Thursday, September 29, 2005

Happy Mountain Day (Mount Holyoke College)

Well I'm posting this a few hours late, but Wednesday was Mountain Day at Mount Holyoke College. For those of you that don't know, Mount Holyoke College was the first woman's college in the U.S., and yours truly, is an alum :) . Mountain Day is one of Mount Holyoke's traditions. On one beautiful day, every fall, the president of MHC will wake up, decide the day is just too gorgeous to spend indoors in class, and will declare it Mountain Day. All classes are canceled, and many students spend the day hiking up and then picnicking on the local mountains (ok, so they are more like really tall hills, and not vast mountains, but we didn't mind!). I don't think I ever climbed a mountain myself on Mountain Day (hey, it's a leisure day), but I do recall many happy ones just hanging around outside (for at least part of the day, if I wasn't swamped with work). I thought it was the coolest tradition; wish my grad school did this! So Happy (uh, belated) Mountain Day to all my friends and fellow alums!

Sources for Environmental Jobs (Environmental Job resources)

I just posted this on a forum a few days ago, so thought I'd post this here too. Here are many wonderful sources for job-hunting in the environmental field. It can be hard finding an environmental job (as I've been finding out), but hopefully the job market will be better in the coming months (once I finish grad school! :) ).

One of the best resources I've found for environmental jobs is EcoEmploy/ejobs. There are links to ecological jobs all over the U.S. in the non-profit, government, and private industries.


Also great is Idealist; my sister told me about this website many years ago, and I've found it to be one of the best resources for non-profit jobs. They have listings for positions all over the world.

For jobs in the federal government, check out their official job website, USAJOBS. Check under such agencies as Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, etc.

Americorps is a great place to get community-based/environmental jobs and internships. They don't pay very much but the work experience is great and you can get money for school (undergrad, grad school, and some specialty schools).

Student Conservation Association is a great organization. You can apply for internships all over the U.S. in many governmental agencies like National Park Service and other organizations. The stipend is small but they reimburse you for traveling expenses, provide housing, and you can get an Americorps Education Award. You don't have to be a current student to do this; I wasn't. (I think you have to be under a certain age though).

Environmental Careers Org has some internships and information on their site on getting a green career. They also publish one of the best books on the subject.

Look on the webpages of your favorite non-profits. One good non-profit, National Park Foundation in D.C. has on-going internships. They are the official non-profit of the National Parks. I did an internship there myself; the staff is extremely friendly, and I worked on a little bit of everything! The stipend is about $1300/month, and the internship lasts for 6 months, or was the last time I checked.

Also, if you're a student, go to your school's career center or check with your environmental studies or biology/science departments. Usually most departments send job links to the grad students. If you're not a grad student, ask anyways! Also your school's career center will provide help in improving your interviewing skills, and of course have many resources.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Finding environmentally friendly makeup brushes (all natural makeup information)

Sometimes finding a more environmentally friendly product can take a bit of sleuthing! One example of this is my search for more eco-friendly makeup brushes. Now though I advocate using all natural products over synthetic ones, since they are much friendly to the environment, there are times when synthetic is better! My criteria for eco-friendly makeup brushes are ones that are made of synthetic hairs, and that are cost effective; that is ones that don't cost an arm and a leg for this budget concious grad student!

I use mineral makeup, and there is a big debate whether animal hair brushes or sythetic taklon brushes are better; a lot of ladies prefer animal hair brushes over the taklon for the mineral/powder foundation, and taklon for the eye shadow. So it was a bit difficult trying to find a taklon foundation brush that was under $20.00.

I finally found a few good choices. Aromaleigh (a mineral makeup company) recently started carrying a nice taklon brush for foundation; their 'Total Coverage Face Taklon' brush. It is only $17.55. I am thinking of getting this, as it's gotten good reviews on Aromaleigh's forum (f.y.i. their mineral makeup is mainly natural and vegetarian, but be sure to read ingredients lists as some products contain parabens, synthetics, and carmine).

For eye shadow brushes, one thing that I did, was go to my local craft store (Michael's), went to their paint section, and bought a lot of taklon paint brushes (be sure to get regular taklon and not golden taklon which in my experience generally has harder bristles). I got like 12 brushes for $6 onsale (value packs), because Michael's have weekly 40-50% coupons! I did not, however, find a brush that fitted my foundation powder needs, as the taklon open stock brush heads were not dense/big enough for me (they were out of a lot). But other Michael's and craft stores in different areas may have different selections, so some one else may have better luck than me.

Overall I think my taklon brushes work really well with my mineral eye shadows because they really grab/hold onto the color.

For those who prefer animal hair over sythetic bristles, be sure to get ones from comapnies that have attained the hairs by cruelty-free methods (so the animals don't die). Some companies I've found are Aromaleigh, Monave, and Cory Cosmetics.

Fun at the festivals (National Book and Green Festivals review)

Overall, I had a very good time at both the National Book and Green Festivals on Saturday. D.C. was a happening place this weekend. In addition to these two fests, there was an anti-war protest (which I also saw a bit of), and several other festivals/conventions at the Convention Center. Here are some of the highlights of the Book and Green festivals.

I only stayed at the National Book Festival for maybe an hour and a half. I went there primarily to see Neil Gaiman's reading, and got there just as he was being introduced. He was extremely funny and warm (and not to mention cute, and all dressed in black, as usual ;) ). He mentioned that one of the reasons he wrote 'Anansi Boys' was because, after he had children, he began to understand that all children are embarassed by their parents, and he wanted to write about that and family ties. He also wanted to write a funny novel because it's been 15 years since he wrote one ('Good Omens' with Terry Pratchett) and people are convinced that he actually wrote 'Good Omens' as a serious novel, and that Terry ran after him like a pixie inserting all the funny lines and footnotes :). He read what he called one of the 'Anansi stories' from his new novel, which were based on actual Anansi myths. Another highlight was that that when he mentioned (at the beginning of his reading) that he was utterly bookless (from being shuffled all around, since he's on tour right now), one of his fans rushed up to the stage and handed him her copy of the book. I loved his reading, but it was way shorter than last year (I think last year each writer had at least 45 minutes if not an hour to speak, instead of 30 minutes like this year's). But I enjoyed it immensely.

After eating and listening to some poetry, I headed to the Green Festival (the reading was packed, and since I didn't have time to buy any books earlier, I knew that by the time I bought one and got to the line, it would be insanely long. Also I wanted to really go to the Green Festival, so I didn't bother to get anything signed). I had such a good time at the Green Festival. I talked to a lot of non-profits, including one of the directors of Defenders of Wildlife (whom I'm supposed to e-mail to get more information about Congress's attempt to undermine environmental laws like NEPA). I also found out that D.C. has a Vegetarian Society; I never knew that! I got lots of yummy recipes from them and a vegetarian restaurant guide of the area. I also bought a lot of natural cosmetics and got to talk to the owners of Terressentials, James and Diana, who are are really nice, and meet Nadina of Nadina's Cremes, who is a sweetie! (And I got the contact information for the vice president of Dr. Bronner's/Sun Dog's Magic (he wasn't there so I didn't get to meet him), so I could contact him and get some information for my paper on their lawsuit with the Organic Consumer Association against the USDA, for their attempt to weaken organic standards in natural cosmetics.) I got some free samples of a few products: lotion (Dr. Bronner/Sun Dog), laundry detergent and dish soap (Seventh Generation), and drank free tea. I also talked to a few yoga schools in the area, and inquired about classes.

Another totally cool thing that happened, was when I came upon the table for one of the herbal schools, and overheard the conversation between one of people at the booth, and an interested lady, talk about natural medicine and how this natural doctor in the area helped her. I pulled out my courage and asked the lady (the festival go-er) if I could have the name of her doctor. She kindly gave me the doctor's card (she happened to have it on her), and then gave me a hug, gave me her e-mail, and said to let her know how I'm doing in the future (I told her I had some health problems and all these western doctors couldn't help me). You know it's times like this when I truly feel like people actually do care and help each other; it helps me hold onto my faith in humanity, even when things look down.

And also totally awesome, as I was leaving I bought some african black soap (which I've never tried but heard so much about) from this local company called Divinity Vegannatural. However because of the reception, my credit card took forever to go through their machine (the signal kept going in and out). After walking around and coming back twice (so I could sign the slip), one of the nice owners said that it was ok, and that I already waited around long enough, and if I had to leave, it was fine. I offered to leave my contact information, but she said it wasn't necessary and she was sure it'd go through once they got outside, and if it didn't then I'd get free soap since I'd already earned it by waiting so long. So I shook their hands, and was about to leave, when one of the other owners hands me a small jar (for free) of their vegan hempchocolate body butter! They were so cool and nice. I do hope that their machine began working after I left; I know my money is good, but I wasn't so sure about their machine!
(the black soap is marvelous and the hempchocolate butter is absolutely delicious, by the way)

Most of the companies and organizations there were truly green, and the cosmetic ones were really 100% natural--even many that I hadn't even heard before. That said there were a few 'green washers' did show up; like Nature's Gate, a cosmetic company who claims to be 70% organic but whose products are cock full of synthetics. Their products are better than a lot of the other (conventional) cosmetic brands out there, but having any amount of synthetics in your product really defeats the whole purpose of being organic or natural!

All in all, I really enjoyed myself at the Green Festival today, and all the people I talked to were super friendly and nice except for this one company, Al-Qemi, whose TWO reps TOTALLY ignored me for several minutes, by concentrating on talking to someone else at their booth. Didn't even acknowledge my presense, so I walked away. Also they were supposed to have a community talk on natural cosmetics at 3 pm, that I was looking forward to, but they cancelled it! Didn't get to try out the free yoga though, not enough time.

Once I go through the ton of literature (I really DID get a lot), and sort through it all, I will report on all the different companies. Eventually.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Book and Green Festivals in D.C. (Things to do)

Just a quick reminder. The National Book Festival in D.C. is this weekend (September 24th, on the mall). It is free! I will definitely be there to see one of my most favorite authors, Neil Gaiman. He's presentating in the Fiction and Fantasy Pavilion from 12:40-1:10pm, and then signing from 2-4pm. He'll probably be reading from his new book, Anansi Boys. Be sure to line up quickly for the signing, as the line for him (as I discovered last year to my dismay) was long. Hopefully this year I'll actually get something signed.

After the Book Fest (which is why I might forgo the signing), I intend to head towards the Green Festival. It is also on September 24 and 25. It is at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, and cost $15 for adults each day, $7 for Students/Seniors, but kids 12 and under get in Free! Also if you ride your bike to get there you can get in for $5. There will be a lot there: clothing made out of organic and sustainable materials, organic food, fair trade coffee and chocolate, and speakers galore! Also free yoga and tai chi classes. Can we say I am excited this weekend?

Artic National Wildlife Refuge Rally (Environmental News)

Incidentally, last night (technically Tuesday night but really early Wednesday) I caught some* of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge rally that occurred on Tuesday on Capitol Hill (on Cspan-2). I'm glad I caught this on tv since I actually didn't hear about it, since I was buried in homework and then had to go to class. It was very intriguing to not only hear about the issue but also see the different techniques people used to present their speeches. In one of my classes ('Translating Environmental Policy and Science into Action', taught by environmentalist great Dr. Lee Talbot), I am learning the kinds of tools/strategies people use to promote action, and I really saw one of them (building rapport) coming into play. The speakers really tried to connect to all types of people from all walks of life, to bring the people together to induce change. They had children speak, a young budding environmentalist from Yale, Democrat and Republican Congressmen, a Jewish religion leader, well-known environmentalist advocates like Robert F. Kennedy, former government officials from the Clinton administration, etc. The speeches ranged from cute but informative (the children) to passionate to quite detailed.

One thing that made me really angry was the amount of money that drilling for oil in the Artic NWR would actually save: 1 penny per gallon off the price of gasoline in twenty years. Twenty years' time? And only a penny? One of the children had a better idea: by 'pumping it up'; by making sure tires are properly inflated, the U.S. could save 40 million gallons a year. Other interesting facts are that we use 25% of the world's oil, and that even if we drilled all the oil in the U.S. (including the Artic NWR and every other reserve we have) the U.S.'s oil reserve only accounts for 2% of the world's reserves. 2% versus 25%. As R.F. Kennedy said 'do the math, we don't have enough'. Bottom line--drilling in the Artic NWR is unnecessary and it won't solve any of our energy problems. The only things drilling will accomplish are destroying one of the last pristine areas left in the U.S. and filling the pockets of the greedy.

I hope those on the Capitol heard the message loud and clear.


(*I am sad that I missed John Kerry's and Hilliary Clinton's speeches since I had to go to bed--I saw this on C-span 2 around 3 am in the morning, and had to sleep so I could wake up early to do more homework. Ahh, the work of a grad school student. Well, at least I saw Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s speech).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

'Alaska Natives Offer a Herd Of Reasons to Block Oil Drilling' article (Environmental News)

Here's another good article on the Washington Post. The Gwich'in Nation (a Native American people) is advocating near the National Museum of the American Indian to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Their Nation of 8,000 people are dependent on the caribou that live there. The article made me a little sad, especially since the author, Vanessa de la Torre, emphasized that on some days few people stopped by to listen to the Gwich'in representatives (ironically even those that visit the museum).

As I was reading this article this morning, a Tori Amos (who is part Native American, by the way) song called 'Wampum Prayer' kept whispering in my mind.


In our hand
an old old
old thread

Trail of Blood
and Amens

Greed is the
gift for the
sons of the
sons

Hear this prayer
of the
wampum

This is the tie
that will
bind us


I think that pretty much sums it up.

'Congressmen Seek Endangered Species Change' article (Environmental News)

Here is an interesting article from the Washington Post. It appears that some congressmen (a handful of Republicans and Democrats) are proposing a bill that the Endangered Species Act be rewritten, to require that the government reimbuse land owners for losses incurred from protecting endangered species. Though this may intially sound like a good thing, the catch is that if the compensation isn't paid, then the government can not enforce the Endangered Species Act. According to many environmental groups, this provision would cost so much, that the law would become pretty much worthless. Hopefully it doesn't get passed.

Monday, September 19, 2005

All Natural Cosmetics and Products (all natural cosmetics and makeup information and books)

*Note: edited Sept 29, 2006 to remove a MMU company (Aromaleigh) which is no longer all natural.

I try to use only 100% natural products (or as close to them as possible). Ever since my skin has become super sensitive to chemicals, I've tried to stay away from synthetic ingredients in cosmetics and makeup. Throughout the years I've learned a lot about what really consitutes as natural, what is 'borderline' natural, and what simply isn't. It still astounds me how many companies 'green wash'; that is, claim to be natural or organic when they are not. In the coming weeks, I will profile many companies, reviewing their products, and commenting on their effectiveness. Most of them will be 100% natural, or as close to it as possible, and some will even be (or have some) organic (ingredients), though I will also try to profile why I won't use some of the other popular 'natural' brands (hey, I'm anal about this!). If some of their products contain synthetic ingredients, I will mention it.

Until then here are some good brands: Aubrey Organics (skin and hair, some makeup and household cleaners), Paul Penders (skin, hair, makeup), Burts Bees (skin, hair, makeup), and Badger Balms (skin). Aubrey Organics and Badger Balms also use some organic ingredients. For 100% natural and organic: Terressentials (skin and hair), MiEssence (from Australia; skin, hair, makeup), Dr. Bronner's and Sun Dog's Magic (skin, in particular soap and lotion), and Vermont Soap (soap, some cleaning products). For mineral makeup: Monave.

I recommend getting books on the subject or researching on the internet, since some of the companies in natural health food stores, while they may use a lot of natural ingredients, they really aren't 100% natural (Kiss My Face, Avalon, Nature's Gate, and Jason come to mind). They are way better than other companies though.

For a good site on the topic check out the Organic Consumers Association's website. Though this only focuses on 100% natural and organic standards, and may exclude 100% natural (though not organic) companies.

Also check the websites of some of the companies I've listed (in particular Aubrey Organics, Terressentials, Miessence, and Dr. Bronner/Sun Dog); lots of good information on the subject on their sites.

I would also suggest any book by Aubrey Hampton (of Aubrey Organics): 'What's in your cosmetics' is a good source on natural and synthetic ingredients in products (written like an encyclopedia). If I come across an ingredient I don't know, 95% it's in this book. 'Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care' is the book on natural versus synthetic comsetics. He's also written 'the Take Charge Beauty book' which I thought was better organized than 'Natural Organic' but 'Natural Organic' has more information. 'Take charge' has more recipes though.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Resources on 'going veg' (Vegetarian cookbooks and information)

One of the best things you can do for your health and the Earth is become vegetarian. Not only does eating fruits, vegetables, and grains provide your body with vital nutrients, but eating more of these foods also reduces your chances of developing a wide number of preventable diseases. Also 70% of the grains raised in the U.S. are fed to animals raised for food (PETA website, 2005); costing much unnecessary damage to the ecosystem.

With all the great choices available in the supermarket and the plethora of information nowadays, it's easier than ever to 'go veg'.

PETA has an amazingly good website to get people started on their vegetarian journey. They have a great free vegetarian starter kit that you can either request or download from them (as a pdf). It has recipes, all kinds of nutritional information, tips on children and vegetarianism, and lists a lot of other resources. I highly recommended reading it. They also have a wonderful cruelty free living section on their website.
I know a lot of people think PETA is a 'crazy vegan political-militant' organization, but I believe while at times they may be a bit extreme, they truly do a lot of good and offer many great vegetarian and environmental resources to the public.


Now on to my favorite part to discuss: the food. One of my most favorite vegetarian cookbooks is Madhur Jaffrey's 'World of the East Vegetarian Cooking'. This is one of the best cookbooks I've found for authentic types of Asian (Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian) and Middle Eastern cooking. Many of the recipes are vegan (a vegetarian that does not eat or use any animal derived products like meat, eggs, dairy, honey, leather, carmine, etc) as well. For more American style vegetarian cooking I suggest Mollie Katzen's 'Moosewood Cookbook'. Katzen's book is a classic; it is the book that popularized vegetarian food in America in the 1970s. There are a few good recipes in Rachel Ray's 'Veggie Meals'; but the recipes aren't really that innovative (mainly simple things like pasta, soups, and a couple of stir fries) but they are fast, easy to prepare, and delicious.

One of my most favorite vegan cookbooks is the 'Compassionate Cookbook' by PETA. There are a lot of wonderful recipes in it. My sister gave me this in 1992 (I think), and it is still one of my favorites :). It is kind of hard to find; PETA sells it on their website as a pdf, and Pangea sells the paper copy.

Foodnetwork's site is great too. And don't forget to check out my sister's blog for great recipes, reviews on restaurants, and pictures of her new cute kitties :) .

And don't forget, even if you choose not to become vegetarian, there are still plenty of ways to eat in a more environmentally friendly manner. Try replacing a few meals a week with familiar vegetarian foods like pizza, pasta, stir fries, or incorporate some vegetarian 'mock' meat products like veggie burgers in your diet. Or if you're feeling more daring, try something totally different like a tasty vegetable curry or paneer. Buy more organic food, and, if you eat dairy and eggs, free range products.

Remember small steps and changes are better than not doing anything at all. Your body and the planet will thank you.

All Natural Glass, Mirror, and Window Cleaner, and 'Clean House, Clean Planet' book (Natural Cleaning and Book plug)

I really hate the smell of Windex. So I've been trying to find a replacement for it for a while. A lot of natural house cleaning books suggest vinegar (white), which works great (the smell dissipates quickly, or if the smell really bothers you, infuse some herbs in it, or add a few drops of essential oils) but I couldn't use it on my car's windows, since vinegar is acidic and I was afraid if it got on the paint, it'd mess it up or something. I finally found a great all natural cleaner for my car's windows: club soda. I kid you not. I found the tip in 'Clean House, Clean Planet' by Karen Logan. It really works--my car's windows were so dirty because I haven't washed my baby for a while, and I used some, and it not only got rid of the dirt but dried to a streak free shine (be sure to use one towel to wipe, and one to dry to avoid water spots though). How's that for an environmentally friendly tip that's good for the planet, doesn't smell at all, AND cheaper than the chemical stuff? Can't wait to try more tips from that book; it is awesome!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Neil Gaiman (Author/blog link)

I first heard of Neil Gaiman through the music of Tori Amos. I've been listening to Tori's music since 1992, and was curious about who this 'Neil Gaiman' was that she kept singing about (Neil's name has appeared in several of her songs). It wasn't until about 5 or 6 years ago, when I was searching for new authors to read, that I stumbled across a copy of "Stardust". I admit the thing that made me decide to read it was that Tori had sang about Neil making her into a tree in one of her songs ("Horses" from the 'Boys for Pele' album), and Neil had made her a tree in this book. I fell in love with his writing, and since then have read all of his books (I still haven't gotten around to any of his famous "Sandman" comic books though; kind of out of my comic book phase, but the stories and artwork are supposed to be fantastic). The things I love about his writing are his humor and insight on many different subjects, and his originality.

Aside from writing wonderful books (and comic books), he also has a very interesting blog. Recent topics include the adoption and picture of a new kitty bent on world domination, and homemade 'Satanic tomato' salsa for sale to benefit the recent hurricane victims.

I had the opportunity to hear him read at last year's National Book Festival. For those who missed it, he is also reading at this year's also (on September 24th).

Make Your Own Aromatherapy Sprays (Aromatherapy/Essential Oil Recipe)

A wonderful way to incorporate aromatherapy in your life is to use an aromatherapy spray. Sprays have a multitude of uses. Some of my favorite uses include: air freshener, a light body perfume/cologne spray, a spray to lightly scent the hair (hair holds scent really well), to freshen up clothes, a bacteria buster/antiseptic spray (great to use when you're sick or for the trashcan), a body deodorant or odor remover, an insect repellent or spray for insect bites, or for those times you just need to take a moment to breathe slowly, relax, and destress! The possibilities are endless; the only difference between all these sprays is the concentration and kinds of essential oils you use.

Sprays are really easy to make:

For every 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) of spray:

1 teaspoon of vodka or witch hazel extract
3 to 12 drops of essential oils (about 3 drops makes a 0.5% concentration, and about 12 drops makes a 2% concentration)
5 teaspoons of distilled or spring water

Add the essential oils first, then the alcohol, then the spring/distilled water. Shake gently before each use.

Shelf life is a couple weeks.  For a longer shelf life (for up to a few months), omit the water, and use 6 teaspoons of vodka.  Note: for some uses (like skin uses) you might not want to use that much vodka, and might want to follow the original recipe, or just reduce the water and increase the vodka a little.

Notes:

For general air fresheners, I recommend using a lower concentration, unless the area you are spraying in is really stinky! The reason I recommend 0.5% concentration or less is that some essential oils are solvents or can discolor fabrics etc. Mainly these are the citrus oils (I never understood why some companies put citrus essential oils into their laundry detergent formulas, since they are mild solvents and can affect the dyes). Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) absolute, oleoresin, or CO2 extract is heavenly. My sister loves grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and lime (Citrus aurantifolia) essential oils!

Body and hair sprays: you can use up to a 2% concentration unless your skin is very sensitive. Good essential oil suggestions are lavender (Lavendula officinalis aka L. vera aka L. angustifolia), rose (Rosa damascena, R. rugosa, R. centifolia, R. alba), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata, available in different fractionations), or your favorite!  Be mindful that some essential oils, like angelica root (Angelica archangelica) and some (and not all) of the citrus essential oils are mildly phototoxic (make your skin more sensitive to the sun).  You can read about phototoxicity in this post and also in this post.  If you choose to use the phototoxic essential oils, just spray your hair and clothes.

For clothes: Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) and lavender would be good choices for clothes. They used to scent clothes in the Middle Ages with both of these herbs to keep them fresh smelling and also to repel insects. Use a low concentration of essential oils.   Don't use angelica root, since it can attract insects.

To kill bacteria: 2% is fine, but if you must, you can go up to 5% (30 drops of essential oils per ounce) but mind where you are spraying (fabrics or materials)! In aromatherapy, less is best; and a 2% concentration is strong enough to kill bacteria.  Most essential oils are antibacterial, but some are antiseptic, and some even are anti-viral. Lavender and tea-tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) are wonderful since they are all of these.

For body deodorant, use a 2% concentration, and also use more alcohol. Use up to 50% vodka/witch hazel to distilled/spring water. Lavender, clary sage (Salvia sclarea), the citrus essential oils, and tea tree are good choices.

General odors (trash can etc): see general air spray uses.

Insect repellent: a 2% concentration is good. Spray on your clothes, hair, and skin, careful not to get in the eyes. Good insect repellents are lavender (though flower scents can attract bees), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), atlas cedarwood, patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), and lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora).

To apply on insect bites: lavender, blue aka german chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) or roman chamomile (Arthemis nobilis) , and tea tree essential oils. 2% concentration.

Relax: Many essential oils are great for relaxing! Try lavender, rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), any of the citrus oils, rose, jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum, J. sambac, and J. auriculatum), or whatever you like! Up to 2%.

For facial sprays, I would use a 1/2% concentration.  There are many great essential oils you can use for the facial skin like lavender, rose, neroli (Citrus aurantium), jasmine, ylang ylang, and more!


Note: it's better if your spray bottle is made of glass (some essential oils eventually eat through plastic). Colored glass is best (essential oils degrade in sunlight). But if you decide to use a plastic spray bottle, just check it from time to time for leaks.

If making sprays for children, use 1/2% concentration, and research well before use.  Many essential oils are not suitable for babies and young kids.

Edited March 5, 2014: minor revisions and to add a little more information.  Added links to some of my other essential oil posts. 

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina (Disaster Relief)

Compassion and hope are truly the things that make us human. If you can, please donate to the recent hurricane victims. Many local supermarkets, schools, government centers, non-profits, and religious groups are currently accepting monetary donations. If you prefer to donate online, I recommend donating to well-established organizations like the American Red Cross or check your favorite news channel's website for a list of more organizations.
Here is NBC's list of organizations; there are links to donate cash, to donate and volunteer, and to offer housing to the victims.

Many may wonder why organizations prefer monetary donations over sending food, supplies, and clothing. First, sending money to places is simply easier and more cost effective; if an organization (which is not in the devastated area) sent food and supplies directly, there are things like transportation costs, temporary storage issues, loading, unloading, and sorting issues to consider, which may impede getting the supplies faster to those in need. Also organizations usually have a better idea of what is needed in an emergency, and with your monetary donations can buy exactly what the victims need. Furthermore, most organizations will purchase goods from businesses in the surrounding devastated areas, which further helps the affected local communities. These are only some of the good reasons why most organizations prefer monetary donations. So please donate today and help make a difference.