Monday, February 28, 2011

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Green Light- Savvy Brown

                       An interesting conversation lead this eco-sista to do more than just recycle

How long have you been eco-friendly? I've been consciously eco-friendly for about six years now.

Why did you choose to be eco-friendly? I had an interesting conversation years ago with my mother who had asked me what the term "going green" meant and how many green products seemed to be very expensive. She said half the things people do that are considered "green" or "eco-friendly" were considered everyday living to her growing up on the small island of Bermuda in the 1940's.They used one large bar of castille soap to wash the clothes, the dishes and the house essentially, and the other to wash themselves, body, hair, everything. There was no bodywash, bodybutter, leave in conditioner...none of that.

They didn't have a lot of money so they had to recycle and reuse. Wastefulness was frowned upon, and things weren't as disposable as they are now. Everyone had a vegetable garden because no one could afford to go to the market to buy everything except for the wealthy.

Today? It's just the opposite.

That got me to thinking about ways in which I could do more than just recycle, and I began looking for ways to save money while saving my little part of the world at the same time.

What do you like about it? I love experimenting and making my own body products, like body scrub, bath salts, body oils. I also make our dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent and cleaning products. Honestly, it's saved us so much money and really doesn't take much time at all. I also like finding new uses for everyday things like using binder clips as hair clips or balled up aluminum foil as a dish scrubber. I get really excited about successfully eliminating things we never thought we could live without, like paper towels and napkins. that's why I decided to start the blog, to share my recipes, experiments and tips with other people. (Also, I think my family and friends were tired of me bothering them will all my finds! LOL)

 Did you face any challenges? If so, what was/is the biggest obstacle(s)? Oh absolutely. The challenges I find usually are around the cost of many green items and organic foods, as well as finding out that many things labeled "green" or "eco-friendly" are actually not. Sexy, (my hubby) and I are both vegetarians, but still buying all organic food can be very cost prohibitive, so we try to stick to buying only certain items in the organic aisle and the rest we try to get from the farmer's market. Many farmers use organic farming practices, but refrain from getting the actually organic certification because of the exhorbitant cost. I would say we eat approximately 80% certified organic now.

My biggest challenge, was greening up my beauty routine. You MUST read labels, even if it says "green" all over it and comes in a recyclable cardboard box.  I try not to use any products in my hair or on my body with sulfates, parabens, dimethicone or petrolatum (also called parafinum liquidum). Not only are those chemicals bad for your body, they're also severely damaging to the environoment. This can be challenging when looking for new products to try out, because the majority of what's at my local beauty supply store here in Brooklyn I won't touch.

Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly? To anyone starting out on their green journey, I suggest 3 things:

1. Take baby steps - Start small, like trying to consume less. (Do you really need a Playstation AND  a Wii?). Don't try to do too much at once. For instance, try to eliminate paper towels from your household before you attempt  to install solar panels on the roof.

2. Think outside your box - "Going green" is not just about separating bottle and cans on trash day. It's also looking at the shampoo you use, the car you drive, the clothes you by, the makeup you use and the diapers you put your baby in.

3. Don't keep score - Don't worry about your "ecological-footprint", or if you're being "carbon neutral", people get so put off by the terms, afraid that they're going to do something wrong and the "Green Police" are going to come and haul them off somewhere. Just calm down, do what you can, when you can at first. But the important thing is to do something.

Going green can be complex. This discourages a lot of people. There’s really no “right” way it's basically trying to do something than nothing at all. I sometimes feel like a green hypocrite. Do you feel that way sometimes? I have definitely felt that way. In fact, just this afternoon, I was standing in line at the grocery store lamenting over the fact that I'd left my reusable grocery bags at home and the grocery store only provided plastic bags. Neither sexy or I can seem to find our travel mugs and a few times have been caught out there with our tea or coffee in one of those styrofoam cups. I use as many paraben-free, silicone-free makeup products as I can, but I just can't seem to let go of my MAC lipliner. But I don't feel like I'm a hypocrite, because I really do feel the changes I've made have helped us tremendously. Sexy used to get these awful nosebleeds in the middle of the night, and I had a mysterious rash on my legs for a while before I started making our laundry detergent and fabric softener. We also saved a ton of money on our electric bill by putting almost every piece of electronic equipment in our house on a power strip and turning absolutely everything off at night or when we leave the house.

You know I gotta ask, How long have you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY? Thank you! I've been natural for 20 years. I wore my hair in a close-cropped caesar for the first 16 of those years. So I had a lot of catching up to do when I grew my hair out 4 years ago. The first thing I had to learn about my natural hair was patience. Your hair will look better in some styles than others depending on the length. The second thing I learned about my 4a/4b hair is that water, not oil moisturizes. Oil is a sealant. I wear my hair almost every day. Not drench it mind you, just a spritz all over, either plain water or my homemade leave-in conditioner mix. The best way to combat dry edges?

Drink more water.

People tend to forget that their hair is attached to their bodies and take care if it from the ends up as opposed to the scalp down, which is how it grows.Hydration inside and out is key to a healthy hair. I ONLY detangle my hair with a wide tooth comb when it's soaking wet and full of conditioner and a little oil. I also have a few signature styles that I wear so that I can prevent breakage from overmanipulation. 2-strand twists, twists outs, buns and variations on those styles are really the only ways that I wear my hair. I also trim my ends about every six weeks or if I see a bunch of knots or splits ends. I also take a multivitamin and  biotin supplement everyday.

Is there anything you like to add? Your skin is the largest organ on your body and it absorbs almost everything that it comes in contact with, including your scalp. So even though you might not use a relaxer anymore, you can still damage your body and air using products that aren't good for you.  Although your ends are important, if your trying new things with your hair, pay attention to your roots, that's where the new growth is happening and where you'll start to see changes first. Don't blow your paycheck trying every new product out there for natural hair. Although I do use some store bought items, I still use things like shea butter, castor oil and castille soap in my hair all the time. Learn to LOVE your hair, it's not supposed to look like someone else's. It's yours.


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