Diva Time: Chemical Free Periods

This is going to be a strange blog.  Hopefully my Dad will skip this one and I can already hear my Aunt saying ‘do you have to discuss such things?’ But I really want to spread the word about moon cups or diva cups as they are sometimes known.  Also I really think we should not treat periods as something to be ashamed of, so we might as well share my experience.

For those who don’t know a moon cup is a small silicon cup that folds up, is inserted internally, collects the blood and is then washed out and reinserted.

I’ve suffered from heavy periods which are quite debilitating for many years.  Not to get too graphic but the speed of flow has left me in many a compromising position.  I’d heard about moon cups, but having only got to grips with tampons post childbirth, had kind of assumed they were not for me.  But when I decided to cut the chemicals it seemed logical to give them a go, so on a whim I got one from the internet for the princely sum of £7.99.  I read the instructions and got to it!

Immediately I could feel the benefits.  I felt clean and comfortable.  Whereas I was sometimes changing tampons every 3 hours I only need to empty the moon cup 3 times a day.  It’s really simple to use and all you do is empty it and wash it out every 12 hours or as needed.

I’ve found it really liberating using a moon cup.  It means never spending money on periods again, it’s cleaner and worry free.  I wouldn’t say using a moon cup has changed my life, but maybe 5 days out of every 28!

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Adventures and Experiments

So, I’m a few week into my ‘new lifestyle’ now so I thought I’d run through the things I’ve tried so far.

 

Washing Powder and Softener

By far the easiest change I’ve made is binning the fabric softener and using white vinegar in the draw.  I can’t say I’ve noticed any differences in the softness of the clothes.  I’ve also (aided by my friend Paula) started making washing powder which sounds a bit daunting.  I followed this receipe:

500g Borax substitute                                                                                                                                500g Soda crystals                                                                                                                                              200g grated soap                                                                                                                                                100g bicarb

This works out much cheaper than commercial washing powder.  I cannot see any difference is the quality of the clean but I do quite miss the smell of washing powder.

House Cleaner

This one is really easy.  Slice up a lemon, put it into a spray bottle and fill with half water and half white vinegar.  This lasts ages, looks lovely and cleans really well.  I leave it on the side for when it is needed.

Oven Cleaner

I saw this one on facebook.  It is testimony to my dedication to my new lifestyle that for the first time in my life I cleaned the oven.  You mix bicarb, water and vinegar to a thick, paste like consistency and spread it across the oven. Place what id left in a bowl in the oven. Heat the oven to 100 degrees and leave for 45 minutes.  I had mixed results with this.  The oven was undoubtably cleaner but not sparkling like the one in the video I watched.  I might give this another go.

Sink Unblocker

My shower plug and sink often start to drain slowly so I had regularly been pouring unblocking products down the sink.  I poured bicarb (what else?) down the plug hole until it was over flowing followed by a cup of vinegar. Half an hour later I found it was no longer draining slowly! I’m amazed by this one.

Bathing

This has been a highlight for me.  I’ve binned the bubble bath and now pour a bit of bicarb in, sometimes with epsom salts and sometimes with a few drops of lemongrass essential oil.  I love it.  I think my skin has improved and I really love the scent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misadventures in Chicken Keeping

My first step in leading a more back to basics lifestyle really began two years ago when I got a chicken coup from freecycle and 4 hybrid hens from a farm.  We (my husband, 2 sons and I) named one each and we quickly grew accustomed to four fresh eggs every morning.

I think the work involved in chicken keeping is no more than other small pets like rabbits.  You change their water and feed them every day, change their straw and clean the muck them out.  The eggs taste, honestly, about five times tastier than those from a shop which are about 4 weeks old by the time they get to the supermarket shelf.

Inevitably there is one big issue with keeping hens: foxes.  Our first gang came to an untimely end a few months after we got one.  It was not a nice experience to find them scattered across the garden.  We then upgraded our coup to an eglu with an eglu run.  This is expensive, but we saw it as an investment as it would keep the hens safe.  Yesterday I awoke for a second time to find the remains of my hens across our garden.  Unfortunately I had left the cage/run door open and a fox had obviously been passing.  Not a great experience, as you can imagine, and credit to my husband for dealing with the carcases.  I really missed cleaning them out this morning and I’ll replace them soon.  I don’t blame the fox.  It was following what comes naturally.  It is me who was to blame.

Despite these traumas I really would recommend chicken keeping to everyone.  We only have a small garden.  Although the initial outlay is big the upkeep of the hens is minimal and I absolutely love giving out eggs to friends and family.  It’s a small step towards a better way of life.  I love knowing my hens are well treated and we are not contributing towards the hen farming industry – watching hens scratching around in the dirt it is clear to see that hens don’t belong cooped up in small barns with thousands of other chickens, losing their feathers through stress and lack of space.  So my adventures with chicken keeping must continue!

 

 

Bicarb in the Bath

So I’ve started looking into the chemicals used in cosmetics.  It quickly became apparent that it is a bit of a minefield for someone like me who quit chemistry after GCSEs!  I learnt that chemicals such as ethanolamine, 1,4-dioxane and DMDM hydantoin are in many products from moisturiser to shampoo and are known or suspected human carcegenics.  There is a great organisation called The Campaign For Safer Cosmetics  (http://www.safecosmetics.org) who have a wealth of information, and, after reading a bit more I decided that I needed to seriously change my beauty products.  Why have I been filling my skin with such crap?  I’ve been assuming I can trust the cosmetic companies to look after me!  Silly ah?

I am lucky to have a friend Paula who makes natural soaps (https://www.facebook.com/paulassoapdeli) from ingredients like goats milk, shea butter and essential oils and which contain no parabans or other concerning ingrediants.  I’d been using the body soaps for a while, but now, realised I also needed to give up bubble bath as it contains the likes of sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) and cocami-dopropyl betaine and are fragranced with synthetic chemicals such as persol, making them likely to cause skin irritation, allergic skin reactions and headaches. The more I read the more I realised bubble bath and shower gel are just not needed – they provide no benefits at all.  I also started reading more about bicarbonate of soda.  As I said in my last blog I have started using it to clean the house.  But it seems baking soda bath can help neutralize skin acidity and promote elimination of toxins as well as help refresh, renew and soften dry skin.  So after a bit of online research I now add a few tea spoons of bicarb to the bath, sometimes mixing with epsom salts and sometimes with tea tree or lemon essential oils.  So far I love it.  I’ve made the bicarb look a bit prettier in the bathroom by putting in in glass mason jars!

I’ve also thrown away the toner and moisturiser – yes really.  I’ve always had rubbish, acne prone skin so was nervous about this.  After a chat with Paula I’ve switched from cleanser and toner to Pink Himalayan Salt facial soap and replaced the moisturiser with oil.  It seemed counter intuitive to use oil on my oily skin, but after doing a lot of research I decided to give it a go.  I’m never going to have model skin, but I’ve been surprised that a few people have told me my skin looks clearer over the last week. The oil I’m using (from Paula again) comprises of organic jojoba oil, apricot kernal oil, wheat germ and lavender essential oil.  I literally just use a few drops.  I’d love to hear from others doing the same.  It’s definitely a nice feeling using only natural things on my skin.

 

 

Adventures In Natural Living

Two weeks ago I made a decision.  I decided to try to lead a life with as few a chemicals as possible.  My decision was, in all honesty, prompted by anger.  Johnson and Johnson recently lost a US Court case relating to their products causing ovarian cancer.  This really upset me for a few reasons:

  1. I am a carrier of a defective brca 1 gene which gives me an 80%+  lifetime change of breast cancer and a 50% chance of ovarian cancer.  I lost my mum to ovarian cancer last year.  I’m so angry about this.  Have I increased my chances of cancer through using everyday products?  Could I have had my mum a bit longer if she had not used these products?
  2. I hate the marketing that surrounds the beauty industry and the way big businesses think they can act with impunity and not care about the consequences for their customers.  I’ve been supporting this industry without thinking, that makes me feel sick.

So, in a fit of rage I through away all my big brand cleaning products and went and purchased some bicarb of soda, white vinegar and lemons and went through my neglected essential oil collection.  The next step was to clean the kitchen.  I got myself some spray bottles – I had to buy them as I had thrown all the ones that came with my old products away! I filled one with vinegar and water and one with bicarb and vinegar and set to work.  Now full disclosure time, I’ve never been the most diligent of cleaners,  elbow grease is  just not my thing and I genuinely believe a clean house is a sign of a wasted life, but I must confess to being a bit excited to see my shining sink.  I’ve now started leaving these bottles on the work top and using them as required.  It’s exciting to be able to ignore the cleaning aisle in the supermarket.