Homemade Soy Candles with Essential Oils

I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to try and make my own candles because so many of the candle on the market these days are filled with yucky chemicals, toxins and pollutants I’d never want to inhale into my body.

So over the weekend I went thrift shopping and bought 5 small glasswares for $0.49 each. Not only are they completely adorable, but they were super cheap and I love that I am giving them a new life and up-cycling them. After a bit of research, I wanted my candles to be something I’d actually want to burn around my kids so I went with vegetable-based, eco-friendly soy wax that is made from a renewable resource. The wax is completely dye-free, fragrance-free, toxin-free and paraffin-free. I also wanted these to be free from artificial fragrances and knowing the awesome benefits of my essential oils, I made two batches of these candles. I used Wild Orange essential oils in the first batch and Lavender in the second. I think after this first attempt, I’d probably add a bit more of the EO’s to the batches to give them a stronger scent.

It was an incredibly easy process and my sister was on hand to help because it was a 2-man process. Melt the wax to 200*, let it cool to 175* and add in the oils. Heat up the glassware at 150* to avoid cracking. Add the wick and at 100*, pour the wax into glasswares with a funnel. Cool overnight (about 12 hours). Trim the wicks and enjoy!

Features:

  • Eco-friendly vegetable-based Soy Wax
    • Made with renewable resources & helps local farmers
    • Soy wax burns with zero petro soot, creating petro soot-free candles
    • Soy wax burns at lower temperatures, making it longer-lasting than paraffin candles
  • Filled with pure, undiluted Essential Oils
    • Essential oils have aromatherapy benefits
    • Endless combinations of natural scents
  • FREE of parafins, artificial fragrances, dyes, toxins, carcinogens or pollutants
  • Made in upcycled/reused glassware from local thrift stores

Homemade Dryer Sheets & Softener

CTA-wool-dryer-ballsWith names likes “soft rain mist” or “fresh cool breeze”, who doesn’t love soft laundry right of the dryer that smells so fresh and clean? But the truth about dryer sheets and liquid softeners couldn’t be farther from the warm, fuzzy feelings Snuggles the Bear sends us on t.v.

Filled with harmful chemicals like benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, ethyl acetate, camphor, chloroform, linalool, pentane, etc. (how do you even pronounce these ingredients…yikes!)…dryer sheets are so dense in artificial fragrances just to cover up the pungent smell of all of these toxic chemicals. These fragrances and chemicals stay in the fibers of your clothes for a long period of time, allowing plenty of opportunity for your skin, body and brain to absorb these nasty toxins all day and all night long.

These chemicals are known to have cause…

  • Central nervous system disorders and headaches
  • Skin disorders and allergic reactions
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimers
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Irritate mucous membranes and impair respiratory function
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or drowsiness
  • Liver or kidney damage

With the insane amount laundry I do on a weekly basis and knowing that the majority of it is my children’s clothes, I regret that I haven’t paid more careful attention to this sooner. While I would love to hang our clothes out to dry in the sun the old-fashioned way like my parents use to do, it’s the middle of winter and we are staying with my sister until our forever home is ready.

I recently shared a new all-natural laundry detergent recipe that we are trying and now I have a 2-part solution to both the softening of your fabrics and the fresh smells. Substituting these chemically-ridden fabric softeners for an all-natural, toxic-free alternative is much easier and affordable than you may think!

wool-dryer-ballsFabric Softener: Organic Wool Balls

I bought a set of 3 organic wool dryer balls to give this method a try and I am so impressed! People have been making wool dryer balls for years as an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener. Adding one or two of these guys to your dryer with your wet laundry, they help fluff up your laundry as they bounce around in the dryer with your clothes. They are great at reducing static and softening your laundry and wool can absorb up to 3x it’s weight in wetness, helping your clothes dry faster and consuming less energy by your dryer because it doesn’t have to run as long. They are especially good for drying baby clothes and anything for people with sensitive skin because they are organic and completely chemical-free. The wool balls are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-static and are reusable for up to a year or more, unlike disposable dryer sheets that you toss after each load.

Dryer Sheets: Cotton with Essential Oils

If you are the type of person who needs your clean laundry to smell fresh and scented, essential oils are the way to go! There are so many great benefits to using these oils and making your own homemade dryer sheets are so incredibly easy. I cut up one of my husband’s old cotton t-shirts into roughly 5″ squares and added 3-5 drops of essential oils to the dry fabric. I tossed 2 of them into my wet load of laundry in the dry and let them spread the essential oil goodness on our clothes. My favorite to use is lavender, although it may be fun to play around with seasonal scents and use a citrus lemon or orange blossom in the warm summer months or the holiday scents through the winter season! Use the sheets for 2-3 loads before washing them and starting over with new oil.

Have you had any experiences with natural drying solutions for your laundry routine? What has worked well or not at all for you? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Eco-Tip Tuesday: Live Intentionally

eco-tip-tuesdayTo close out the year and finish up our Eco-Tip Tuesday series, today’s earth-friendly tip is more reflective in nature: live intentionally. So many of these past tips are focused on making intentional decisions.

Using cloth napkins, bottling your own water, stop pre-heating the oven, washing clothes in cold water – it’s really the small things that seem so insignificant that compound and make a huge impact on protecting our natural resources and respecting our planet.

So I’d like to encourage all of us to live a life of purpose and make our decisions intentionally, even if it is a bit of an inconvenience or takes longer to accomplish something. Convenience usually equates to cutting corners, disposable parts and larger waste. Let us focus on thinking about what we are doing down to the smallest detail and know that our actions do make a difference!

Eco-Tip Tuesday: Use Cloth Napkins

eco-tip-tuesdayThis is such an easy, simple change that can really have such an impact our environment. Did you know that 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used in the U.S. every year?? Over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced every day and the average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work each year. If all Americans used one less paper towel a day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper would be spared over the course of the year…what crazy numbers!

There are also so many natural resources used to keep up with this consumption. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed. On top of all of that, paper towels are so thin that they don’t contain enough fibers to be recycled, especially once they are soiled with food or liquids. And their composting leads to the release of methane, a top culprit of global warming. Yikes.

I made the switch to both cloth napkins and paper towels earlier this past summer in attempt to reduce our family waste and I can easily say we don’t even notice a difference in our day – besides not having to spend money on buying rolls and rolls of disposable paper towels. We use micro fiber towels as an alternative to paper towels for cleaning and drying. Going to cloth napkins is also more fun for entertaining! Using cloth napkins adds a bit of class to any meal and you can buy a couple of colors to match the seasons throughout the year.

Greening Your Life…Even When Your Husband Doesn’t Really Want To

weddingI love my husband. Truly. We’ve been through a journey these past 10 years together and I’ve made quite a few lifestyle changes without letting him have too much say in the matter, especially these past few years. I know I can have some pretty lofty ideas and he is usually wildly supportive of me, even if he does think I’m a bit crazy at times.

Three years ago, I did all kinds of research into how to create a simple, sustainable life with recipes, tips, ideas, how-tos and I was dead-set on transforming our home. I was hooked. Obsessed. So when I had big plans to declutter our lives, he maybe did look at me like I was a bit insane and naturally resisted pretty much anything I told him. Like when I said I wanted to give away all of our possessions and live a minimalistic life in an RV. Or something like that.

There are signs he’s coming around…he affectionately refers to me as his little hippie 🙂 But I know him better than anyone and I have learned a few tips for getting someone on board who it a bit resistant to change at first.

Ease into it.
I’m an all-or-nothing person who wants results immediately. My husband…not so much. Pushing a new idea on someone out of the blue naturally encourages push-back to change. So I wouldn’t suggest going from wearing Gap jeans to sewing your own organic hemp parachute pants in an evening. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and transforming your whole lifestyle takes time, practice and research.

Start on yourself first.
You can learn a lot about the process by starting on yourself first. Declutter your kitchen, empty out your closet, have a garage sale and clean out the basement. Start with things you can control – your personal cosmetics, cleaning products and household items – and use it as a trial and error period. If you do the shopping, focus on the produce area, particularly the organic produce. More than likely, your husband won’t even notice you’ve made all these small changes because none of them will really affect his daily life.

Actions speak louder than words.
On paper, some of my ideas sounds completely foreign to my husband. Composting? Making our own toothpaste? Vegetarian cooking? My husband is a visual person and does much better by seeing the benefits of these types of unfamiliar things than talking it through. He doesn’t always get my vision but if I show him how easy it can be and all the wonderful health, environmental and life benefits simplifying can have, he’s all for it.

Be the leader.
If this is your idea, make it easy on him. If he’s got to put forth all kinds of effort for something he isn’t completely behind yet, he might grumble and complain through the whole thing. Show him by example how using cloth napkins instead of paper towels is easy, simple and makes such an impact. Be the one to take reusable totes grocery shopping. Plan out whole food meals for the week and healthy snacks for the kids. Eventually he will make your habits his habits without even really realizing it (my husband rarely realizes that he eats my vegetarian recipes).

Do research together.
I’m not going to lie – documentaries on Netflix are my best friend. My husband and I alternate who gets to choose the movie on movie nights and mine is usually some sort of environmental/animal cruelty choice. These documentaries can visually communicate what I try to speak to him but in a thousand better ways. They are my best friend in trying to get him on the same page as my vision and educating us together in making more conscious decisions for our family. He always feel more invested in this lifestyle when he can see first-hand why I’m so passionate about it.

What are some ways you get loved ones on board with change? I’d love to hear your ideas below!

America’s “Me-ism” Mentality

you-matter2The world population is quickly approaching 8 billion citizens and it can be difficult for people to find themselves in this great big world. I know it’s something I struggle with personally – how can I, one woman in Cleveland, really do anything significant enough in my life to make any type difference when I’m gone?

I think many Americans suffer from this “me-ism” mentality where we feel there are so many people in the world that we can’t possibly make an impact because we are just one person so we don’t even try.  We don’t see (or care) how our over-consuming ways affect people across the globe because we have our neat, perfect American-dream lives and often don’t give a second thought to the person who made the shirt on our backs or the shoes on our feet or where our garbage goes on collection day.

A great example of this mentality is our national election day. A large percentage of Americans don’t even bother voting because they feel their votes don’t matter. Imagine if every 317 million American thought this way and absolutely no one showed up on that Tuesday in November. It would be a crime against our founding fathers and every liberty they fought for. The 2000 election when President Bush beat out Al Gore by mere votes in Florida is great evidence that every little bit does add up and can make a difference – in this case, a whole presidential election could have easily swung the other way.

People of Passion Can Make a Difference

What would our world look like today if Martin Luther King Jr. felt like he was just one person so he didn’t even care enough to stand up for what he believed in? What if Abraham Lincoln never ran for president?  What if Jane Goodall never made that first voyage to Africa? Imagine if Steve Jobs went to work in construction instead of dedicating his creativity to computers. What if Thomas Edison quit working on the first light bulb after his first failed attempt? Do you think any one of these people knew they were going to make history with the impact they had on this world? I have a feeling they were all trying to do what they were passionate about and when that happens, great things come out of it.

We need to carry this attitude into our daily lives and remember that even the smallest of acts compound. Can you picture what our landfills would look like if every American household recycled their garbage? What would they look like if every household didn’t?  If every American went meatless just one single day out of the week, the effects that small sacrifice would have on our environment are astounding and would reach much farther than just our country.  No one is asking you to invest tens of thousands of dollars in solar paneling your home, but there are some really easy things you can do to help our environment today!

8 easy ways to start contributing:

  1. Carpool to work with your spouse or a co-worker who lives nearby.
  2. Turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth. I often turn it off in the shower when I’m shaving or shampooing.
  3. Change your light bulbs to energy-saving bulbs. Better yet, use natural light throughout the day and hold off turning your lights on until the evening.
  4. Program your thermostat around your work & at-home schedule. Open your windows in the spring & fall and shut off your furnace/ac completely.
  5. Use recyclable totes when grocery shopping and skip on the plastic bags. Who needs hundreds of plastic bags sitting around?
  6. Grow your own vegetables and herbs in a garden at home – this has been a favorite of mine. It’s very rewarding eating a meal using produce that you grew yourself!
  7. Purchase a reusable water bottle or water filter instead of bottled water. The Brita filter has been a favorite of ours.
  8. RECYCLE,  RECYCLE, RECYCLE!! Research your local recycling program and get going!

Let’s all start thinking about any changes we can make in our daily lives and remember that even the smallest of acts will make a difference!

Eco-Tip Tuesday: Reusble Gift Bags & Recycled Wrapping Paper

eco-tip-tuesday I am sure many of us are getting ready for a gift-wrapping marathon with Christmas just a week away but I want to encourage you to think twice about the rolls and rolls of wrapping paper you are inevitably going to use. We take time to wrap every present just to have them torn apart Christmas morning and mostly likely all that waste will end up in the garbage…and then our landfills.

Did you know that half of the paper America consumes in one year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products? Four million tons of this waste is attributed to wrapping paper, shopping and gift bags. With our forests disappearing at an alarming rate, this is something major to be concerned about!

Instead…turn towards reusable gift bags. I know I save every one that I get and have a bin I keep them in for future gifting and it’s so much quicker and easier to slip your gifts into a bag. Better yet, get creative and things of other ways to wrap your gifts – maybe in a basket or with a pashmina scarf or a cloth tablecloth – items that others can use in their house again! If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover nearly 50k football fields.

If you do want to use paper, I use a really great resource called Green Field Papers. They have a wonderful selection of recycled wrapping paper that is 100% recyclable, printed using soy inks and made in the U.S., along with great plantable gift tags. Sure, the paper may cost you a dollar or two more, but knowing the impact that this simple action made the decision to go green this Christmas an easy one!