Sustainable Sunday: Coconut Oil
August 18, 2013, 8:23 pm
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If there is one product I absolutely could not live without, it is coconut oil.  I don’t think it has even been a year since I started using it, but I am so hooked on it.  It became an instant necessity once I bought my first jar.  It is such a versatile product that it should be considered a “must-have” by anybody interested in a sustainable lifestyle.  Here are just a few ways that coconut oil can be used.

Toothpaste:  I hate the taste of toothpaste.  I like Tom’s of Maine peppermint fluoride-free toothpaste, but that is the only one that doesn’t make me gag.  This DIY coconut oil based toothpaste tastes just like Tom’s of Maine’s peppermint toothpaste, but it is cheaper and contains 100% natural, safe ingredients.  I just take coconut oil and baking soda in a 1:1 ratio (usually 1 TBSP each) and mix it in a small container.  I then add peppermint essential oil to my taste preference, typically around 5 drops.  That’s it.  Easy peasy.  You may need to store it in the fridge if your bathroom gets hot though.  Coconut oil melts at temperatures above 74 degrees.

Moisturizer:  Apply to skin.  Seriously, that’s it.  It works better than lotion and doesn’t contain any questionable ingredients.  It may feel a little greasy if you aren’t used to using an oil-based moisturizer, but it makes your skin so soft.  I like to put it on my feet and then put socks on.  It’s a great way to keep feet looking and feeling nice even for hippies like me who are almost always barefoot or wearing flip-flops.

Shaving aid:  There are many recipes on the Internet about using coconut oil mixed with other ingredients such as shea butter to make DIY shaving cream.  I just rub it on my skin and shave.  It leaves my skin so soft when I’m done showering and shaving.

Conditioner: My hair is naturally a bit oily so I don’t use a lot of extra conditioning products, but when I do, I use coconut oil.  Until I recently got my haircut I had major split ends.  It had been probably six months since my last hair cut.  I already use coconut oil on my face as a moisturizer every morning so I would just rub the excess oil off my hands into my hair.  It helped keep my ends from looking frizzy.  Coconut oil is also a popular choice for deep-conditioning.  Once again, there are a lot of different recipes for this online, but I’ve never tried it so I can’t honestly recommend one over the other.

Chapstick replacement: Rub on your lips.  Done. Noticing a pattern here?

Cooking: Oh yeah.  Cooking.  The reason I first purchased coconut oil.  It is perfect for sauteing.  We don’t eat a lot of fried food, but when we do fry chicken or french fries, we use coconut oil.  Using it to fry can be expensive because it requires so much.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, it keeps me from eating too much fried food.  I also replace butter with coconut oil most of the time.  Occasionally, however, I just want to taste some real butter, but if you just need the butter for texture, coconut oil is a great replacement.  It makes baked goods especially moist when used to replace vegetable oil.  I screw up every single time I try to make popcorn on the stove, but TheAltDaddy uses coconut oil to make the perfect Black Jewell popcorn.

I hope this list has been helpful for you guys.  What do you use coconut oil for?


DIY Household Cleaners

Last week I actually had a reasonable excuse for posting Sustainable Sunday a day late.  I was sick and spent all of Sunday laying on the couch feeling like shit.  This week… well, this is embarrassing, but I just lost track of what day it was.  I missed work Friday which threw me off balance.  Saturday, which I thought was Friday, I outlined the post.  Yesterday, which I thought was Saturday, I saved a draft of this post.  Today, I arrived at work, and realized it was Monday.  Oops.  There is actually a legitimate medical reason both for me feeling so bad last week and for my mental fogginess, but this isn’t the time to go into that.  I plan to make it into a post of its own soon enough.

Making my own cleaning products was probably the first thing I did when switching to a more sustainable lifestyle.  I did it because (a) I was concern for what I was spraying around my child and (b) I’m poor.  At that time I wasn’t using any essential oils.  As I’ve added oils to my collection I’ve added them to my cleaners both for scent and for the antibacterial properties of some oils, such as tea tree oil.  Experiment with these recipes and make them your own.  Let me know if you like them or if they inspire any new ideas.

Bleach Alternative/All Purpose Cleaner Without Vinegar

I know some people are repulsed by the smell of vinegar.  I don’t love it, but it doesn’t bother me.  I can handle it fine with a few drops of essential oils to mask the smell, but I know people who absolutely despise vinegar.  If you are one of those people, try this recipe.

3 C. Water
1/4 C. Hydrogen Peroxide
10 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Mix together in a spray bottle.  Use like any other all purpose cleaning spray.

Citrus-Vinegar All Purpose Cleaner

Fill a glass jar with citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime, whatever you prefer) and cover the peels with vinegar.  Let stand for at least a week, but preferably 2-3 weeks.  Strain and pour liquid into a spray bottle.  Add water to fill bottle.  Use as an all purpose spray cleaner.

Room Spray

1 C. Water
10-20 Drops of your preferred essential oil

This can be used as a scented room spray similar to Febreeze, but without all of the yucky toxic chemicals.  Depending on the quality of the oils you may need more or less.  I bought some crappy lavender oil a long time ago that I use only for the smell.  It works well for this spray.

Fabric Softener

This recipe is found all over the Internet, but it is the first DIY cleaning products I ever made so I’ll repost it here.  I have no idea who the original credit actually should go to.

6 C. Water
3 C. Vinegar
2 C. Conditioner (I buy whatever is cheap and smells good)

Boil the water.  Once it is boiling hot add in vinegar and conditioner.  Stir until well-mixed.  I store mine in an old milk jug so it is nice to have a funnel on hand.  I made one myself from a bottle of pina coloda mix.  Pour into whatever container you want to use.  I eyeball it when I pour it in the wash, but I’d say use roughly 1/4 cup per load.

I hope you guys found this helpful!  Enjoy making your own cleaning products if you aren’t already.  It is truly liberating.

Sustainable Sunday
July 29, 2013, 1:47 am
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I’m going to be doing a new series called Sustainable Sunday on the blog.  Each week I’ll discuss a different topic related to living a sustainable lifestyle.

I didn’t plan on this idea, but it just sort of came into my mind and resonated really strongly with me.  Since it is already pretty late on Sunday evening I don’t have a big post for this week.

I do have a picture of today’s cucumber harvest though!

ImageTheAltDaddy picked 8 cucumbers today, and we have 2 more that will be ready tomorrow.  I’m trying to decide between making pickles or simply giving away a few.  I think I want to try to make my own pickles since I’ve never done that before.

You guys comment and let me know what topics you’d like to see covered in the future on Sustainable Sunday.