Street talk for sweetener. AKA a neurotoxin linked to lupus, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): Suspected carcinogen.
  • Methylparaben, Ethylparaben (Parabens) – linked to fertility problems (and hell for the environment)
  • Potassium Nitrate – a water soluble mineral that is toxic to the environment
  • Polyethylene glycol (or PEG) – Suspected carcinogen (especially linked to breast cancer)

And what about the highly contentious Fluoride? Here are some quotes I found…

“A 14oz tube of toothpaste, theoretically at least, contains enough fluoride to kill a small child”

– Proctor and Gamble, “Fluoride the Aging Factor”, Page 14

“In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical”

– Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Dean Burk, Congressional record 21 July 1976

(also a reason you may want to look into a water filter for the home).

Environment

All the aformentioned chemicals are the reasons that it is unhealthy to swallow toothpaste. It is the reason we spit them out and wash them away. But where is away?

wAterWAY

Parabens reak absolute havoc on animal hormones, triclosan (a toxic antibacterial) kills off good bacteria in ecosystems and sodium pyrophosphate contributes to the growth of algae in water which leads to lower oxygen levels that kills marine life and creates deadzones.

Even though you only use a little toothpaste imagine every person in every household sending all those chemicals into our delicate ecosystems with our birds, froggies and fish. Not good.

Image by Emily Ehlers

So what are the options?

There are eco brands around that cancel out some of the issues associated with your standard tube of whitening goo – but rarely all. You will never avoid the packaging but you can at least cancel out animal testing and chemicals.

If you are shopping in an Aussie supermarket the best you will probably find will be Naytura (Woolworth’s brand). It still has loads of nasties in it but is guaranteed cruelty-free at least. Otherwise health stores can provide organic alternatives. While these are better you could always go one further…

Make Your Own!

I learnt how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday at the Less Is More Festival. I am not going back. It is all natural, leaves my teeth feeling and looking amazing, isn’t tested on animals and has virtually no packaging associated with it. And an added benefit… you food doesn’t taste gross after you use it!

Come with me and learn how to make your own toothpaste here!