From the Pantry to the Bathroom: Toner Edition

March 27, 2009

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I haven’t posted an installment in From the Pantry to the Bathroom lately, partly because I haven’t stumbled upon another recipe or ingredient as miraculous as coconut oil, which I realized works as both a moisturizer, a hair-softener and a deodorant. So this time, I’m going to write about something I have mixed feelings about, and maybe you readers can offer your opinion, too, and help make the final call.

A while ago, my friend Meghan mentioned that she was using apple cider vinegar on her face as a toner after washing. When my attempt at no ‘poo eventually failed, I had some ACV leftover with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla extract in it, and decided to try it out. I don’t normally use toner because, frankly, I don’t get why we need yet another ablution in between washing, drying and moisturizing, but I gave it a shot.

Well, it left my face smelling pretty yummy, but that’s about it. I wasn’t getting more/less pimples; it wasn’t getting more/less dry or oily; it was just staying the same. Then, a couple weeks ago, I noticed I was getting weird rashes under the outside corners of my eyes, so I decided to stop using it. (Unfortunately, the rashiness is lingering, but I’m throwing buckets of essential oils and Vitamin E on it).

This isn’t to say that I’ve fallen out of love with ACV — this acidic companion is great to have on hand for everything from salad dressings to natural remedies — but as a toner? Meh. What do you think?


Josh still wants to marry Laurie David

March 22, 2009

My friend Josh, a fellow Toronto environmentalist, reached a commendable level of Internet fame a while back when he made a short video of himself proposing to Laurie David, the now ex-wife of Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Larry David and producer of An Inconvenient Truth. Apparently, she didn’t respond, but now Josh has upped the production values and given it another shot. Watch the video here:

Personally, I love the backdrops of Union Station, the awkward pauses to clarify the specifics of what he means when he says “greenhouse”, and the magic transformation of smokestack into wind turbine. And of course, there’s nothing sexier than rapping in the Allan Gardens conservatory.

Meanwhile, you can see more of Josh’s stuff around the YouTube parts. Being a proud Canuck, he’s made a series of films featuring a beaver, but one of the funniest is probably the story of Terry Cloth, a lovesick towel with a green heart (well, a fabric heart, at least) and a penchant for biodegradable laundry detergent.


A green report on my very ungreen trip to Tunisia

March 13, 2009

Sorry for the extended absence, folks — I’ve been away on vacation, and there’s not much in the way of high-speed wireless in rural Tunisia.

Yep, that’s where I was. Nefta, Tunisia. Far, far, FAR away from Toronto, Canada. Now, I realize some of you will take the fact that I flew all the way to North Africa for a 10-day trip as reason enough not to keep reading this blog. I know it’s hypocritical of me to make claims of being an environmentalist and then proceed to spew over 20 hours’ worth of carbon into the atmosphere for pleasure’s sake. And I don’t really have any solid defense for this argument. All I can say is that there are hundreds of things I’m willing to do in the name of protecting and respecting the Earth, but right now, restraining my air travel isn’t one of them, and this out of nothing but complete selfishness on my part — I have a strong desire to see the world (that I’m polluting) first-hand, to experience what it feels like to be caught in a sandstorm, bottle-feed a baby camel, walk around a date plantation at dusk, and so on.

Anyway, that’s the only rationale I can give you, so for those still reading, here are a few photos and accompanying captions that address some of the green and not-so-green goings on in Tunisia, home of Star Wars, the Sahara Desert, date farming, Berber tribes and dromedary love.

OiLibya Gas Station in Tozeur

OiLibya Gas Station in Tozeur

As my boyfriend commented upon seeing this: “Well, at least they’re honest about it.” This was in Tozeur, where we picked up our rental cars (the most compact, fuel-efficient ones I could find; plus, there were four of us to each car). Filling up a tank costs about 40 dinars, which is $35 Canadian, which is pretty cheap. I don’t know about you, but whenever I saw this sign, I kept shaking my head and saying “Oy, Libya”…

A baby camel in Matmâta, a typical troglodyte village

A baby camel in Matmâta, a typical troglodyte village

How cute overload is this? Can you see his little milk moustache, too? I had just fed this guy some milk from a bottle and wanted to bury my face in his fluffy hump and snuggle him forever. Camels are everywhere in this country and are used for transportation, tourism and unfortunately food. What’s reassuring, though, is that they’re treated well — all the camels I saw looked well-fed and happy.

Environment Mouse

Environment Mouse

Readers, meet Environment Mouse. This cartoon rodent with enormous ears (“Qu’est-ce que c’est la souris avec les grandes oreilles?” my French-speaking friend inquired of a cab driver one day, which led us to the answer) is Tunisia’s green mascot. He doesn’t do much, other than adorn garbage cans, but we still love him.

An organic date farmer

An organic date farmer

My friend Rob snapped this photo of an organic date farmer at a plantation just outside Tozeur. We originally wanted to visit a date factory but ended up getting semi-lost; then, just as we pulled into a driveway to turn around and go home, we stumbled upon a small house and this man, who turned out to be the owner of all the palm trees around us. He gladly showed us around and explained why it was so important to grow these things organically — for instance, all dates have insects in them when harvested, but conventional methods include extracting these with toxic gases while the organic process involves freezing them. We got to eat dates fresh off the stem with no glucose coating, and the farmer even gave me my own palm tree seedling to plant at home (unfortunately, I wasn’t going to take a chance with Canada Customs, so I left it behind for the dude at Avis to take care of). I’m planning on writing more about this for my Sense & Sustainability column at the Post (this week’s story was on garburators, by the way), so watch out for it!

greenland

Flying over Greenland

And finally, here’s a snapshot from the flight back, where we flew over Greenland and, yes, there was a very direct and somewhat ironic connection between the plane I was in and the icebergs that were melting down below. But as depressing as that may be, it’s still beautiful.

That’s it for now; stay tuned!


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