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Fighting the good fight even while quarantined

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

The handmade cloth napkins, deodorant in a basket, BioPac laundry detergent, etc.

Hey folks, how are you all doing?

Like us, I’m sure you’re adapting to the changes Covid-19 has thrown our way. Hopefully you’re well and finding plenty of things to keep your minds off the downsides of the pandemic.

Since we’re all spending more time at home, I figure it’s a perfect opportunity to catch you up on our search for environmentally responsible products to reduce single-use plastics, palm oil and paper waste. Some of the changes have been pretty easy and frankly, nice.

Flannel towels and homemade shower spray

We really like the flannel paperless towels by Creative Alchemy of Amherst, Mass., and the cheery cloth napkins I made from salvaged cotton fabric. Both are winners.

It may be time to order a second roll of the towels. We’ve had these for two years and, with the increase in hand washing, they’re beginning to show some wear. Also, if you decide to make your own napkins, make a lot of them in colorful patterns that will hide the inevitable stains because you need to feel free to use them and then throw them in the hamper. I sourced the fabric from Salvation Army, and made a dozen of them for about $8.

Two more winners are for use in the bathroom: the homemade shower spray recipe that we found online from Prairie Homestead and my mineral deodorant block.

We’ve been using the shower spray for about four months now. It’s as good as the store-bought variety, and best of all, you can scent it with the essential oil of your choosing. It gets a big thumbs up.

My deodorant is magical. You just wet it, rub it on your pits and that’s it. No package, no smell and no toxic aluminum. Mine came in a tiny basket, the cutest packaging ever. Many of these crystalline deodorants come in hard plastic containers – so wrong! Avoid that and look for ones that come in a basket or a cardboard box. The one caveat is that it’s a deodorant, not an anti-perspirant. Rich has a deodorant he likes but it still comes in that damn wind-up plastic tube. … Don’t get me started on how refills could be made for those things!

In the “not so great” category, shampoo bars and homemade laundry detergent.

The shampoo bars are kind of meh. They tend to be expensive and they just don’t work as well as the liquids. We recently found a solid conditioner by HiBar at the Brattleboro food coop that works well and eliminates the need to follow up the bar shampoos with a vinegar rinse, which can be harsh on your hair. The shampoo bar we’re happiest with is from Sunleaf. While not a local product, it is palm-oil free, which is difficult to find.

Our solution has been to alternate the solid shampoo and conditioner with liquid shampoo and conditioner (that comes in plastic containers, grrr), which at least reduces the amount of plastic we are buying. We’re also buying the liquids in the largest containers we can find in order to buy less often.

The laundry soap recipe looked promising, but it discolored our stainless steel wash machine tub, occasionally left residue on the clothes and did not clean all that well. We have since switched to Bio Pac, a liquid detergent that we find in bulk at the Brattleboro coop and we love it, so problem solved.

There you have it: the results so far of our efforts to create or find products that are more environmentally friendly.

Rich and I are keeping on keeping on here in Leverett, and we wish you all the best in this time of pandemic and encourage you to stay optimistic and share the news of any environmentally friendly ideas and products you like. We’re into it.

A reminder: We understand that single-use bags are necessary during the pandemic, but when it passes, please go back to your reusable bags. They are an important way to stop waste.

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