Toxic Air Fresheners

I hate air fresheners.  Hate hate HATE.  All they do is cover up smells with other sickly smells.  Seriously people, there are better ways to make your home or car or garbage cans more olfactorily pleasing.  (Is that a word?)

Taylor and I recently came in close contact with a hawaiian scented Febreeze thing that was meant to cover up garbage stench in our building. A few minutes later Taylor was turning pink and having a hard time breathing.  Meanwhile, I was shuddering at the thought of all the hormone disrupting chemicals in those things.

A little research when I got home told me that the only “ingredient” in that air freshener is “fragrance,” which we’ve talked about before. Fragrance is a catch-all term that may include tens or even hundreds of different ingredients.  Fragrances are proprietary, so companies don’t have to disclose what is in them. Additionally, the government does not have any safety regulations in place for air fresheners.

So how do we know what’s in them if the ingredients aren’t disclosed? Continue reading

DIY Pottery Barn Style Sheer Curtains

I have been sitting on this post for over a month now. Seriously. Bad Genoa. I made curtains for our new apartment right after moving in, but I have had an unusually tricky time writing about it. Curtains aren’t a difficult DIY in the cutting and sewing sense, but they are harder on the wallet than you might expect.  Two apartments in a row now I have made my own curtains, and both times I spent way more than I intended to.

So here it goes. I would like to begin this post with a disclaimer: DIY curtains are rarely economical.  They’re the sort of project for somebody who knows exactly what they want, but can’t find it in a store.  If you’re planning on saving a bunch of money by making your own curtains, hopefully my Monday morning quarterbacking of this project will help. Either plan carefully, or make a trip to Ikea.

The new place has west-facing wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling windows in both the bedroom and living room, and we are only a stone’s throw away from the next building over.  I found the ease with which I could watch my neighbors eat dinner to be a little creepy, so curtains were a priority.

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Before curtains. Hi neighbors!

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DIY upcycled wine bottle “watering can”

Have you every accidentally crushed seedlings by watering them too forcefully? I certainly have, and it makes me sad every time. But never fear! I have created a simple alternative to clumsily trying to water plant babies with a drinking glass.

My lettuce is very fragile

My lettuce is very fragile

At first, a plastic water bottle with holes poked into the top seemed like the perfect solution to my seedling watering woes, but I don’t want to feed my lettuce water that has been stored in plastic any more than I want to drink bottled water myself.

 

 

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Adventures in Composting

Since we’ve started composting, I’ve realized that food waste makes up most of what Taylor and I throw out every day. Food scraps that end up in landfills are a complete waste (bad pun intended) of composing potential as they rot slowly surrounded by plastic, generating methane. We may only take out the trash a few times a month now, but our compost bag gets full and stinky quickly, and we have to cart it across town to dump it in Taylor’s compost pile. To make better use of our food scraps, we’ve started vermicomposting in my apartment.

Rewind. Yes, there is a plastic bucket of worms in my living room right now, and they aren’t smelly or gross, but don’t tell my landlord.  Certain types of worms (I’m using red wigglers) will live happily in a dark box with some organic matter to eat.  Their poop, also know as castings, are nutrient rich and will make my veggie plants very happy. Continue reading

DIY Cloth Napkins

IMG_3633I’ve been meaning to make these cloth napkins FOREVER.  Every time I use a paper towel as a napkin, I feel super guilty for killing trees and producing waste.  Before I got around to making these, Taylor and I tried to go napkin free, but that didn’t work very well.  Finally we have some soft daily use cloth napkins!

Here are a few different ways to make cloth napkins for any occasion.  It’s a really easy project, even for beginner sewers.  Of course if you don’t sew but still want to have pretty cloth napkins, there’s always Etsy.

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On Deodorant: Aluminum, the Precautionary Principle, and a DIY

Upon reading all over the internet that aluminum in deodorant may be linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, Taylor and I decided to play it safe by avoiding aluminum in antiperspirant while also researching these claims.

This sort of better safe than sorry approach, termed the “precautionary principle,” is an important part of living a healthy and toxin free life.  The chemistry industry in general does not subscribe to this set of ethics which would require proof that a chemical is safe before it is released on a large scale to consumers. Instead, companies want to get their products on the market as soon as possible and perform safety and toxicology tests later.  This negligence is how endocrine disrupting molecules such as BPA end up plastics we encounter every day.

An example of the precautionary principle in use is the movement to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Little is known about GMOs, so many consumers would like the freedom to choose whether to consume them or not.   

Back to deodorant.  Aluminum is found in deodorants in the form of a salt, usually aluminum chlorohydrate, which has been found to interfere with estrogen receptors in human breast cancer cells.  Given that a large proportion of cancers form in the outer sections of the breast closest to the armpits, deodorant has been placed under suspicion by some scientists.  However, there is no conclusive evidence that aluminum causes breast cancer, only a correlation between underarm hygiene and younger diagnosis of breast cancer.  The National Cancer Institute can tell you more here and provides links to many of the original studies. Continue reading