Ah… a fresh new year, a new decade even. Around this time I always find myself reflecting on the year that passed. My 5-year old son and I actually took our 2010 family calendar down from the fridge this afternoon (the one that is scribbled and scratched upon beyond recognition), and paged through it month by month, remembering the events of the year. Some of it was not so great (such as a hospital stay for my daughter last January for pneumonia) and some of it was wonderful (such as our family vacation to Waterton). I think it helped him better understand the passage of time and the seasons.

With reflection comes resolution for the year ahead. This year – it just feels different. Instead of making my typical resolutions like “exercise more” I am making resolutions that I am really excited to do, not just what I should do. Somehow making resolutions that are less about myself, and more about the world I live in, is way more motivating. Here is what I have come up with:

Resolve to LEARN:
1. How to compost my food and garden waste
2. How to make natural cosmetics and soaps
3. How to make natural household cleaners
4. How to grow a vegetable garden

Resolve to DO:
5. Reduce kilometres traveled in my vehicle
6. Reduce spending on brand new items
7. Track and reduce all energy and water use
8. Become more political

Resolve to WRITE:
9. New weekly series called “Foodie Fridays” – each post will be about eco-food choices and recipes. I decided to do this because it seems like many of the green changes that I am making right now come back to food. Food definitely has its own footprint, both on the planet and on our health. So let’s try to minimize the former while maximizing the latter!

10.  New bi-weekly series called “Letters to Leaders” – each post will be in the form of a letter that I will write and send to either a politician, or a leader of a company. The purpose of this is to lend my voice in a rational and open way, to hopefully engage these people to consider alternatives. I want to start discussions, I want people to take me seriously and I want to share what I am doing with you.

This list beats “exercise more”. Totally beats it! I will inherently be exercising more due to resolution #5, which will undoubtedly involve more walking. This list is so exciting for me, because I will be learning new things and doing new things, and adding my voice to where it is desperately needed. Knowing that I may do some good, not for myself but for others and for our fragile climate, is so much more motivating. I feel more connected, engaged, alive.

Happy New Year.

Natural Woman

I have always been a make-up girl. I started using it in junior high and never looked back. In my 20s I worked at Merle Norman Cosmetics, and gave make-overs. This of course was while I was going to University and studying to be an accountant, go figure! I still do make-up for bridal parties for my friends and family. I guess enjoy making people pretty.

My 2 year-old daughter also enjoys the stuff, and will get her little stool and sneak into my stash when I am not looking. Whenever I am in the bathroom putting on make-up, she comes toddling in, caring her stool, wanting “some too”. Sometimes I let her have some lip gloss for fun.

Then I found Femme Toxic. I knew that some ingredients in some of the lotions and potions we use were questionable, but I never had any facts. Now Femme Toxic has published a “Toxic Twenty” list of chemicals to avoid. It is not all inclusive, but has the worst offenders. So I went looking through my cabinets to see what I had.

It turns out that almost all soaps have sodium lauryl sulfate. Almost all toothpastes have triclosan. Almost all shampoos have parabens. Almost everything has fragrance. These are all ingredients in the Toxic Twenty.

Whoa there! Back up the truck!

Before I let my baby girl put sneak more lip gloss, I have to get to the bottom of this. Why are these ingredients in our products if they are supposed to be bad for us? Don’t the regulators check these things to ensure that everything is safe?

Well everyone has a different opinion, and while most would agree that these ingredients would not be good for anyone in high quantities, the small amounts we use in our products should be okay.

The problem is that not everyone agrees with how much is too much.

With rates of cancer increasing all the time, I just don’t want to take a chance. I want to go au natural. I want to be a natural woman! Okay I am not talking about never using any cosmetics again (we all need to wash, don’t we?), I just want to go for those natural products without the chemicals, and with ingredients I can actually understand.

In short,

  1. I don’t want anything on the “Toxic Twenty” list
  2. The fewer ingredients in the product the better
  3. If it has certified organic ingredients in there, that is good too

So today I went out looking for some natural products. I found some items that look pretty good, including a toothpaste, a day lotion, a deodorant and a body wash. I will try them out and let you know the scoop.

Being aware of the harm that chemicals can have on our bodies will remind us to be aware of the harm that pollution can have on our planet. We both have fragile systems. Besides, the chemicals we use don’t just end up in our bodies; they end up in the water and in the landfills.

Let’s go natural, woman!