DIY Coconut and Cucumber Cleanser

My quest to eradicate plastic and other nonsense single-use items continues. Far and away the hardest area of my life to do this in would be my make-up bag. While I would love to throw it all to the wind and live a pure existence without mascara and face-paint, I cannot. Not only am I too vain but I fear that I would be fired for always looking tired and/or sick. Damn you blonde eyelashes! Anyway, I digress. My point is… that I have started to focus on anything that I can cut out rather than lamenting what I can’t. I have found that anything to do with the care of skin and hair is pretty easily replaceable. First stop… cleanser. (My second stop was a DIY herbal toner which you can find here!)

I get a weekly organic delivery box and because we went away over the weekend there were some Lebanese cucumbers left looking a little limp. A passionate hater of all things wasteful I decided to experiment. The cleanser I made was so easy to make and is absolutely beautiful to use. Put it in the fridge for a really refreshing cleanse.

It is so nice to know that you don’t need to use harsh chemical that you can’t pronounce to clean your face. They don’t do damage to the environment, they don’t have excessive and wasteful packaging and you get to essentially rub food on your face – which is always fun.

Ingredients

1 x Cup of Cucumber Juice (4 x lebanese or 2 x green)

1 x Cup of Coconut Milk (organic if you have it)

1 x tablespoon of Agave or honey (if you are vegan use Agave Nectar)

Why these ingredients?

Cucumber juice – is an astringent and helps purify your skin.

Coconut Milk – hydrates and moisturises – as well as feeling bloody nice!

Honey / Agave Nectar (vegan) – antibacterial which makes it great to prevent acne and other spots

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • Food Processor / blender / or juicer
  • Muslin or cheesecloth to sieve the cucumber. If you don’t have them on hand then get creative… I keep old stockings around the place (for cleaning and use in the garden) so I just slipped that over the bowl and used it instead. Working perfectly fine..
Upcycled ingenuity

Method

Steps 1 through 5 are if you do not have a fancy fruit-juicer (mine died).

1. Peel the cucumbers

2. Process the cucumbers in a food processor until smoothish

3. Pour crushed cucumbers through a strainer into a mixing bowl or jug

4. Squeeze out as much juice as possible.

5. Bam. You have beautiful cucumber juice!

6. Add the honey or agave, coconut milk and cucumber juice together

7. Whisk to make a smooth liquid

8. Pour into a used jar and keep in the fridge.

Application

  1. Wash your face with warm water
  2. Apply cleanser to a cloth
  3. Wipe over face and neck
  4. Rinse with warm water / cloth

Top Tip

When rinsing your face make sure you do so in a bowl so that you save all the water from draining away. Because you are using completely natural ingredients it is grey water safe. You can use the excess for your garden, herbs or veggie patches!

Some Amazing DIY Pallet Projects

If ever there was the perfect ingredient for upcycling it would have to be the ubiquitous wooden pallet. I make a habit of counting how many I see ditched kerbside on my morning walks and it boggles my mind to think that they are considered junk. Pallets are the perfect material to create rustic, quirky and bespoke furniture. Here are a few of my absolute favourite uses of pallets in the home.

Shabby Chic Shelving System

From Design Sponge

I am a massive fan of clutter. My husband is not. Solution? Shelving units: little contained spaces of magical clutter. This is why I squealed with joy when I saw this amazing shelf, a fabulous creation by New Zealand sensation Claire Terry AKA Madame Fancy Pants. For the entire DIY tutorial see here – I might finally be able to start working through the stock pile of pallets that I have in the shed!

Pallet Daybed for a nursery

From Ashley Ann Photography Blog

This awesome design not only uses pallets but also includes an old and beautifully worn door – hinges included! By creating a mish-mash of textures (the crocheted blanket, ornate photo frames, and the amazing collection of lanterns) it celebrates what is best about this old rickety piece of ‘trash’ – its coarseness. That is one of my favourite aspects of the upcycling movement – celebrating imperfection! This is a really simple DIY project that you can find here care of one of my favourite Phoblographers (yes I made that up) Under the Sycamore.

Pallet Bed with built in storage

From Organic Authority

Have you ever seen a more relaxing room? I love that it is minimalist but still absolutely reaks of character – especially with the trellis above the bed. Mental note, check! The great thing about pallets – and probably why they are starting to explode in the world of upcycling – is that they are really sturdy. Perfect for the base of a bed and with the added benefit perfectly sized storage slots for shoes and books. While I couldn’t find the link to make this exact version a similar version can be found here at the Flaxseed and Soynuts blog along with some other inspirational ideas for all things recycled.

Cheapest Bed Head Ever!

From Green Home Design Source

While we are talking all things bed, why not tack on an old pallet as a bed head. All you need to do is bolt two pallets together and then attach them to the base of your bed. I am going to give it a go and stencil on some inspiring, happy words onto it like this..

Image by Adorning Alabama.blogspot.com.au

Kitchen Island

From Homedit.com

In my dream house I will have this kitchen bench – but maybe in a lighter colour. This DIY requires a minimum of three pallets, a few tools and some paint. I could not find instructions on how to make this but luckily it is a very simple structure that would be easy enough to replicate with a bit of guess work. I like the industrial look and think it brings a bit of warmth into a modern kitchen.

Pallet Art

From Twiddlerhouse.blogspot.com.au

If you are already sorted for all your furniture needs you could even make a simple, gorgeous art piece from the wood of the pallets. You’ll need to get your Destructo hat on and remove the boards from the pallet and reposition them to how you like. I would saw them to be different lengths and create a bit of interest but I have seen some beautifully effective square pieces. They can be as colourful and as natural as you choose and create a truly individual piece that will be sure to get many comments from visitors. This is perfect for me as a renter, because I can actually stand the pallet up rather than drilling it into the wall. Here is an amazing DIY tutorial that I will be using on the weekend.

Proof that one man’s trash is another’s treasure! 

Make Your Own Toothpaste

My finished toothpaste

I discovered how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday and now I can categorically say that I won’t be turning back. In this previous post, I explained the reasons why you might want to look into this alternative rather than your average over-packaged, chemical-ridden, animal-tested varieties… But on top of that, there is something so fun about making it yourself! Getting your nutty professor on and testing out different mixes and scents.

The mix that Shani (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) showed us works well for me, but is also the first I have tried. She also gave two other recipes which I will try once I am up with this batch. But for now…this one works swell. Give it a try.

Ingredients

(For tips on where to get these ingredients, see Notes)

  • 4 tsp Bicarb Soda (aka Baking Soda)
  • 1 tsp Salt (table is fine, or crush sea salt)
  • Glycerine (or Glycerol) – as much as needed to make a paste
  • Recycled jar or container

Optional ingredients

  • Essential Oils (like peppermint, vanilla) – make sure they are food-grade!
  • Lemon or Lime peel (dried and ground)
  • Mint leaves – finely chopped
  • Stevia leaves – dried and ground

Method

  1. Mix the Bicarb soda and salt in your container with a spoon
  2. Add Glycerine bit by bit while stirring until you get a smooth paste
  3. Add one of the optional ingredients here and stir. I used Peppermint Oil and it was lovely. It gave the traditional toothpaste-y smell which is good when you are getting used to a new taste.

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

Note – Where to buy

  • Bicarb Soda – Found in supermarkets, deli’s  etc. Try and aim for bulk to reduce packaging – Planet Ark in Freo sells it in 5kg boxes
  • Sea salt – best found at stores like Kakula’s Brothers or Sisters where you can buy bulk herbs and spices for a low price.
  • Glycerine / Glycerol – can be bought at chemists.
  • Essential Oils – Food grade essential oils can be found at healthstores. Manna Wholefoods in Freo definitely stocks it.

Review

The most important thing you need to realise here is also a very obvious point – this is not your standard toothpaste. You don’t have the Sodium lauryl sulfate in there to make it all foamy, there aren’t artificial sweeteners to make it taste like an after dinner mint and you have put a teaspoon of salt in the mix! At first, I was a very excited…

Eager beaver…

There is definitely a salty tang to it but there is also a sweet minty taste too (if you used the oil, as I did). The Glycerol has quite a sweet taste to it and gives it the smooth pasty consistency which is quite nice – it almost feels like you are just brushing with a wet brush. The bicarb soda acts as the cleansing agent (you can actually feel that working) and the salt is the abrasive. All in all it is not bad. Whenever I felt myself noticing it I just imagined I was at the beach and asked myself if I would mind if a little salt water got in my mouth. Nope.

hmmm… Think about the beach….

But then… I lost my head. I swallowed a bit of the stuff. Shit got crazy…

DON’T SWALLOW THE TOOTHPASTE

I really did consider not putting that photo and tip in… and this is not only because of how physically flattering it is for my face (obviously). I wanted to be honest about the experience and not promise some amazing flavour just to get you to try it! This is not a reason to consider not trying it… It is no different to your average toothpaste: If you swallow it you are going to be met with a few fairly unpleasant sensations. Don’t swallow it. It tastes like salt. Imagining I was at the beach did nothing to help me then, although my husband (the photographer) thought it was the funniest thing he had seen all week.

After our first few teething problems I am truly sold on this DIY toothpaste. My husband has converted as well and we honestly feel that it does wonders. Our teeth look whiter and we have breath tested each other at different points throughout the day and passed with flying colours. It is also just a damn good feeling to know that you are not contributing to environmental damage, animal cruelty and an overall bad system every morning and afternoon. I hope you enjoy it.

Less Is More Festival – Saturday 18th February

Illustration by Clare Long

I am absolutely loving how many amazing eco events are popping up around Perth nowadays. We have turned into a city of ‘doers’; people have stopped waiting for the action to come to them and are instead creating it for themselves. The community has become so proactive and so supportive of anyone that has a desire to do more; more recycling, more learning, more teaching, more green get-togethers! In accordance with this new movement (a revolution where knowledge is power), an amazing green actionist from Perth has addressed one of the weird paradoxes of sustainability: Sometimes to do a hell of a lot more you need to focus your attention on doing a hell of a lot less. Enter the ‘Less is More Festival’.

The hero of our story is Claire Litton who has organised this fabulous festival with an amazing point of difference… NO MONEY ALLOWED. Have you ever heard of an event organiser stipulating such a ridiculous caveat? But as Claire sums up beautifully on her blog;

“You can’t buy the things that are really important!”

This wonderful anti-consumerist festival is about teaching ways that we can all consume less and reuse more.  There will be a number of workshops from various inspirational Perth greenies showing practical ways to apply the three R’s to your daily life – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and yes, that is in order of importance).

You can find the full list of workshops here but here are a few of my favourites;

Living Plastic Free

A young couple (Jess and Nathan)  discuss how they went plastic free for a whole year. This is particularly pertinent to me as I have (today in fact) started my own 365 days of going completely plastic free *gulp*. I am also the Online Campaigner for Plastic Free Freo campaign so it will be great to meet some inspirational people that are leading a plastic free life.

Upcycling

We are a culture obsessed with throw-away fashion. A 2005 study found that Australians spent $10.5billion on clothes that are disposed of after a short amount of time because of passing fads or poor quality.  Learn how to create a completely new and fashionable wardrobe from your old clothes or op-shop finds. Agnes will have hands-on activities and an informal presentation. People can watch but are also encourage to bring something to upcycle. Look through your cupboard… be brutal.

MYO Toothpaste and Deodorant

One of Perth’s loudest voices for living sustainably (and a favourite of mine) Shani Graham from Ecoburbia will be showing everyone how to make your own toothpaste and deodorant with standard ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry! You must bring two small jars for this so you can take your DIY products home with you.

Homemade Ginger Beer

NOM! Learn how to make your own Ginger Beer with Ronan and Rebecca. Not only will this recipe save you the empty calories of your standard soda’s but will also save hundreds of plastic bottles every year.

Those are just a few of my faves but there are plenty more. To get the most out of the day see the timetable here and plan ahead.

Kids

This is a family friendly event but there will still be some workshops that are for the adults only – so best to check with Claire beforehand if you are curious. This being said there are also events specifically for the littlies. The fabulous Eco Faeries (possibly the cutest organisation in the world) will be wandering round provide fun for the kids and getting them involved in sustainable games, interactive art and even a sustainable children’s story time at 10:30am.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;

we borrow it from our children”

~ Chief Seattle

Summary

I am so excited about this festival. I hope you are too. Here are the details;

10am – 4pm
Saturday 18 February 2012
The Grove Community Centre
1 Leake Street, Peppermint Grove

AA for Plastic Abusers

I think plastic is a lot like alcohol. The addictive side is clear – look around you right now and do a quick mental audit on how much plastic is near you. We are – as a society – addicted to plastic. Another similarity is that it is largely accepted. Sure, there are people yelling from the sidelines about how bad it is, but if you walk down the street holding a plastic bag a lot of people wouldn’t look twice. While plastic and alcohol are both damaging to our health though, the toll plastic is taking is on a much bigger scale.

With so many negatives associated with its use we should all try cut down on our plastic bag dependence. Here are some ideas on how to start…

Reusable Bags

This is a non-negotiable. There is no reason to still be using plastic bags when there are so many reusable alternatives around. A good friend of mine (Hi Dino!) said he always had the bags in his car but then got to the end of the checkout and realised he had left them there. He made a rule that whenever he forgot them he would force himself to refuse the cashier just packing them into plastic bags and would return to the car to get his bags. He kept his self-promise and after the embarrassment and fuss it caused never forgot his bags again. Force yourself into changing your habits.

Found at National Wildlife Federation

Other ways that can help;

  • Use roll-up bags that can fit into bags or jean pockets virtually unnoticed, like the above picture!
  • Carry things with your hands! It is so easy to switch into robot mode and just accept your bagged goods without thinking. Be adamant, say no.
  • Invest in a bigger handbag or backpack and use it for your lunch runs.
  • Make a fashionable statement with your bag and you may be more inclined to use it. There are plenty of these bags around (try Etsy). I love this one in particular…

http://www.zazzle.com.au – Click the image to got through to store

Give up chewing gum…

This discovery made me regret every time I ever swallowed a chewing gum. Yep! Chewing gum is literally plastic, rubber, the occasional bit of latex and flavoring… to keep you coming back for more! Avoid it. A nice natural solution is to chew on Cardamom Pods. If you are near a kitchen (or garden) you can also chew on Parsley – not as easy as Cardamom to keep in your pocket.

Plastic Free your cleaning

There is really no need to spend hundreds of dollars a year on ‘wonder’ products that are pre-packaged to hell and are polluting our waterways, bodies and landfill at the same time. Here are some simple substitutes that you can buy in bulk and often come in recyclable packaging (cardboard or refillable containers)

  • Reuse old cleaning spray bottles by filling with vinegar and water. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water is a fantastic recipe for an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Baking soda is the champion of plastic free cleaning. It works for everything (including shampoo, toothpaste, nappy cleaner). For a sink of dishes try just adding 4tbs of baking soda to the hot water. Works a treat!
  • Wash your clothes with soap nuts! This was one of my favourite finds of 2011 and I put it on my Eco Christmas Wishlist. You just place these dried shells (from small fruit) into an organic cotton washbag (provided) and use it as regular soap! Suitable for hair, carpets, clothes and anything else you can think of.
  • If you are in a hurry and really need to buy ready-made cleaning products aim for those that provide the ‘Refill and Reuse’ service. There are many places around that do this including Manna Wholefoods  in Fremantle.

Plastic Not-so-Fantastic Clothing

Synthetic clothing is basically just plastic fabric. Nylon, polyester, acrylic, lycra, spandex… all cheap material that is often used in throwaway fashion. There are quite a few green ways around this;

  • Only buy old plastic – only buy your plastic second-hand! Op-shops, thrift stores and vintage markets are a treasure trove for clothing that is preloved and therefore has not used new resources to create them.
  • Choose natural fibres – and, where possible, organic! This is especially important for cotton as genetically modified crops are very common. Materials like hemp and bamboo look and feel gorgeous. My fave store for gorgeous organic clothing is definitely Australian owned Bird Textiles. You can also buy fabrics to make your own cushions, clothes or whatever else your imagination dreams up.

A quick lunchtime illustration on some old office paper

Become a Smart Shopper 

This technique is the very core of living sustainably. It is also hugely important in terms of reducing waste, including – of course – plastic bags!

  • NO BOTTLED WATER.
  • Choose products that have a limited amount of packaging. Seeing that this cancels out two thirds of your supermarket, you may as well shop at a farmers market or get an organic box delivery.
  • If you get your produce delivered as part of a box scheme, specify that you don’t want anything in plastic including cherry tomatoes and berries. We use the Organic Collective and they are very helpful with this request which is apparently a reasonably common one nowadays.
  • If you can’t get to a farmers market – buy in bulk. 1 massive bottle is better than 20 smaller ones.
  • Eat wholefoods. Make meals from scratch.  The great thing about this resolution is that not only do you get creative and expand your cooking skills, you generally end up cooking healthier and tastier food. Who needs preservative E211 or food colouring 2 when you can just have a passionfruit instead?

Single Use Items can last an eternity

Save on plastic. Save your Health. 

  • Avoid rubbing plastic all over your body! Check out how many products in your bathroom or make-up bag have ‘polyethylene’ in them. You could be rubbing tiny plastic beads all over yourself and them washing them into our drains. Choose organic and cruelty free products to avoid unnecessary  use of plastic and palm oil too.
  • Baking soda is an amazing deodorant. Who woulda thunk it? Apply it onto your dry armpit with a powder puff and watch in wonderment.
  • Make your own shampoo. Mix together 2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups water into a recycled bottle that you have. In a separate container mix 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with 2 cups of water again. The baking soda is your wash, the vinegar mix is your rinse. Thanks for the inspiration My Plastic Free Life (a fantastic blog / experiment). I am converting to this as of next week… will keep you posted on how I go.
  • Or… buy a shampoo bar. I have seen these at Manna in South Fremantle or you can order them online. For Perth peeps I have heard great things about this Margaret River Savi Shampoo Bar.
  • Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap. An easy option is Country Life; a cheap, cruelty free and certified palm oil free!
  • Buy a bamboo toothbrush.
  • Don’t use toilet paper that is wrapped in plastic.

Make your own…

  • Lunch – save using cheap plastic takeaway containers, wrappings, bags, little plastic windows or that nasty polystyrene
  • Bread. Not only can you control the amount of preservatives that go into it you save those plastic bags and toggles every time. You get the added bonus of smelling fresh bread through your house in the morning – is there anything better?
  • Soy or Nut Milk – All long-life milk containers (unless specifically stated) contain plastic in them. Why not make your own? If you don’t have a fandangle soy milk maker  you can also make it on your stove top!
  • EGAD!… You can even make your own Tofu!!!
  • Snacks – don’t go for individually wrapped muesli bars over-processed and full of sugar. Try making your own healthier versions like these yummy gluten-free and vegan Granola bars from The Sensitive Pantry

Those were just a few of the many, many creative ways you can cut (most) plastic from your life.

As always, if you have any ideas on how to cut plastic from your life please feel free to comment or email me on oliveonblonde@gmail.com