Archive for the ‘Green Living’ category

Make It Natural

February 17th, 2010

A little bit of powder , a little bit of paint … but at what cost ? Look closely at what’s lurking in your make-up bag .

Hmmm … Do you ever think about what cosmetics you are putting on your face beyond whether the colour matches your outfit or eyes ?

You may be surprised when you realise what your make-up contains . Coal tar colours , benzene , even formaldehyde , are just a few of the synthetic chemicals commonly found in everyday cosmetics .These toxins are , of course , absorbed into your skin every time you use conventional eye shadow , foundation , maskara , blusher , and lipstick . It has even been claimed that some of substances confuse hormone receptors and alter cell structure . If you avoid unpleasant chemicals in your diet then it makes sense to also try and avoid them , wherever possible , when you are choosing your make-up .

The Alternatives …

There are organic alternatives available for almost anything , and new companies are being set up all the time to fulfil growing demand . A growing number of manifacturers do not use synthetic or petroleum derived ingredients  , GMO ingredients or irradiated products . They use organic ingredients and do not use animal or animal slaughter by products .

Greenpeople stock a range of certified organic lipsticks , using organic coconut oil , jojoba oil and cupuacu butter ( the produce of tropical rainforest tree similar to cacao ) . Nvey Eco UK have a fabulous range of organic make-up with a wide variety of colours . If you carry out an internet search , you will find many other alternatives available , such as LoveLula , Logona and Suncoat .

But … The problem is that , at present , most of this organic make-up is not available in high-street stores , but actually has to be bought online . That removes the pleasureable buzz of looking at new colours and samples , and makes it harder to choose appropriate colours . Life’s hard without a range of testers in front of you ! However , it’s worth it in the long run to know that you have bought quality make-up containing safe ingredients. I make a point of asking where the organic make-up is in shops so that they know there is a demand for organic products . It hasn’t worked yet , but if we all ask , we’ll get there !

Clean But Green

January 31st, 2010

It’s easy to get hooked on the latest domestic products that promise a life of ease and cleanliness,but do you really need them?

Whether you squirt,spray,mousse or wipe,commercial cleaners mean you’re adding to the chemical imprint on your home and the environment.

I used to know an elderly lady who kept her coffee cups pristine white with high-strength household bleach.She did in fact live to a ripe old age,but i never felt happy about her cleaning methods and what effect they might be having on her health!

These days there is probably a specialist coffee cup whitener on the market – there is an insatible demand for ‘special’ cleaning products.But as fast as these come onto the supermarket shelves,more potentially harmful chemicals appear with them.

It’s estimated that fewer than a quarter of the chemicals used in cleaning products have been subjected to a full safety investigation,while others,officially classed as hazardous,are still found as key ingredients.

The overuse of chemical cleaners has also given rise to the so-called ‘hygiene hypothesis’ : sanitation means less exposure to microbes,equals more asthma,allergic disease and multiple sclerosis.Think of the immune system as a noisy,rowdy party,with plenty of bouncers to chuck out unwanted guests.Imagine that if there were no guests the bouncers might turn on each other,which is what happens in these kinds of auto immune diseases.

We dont need to lead a sanitised,germ-free life; we need to be an integrated part of the ecosystem,not eradicate it from our homes!


Try some of these alternative – and kinder – cleaning materials.

  • Sodda crystals (sodium carbonate),also known as washing soda,used to be the most common household cleaning product.You can use soda crystals for kitchen floors,work surfaces,to clean the draining board,wall tiles and left overnight in the sink they will clear tea saints.
  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) is also a good cleaner,and if you mix it with water you’ll get an alkaline solution that dissolves dirt and grease.Use it dry to lift stains from carpets and marks from surfaces.
  • Borax is a naturally occuring mineral,soluble in water.It can deodorise,see off mildew and mould,boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent and remove stains.
  • Comflour can be used to clean windows,polish furniture,shampoo carpets and rugs,and starch clothes.
  • Microfibre cloths are made with extra-long fibres that can attract dust and remove dirt,cutting down on the need for chemical cleaners.
  • Olive oil can be used sparingly as furniture polish.
  • Soap flakes are good for clothes washing and as a general cleaner.Look out for flakes made from natural ingredients that will biodegrade.
  • Sunlight is a useful free bleach for household linen and all whites.
  • Tea-tree oil is a strong antiseptic and disinfectant that works on mould and mildew.
  • White wine vinegar has many uses.Its a surface cleaner,stain remover,limescale descaler,it cuts through grease,deodorises and facts as mild disinfectant.Use half vinegar,half water solution to clean windows,tiles and mirrors.
  • Lemon juice is good for cleaning chopping boards and wooden surfaces,and can also act as a descaler.Lemon oil makes a good furniture polish.

Tired all the time

January 18th, 2010

It’s normal to feel tired at the end of the day.But if you feel tired all the time,if you even wake up tired,you’re in trouble.

If you suffer from this kind of chronic,day-after-day fatigue,you should check it out with your doctor.There could be good medical reasons for your fatigue – anaemia,diabetes,an under-active thyroid,to name just three – and you need to proper treatment for them.

There are some pretty amazing herbs which can help boost your energy,increase your resistance,and raise your spirits,but before you start spendinggood money on herbal remedies,you need to check out just what’s going on to cause your fatigue.

There could be a dozen different causes.You’re not eating properly.You’re working too hard.You’re born worrier; you can’t stop even at bedtime.You’re not getting enough exercise.You’re bored with your job,or miserable in your love life.So study lifestyle factors first and work out what needs fixing.

Too much stress can leave you worn out and exhausted.Step forward the great adaptogenic herbs – increasing your general resistance and vitality,and so help you cope better with both physical and mental stress.Siberian ginseng is the star in this field,following dozen of studies in the USSR: Russia’s athletes and cosmonauts are among it’s biggest fans.’An ideal all-round energy tonic,’ say UK herbalist Penelope Ody,’ideal to take whenever extra energy is needed…before a particularly busy period at work,during exams,or before long-distance air travel,for instance.You can take it for up to six weeks at a time:then you need a fortnigt’s break.Don’t use in an acute infection or if ypu’re on digoxin.

Another great herbal tonic comes from Russian folk medicine.For centuries the roots of Rhodiola rosea or Arctic root,were chewed to stave off fatigue and exhaustion,and boost general endurance.Studies carried out by moderb Russian researchers have demonstrated this usefulproperty in – among other subjects – sleepdeprived doctors,har-worked army cadets and students facing key exams.

It sounds blindingly obvious,but lots of people never seem to figure out that their tiredness is caused by a serious sleep shortfall,either because they stay up too late or because they just can’t get to sleep.If you’re up till the small hours and then need Big Ben to rouse you for a day’s work,the cure could be just some regular early nights.I f sleep eludes you,even when you retire at a virtuously early hour,try my favourite cure for insomnia – passionflower.I usually take a dose of the tincture an hour or so before bedtime.Valerian,every GP’s favourite tranquilliser a  century ago,doesn’t suit everyone,but when it works brilliantly:  it’s often combined with sedative hops and wild lettuce.Limeflowers and chamomile – oftencombined in tea bags or ready-made herbal remedies – bothmake wonderfully calming bedtime drinks.Sip them slowly while having a bedtime bath to which you’ve soothing essential ouls: chamomile,lavender or neroli.(Stir the oils into a little whole milk before adding them;they will disperse better.)

Here’s an idea for you…

If you’re burning the midnight oil,if you need to stay sharp and focused for an exam or if you’re battling a long demanding job,guarana is the herb for you.This extraordinary tonic from the Amazon rainforest (it’s gathered sustainably by local people) can help keep you going cheerfully for hour after hour ,with a clear mind,even on minimal sleep – though when the job is done,you’ll need to crash out in earnest.Don’t drink coffee when you’re taking it.Faced with an implacable deadline for delivering a book,i once sailed through three days of intensive work on just four hours’ sleep a night and twice-daily dose of this wonder-working herb.Then i collapsed