Making a difference...even if it's small.

I try to make environmentally and physically healthy choices for our lifestyle. I think it is important to be conscious of how the products we purchase, use and throw away effect the environment and our bodies. For instance, it's easy to believe that toothpaste is good for you because it cleans your teeth. However, many toothpastes have unnecessary chemicals in them that are neither good for you or the environment. Not only are you ingesting small amounts of that toothpaste every day, but it's going down your sink, into the water system, into the environment, and eventually, the whole plastic tube ends up in the landfill. I'm not saying that your toothpaste is going to kill you, but it can contribute to some of many unnecessary, unhealthy chemicals that end up in your body every day.

Not too long ago our good friends Ryan and Lindsay stayed with us for a weekend and Lindsay suggested that I blog about some of the products that we use. I've since compiled some groupings of products that we use on an almost daily basis that I felt were good to share. We shop primarily at Whole Foods, Target, and Giant Eagle stores. 

Cleanliness and Beauty:
(In clockwise order starting from the top left)

1. Avalon Organics - Grapefruit & Geranium Shampoo. This is one of the cheaper brands of organic shampoos that we've found. It does the job and has a simple fragrance that is pretty refreshing in the morning. We used to use Whole Foods 365 brand, but it seemed like we had to use far too much of it to get our hair clean.

2. 365 Everyday Value - Conditioner, Fragrance Free. First of all, I'd like to say that one thing I love about organic cosmetics is the opportunity to get things "fragrance free", because I never really want to smell "powder fresh" or "strawberry sun kissed". Bleh. Secondly, this conditioner (unlike it's shampoo counterpart) takes care of my hair and leaves it feeling healthy. It comes in a huge size that costs less than most conditioners I've used in the past.

3. Everyday Minerals - Intensive Fair Concealer. All of the makeup that I use I purchase from Everyday Minerals. Their products are organic, vegan, and eco friendly. I don't use a whole lot of makeup and I haven't tried a whole lot of makeup in the past, but I can say that this company makes a great product at a very affordable price. As far as I know, their products are only available online, but they make it easy to get to know their products by offering sample sizes at $2.50 each or sample kits at $5. And trust me, the samples go a long way. 

4. Burt's Bees - Royal Jelly Eye Creme, Beeswax Lip Balm, Deep Cleansing Cream, and Toner. I think Burt's Bees is a fantastic company. They've been around producing natural products for as long as I can remember. I feel good when I use their products, not only because I know they're safe and healthy, but they also have a refreshing feel. There are very few Burt's Bees products that I don't particularly like, mostly due to fragrance or color. These products are more easily found in stores than some of the other items we use. The one con to Burt's Bees is that they're a little pricer than I'd normally like, but I think the quality makes them worth it. 

5. Tom's of Maine - Original Unscented Deodorant and Whole Care Toothpaste. This is the first deodorant I've ever used that seems to really do it's job. Another plus for the ladies is that it doesn't irritate shaved underarms like some regular brands do. I think Tom's toothpaste is great, Andrew however still fights me on this and uses Crest. I believe he says it's the texture that bothers him. I vaguely remember thinking the texture was a little odd when I first started using it, but I'm completely used to it now. 

6. Preserve - Toothbrush. These toothbrushes are made from 100% BPA free recycled plastic. Their motto is "Powered by recycled Yogurt Cups" because, well, that's where most of their plastic comes from. If you frequent Whole Foods, you might have seen a Preserve recycling station on your way out of the store. The toothbrush is what launched Preserve, but they've since moved into many other recycled products. My #1 favorite thing about these toothbrushes is that they come in a postage paid mailer to send them back to the factory to be recycled again. Even lazy people can recycle!

Around the House:
(In clockwise order starting from the top left)

1. Ikea - Nackten Shower Curtain. Before Andrew and I were married I did a lot of research on household furniture to figure out what were some the the most sustainable, toxin-free, and affordable options available. Time and time again I came across articles about Ikea's eco friendly strategy. On top of that, I learned that Ikea has harsher health and safety regulations on their products which means they're produced with a lot of non-toxic materials, unlike most american companies. To make an even longer story short, I came to find out that some of Ikea's shower curtains are made from PEVA, which is a chlorine-free alternative to PVC. What I didn't know prior to that article is that your typical PVC shower curtain will leech chlorine into the water as well as the moisture in the air when it heats up. Overall, not good. The end of this story is a happy one, the Ikea Nackten shower curtains are only $1.99. 

2. Feline Pine - Cat litter. A couple of years ago I adopted a kitten from a shelter. After several vet visits and a little research of my own I learned that the kitten was suffering from several side effects of clay clumping litter. One of these side effects was what appeared to be just a cold. The truth was that the dust from the clumping litter was building up in it's nasal passages and lungs causing sneezing, discharge and wheezing. The other side effect was a rock hard clay blockage in the kitten's intestines which built up every time he licked his paws clean after using the litter box. He stopped eating and going to the bathroom. When I found the information on this online I was shocked. There were so many accounts of kittens dying from these same problems that I couldn't believe it was still being sold. It's not just kittens that are effected either. Older cats can have the same problems although they are not as common because of their size. Humans too can have respiratory problems from clumping clay litter. If you're a cat owner that uses clumping clay litter I highly suggest looking up information on it. Did I mention that clay litter also just becomes a hard rock in landfills and never decomposes? Yeah. Feline Pine is a wonderful alternative. It's all natural, and has the air freshening qualities of pine. It's easy to clean up, and flushable! I'd never go back to regular litter again. 

3. Green Genius - Biodegradable Plastic Garbage Bags. They cost the same and work the same as regular trash bags. Give me one good reason not to switch over to a biodegradable trash bag. These aren't the only brand available, but they are the only brand we've used. 

4. Seventh Generation - Free & Clear Dish Liquid, Laundry Detergent and Dishwashing Liquid (not pictured). Seventh Generation products are available at almost any store you'd go to buy such items. As mentioned before, they carry fragrance free products which are great, especially for Andrew who has allergies that are bothered by smelly laundry detergents. I've never had a complaint about these products. Seventh Generation also puts out a good newsletter about keeping a healthy and eco friendly home. 

5. J.R. Watkins - All Purpose Cleaner. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was the packaging that got me to check out this cleaner. Aside from that, it's an all natural, safe cleaner that works wonders. A little goes a long way with this stuff which I've never been able to say about a cleaner before...especially when I'm working on cleaning the stove top. 

6. Twist - Biodegradable Loofah Kitchen Sponges. Take your regular kitchen sponge, one side squishy, the other side scratchy plastic. Now replace that sponge with something that works exactly the same and is made from 100% biodegradable materials. Again, give me a reason not to switch over to this product. At first I was afraid that the loofah part of it would break down fast, or not work as well as the typical plastic sponge, but really, I think it's actually better and lasts longer. 

If you want to learn more about the products that you use at home, or these products listed above, I highly recommend checking out these two sites. You can search for products and get a rating on them that's based on different factors like sustainability and toxicity.

("But you don't have to take my word for it...")


  1. I'm really glad you posted this. I need a prompt, sometimes, to begin change in my life, and the information (esp. the cat litter) you've provided is particularly useful.

  2. another thanks for posting this. we're pretty good at buy eco-friendly products, but there's a few things i'd still like alternatives for. though i might not be able to source your choices, it's good to have something to start with.