Recommended Documentary: Recipes for Disaster

In Finish it is called “Katastrofin aineksia

Concerned about the world’s addiction to oil, and its disastrous environmental consequences for the planet such as global warming, the filmmaker convinces his family to go on an “oil diet” for one year to reduce their carbon footprint. Aiming to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gases, Webster-if not his wife and two young sons, who are very reluctant participants-is eager to learn from their experiment and becomes a man on a mission.

Revealing the personal difficulties involved in making such a radical change in lifestyle, and the surprising extent to which petroleum-based products figure in our everyday lives, including home heating and electricity, transportation, food, plastic products and packaging, clothing, even toothpaste, lipstick and shampoo.

The movie is mostly in English, however the wife is more reluctant to speak in English so she is in her native tongue Finnish. I am on the hunt for a version with English subtitles and will post back when one is found. This video is extremely hard to find anywhere online, let me know if you come across one with English-subs. I found a version with Swedish (close to Norwegian) subtitles, and could follow along enough in the non-English parts.

Shampoo & Conditioner

Goal #19 Completed: Make my own shampoo and conditioner

So if you have been reading along with my blog, you know I am trying to eliminate chemicals in my food and products, buy more local products, make what I can and cut down on my waste -specifically plastic. Well, shockingly one of the places you will find the most chemicals in your house is your bathroom.Lets think about it: toothpaste, mouth wash, scented hand-soap, shampoo, conditioner, special body wash, ex-foliation mask, mascara, foundation, eye shadow, perfume, ect ect ect. Well these are all things, well most of them, that we need to get through our weeks – however since we are not ‘eating’ theses chemicals somehow we have justified that they can have anything in them. In the US, the ‘cosmetic products’ are not regulated.

So the main thing in most commercial shampoos is sulfate -Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). So what is SLS? In short it is a surfactant and the lathering agent. Wiki says it is ‘SLS is a highly effective surfactant and is used in any task requiring the removal of oily stains and residues. For example, it is found in higher concentrations with industrial products including engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash soaps. It is used in lower concentrations with toothpastes, shampoos, and shaving foams. It is an important component in bubble bath formulations for its thickening effect and its ability to create a lather.’ SLS is dangerous and has been linked with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. This compound is irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It is suspected of causing damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. … dioxane can contaminate cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, shampoos, toothpastes and mouthwashes. And sadly in 2008 the Organic Consumers Association found dioxane in almost half of tested organic personal-care products. [thanks wiki]

In addition to SLS, conventional shampoos have a variety of other chemicals. Like Preservatives -They do this to prevent bacterial or other growth and to extend the shelf life – these preservatives have been speculated to cause hormone disruptions, allergies, and scalp irritation. Examples include: iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazonlinone and parabens. Then there are thickeners, stabilizers, ph balancers, colors (which are just for the looks, and we all know the dangers of say Red Dye 5) and fragrances (which can cause irritation and have there own set of dangerous chemicals they are made from).

Yikes, huh? Many of these have not been tested enough to even know what side effects could come from them in 5, 20 or 50 years. That is enough for me to want something natural. I don’t want to chance getting nerve damage, hormone disruption, organ failure or cancer from my shampoo. Also, many of these are in the ‘gentle’ baby products! Big name baby products have been caught having one more bad chemical – Formaldehyde. Ah! What are we allowing to happen to the babies – it is a no brainer to not allow your kid to bath in a carcinogen! Why are the Governments allowing this. However, the EU has stepped up and banned 1,4-dioxane in personal care products!

The industry says that they believe that these trace amounts will not harm you – and maybe such is true if you only used said product one in your life and no other products. But we use them everyday with many other products that also have trace amounts. So this is why I have decided to make my own shampoo and conditioner – I am not going to take the chance of not knowing what is in my products. The ingredients I am using have been around for ages, and if you were to take them ‘apart’ you could eat them all. There are many no ‘poo campaigns going on around the community – a few different methods. Some are just to use the conditioner, others are ACV and baking soda and some are using bar soaps. I am choosing the ACV and baking soda route.

So here is my ‘journal’ so to speak of the first few weeks:

Wash 1-3. I washed only with ACV (apple cider vinegar).. it was diluted in a 1 to 10 vinegar water ratio. I tried to see how little i could use this time – forgoing the baking soda – to spend less and waste less. Firstly, I have never been able to brush my long fine but thick hair so well before in my life! This looked like it might be a miracle way to wash my hair. The first time I let my hair air dry.. but it was terribly oily.. I know they say that there is a ‘breaking in’ period, so the next time I dried it – my logic was that it might evaporate some of the oil 🙂 Sadly my hair was still oilly, the roots only were though – the rest was great! Really great! So my third was I doubled up and washed twice – this did make it a tid bit better – but I still did not feel that I could go to work with my hair like this..

Wash 4. I decided that I needed to try the baking soda wash. I added 1 tablespoon baking soda to a 500 ml bottle, then added water. I know the baking soda to water ratio is suggested to be higher – but baking soda is not super common in Norway. When I washed with this and rinsed with the ACV water – there was a definitive improvement. But not enough. My hair was good for a few hours.. but then got ‘chunky’ – you know when your hair is oily and separates itself in to large strands, almost like dreads. So since I have always had some of the worlds most oily hair I decided that I should work this out so I did not look like my hair was wet – when it was just oily.

Wash 5. I decided to add more to the equation to help. I took a 500 ml bottle, added 3 tablespoons baking soda, one teaspoon of oil and one teaspoon of Dr. Bronners. So then I topped it off with water, gave it a shake and then tested it. I used about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle plus the ACV rinse, and the results were great. My hair is not oily 3 days later, brushes through great and feels so incredibly soft. At this point it is my plan to stay with this. It still is costing next to nothing to make – yay! Since I don’t wash my hair everyday.. then I think that I can just make a new batch every week or so – and it is so simple to make.. it is not like I will have to slave in the kitchen for hours to get it.. maybe 2 minutes.. more like 45 seconds though!

At the moment I have ‘my shampoo’ in a reused plastic body wash bottle and my conditioner in a spray bottle. I would like to find a non plastic way to go about this – but glass is dangerous in the shower and I have yet to find a stainless steel container that would work – but I am on the lookout! So what do you think? Do you have plans to rework your hair care?

[top photo via]

UPDATE: I am now using the baking soda mix and acv wash just every other weekend. I have some ‘baby powder’ to sprinkle in if it starts to get oily – which is also great to help styling it!

UPDATE MARCH 2011: I am no longer washing my hair with ACV and Baking Soda. While it is a great way to clean you hair, I still wanted to go more natural. Read all about it here.


Store Bought Herbs

Store bought is not the end of the world, but we can not all have a large garden and don’t always have access to all types – however as Jamie mentions in the video above, a simple windowsill is enough. But if you are going to buy in the store from the bottle, you should make sure to give them the longest life possible. Make sure the cap is always secured tightly. Do not store your dried herbs above the stove, this is a common mistake. The humidity will make there way in an cause clumping or spoil them. There is noting sadder the opening up the basil and it not smelling like anything.

Fresh Herbs / Homegrown

Washing Herbs

Even though you are growing your own herbs, does not mean that bugs do not touch them or that they do not get dirt on them – especially if they are being grown outside. Washing your herbs before storing them, if they need it, will help extend there lifespan. Take a large bowl filled with cold water, submerge your herbs in the water and stir them abit. Take the herbs out and pat dry with towels, then use them for you cooking that day or store them for later. Remember that moist herbs – moister then they are naturally (ie. the ones you have just washed) are prone to mold and rot, make sure you leave them spread out to dry toughly when you are done washing them.


Herbs should be stored in an air-tight container. Since we are avoiding one use plastic, then a glass jar is a great option here. Store herbs whole, then when you are ready to use them you can crush or chop them. Make sure when you put them away they are out of the sunlight and in a cool dry place. Most properly dried herbs should last one year – however if you notice they are loosing their color, that is a good indicator they are going bad. When using herbs, one teaspoon dried is equivalent to one tablespoon fresh.


The best way to dryherbs is to air-dry them. This slow process allows them to keep there oils. This process works best with herbs that don’t have a high moisture content, like Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Thyme. Moisture dense herbs like Basil, Chives, Mint, Tarragon preserve better in a dehydrator. if you can, never use the oven or microwave to dry herbs.. this damages them.

Freezing Herbs

If you have grown to much thyme for example, it is a herb that freezes well. Put the thyme, stem and all, in a freezer bag and it should last up to 6 months in the freezer. Same thing for rosemary, parsley, dill, basil, and cilantro: pull of the leaves and chop them up – coat with olive oil and place in freezer bag. Moisture dense herbs like the ones listed above, do much better when frozen then dry ones. I have heard of people freezing them in ice cube trays – then when you need some, you are able to get a small portion.

Recommended Documentary: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Who Killed the Electric Car? is a 2006 documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the mid 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, the Californian government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.

The film deals with the history of the electric car, its modern development, and commercialization. The film focuses primarily on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease mainly in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the Zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate in 1990 to combat urban air pollution. Nearly 5000 electric cars were designed and manufactured by GM, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, and Chrysler; and then later destroyed . Also discussed are the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, oil dependency, Middle East politics, and global warming. [wiki]

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