Thursday, March 31, 2011

Plastic-Free Shampoo

Awhile ago, in an effort to eliminate another plastic packaged product, I attempted to use a shampoo bar in lieu of a liquid shampoo.  I tried for a month, to no avail... my normally silky smooth and shiny hair turned lackluster and felt... ummm... yuck.  So I switched back to my liquid shampoo and put off the idea of using a shampoo bar. Then, while visiting my friend Sara in October, she mentioned Lush shampoo bars... but mentioned something about them having a strong smell.  With Sara's comment in the back of my head, I went excitedly to Lush's website... picked out bar that I thought would have a least strong smell....almost hit the order tab... but reminded myself that just because it's not packaged in plastic doesn't mean that I shouldn't read the ingredient list.  And when I did....I paused....

While visiting Sara, we watched the film "Bag It"... so I quickly remembered how phthalates are often hidden in fragrance.  (and all of Lush's shampoo bars contain fragrance!!  boo!!)  So I decided to do what I always do when purchasing a new body product... I searched shampoo bars on the Environmental Working Group's "Cosmetics Database."  After much research and hesitation... I came across Chagrin Valley and got SUPER excited....researched some more and then placed my order!!!!
The reason I decided to order from Chagrin Valley was because of the low hazard scores on EWG's database .... I felt like if I was going to make the switch to a shampoo bar that I didn't want to sacrifice a a high-quality environmentally conscious product just to ditch the plastic.  They also have a really great faq section about shampoo bars AND I really love their "About Us" page which includes this:

"We do NOT use artificial preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, petroleum products, foam boosters, animal fats, or detergents.   Our products are never tested on animals, other than our very enthusiastic human volunteers!"

My first order, I chose to order sample bars.... with extra instructions to include "no plastic" in my order because I was switching to shampoo bars to avoid plastic.... and they listened!!!  

Since October, our whole family-- yes even our kids!!-- have been using a shampoo bar in lieu of liquid shampoo!!  And I would NEVER go back to liquid shampoo for so many reasons that go beyond packaging.
My hair feels amazing!!  It actually has body (something liquid shampoos stripped my hair of)...

Shampoo bars are so much easier to travel with.  Since it's not liquid... it doesn't have to be put in a plastic bag (double win!) and I never have to worry about it leaking (or spilling).  Tip: I keep the paper bag that the shampoo bar comes in and use it while traveling.... but when the bar is still damp, I just wrap it in a handkerchief  :D

BUT... one of my favorite things about using a shampoo bar over liquid is that my kids can't pour too much on their hands (or the floor) and waste it ;)

Oh of today, I'm on a week of using no conditioner!!  Seriously!!  And my hair isn't a tangled mess ;) want some good news?!  (I knew you would!)  Chagrin Valley Soaps are offering a 20% discount for my readers (that's you)!!  YAY!!  Here's how:

Go to  Browse, read, play, and make a purchase on the site.  On the final page of the check-out, there is a 'COMMENT BOX'.  If you write the code: 'IT STARTS WITH ME' in the box, you will have a 20% discount** on your order!  You will initially be charged the full amount, and within 24 hours, a 20% discount will be refunded right back to you as a thank you for trying Chagrin Valley Soap's all natural handmade products.  ENJOY!! :D
**20% discount is valid for "first time orders/new customers" and expires on April 30, 2011**

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kure Beach with the SandSweepers

On Saturday morning, my family and I took a 45 minute drive south to Kure Beach.  We met up with Liz who writes the blog Litter Sucks to help with a 30 minute beach clean up with the SandSweepers at the Kure Beach Pier.  Our family collected 140 cigarette butts and the grand total of butts was a whopping 998!!!

Check out Liz's blogpost here: SandSweepers Kick butt at Kure Pier

Kure Beach has a lot of different signage than Wrightsville Beach... lots of things are prohibited... including littering... hmmm....

My kids were really interested in the signs that have pictures of various pieces of litter stating how long they will last in our environment.  BUT... one thing we talked about is that the sign makes cigarette butts and plastics seem not that bad... what the sign doesn't relay is the harmful effects of plastics in our oceans/environment and the negative effects they have on wildlife.

Here's a photo of the litter we removed from Kure Beach in 30 minutes....different beach... same story...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 52

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may know that I only decided to create this blog after a nudge from my friend Tracy.  She's awesome like that... always giving me inspiration and encouraging me to do more.  On Tuesday, Tracy and her two kids joined me and my three kids at Access 36.
As always, our kids played A LOT while Tracy and I picked up litter for 20 minutes... BUT... it never fails that even while they're playing they take the time to run to us with handfuls of litter.  It's engrained in them...  when they see a piece of litter... they pick it up.  They understand that everything and everyone is connected... 
 My friend Julie and her family have been doing 20-30 minute clean ups at Wrightsville Beach throughout the winter.  Of course, they're counting the cigarette butts they find.  On Sunday, Julie and her family went to Access 36 and removed LOTS of litter... and 412 cigarette butts!!! 
 For some reason, I was actually surprised by that number.  The last two times we had been to Access 36, the cigarette counts were 92 (Feb.) and 101 (Jan.).  In fact, the last time we picked up over 400 was on New Years Day at Access 16.  As we picked up over 300-- on World Water Day-- I began to contemplate what the difference is.... I've come to two conclusions.  

1.  During January and February, the beach front restaurant "Oceanic" was closed for renovations.  During those months, we didn't find much restaurant litter or cigarette litter.  Coincidence??  I don't think so.
Fact:  We picked up 21 straws in 20 minutes.  The majority found around the pier... most clear or black "mixed drink straws"... and many still wrapped in paper.

2.  Spring is here.... but it's been so gorgeous that it almost feels like summer.  80˚ temperatures mean lots of people heading to the beach.  (... and I'm one of them!!)  I'm loving the warm weather... not loving how some people are trashing our beach.  ( "our"... I mean.. my... your... his... her... their... EVERYONE's... including the animals we share it with ;) )

While my friend Tracy was on the phone with her husband... I went to take some photos of our kids playing when I heard her call my name and say: "You have to get a picture of this."  When I saw the mess... my jaw dropped.  I thought to myself, "...this is not the wrack line."  And Tracy and I both were perplexed... where in the world did all of those "fresh" butts come from??  (hmmm....)  When I got home and looked at this photo... I saw something I didn't see while at the beach...
Footprints.  Bird footprints.  And they're everywhere.... in a mess they didn't create.

20 minutes on March 22, 2011
Cigarette butts: 349
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrighsville Beach, NC in 52 days: 


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 51

Back on Day 12,  I shared some observations that my husband and I had while we picked up cigarette butts at Wrightsville Beach.  Since we've been doing the 20 minute clean ups at Wrightsville Beach for over 7 months now... I had kind of forgotten about our observations and how things had changed over the winter.  BUT... while we were at Access 29 on Friday.... we noticed the return of the pair...
Over the winter, it was typical to find stretched out trails of cigarette butts... most likely because people go to the beach to walk.  When the weather is warmer, people spend time sitting... in one spot... and in turn (some) choose to use the beach as their personal ashtray...
 For so many months, we've gone out to Wrightsville Beach and had the beach to ourselves, but Friday was our first really "warm" day... so the beach was super busy... and I have to say that it's kind of strange going to the beach and it being packed!! ;)  But... it was great to be there enjoying the beach with other people.  It was even better when I leaned over several times to pick up litter and heard people say "thank you"... "I appreciate you doing that."

The other day, I watched this video that I think everyone should see....

We all have the power to do something... the question is... "What are you going to do??"

20 minutes on March 18, 2011

Litter by weight: 1 lb 7.4 oz
Cigarette butts: 173

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 51 days:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 50

On August 9, 2010... I, along with my 3 children, went to Access 43 to do our first 20 minute clean up at Wrightsville Beach.  Sunday, we headed back to that same spot to do our 50th clean up!!
Since that first day in August... we've removed more than 57 pounds** of litter from Wrightsville Beach!!!  (**On day 13, the litter wasn't weighed.)  And now... the cigarette butt tally has passed the 15,000 mark! (whoa!!)
My friend Sara--who writes The Daily Ocean blog and inspired me to do these 20 minute clean ups-- has collected 765.5 lbs of litter off of the beach in Santa Monica in 205 days!!  Sara and her husband Garen are currently in Chile getting ready to head out to the South Pacific gyre with 5 gyres.  Be sure to check in with The Daily Ocean to see what's happening as they prepare for the expedition.
Once we finished with our 20 minutes, I met Katie Harden of WWAY to talk about cigarette butt litter and The BaitTanks that have been installed at Wrightsville Beach!  Check out the story that also includes Mark Armen and Mayor of WB, David Cignotti. 

20 minutes on March 13, 2011
86 cigarette butts

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 50 days:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 49

For the first time in a LONG time... on Saturday...while I was picking up litter at Access 16... a man-- who happened to be walking his dog-- stopped and said, "Are you picking up cigarette butts??.... thank you." :D
Of course, if you've been reading this blog... I pick up cigarette butts and a whole lot of other litter off of my local beach.  The reason I have focused so much on cigarette butts is because there are SOOOOO many.  I feel like if we can change the mindset of this habit to flick cigarette butts to the ground... then it can help create even more consciousness to the entire litter problem plaguing our world.
Looking at the photo above... do you see what I see??  Condensed and trapped toxins in the cigarette filter.  To quote my friend Mark:  "Once that filter hits water-- a stream, a lake, a river, an ocean-- those toxins leach out."  Those toxins happen to be deadly to fish... and that's "no bueno!!"

On Wednesday, my friend Mark-- creator of The Bait Tank-- visited us.  While he was here, he got to see the two Bait Tanks that are currently installed at Wrightsville Beach.  Here's the newest one... donated to the Town of Wrightsville Beach by Butch and Bonnie.  YAY!!!

More Bait Tank news:  Mark is a finalist in the Green Awards!!  Voting is happening right now!!  Check out his video and vote everyday until March 27 at

20 minutes on March 12, 2011
Litter by weight: 1 lb 2.1 oz
Cigarette butts: 103

Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach in 49 days:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Daily Ocean: Day 48

On Monday... yes, Monday!! (feel free to call me a slacker!!)... we did another 20 minute clean up at Wrightsville Beach.  I've been procrastinating writing this blogpost for so many reasons.... but this morning I was given inspiration (on Facebook of all places) from my friend Harry who writes the blog "The Flotsam Diaries."... I guess I just needed a couple of days to sit on Access 20 and process everything that's been swirling through my head...

Access 20 is where my family and I picked up 1,833 cigarette butts in 20 minutes on September 19, 2010.. that was only our 11th clean up.  When I posted about that day... I remember feeling so sad and frustrated... I actually cried about what we removed from the beach that day.  BUT... then I was happy at the same time because it was in that post that I shared with you all that I had entered what I'm doing in the Brita FilterForGood Film Project... :)   If you haven't seen the film yet... please check it out and share.

(Also, I have so much gratitude for everyone who has commented and shared my project-- the film has been shared on Facebook 2,369 times!!!  YAY!!!  Thank you thank you thank you!!!!)

The only way any of this [litter problem] is going to change is if we help others become conscious to the problem.... this is what 20 minutes looked like on September 19...

Thankfully, we didn't remove that much of anything from Access 20 on Monday.  But we did remove a good amount of straws.  (Don't worry, I'm not going to rant today!! ;) )  

By now, I'm assuming that everyone knows that our family of five chooses to not use straws-- one of our many lessons and changes that we've made because of beach clean ups.  This morning I learned about a fourth-grader who has started a "campaign" of sorts to encourage people to go "Straw-Free."  Once he learned that over 500 million straws were used in the U.S. EVERYDAY... EVERYDAY!!... he stopped using straws and started the Straw-Free Project... check out the site and pledge to go straw-free for at least a month!!  (please)
 After reading my post about our 46th clean up, Jennifer-- who writes the blog Jennasaurus-- and a new resident of Wilmington (yay!!)... got inspired and headed out to Wrightsville Beach to do a beach clean up!!!  LOVE it!!!  Read her post about her beach clean up here: Making A Trip To The Beach Count
Now, that's some red lipstick!!!

20 minutes on March 7, 2011

Litter by weight: 5.8 oz
Cigarette butts: 76

A lot has changed since September.
Total amount of cigarette butts removed from Wrightsville Beach, NC in 48 days:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Plastic-Free Ritz Crackers

Back when my kids went to school (we're homeschooling this year), my son always wanted me to buy him Lunchables (ummm... no way.... besides being nutritional crap... they're way over packaged).  To give him what he wanted without giving into crap food.... I invested in a LapTop lunch** and would buy all the "ingredients" for my son to make his own "Lunchable"...including "Ritz-type" crackers.... my kids just LOVE those buttery crackers.  Now that I'm really striving to avoid plastics whenever I can... I haven't bought them in a LONG time.

**If I wanted to purchase this today, I wouldn't... unfortunately, LapTop lunches are made from plastic :(   I would, instead, purchase the stainless steel PlanetBox.

Soooo... you can imagine my excitement (and my kids excitement) when on Thursday, one of my favorite blogs to drool over-- The Cupcake Project-- posted a recipe for Homemade Ritz Crackers!!!!!!  Obviously, we made them...
Plastic-Free Ritz Crackers  

2 c all-purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut in pats
2 TBSP vegetable oil (I buy my veg. oil in bulk)
2/3 c water

1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in the food processor and pulse to combine.
  3. Add cold butter, pulse to combine.
  4. Add vegetable oil.  Pulse to combine.
  5. Add water a bit at a time.  Pulse, until the dough begins to form a ball.
  6. Roll dough out as thin as you can.  The thinner they are the more crisp and cracker like they are.
  7. Use cookie cutters (or a ruler and knife) to cut the dough out.  Make whatever shape you like.
 >> After rolling and cutting the crackers, I was left with a good amount of dough... I rerolled it all to see if the crackers would be as good as the first rolled batch... and they ARE!!! :)  So reroll the dough scraps!!!<<
8.  Poke holes in the dough.  We used a fork.  

9.  Bake the crackers for 10 minutes or until golden in color. <-- I baked mine a bit longer to get them more golden and crisper.  (The Cupcake Project recommends using parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets... and I did a batch with and without... I like the coloring that the crackers get when baked on an unlined baking sheet. Don't worry about greasing the baking sheet, the crackers don't stick ;) )

10.  As soon as the crackers are done baking brush them with the butter and salt.  NOTE:  I wasn't sure about how the crackers would store if I brushed the butter on them after baking... so I brushed the cracker dough with the butter and sprinkled on the salt BEFORE I popped them in the oven.

11.  Let the crackers cool... then store in an airtight container...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not So Ingenious

On January 16, 2010... I posted about how I was throwing some "ingeo plant-based" iTunes gift cards into my compost pile...hoping that in a few months I would've been able to post a photo of a shriveled up gift card. WELL... today as we were moving finished compost from our compost bin to our veggie garden, I saw this:
 I was so happy and excited about the idea of my iTunes gift cards composting... but, unfortunately, over a year after I added three plant-based gift cards to our compost pile.... not much has changed.  Back in December,  I had found a card in the compost pile and had originally thought that some of the writing was gone... I was wrong.
 What had happened is the outer plastic had separated from the solid white card...which (obviously) made me think that writing was gone... *sigh*... I can still read "ingeo plant-based card" as clear as ever... (such a bummer)

... maybe the cards will compost in a commercial composting facility??  I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm going to keep sticking to requesting that our family and friends make donations to our favorite causes in lieu of gift cards (or gifts)... 

Curious??  Some of our favorite causes and people we support are:

The Plastic Ocean                     

Sara Bayles-- $5 for 5 Gyres Expedition 

Wallace J. Nichols                             


Ocean Cure