Twenty Days, Twenty Ways: Prepping for Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up on April 22. That’s only twenty planetary rotations away. In preparation I’ll be sharing twenty ways to make the world a better place.

Here’s a sneak peak at the first five. Check the Facebook page daily for more info on each one.

  1. Plant a tree.
  2. Shower colder and faster.
  3. Eat fresh and local.
  4. Carry a spork.
  5. Turn off the dry cycle.

Many of these will be simple, but some may push us out of our comfort zone. It might hurt a little, or cost a little, or slow us down a little, but we’ll be OK. We’ll abandon some of the habits and conveniences that simplify our lives in the short term, in exchange for ways of life that ultimately enrich us and our planet for the long term.

This feels really gimmicky, but the cause is just, so let’s do it.

Raw Shampoo

baking soda shampoo emblemIf you find traces of white powder in our sink, don’t be alarmed. We’ve been brewing our own shampoo, or, as some would say, we’ve gone ‘poo-less.

The white powder is baking soda, the only ingredient in our homemade product besides water. And rather than brew it, all you do is stir the two together. I use about 1 part soda to 16 parts water, or 1 tbsp to 1 cup.

For people with shortish hair, I highly recommend it. For those with longish hair, the transition might be more difficult (i.e., more oily) as your head has to adjust to the sudden absence of detergents and other evil things. Whatever your hair length or type, it’s definitely worth trying. Here are a few reasons.

1. Saving Money

On average, I’m guessing that a 16-fluid-oz bottle of store-bought ‘poo costs around $4. For that price you can make 96 bottles of regular strength baking soda shampoo.

  • $1 = 3 cups of baking soda
  • 3 cups = 48 tbsp
  • 48 tbsp = 48 cups of soda shampoo
  • 48 cups = 384 fluid oz
  • 384 fluid oz = 24 bottles at 16 oz each

2. Packing

I only wash my hair two or three times a week, so I wont get rich off my store-bought ‘poo savings anytime soon. But it’s also nice on trips because all you’re packing is powder. It’s ultralight, portable, and minimalist. But expect delays going through security checkpoints.

3. Multi-use

Like duct tape, the applications are numberless. It’s good for hair hygiene, oral hygiene – as a horrible tasting toothpaste – and as an odor-eater.

4. Saving Plastic

Assuming the average United Statesian washes their hair every other day and gets 40 servings from a bottle, that comes to about 4.5 bottles per person, per year, or 1.35 billion bottles annually for our population of 300 million.

5. It Works

Honestly – I tried it because I’m cheap. But there’s a growing number of ‘poo-less baking soda advocates out there who present a convincing argument (e.g., here, here and here). People talk about chemicals and split ends and whatnot. They’re all women, to my knowledge, and they’re much more concerned and knowledgeable about hair than I am. So don’t just take my word for it.

The History of Shampoo

Apparently, regular old soap used to suffice for cleaning our mammalian cranial protein filaments, until hard water came along. Now, long story short, we’ve been enslaved by the conglomerates and corporations, brainwashed into thinking our hair needs exotic extracts, dew of the ginko leaf, and other secret compounds found in remote regions of the rain forest. Turns out all our hair needs is a pinch of leavening agent.

Earth Day 2011: Talking Toilets

This earth day we taught the kids about water conservation by reviewing all our home videos involving toilets. Turns out there are two worth posting online. In the first, my son, as a toddler, explains the mechanics and hydraulics of the traditional toilet. In the second I demonstrate how to empty a waterless toilet.

Some background for video number 2 (pun): in 2006 my wife and I spent four months in southern France, in the foothills of the Pyreness mountains (some pics and a spider video), isolated from other human beings and from air conditioning and plumbing. We lived in a 500-yr-old shepherd’s cottage which my great aunt and uncle had retrofitted with a windmill and a waterless toilet, among other ultra-green technologies.

If you aren’t up for doing your business in a bucket, which you empty by hand every two weeks, a simple water saving trick is to drop a brick in the toilet (not a euphemism). Actually, drop it in the tank, and rather than a brick use a water bottle filled with sand or gravel or adamantium (not water, as the plastic will float). You’ll save a few hundred gallons of H2O per year.