mimulus_borogove: (Default)
[personal profile] mimulus_borogove
For a while now--probably since I first heard about the clams on Prozac problems--I've been trying to use health/beauty products that are better for the health and beauty of the the planet my children will someday inherit. (Scratch that. Those kids are hardly meek.) 

Some easy replacements have been excellent; some have even made me wonder if the original solutions were the problems. For instance, it seems that my lips grow less chapped when I use a beeswax lip balm than a petroleum-based one. Unscented scrubs, creams, and lotions often feel better on my skin, and they let me enjoy the scents that inevitably accompany other products.

But there have been a few things here and there that have been failures. One that springs to mind is the "botanical" facial toner that was mostly alcohol--to preserve the natural ingredients, no doubt--which stung my skin and made me smell like Everclear. That one's easy though; basic reading skills at the store would have saved me that one. Others are less obvious. Rather than let you buy or make these products yourself, I share my own experiences and idiocy with you. If you don't toss out a half-full tube or jar, the world is better off, right? Right.

Tom's of Maine is one of the best-known eco-companies in the U.S. Their stuff is readily available almost everywhere, even in regular grocery stores. I haven't spent a long time going over their accounting practices or anything, but they at least talk a good game. Their ingredient lists look pleasingly harmless. So, although I think the whole aluminum/breast cancer link is bunk, I tried Tom's "Long-Lasting Care" deodorant stick in the Apricot scent.

I was a little nervous about the package's simultaneous claims that it protects all day and that it protects for 12 hours. I don't know about the average Tom's customer, but my day is longer than 12 hours. But I tried it. The scent was pleasant without being overpowering. It did work for most of a day, but it clearly went kaput on schedule. On a good day--by which I mean "a day I have time to shower"--this would have the deodorant wearing off around the time we finish dinner. Chasing two giggling toddlers around a small room and wrestling them into their pajamas is a sweaty task on the best of days. This was not going to work.

But why be a whiner? I tried just reapplying. Unfortunately, I realized that the deodorant's glycerin-like substance, which I believe sealed in the body odor, did not wash off in the shower. It did not wash off with water, did not wash off with body wash, did not wash off with the dreaded bar soap. Fortunately, it did come off with a brutal alcohol-based toner. And so one bad product erased another.

I don't want to harsh on Tom's, though. I'm considering trying their children's toothpaste, since I feel a bit decadent brushing my kids' teeth with toothpaste that's imported from Germany. "Buy local" isn't a mantra everyone can apply to toothpaste, but Maine is a wee bit closer than Germany is.

This is already long, so I'll spare you my next product failure. If anyone finds this remotely amusing, I will humiliate myself further soon--not just for you, but for the good of the planet.

(Edited for clarity's sake.)

Date: 2009-03-16 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatifoundthere.livejournal.com
This might be TMI, but I only wear deodorant on warm days (or at job interviews). I don't like the way it feels and I sweat very little, so it seems to work out okay. But who knows, maybe everybody I know has maintained a polite silence about the fact that I've been stinking to high heaven for decades!

But I love Tom's fennel-flavoured toothpaste, love love love it. I don't really like the taste of mint, so I have to make special efforts to get non-minty toothpastes and mouthwashes. (Listerine has a citrus mouthwash I really like, and when I can't find Tom's stuff -- its availability is patchy up here -- I'll usually buy cinnamon toothpaste if I can find it.)

I'm definitely up to reading more of these reviews.

Edited for apostrophe fail.
Edited Date: 2009-03-16 04:19 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-03-16 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
You probably don't smell very much, either. I know other people who don't, and who don't use deodorant or antipersirant. Unfortunately, I sweat a lot, so I have to wear the stuff every day.

I think it's great that you're using products only when you need them. Probably a lot of the chemicals that the water company is trying to remove are there because people believe that they *have* to wear perfume and hair product and lotion and blah blah blah every single day. I'm not a paragon of eco-friendly beauty, but my skin has been a lot happier since I started saying, "Okay. Is my skin dry? Does it need lotion today?" instead of just going with a routine.

Good to hear a thumbs-up about one of the Tom's toothpastes. We have a ton of grownup toothpaste to work through, but I'll pick some Tom's kiddie toothpaste up for the kids and see how they like using dental care with a smaller carbon footprint.

Date: 2009-03-17 06:29 am (UTC)
auros: (Presidio)
From: [personal profile] auros
I didn't like Tom's back when they were first spreading around the country, but I tried the cinnamon-clove toothpaste about six months ago, and liked it enough to switch to that as my usual purchase. (Fennel sounds interesting too.)

If you're really going to write a bunch of green product reviews, have you considered trying to publish them? I know a few places that might like the content (TriplePundit, TreeHugger, Grist, etc).

Date: 2009-03-17 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
That's an interesting question. I do have a background as a product reviewer, and I even have some understanding of testing methodology. I was just going to casually write up some things I've tried, but if you have a lead on something bigger, I'd be interested in learning more.

Date: 2009-03-18 12:32 am (UTC)
auros: (Presidio)
From: [personal profile] auros
Well, I can introduce you to the folks at TriplePundit and TreeHugger, since both include Presidio grads. I don't think 3P pays for content. TreeHugger might. I don't think I personally know anyone at Grist, but I'm sure somebody at Presidio would, if I asked around. There's also Plenty (which is basically a lifestyle mag for green yuppies), and Slate does columns on both sustainability (occasional "Green Room" features and their regular "Green Lantern" columnist) as well as "Shopping" features in which they rate 5-10 items in a category (and I could introduce you to the chief editor at Slate).

Date: 2009-03-18 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
That would be great! I love writing reviews, and my job is mostly editing these days. Can we take this to e-mail?

Date: 2009-03-17 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cynodd.livejournal.com
Whose days are such that they only want to be non-smelly for 12 hours?

Interesting column. Do keep them up!

Date: 2009-04-08 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ptd1028.livejournal.com
Curses...I have that very same deodorant sitting unopened in my bathroom cupboard. Thanks for the heads-up.
I can completely relate to your plight - since I started trying to get pregnant, I've purged my skincare routine of all toxic badness and replaced it with eco-friendly substitutes. Some of them are great, but some are definitely lacking (Maybelline Full N' Soft Mascara, how I miss you...). Sigh.

Date: 2009-04-09 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaderabbit.livejournal.com
I'd be interested in hearing what works for you. I'm having trouble finding a good toner, in particular.

The deodorant is okay for days when you're around the house or something, as long as you can scrub out your pits with alcohol later. Ugh. But if it's unopened, maybe you can give it to charity? Someone at a shelter would prefer it to nothing, I'm sure.

Thanks for the comment!

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