After watching the movie No Impact Man last week, I started thinking more about the waste that comes from cosmetics use. Sure, you can recycle all those bottles, but as many experts point out, recycling is often more like “downcycling.” All that plastic isn’t necessarily turned into something better and—surprise!—the recycling process itself requires energy.
Even though I do a lot of DIY-ing, I always kind of left cosmetics, especially hair care items, out of the equation. I rationalized that women who could use hair product of the homemade variety had straight, no-muss-no-fuss hair that just doesn’t require the crazy cocktail my curly locks can’t live without.
But this week I felt convicted, so I decided to do some digging. First stop: Naturallycurly.com, the go-to source for curlies of every spiral, coil and kink. Since my last visit, the website has started a recipe section, which is searchable by hair, product and media type. Turns out a lot of curly girls are trying to minimize the impact of their curl regimen on the environment, not to mention their bank accounts, by experimenting with homemade concoctions—ones that don’t require an advanced degree in chemistry or a storeroom of crazy ingredients to mix up.
As I write this, I’m sitting outside with a coconut milk-and-cornstarch natural curl relaxer and I just cooked up a batch of flaxseed-based hair gel. I can’t tell whether they work yet, but I can say that I’m loving the idea of putting on my body the same things I put in it. I’m also digging the fact that if my curl softening treatment “doesn’t work” the evidence will most likely be that nothing actually happens, not that all my hair breaks off or falls out: a frequent consequence of harsh chemical treatments gone awry. Finally, it turns out that the magical and mysterious product formulas sold by environmentally friendly brands like Aveda and Pureology actually include a lot of same, fairly common, ingredients that I mixed up today.
So why is this in a freelance lifestyle magazine? Well, one of the things I love about setting my own hours is that I have the time—or at least the flexibility to adjust my schedule and make time—to prioritize reducing my lifestyle impact by refinishing/upcycling used furniture, cooking instead of eating out, making my own household cleaners and, now, experimenting with making my own cosmetics.
And there’s another benefit for freelance writers: If you’re trying to carve out a niche for yourself as a green writer or want to set yourself apart from other lifestyle reporters, this is a great way to do it. Just today, I’ve learned about the chemical properties of glycerin, found a community of people (read, potential sources) already trying this stuff and a variety of magazines and blogs who publish related content.
Has the freelance switch lowered your carbon footprint? Do you have a favorite recipe for eco-friendly home or body care? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.