Monday, August 4, 2008

Personal Hygiene Month

Let's all lower our standards

We seem to be a country obsessed with personal cleanliness and beauty regimens. Shower every day. Brush your teeth after every meal. Scrape out the earwax. Paint the toenails. Squirt on the perfume. Draw on the eyebrows. Smooth on the lips. Dye it. Curl it. Straighten it. Spray it. And then shave or pluck everything else.

Is all this necessary? How clean and sparkly do we need to be? Do we need to be that spic n' span every day? Only on work days? Black tie events? Our own funeral?

Very personal decisions. I sure as hell can't make them for you. But let's spend the whole month of August re-examining our personal "foofy factor" and seeing if we can't make some cuts. Because most of these beauty routines involve some sort of environmental sacrifice. Remember last week, when you checked the toxicity levels of your personal beauty products? Well where do you suppose most of those toxins end up?

They wash off our body (if they're not absorbed and peed out) and go down the drain. Or they get tossed in a landfill with all the other "old" makeups, buffs and lotions that no one wants anymore.

And it's not like this is medical waste. Or expired heart medication. It's nothing that is required for us to survive. It's stuff that we use because ADVERTISERS HAVE CONVINCED US WE NEED IT. But really? Do we?

Are we, as human beings, the only creatures so hideous as to require eyeshadow? So horrifyingly grotesque that we must, absolutely MUST have a gelled quaf? Are we that putrid as to require a thorough dousing of Aqua Velva before we can enter civilized society?

Good gourd, I hope not. So let's take a look at our personal hygiene routines this month and, one small step at a time, knock it down to something we can feel good about. Good about the way we look, as well as the way we treat the environment.

For some of you, this will be an easy month of challenges. For others, not so much. So let's offer lots of support to our fellow APLS to encourage them to make these changes. Because for some, exterior beauty has nothing to do with vanity but is more a measure of personal pride. And changing a lifetime's worth of ideals is hard to do. So remember Burbanmom's cardinal rule - no judging others.

And before you say "I can't do that", just try it. See what happens. Take for instance, toothpaste. A couple of months ago I switched to baking soda. It was ok. Great? No. It was ok for an average day brush, but didn't work so well on a garlic mashed potato day, if you know what I mean. So I compromise. On regular days, I use my baking soda. On stinky days, I grab the Crest. Guilt-Free. I have found my personal tolerance level and am ok with it. I would rather hear someone say "well, I'll do this 25% of the time, but not all the time" than to just say "it didn't work today so I'm not going to use it ever again".

Life is not an all or nothing proposition. Something is better than nothing. And you should try everything once (twice, if you like it ;-).

Today's challenge is super easy. Give up the disposable cotton balls and the Q-Tips. There are a number of reusable options available. Ones that don't require so much water and pesticides to grow. Ones that don't fill up our landfills so quickly.

Personally, I use washable, cut up cloth baby diapers for cotton balls. If you're not handy and need to get your hands on a set of these miracle cotton squares, simply drop me a line at emcoe AT verizon DOT net and let me know. Be sure to include your mailing address and I'll be happy to serge you up a week's worth of squares and get them out to you. So you just ran out of excuses.

And as for the Q-tips? Well you've got car keys, don't you?


MamaBird said...

Yowch! You know, if we all just stop and read the Qtip box, it does tell you not to put them in your ear. Seriously. I know someone who walked around deef for a whole summer until his wife was like, Get thee to the doctor to figure out your selective hearing loss and he pulled an entire QTip head outta the man's ear. Bleccch. Great topic to mull.

Freckles said...

Re: your last comment...No one should be sticking anything into his or her own ears anyways! If you have a wax issue, use some hydrogen peroxide or some warm diluted vinegar to flush it out!

Beany said...

I've seen people use their fingernails for ear wax picking (and nose picking). Its much more natural and sustainable than using a car key.

Verde said...

These are not things that I really use with the exception that:

Q-Tips clean the bars screwed into my daughters broken arm. That's about over.

Cotton Balls I use if I've used nail polish and all that crud... about once a year.

One package of each lasts me a good decade or more.

arduous said...

I like to pretend that all my slobby tendencies come out of care for the environment. But really, it's because I'm lazy. I love when being lazy is the most eco-friendly option!

Harper said...

Well, I last bought cotton pads at least 6 years ago and I still have an entire jar full so unless I can think of something creative to do with them (make my own Santa beard), I'll continue using them at my glacial pace.

Qtips will be harder. I doubt I use more than one a week but, seriously, what is a good substitute? I'm not talking about ear wax but what about when you get that glob of mascara smeared under your eye and you're already late and . . . I know, stop wearing mascara but mascara means dressing-up to me since I don't wear it the rest of the time.

Rosa said...

I gave up q-tips for Greenpa's earth lent this spring. There was an adjustment period, just like with hair grease, and then my ears started making less wax.

But I still scrape them out with an old bobby pin every couple days. I am coordinated to do this without stabbing out my ear drum, I swear - though I do close & latch the door so my toddler doesn't tackle me while I'm scraping metal in my ear canal.

CindyW said...

I am lazy, I don't particularly like showers, eyebrow trimming, mani, pedi, makeup, etc., etc.

So I've decided on a couple of hygenic activities to stick to(otherwise I'd be such a dirty piglet):

-brush teeth twice a day.
-shower after excise (I get super sweaty)

Other activities that are more about social convention than hygene, I am usually too lazy to bother (other than saving)

So far, I am barely cleaner than a piglet :)

leslie said...

I gave up make-up entirely many years ago when I heard that it contains arsenic.
So I thinks to me-self, "Self? Duz yew want to put arsenic on yer face?" And self says to me, "Nope."

What a time saver, too. I never have to re-do my eyeliner 6 times to get it right. I can cry buckets whenever I want to, and my mascara won't run.

I do enjoy a spritz of my one favorite perfume apres shower.

Robj98168 said...

Lower our standards? The last time I lowered my standards, this is what happened LOL I agree though- somehow our standards are higher than they need be!

~T. said...

I'm in on this one! Didn't even think about the cotton balls, to be honest, but I have always used them every day with witch hazel to clean my face!
I don't have any cloth baby diapers, so is there something else that's close to the texture of diapers? I've tried wash cloths but the liquid just pours right through them.

Bobbi said...

We don't use cottonballs, but it may be hard to get rid of my hubby's Q-tips! I think he's addicted to using them.

Anonymous said...

Good points. I think I could give up cotton balls, and possibly Q-tips too.
I have a minimal hygiene routine compared to many of my friends, so I'm not sure how much more I can cut it down, but now I have great incentive to try.

scifichick said...

I bought huge package of cotton balls at Costco several years ago, and I still have a ton of them. I will be using them until I run out, and then I'll probably use something else. I also have a package of qtips that I've had forever. I think I'm finally running out. I was thinking to buy the ones made out of organic cotton, but maybe I will not buy anything for a while and see how we adjust. And we used the safety pins to clean ears too! That was a while ago though.

green sheep said...

I switched to organic cotton balls last year. They are much softer than conventional ones I had been using. I tried swapping our Q-tips for organic with biodegradable sticks and hubby nearly served me with divorce papers. This one probably won't fly at our house, but maybe I can get him down to one per day. He thinks he needs one per ear. Two ears, two ends, right? Has anyone tried composting them?

VaxGirl said...

It's also not necessary to fill up your toothbrush the way they show in toothpaste commercials. A half inch of toothpaste works fine for me, minty fresh, and saves money too.

There's also that liquid minty soap from Trader Joe's, it says you can use it for anything including toothbrushing. No flouride, but if you're water is flouridated and you're an adult, do we really need flouride anyway?

Going Crunchy said...

I've been experimenting with a variety of better options for earth.......soap bars, deodorant stones, etc.

I think makeup is my great failing. I actually am a person so hideous that I find I do want my eyeshadow. And liner. And foundation.

And I'm really not vain, just addicted in a sad way. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

So, how do you make those cotton squares? I have a sewing machine but will need step by step instructions. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To those addicted to Qtips. I read in a what can I compost website (sorry, don't remember the URL)that they can be composted. Not the ones with plastic sticks, obviously.

My son punctured my ear drum this summer by sticking my hair stick in my ear. Did I say sticking, I mean JAMMING it in my ear. Pain like no other I have experienced.

leslie said...

Burbs, the car key thing still cracks me up...

Anonymous said...

I love that we have almost no personal products left in our bathroom. Instead: baking soda, apple cider vinegar, natural toothpaste (yes, I went back to it), and handmade soap are about all I use everyday. The baking soda takes the place of deodorant and shampoo. ACV is conditioner. 4 things to get clean and zero makeup or smelly girly things. I love that my personal laziness is a green virtue.

Gruppie Girl said...

I was just sitting here thinking of excuses not to take a shower today. I've made it until 5:12. After reading your post I say that I should just skip the shower entirely today.

Mother Earth said...

at the tender age of 14 my mother said i had to buy my own q-tips - i used tooo many she said - i was the eldest of 4, was she counting q tips? How did she know which one's were mine? I had major ear infections growing up - she was the one who told me to keep the water out of my ears - it was the mascara that added to the count - my lashes were just too long and when mascara was applied it left a trail - i could not leave the house googly eyed. These days I am not doing mascara, and one can count on 2 days a week that I skip the shower, just because when one works from home one can - perhaps if my mother was counting again she'd be proud that I use way less qtips then before.

I admit i am still water phobic re: the ears

Riana Lagarde said...

baking soda is about all we have left in the bathroom too, use it for those shower free days and the pitwipes (we use old diapers too, though mine arent all pretty and serged like yours. i love all your challenges, this is great!