Jun 30, 2013

Make Your Own Make-up Brush Cleaner

This is a cheap alternative to expensive make-up brush cleaner. Using Dawn I got on sale for under 70 cents at CVS, this recipe costs me under 10 cents a batch!

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid dish detergent
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup
  • Mix ingredients in a large cup – I like wide mouth mason jars
  • Swish brushes in mix
  • Rinse brushes under warm water
  • Lay flat to dry overnight 
That's it! So easy and so much cheaper than the stuff I was buying!

A Greener Period: Part 3- A Cloth Pads Primer

Using cloth pads is not nearly as gross as I thought it would be. I originally bought these organic pantyliners by Imse Vimse to use as backup for my Diva Cup . I ended up liking them so much that when my period got lighter I used them alone.

I like cloth menstrual pads because they are so much softer than disposables and they breathe better. I don't get dry skin or rashes from them. For this post I wanted to provide some basic info about cloth pads in general- I'll do a large review post on different brands later. If you want to know why I made the switch you can check out this post.

What Are Cloth Pads Made Out Of?
Cloth pads can be made out of a variety of materials. Cotton and cotton flannel are very common. Some are topped with minky fabric or velour. Some contain PUL inside to prevent leaks.  There are also pads that are lined with fleece or corduroy to prevent slipping. Pads can come with or without wings just like disposables. Unlike disposables, cloth pads with wings use snaps or aplix (velcro) to keep them in place. I have even seen pads made out of bamboo fibers.

How Do I Care for Cloth Pads?
Cloth pads really aren't difficult to care for. I place my used ones in a wet bag with my family cloth. Some people soak them but I have not found that to be necessary. I do rinse them in the sink with soap before I launder them to prevent staining. I wash mine in a mesh laundry bag with towels. Many women also throw them in with cloth diapers. I hang them to dry rather than placing them in the dryer they will last longer.

What Different Kinds of Pads Are Available?
Cloth pads come in a variety of shapes and sizes. On the smaller end are pantyliners for everyday use, light days, or with a menstrual cup. There are also regular, long, overnight and even postpartum sizes. They are available with and without wings, though I prefer them with wings.

Will I Really Save Money If I Have to Wash Them?
Yes! I don't run any extra loads of laundry. Cloth pads are small and really don't take up much space. I just throw them in with a load of towels I was going to do anyway.

I hope this post has cleared up some of the questions people have about trying out cloth menstrual pads. Do you have any questions? Ask them in the comments section below!
Jun 27, 2013

A Greener Period: Part 2- Why?

The question I have heard the most this week is "Why are you doing this?" I think a lot of people see it as gross and an awful lot of work when disposables are such an easy alternative. Maybe I should have led with this post :) Anyhow, here are some of the reasons I've started this journey to a greener period.

To Keep Waste out of Landfills
Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually. That is A LOT of trash. Over her lifetime, the average American woman will use approximately 16,800 disposable pads or tampons. Additionally, many tampon applicators and pads contain plastic which will not biodegrade any time soon. The idea that I could avoid all of this trash appeals to me.

To Avoid Potentially Harmful Chemicals
Pads and tampons are made mainly of wood pulp. The pulp is bleached in the manufacturing process to make it white. One of the chemicals produced is dioxin. Dioxin is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. "While the jury is still out on the direct risk to human health posed by dioxin residue in disposable pads and tampons, its danger to the environment via effluent from factories is well known"(1). Many pads use Super Absorbent Polymers (SAPs) as well which also have not been extensively researched. We are exposed to so many chemicals daily. If I can avoid putting them in my most sensitive areas, then I will.

To Save Money
Tampons and pads are expensive. Using a combination of a menstrual cup and cloth pads quickly pays for itself. It's also nice to know I never have to worry about running out tampons in the middle of my period.

To Be More Comfortable
 I have found cloth pads to be MUCH more comfortable than disposables. They are so soft against my skin and don't leave my skin dry. I also was starting to get a skin reaction by the end of each period- this hasn't happened with cloth pads. They breath better and aren't full of chemicals.
The menstrual cup also doesn't dry me out which leaves me more comfortable and I never experience the painful removal like I did with tampons during light flow.

To Have a Shorter/Less Painful Period
This is more of an anecdotal benefit but I thought that it was worth mentioning. Quite a few women have reported shorter periods using reusable products. So far, my period has been the same length. What I have found to be an amazing benefit is that my cramps aren't nearly as bad. I'm normally miserable for days. With my last period I had less severe cramping that lasted only one evening!
Jun 26, 2013

A Greener Period: Part 1- The Diva Cup

This series, "A Greener Period," is about a year and a half in the making. It's taken me a long time to get to a place where I felt comfortable making the leap to reusable menstrual products. Warning: This post discuses  menstruation so if you are squeamish you might want to stop reading now.

***Post contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission off of purchases made through the links***

Like most of the things I blog about, the idea of a green period appealed to both my desire to be more earth friendly and my desire to be more frugal. I hated the idea of all those tampons, applicators, and pads sitting in a landfill. I also really liked the idea of not having to run out and spend money on tampons and pads.

The first step to ending my dependence on disposable menstrual products was the Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a menstrual cup: you insert like a tampon and it catches the flow. It comes in two sizes: Diva Cup Model 1 Pre-Childbirth and DivaCup Model 2 Post-Childbirth.  I ordered the size one using Swagbucks.

When my Diva Cup arrived my first thought was "How am I going to get that in there?" The thing seemed awfully big! I went online and read up on some of the folds. I went with the "C Fold" which is basically folding it in half. I actually found that it wasn't super difficult to insert. The only problem for me was the stem- it was too long. I ended up trimming it twice to get it to be comfortable. I also found that if I let it unfold when it was half-way in it was more likely to open all the way and get a good seal.

The Pros:
  • It is reusable and doesn't fill up landfills
  • No smell! Because the menstrual fluid doesn't touch the air it doesn't get stinky
  • It only has to be emptied 2-3 times a day
  • Once I got the hang of it I didn't have leaks
  • No Dioxin or other chemicals like tampons- it's made of silicone like medical devices
  • No risk of toxic shock syndrome
  • It doesn't dry you out like tampons do when your flow is too light
The Cons:
  • Cost- It was $29.99 which is a bit much up front. That being said, it lasts years so I will recoup it in about 3-4 months.
  • There is a learning curve- it took a few days to get the hang of it and be able to insert it comfortably.
  • Emptying it is a little messy- I did it sitting on the toilet so I could just dump it
Overall, I am really pleased with my Diva Cup. I don't think I will be going back to tampons.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative to disposable menstrual products.
Jun 25, 2013

Another Reason to Be Frugal: 76% of Americans Are Living Paycheck-to-paycheck

This article made it's way around my Facebook feed today and I am pretty shocked. 76% of Americans do not have a fully funded emergency fund. I became convinced after reading Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness that having an emergency fund it crucial for financial well-being.

Dave has a saying, “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” I know that some of my friends think my frugal ways are a little weird but I don't want to be in the 76%. I want to feel secure and not be afraid of what might happen to us financially if the unthinkable occurs.  Not having consumer debt helps me sleep better at night and that peace of mind is worth it's weight in gold.

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” I think this is very spot-on and am committed to not letting our money control our lives. We may live like no one else but we are happy, secure, and don't fight over money. I don't think there's anything weird about wanting those things :)
Jun 23, 2013

Family Cloth Revisited -or- I eat my words

Two years ago I wrote a blog post about things that I wouldn't do to save money because they are too gross. Well, it looks like I have to eat my words.

Since we have been home for the summer my husband noticed how much toilet paper we were going through. It quickly became evident that I was the culprit. Toilet paper is expensive and I also began to feel guilty about all of the paper that was being wasted. I read a few blogs and discovered some people who used "family cloth." Family cloth is reusable toilet paper made from fabric that you wash instead of flush. Some people use it for just #1 and some people use it for all of their bathroom needs.

I realized since I plan to cloth diaper my future children, using family cloth just for #1 really would be much easier. At first, I thought I would sew some cloth like this blogger did. But I don't have a sewing machine and it would be a lot of work.  I stumbled onto another blog and found the perfect no sew solution: old t-shirts. I cut up some old t-shirts into strips about the size of two toilet paper squares. They don't need to be sewn since they don't unravel. I keep them in a basket on the back of my toilet. Total cost: $0.

So far I really like using family cloth. It's a lot softer and really not a hassle. I toss the used ones in a bag and wash them with my regular laundry in a mesh laundry bag. It doesn't smell since it is only pee and we have saved a TON of toilet paper.

I suppose this whole thing has taught me a valuable lesson about never saying never and how things that seem hard to do or inconvenient can actually end up being pretty easy.

Do any of you use family cloth? Would you consider using it?
Jun 20, 2013

The Most Amazing, Free Stain Remover!

This past weekend I had a very disappointing accident. I dropped ketchup on my favorite white shorts. I used my regular Spray and Wash stain remover and hoped it would take care of the stain. Unfortunately, it only lightened it. I was pretty upset. Shopping for shorts sucks and it took forever to find this pair.

I was desperate to save my shorts and had an idea. I had recently read a bunch of blogs praising line drying cloth diapers in the sun to remove stains. Over and over I read about how tough stains were bleached clean by the sun. I figured it was worth a shot.

I wet my freshly laundered shorts in the sink and set them outside in the sun. After about 20 minutes in the Florida sun they were drying so I dumped some more water on them. That's it. An hour later my white shorts were as good as new with no sign of the ugly orange stain! Amazing!

I can't believe how great this worked. Line drying is free and it was also green since I didn't need bleach or chemicals. I am ridiculously excited and am actually looking forward to experimenting on new stains (yes, I'm a nerd).

Jun 13, 2013

I'm Back! Review of Crystal Deodorant Stick

I stopped blogging when I was in grad school and just haven't had a chance to get back into it. Now that it's summer vacation I have time to blog again and it feels great!

Today I am going to review Crystal Deodorant. I switched to Crystal in October because I was worried about Aluminum antiperspirant and the risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's. Although the peer reviewed data hasn't yet conclusively found a connection I thought that it was worth switching just in case.

Crystal is a mineral stick. It feels like the rock candy I ate as a kid except that it is smooth. You wet it under the faucet then rub it on like you would any other deodorant. I tend to rub for at least 15-20 seconds on each side. Also, it's important to apply it in the morning and before bed.

I have found it to be pretty effective. The first few days are rough because you still have antiperspirant in your pores. I sweat a TON the first couple of days. After about a week I noticed that my body adjusted and I began to sweat less than I did when I wore antiperspirant. There is also no noticible body odor except after an intense workout and who doesn't shower after that anyways?

The really amazing benefit I have found it how frugal it actually is! I initially began using it for health and environmental reasons but am stunned by how much I love this product for it's frugality. I am still using the same crystal from October and it is June! I would have gone through several of my old deodorants by now. I also no longer have white stains on my clothes nor do I have yellow marks on my white tee shirts' underarms- those yellow stains are actually caused by the aluminum in antiperspirant not your natural sweat.

Overall, I think this is a 5/5 star product! It is better for my health, lasts for a ridiculously long time, less packaging goes into landfills because it lasts so long, and my clothes are lasting longer.

***No sponsorship provided for this post- I bought this product at CVS :)