3 DIY Eco-Friendly Hand Soaps

I could not let my recent rant about what kids are being asked to bring to school whiz by without offering up a few alternatives. Don’t you just hate people who complain about the state of things without giving any suggestions? In my book, that just makes them part of the problem. For someone who cares about our environment like I do, if I didn’t provide a suitable option to make things better – it’s just…well, ranting.

So, I’m going after the biggest defender of evil on that back-to-school list which included: zip-lock bags, toilet paper, garbage bags, cotton balls, anti-bacterial soap, detergent, paper plates, paper towels and tissues.

Drumroll, please…

ANTI-BACTERIAL SOAP tops the list for eco-unfriendliness.

Why? Because it is unhealthy.

Check out my recent post about how nasty the main ingredient in anti-bacterial soap is. Studies show triclosan alters hormone regulation in laboratory animals, and can cause antibiotic resistance, along with an increase of allergies. The F.D.A. says soap with triclosan is not any more effective than ordinary soap. So, why the hell are we asking kids to bring it to school???

Consider these 3 DIY Eco-Friendly Hand Soap alternatives:

1. Here’s a tutorial for ditching the Dial Complete (bad, bad soap with triclosan) and making your own eco-friendly Liquid Hand Soap.

2. Each year I buy handmade felted soaps at the Wool and Sheep Festival. They are a true luxury. Here are directions to make Felted Soap. I’m going to try!

3. What could be better than shea butter soap? Not much. Here’s the how to’s for making your own Shea Butter Soap.

I believe we can change our future, teach our children well, and protect our precious planet if we continue to think and act creatively…and collectively. Let’s not muck it up.

Credit: Craft

Back-To-School: BYO Surprise

Surprise! It’s back-to-school time. Well, ed cheap that’s no surprise. What totally surprises me are the lists of school supplies kids are being asked to stuff into their backpacks on the first day of school.

According to a Today show segment, rx some schools are asking their students to bring zip-lock bags, toilet paper, garbage bags, cotton balls, antibacterial soap (!!!), detergent, paper plates, paper towels and tissues.

Along with the obligatory backpack, pencils and paper, parents are also asked to check their eco-consciousness on the school steps, and wave good-bye to their babes while their child wades through a landfill of required stuff.

I met lots of mommy bloggers when I represented the Moms Clean Air Force at BlogHer. I spoke to green moms who were sending their kids back to school with stainless steel water bottles and packing their lunches with DIY lunch bags and reusable napkins. But, most parents take their cues from these school lists that require them to consume rather than conserve.

Don’t get me going on plastic bags…why would a parent who is trying to cut down on using a substance made from a nonrenewable resource (petroleum), continue to perpetuate the problem?

Can you imagine sending your child to school with toilet paper? No joke.

This New York Times article sets the case, “Schools across the country are beginning the new school year with shrinking budgets and outsize demands for basic supplies. And while many parents are wincing at picking up the bill, retailers are rushing to cash in by expanding the back-to-school category like never before.”

Not only is it unfair to ask financially strapped parents to provide such items, it downright stomps all over our environment. Maybe even worse than laying the burden on parents is the message we are sending our kids. One minute we’re telling them disposable products are destructively evil for the environment, and in the next breath, we’re literally buying into school requirements.

As a former teacher, I can see how some of these items may be helpful, but are they really necessary? I think not. And if we are ever going to create a culture of conservation, we better get started with our littlest learners.


DIY Magazine Stool

Someone in my house hoards magazines. When she left for college a few years ago, I found magazines in every nook and cranny of her room.

Oops, just outted her…Hope you are OK with that, Sweetie?

Since the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in my nest, I will take total responsibility for the magazine-stockpiling gene. I’ll also foot the blame for being the enabler – I did not punish her when she stole my Vogues… Sorry hon!

Can you tell the parental guilt is just killing me?

Anyway, when I stumble across an ingeniously designed product that screams out DIY PROJECT, I just have to share. This is another one of those easy inspired ideas, like the felted sleeve cozy. This stool may even help you make less trips to the recycling center!

DIY Magazine Stool

You’ll need two extra-large leather straps or belts. They should be adjustable to make it easy to sneak a few mags into your collection. Scrap wood for the base and a magazine-sized cushion. That’s it.

Don’t want to make one? Then you can fork over the $185 here.

Credit: via SwissMiss

DIY: Create Your Own Clean Air Act (with video)

I am a bit of a DIY maven. If I can’t find an item that I need or want, I locate a tutorial, purchase a how-to book, or join a group. Figuring out how to make something is an immensely rewarding challenge – it truly becomes yours.

I’ve been watching the emergence of the latest DIY wave. It began very grassrootsy, and to some degree this convergence of art, craft, music and design is still an indie movement. Some say there is a new dimension in the latest surge of DIYers based on the fantastic craftiness of the 1970’s. Our parents and grandparents rocked it like they rocked the Clean Air Act in 1970. Unfortunately, while DIY may be on the rise, clean air is taking a nosedive.

Clean Air Belongs To Us!

According to the latest health, political and environmental exposés, air pollution is soaring. Asthma rates are ridiculous, the planet is heating up, and some politicians are teaming up against our kids with pro-polluting power company CEO’s. These folks are lying, distorting, and fabricating the facts to confuse and insult the public.

The sobering evidence might make you want to never leave your house, but experience tells that nothing good comes from that. The problem doesn’t go away…it only gets worse.

In the spirit of DIY, let’s make our own Clean Air Act!

3 Ways To Create Your Own Clean Air Act

1. Identify there is a problem to solve. This is an easy one…The American Lung Association published an important document, the State of the Air that analyzed the data and proved one in five people still live in communities with lethal levels of smog and particulate pollution. Need more ammo? Read on.

2. Figure out the cost. The cost is our time, energy, and parent power. The legwork can get done by joining the fight. We can email our public officials, share clean air ideas with our communities through Twitter and Facebook, and tell those who believe it is too expensive to protect our air, water and land, that it’s much more expensive not to.

3. Dive in and make it yours. The last clean air fix to limit emissions in 2008 was politically driven. President Bush chipped away at recommendations for stronger protections. These standards allowed far more ozone than the EPA’s science advisers unanimously recommended, and far more than Clean Air Act requirements at the time allowed. We can cut through the political smog.

Here’s how moms and dads can drive the clean air movement:

Pollution Monitoring Enforces The Law – Let’s keep our eye on the ball and work with scientists and state officials to lower the monitoring costs, expand the ability to track pollutants, and protect the legacy of the Clean Air Act.

Don’t Delay – Unfinished projects are the bane of a DIYers existence. They are costly and unproductive. Clean air delay tactics are dangerous because they also cost lives. If the rules continue to erode, and politically-driven decisions take the place of scientific ones, our children will continue to suffer.

Work Together – Just like creating a group project, we can create a DIY Clean Air Movement. Participate in strengthening air quality by restoring a commitment to science and law that will protect our kids from pollution. It will not just bring immense DIY satisfaction, it can give our kids the healthy future they deserve.

Join the DIY Clean Air Movement because…Clean Air Belongs To Us!

Credit: Ketzel via Standard

Celebration Giveaway!

It’s the time for celebrations. Not only is it 4th of July weekend, it’s the one-year “blogoversary” of Econesting!

To commemorate the occasion, I dug into the archives and revisited some of the wonderful accolades that have come about because of Econesting: Working with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Moms Clean Air Force, a six-page profile in the magazine, Where Women Create, my ongoing association with Care2, being named one of Yahoo’s Top 10 Living Green Experts, and getting to “meet” so many of you through your comments and emails.

I won’t get too deep into the details of maintaining a blog – Photoshop mishaps, incessant spam, html-hell, etc…But, I will say that it is all worth it to achieve the mission of sharing inspiration that is ecological, educational, economical and evolutionary.

I still LOVE, LOVE doing that, SO…

I’m inviting you to celebrate Econesting’s windy path towards creating a stylish, socially-aware eco-blog with a book give-away!

The book, Crafting A Meaningful Home: 27 DIY Projects to Tell Stories, Hold Memories, and Celebrate Family Heritage, by Meg Mateo Ilasco, brings together decorative and eclectic DIY projects. The message? Our nests are portholes from which others can glean the personality and energy of it’s inhabitants.

Crafting A Meaningful Home tells stories that reflect and celebrate the historical and ethnic impressions of the authors.

For example: This chunky Doily Rug, created by Jean Lee, puts a modern spin on a craft she learned as a child – crocheting. Using hemp rope, Lee melds the “eco” and the craft. LOVE IT.

Want a copy?

Simply leave a comment on this post (below) and say what your favorite Econesting post was. Comments close 9am EST on Tuesday, July 5th. A winner will be chosen at random, and will be announced in the comment box. Sorry, open to US residents only.

Thank you so much for making this first year such a success and enjoy the 4th!