What she does mind, however, is her skin. While she did not have acne when she was a teenager, she does now. Hoo boy, does she ever. Some days she wishes she could just wear a mask to cover her entire face.
Enviro Girl lives with a husband, three sons and a dog. If you don’t think air quality’s an issue, think again! Between the dirty laundry, sweaty shoes and (shudder) bathroom issues, things can get pretty stinky in her world. How do you keep the air smelling clean when odors abound? Continue reading
Next time you need a haircut, Enviro Girl encourages you to spring for a GOOD one–your investment will pay off HUGE eco-dividends. Everyone knows there is a vast difference between people who cut hair and people who CAN cut hair–and it’s the latter Enviro Girl is talking about in today’s post. Continue reading
Recycla’s younger daughter got braces last week. As happened with her older sister, the girl came out of the orthodontist’s office with a large bag filled with supplies, including special brushes for cleaning all that metal, wax for covering sore spots, and a bottle of mouth rinse (a.k.a. mouth wash) for rinsing away food when she can’t use a toothbrush.
Five years ago, organic lotions, makeup, soaps, and more were often challenging to find. If she wanted something, she had to go to Whole Foods, a local organic market, or shop online. Once there, her options were limited and expensive.
With summer here, Recycla is facing her annual nemesis: mosquitoes. She and her younger daughter are especially tasty to the bloodsuckers, so she has to take precautions so that no humans are drained of all blood when stepping outside.
Recycla doesn’t like bug spray with DEET because when you spray it on your skin, the DEET gets absorbed and eventually enters the bloodstream. It pumps through your nervous system and has been shown to kill brain cells, causing neurological damage. So imagine her delight when she found this recipe for all-natural bug spray on page 26 of the May 2012 issue of Country Living:
- 3.5 ounces witch hazel
- 1/2 teaspoon lemongrass oil
- 1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus oil
- 1/2 teaspoon citronella oil
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a four-ounce spray bottle and apply as needed.
With the 4th of July coming up next week and Recycla’s family planning to be outside for cookouts, fireworks, and other festivities, she’s planning to mix up a batch of this soon.
Tell the Eco Women: How do you keep the mosquitoes at bay?
One of Recycla’s daughters came home from school on Friday and Recycla was suddenly reminded that summer is fast approaching. The girl’s class had spent some time outside in the school’s amphitheater and she was a little sunburned from her time outside.
Enviro Girl struggles with frizzy hair, yet she’s disinclined to buy a bunch of paraben-laden conditioners and serums and gels and sprays to solve the problem. Instead, she’s discovered a slew of natural rinses from the kitchen pantry that take the frizz out of her tresses while keeping the environment safe:
Beer. Pour flat warm beer mixed with water through your hair after you shampoo and wait a minute or two before your final rinse. Beer replenishes moisture and adds shine.
Apple cider vinegar. Use the same as a beer rinse. It’s a natural cleanser and a good conditioner.
Carbonated water. Apparently the low pH helps manage fly-away strands of hair.
Olive oil. Actually, any kind of oil. Apply through your hair BEFORE you shampoo to restore moisture and shine. You can use a few drops as a serum after you’ve dried and styled your hair, too. Enviro Girl suggests olive oil because it has the least amount of odor compared to other oils. Shea butter can also smooth styled hair.
Finally, a mash-up of mayonnaise and avocado makes a great deep conditioner. Just be sure to shampoo well afterwards or you’ll smell like a sandwich!
Even though it’s only mid-June, mosquitoes have already become quite unbearable at dusk here in Virginia. Like everyone, Recycla hates mosquitoes, but her loathing goes a bit further: Her younger daughter is actually allergic to mosquito bites, which swell into painful welts on her sensitive skin. Rather than consign the child to a life of indoor living, Recycla has researched various options to see how she can keep mosquitoes from biting her daughter — but without resorting to such pesticides as DEET.
Most people don’t give mosquitoes a second thought. They just douse themselves in a spray that has DEET as the active ingredient and go on their merry way. However, studies show that, in the short-term, DEET can cause headaches and, in the long-term, neurological and other health problems. These are not chemicals you want to put on yourself or on your children.
Luckily, there are plenty of natural mosquito repellents available. Look for sprays or lotions that contain plant oils such as geranium, citronella, tea tree, catnip, marigold, lemon balm, lavender, and peppermint. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend oil of lemon eucalyptus or picaridin, which is considered just as effective as DEET, but much safer. Recycla has heard that eating garlic will repel mosquitoes and if you are looking for a stronger variation, you can rub garlic on your skin. Bananas, on the other hand, attracts them.
Beyond spraying yourself, there are a few other things you can do to keep the blood-sucking little monsters at bay:
- Standing water makes perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Empty water from all buckets, kiddie pools, spare tires, or whatever else you might have hanging around your yard.
- Planting herbs in your backyard may help too. Basil and rosemary tend to repel mosquitoes.
- Encourage animals that eat mosquitoes to live in your yard. Install a bat house, hang a birdhouse for purple martins, plant butterfly-friendly flowers and bushes that will also attract dragonflies. If you have frogs living nearby, rejoice, as they love mosquitoes!
Don’t use pesticides or bug-zappers. These indiscriminant killers are likely to kill more beneficial, mosquito-eating animals than mosquitoes.
Stay away from scented shampoos, deodorants and perfumes as these tend to attract pests.
If you follow these guidelines, you should have some relief and hopefully won’t hear the dreaded whine of a mosquito in your ear.
Check out what Plenty has to say on the topic. And Salon. And Psychology Today. Enviro Girl is no clinical psychologist, but she recognizes that a walk in the woods restores her mental health. She observes that her children fight less and seem less “bored” and more happy when they’re playing outside than when they’re cooped up in the house. While her family does not suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder, Enviro Girl understands how it can happen.
Somewhere in the last 30 years the natural world has become our enemy, a myth propagated by the media (in Enviro Girl’s view). Advertisers don’t have access to audiences when they’re tuned out an unplugged–it’s easy to sell a kid sugar-coated cereal and toys if they’re parked on the couch giving you their undivided attention. If people play outside, they’re not shopping, paying gym fees or racking up credit card debt by spending money of stuff. They’re not paying attention to advertising.
If you think about it, there are lots of reasons to spread the propaganda to keep people inside where they’re “safe”: air pollution, risk of sunburn, animal bites, insect bites, unfenced ponds and lakes pose drowning hazards. Stray dogs, pedophiles, playground bullies, traffic. Allergies, rusty nails and pipes, broken glass, rockslides. Frostbite, slipping on the ice, West Nile Virus, Lyme’s Disease, poison ivy. A kid could get hit by a car, fall off the jungle gym, get kidnapped, be broadsided by a baseball bat and end up in the hospital with a concussion. Parents feel safer if they keep their brood inside where they can keep an eye on them, where the outside world can’t get their kids. Inside is a controlled environment, outside poses a myriad of threats.
How to get outside and stay safe–it seems so daunting, right?
Enviro Girl and her tribe are relishing the start of summer vacation. Already there have been a little sunburn, a few flesh wounds, one small lump on the head. Yet her children have limited their screen time to 2 hours a day and the screen door bangs open and shut all day long. There are kites to fly, bikes to ride, a fort to build. They’re swimming, hosing off the deck (and consequently, one another). They’ve caught frogs, saved a baby opossum, captured bugs of all sizes in a jar. They’ve looked for patterns in the clouds and constellations in the stars. They’ve laid in the hammock, kicked balls, shot baskets, planted seeds and dug up worms.
How does Enviro Girl create a culture of kids playing outside in relative safety?
1. She’s got an open door policy. As soon as the weather permits, the doors and windows fly open, the sounds of nature and the smell of fresh air enter the house. Inside feels like outside and there’s no climate-controlled spot available, a person’s just as comfortable in the shade of a tree as in the middle of her living room.
2. She actively monitors her children’s screen time. “Turn it off, get outside” gets repeated a lot, but her kids understand how crabby a full day of nonstop gaming and TV viewing make them. They’ve learned to restrict their time to watch the shows they really want to watch and they know that eventually a little rain will fall and allow them the occasional afternoon slouched on the couch.
3. She makes it easy to be outside. Cans of sunscreen and insect repellent sit by every porch and in the garage, baseball caps and sandals are always handy. The towels and suits are in baskets on the back porch. Toys head inside and out without much interference. She brings snacks and drinks to the patio every afternoon. She keeps the days free of too much scheduling so the kids have TIME to enjoy playing outside.
4. She provides sidewalk chalk, wheels (bikes, skateboards, scooters), water hoses, a tent for back yard camping, clothes that can get grass-stained and muddy, marshmallows for roasting, a basketball hoop for pick-up games.
5. She limits the family’s “field trips” by asking them to create a summer bucket list of what they want to DO instead of where they want to GO. When she poses the question of what they’ll DO all summer, the list includes camping, fishing, building a fort.
Tell the Eco Women, how do you combat Nature Deficit Disorder at your house?