Thursday, January 03, 2008

Green Baby Step #1: Natural Soap

Do you ever feel like everything that you like is bad for you? I love a good lathery clean-scented bath soap. But I've learned that the same detergents, chemicals, petroleum products, and synthetic fragrances that make for good clean fun are also bad for the environment. Detergents and chemicals can harm aquatic life ... and we all know that we should use fewer petroleum products.

A while back I received a gift of natural soap from Simply Soap ( These soaps are made by a woman named Carol Ochs. And boy, can she make soap! I received the sweet sandalwood bar and it was downright addicting!

I finally found her website again today and ordered a few of her soaps ... Sweet Sandalwood, Blue Cypress, and La Luna. The ingredients of the Blue Cypress are: palm kernel oil, coconut oil, olive oil, distilled watter, lye, castor oil, avocado oil, essential oils, mineral colorants, and ground mint leaves ... not a cocamidopropyl betaine or sodium lauryl sulfate in the bunch!

I know it's just a tiny step, but my goal is 52 steps this year, one each week, which by the end of the year, should add up to a much greener lifestyle for my family.

Happy New Year!

One Year, Many Goals

You know, it's almost embarrassing to set goals at the beginning of a new year. Who keeps these promises to themselves, anyway? Well, on January 2, 1996, I did set the goal to quit smoking. And -- except for that little lapse last September in Chicago -- I haven't smoked at all for the past twelve years.

This year, despite how cliche I find New Year's Resolutions, I am setting two goals:

  1. I will lose 30 percent of my body weight this year. Yep, that's right. You heard me. 30 percent. Don't worry, I can afford to lose the 30 percent.
  2. I will make my lifestyle a little bit greener every week this year.
The weight one's the tough one. The Centers for Disease Control web site has this animated map ( that shows the growing trend of obesite among Americans. I live in Illinois. In 1985, less than 10% of Illinoisans were obese. Now 20-24% are. The worst states (for obesity, that is) are West Virginia and Mississippi. More than 30% of the people living in those two states are obese!

I don't know about the rest of Americans, but I don't want to die young -- let alone live a life in a physical state that doesn't allow me to enjoy life to the fullest. So that's goal #1. Wish me luck.

As for goal #2, my family and I already live pretty green. We live in a small house, I drive a fuel-efficient car, we use compact fluorescent bulbs, we buy local produce in the summer ... you get the picture. But there's lots of room for improvement.

Sunday, October 15, 2006