Category Archives: Fewer Chemicals

There are sections within this topic to discuss how we are trying to reduce our exposure to chemicals in our food, cleaning products, household items, health and beauty products.

21 Jan

Rare Earth Naturals – Natural Perfume Oil Review


I am a woman that loves scents!  I love walking past the candle shop or the soap isle at the store.  I’m always drawn to products that have scent, but since going ‘all natural’ I’ve been trying products with natural fragrances instead of synthetic ones.


Rare Earth Naturals is a company that creates perfumes, candles and aromatherapy items based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  They advertise that their products are 100% all natural and artisan made.  They are also made in the USA, which is another plus in my book (since that is where I live, and although not local to me, they are part of the small business economy that I very much support).  All their perfumes are synthetic free and responsibly sources.


I tried two of their perfumes.  One called Beleza and one called Amani.  Personally, if could only wear one fragrance for the rest of my life it would be the Beleza hands down.  It is my all time favorite scent!

I like to wear the Beleza on days I want to feel connected to my creativity and my inner spirit.  I Prefer the scent of Amani on days I am active with errands, gardening, or otherwise being on the move.


The description from their website for these two perfumes is as follows:

Beleza -  A goddess-like fragrance, pretty, complex, and deeply flora. Think flowers whispering secrets in a mysterious language. Key notes of zdravetz, jasmine, cistus labdanum with vibrational flower essences of pretty face and lotus to inspire feelings of inner beauty

Amani – A sea-like fragrance, clear and tranquil with a hint of woody spice. Think driftwood off the Swahili coast. Key notes of Australian blue cypress, ylang ylang, and sandalwood with added vibrational flower essences of dogwood to inspire gentleness and inner harmony


One thing I really like about their scents is the way that over the first few hours they slowly change as the oils evaporate through a kaleidoscope of subtle variations.  The scents last a long time and have a wonderful depth.


I started following the company on Facebook and enjoy the periodic specials and coupons.  If you have a question about any of the ingredients I have found they are very helpful.


The price for their perfume oil seems very reasonable for the quality that they are providing.  A $20 roll on bottle lasted me months using it almost every day.  Sometimes I like to use the roll on perfume on my arms or legs and then add several drops of my own Jojoba oil, and basically use the Rare Earth scent to perfume my daily ‘Jojoba’ moisturizing routine…then the scent really goes an extra long way!


Even though my local store stopped carrying this product, I will be re-ordering from their website when I run out.  You can too by visiting their website at


02 Apr

Jojoba Oil as a Natural Facial Cleanser – Review

Facial cleansing and moisturizing…you don’t need ANY of those expensive products! I have streamlined my facial cleansing and moisturizing routine down to very minimal, natural products and in this post I wanted to talk about Jojoba oil for facial cleansing and moisturizing.

First, let me say that I have problem skin, it is oily, but peels like it is dry, I get blemishes and acne like a teenager even though I am hitting mid life, and I’m prone to redness, itchy patches and an overall dissatisfying complexion. So, I’m probably pretty normal.

When I say facial cleansing, I do mean simply washing your face. So the first Aha moment is that using oil to wash your face is better than using soap! Soap strips your skin of all the natural oils, and causes your skin to produce more oil than it needs to replenish what you just stripped off…it puts your skin into a panic mode and it overcompensates. I didn’t use soap per se, but I used acne face wash…so basically the same thing…maybe harsher. I really thought I needed the acne medicine part of the equation.

Of course for someone who is prone to break outs, the idea of using oil to wash your face sounds ridiculous. But I read article after article explaining how oil is better than soap (I’ll let you do your own search if you want more info) and decided to take the plunge and just see what happened.

My review of using jojoba oil to “wash” my face is nothing but positive. First I just rub the oil on my face to dissolve make up and rinse with water and a wash cloth. Then I put oil on my face again if necessary to get all the make up off (depends on how much make up I wore that day, most days it isn’t much, but on music gig nights it might take a bit more wash, rinse and repeat cycles) Actually, the oil is great at removing eye make up…I realized why when I threw away my eye make up remover and noticed it was basically mineral oil, ha, who knew? So then, if I need to, I’ll put some oil on a facial scrub sponge and exfoliate the dry looking skin. After I’m done I just use the wash cloth to remove the excess oil and volai…my face is clean and not tight feeling like after I wash with soap!

So, what about the break outs? I have to say that I noticed absolutely no difference after switching to the oil in terms of more break outs…not more, not less. What I did notice was less redness, less flaky skin, less tightness, less fine lines and generally, just more comfortable skin and a nicer overall complexion.

So as far as moisturizing goes…I just use the jojoba oil. I don’t need to slather on moisturizer any more because my face doesn’t get dried out by washing it with soap…but when I do need a little, I just use a few drops of the oil.

I got rid of several products that I used to use on my face and replaced them all with one small bottle of jojoba oil. I stopped buying a couple types of moisturizer, a couple types of face wash, and an exfoliating mask…and now use jojoba oil in place of them all. It works better, costs less, and reduces the amount of plastic bottles in the landfill. Less products and bottles and tubes also means less clutter in my bathroom and also makes it more convenient when I travel because I don’t need as many products! Win, Win, Win!

25 Mar

Glyphosate and your Gut

I was watching a lecture on YouTube called “Seeds of Doubt Conference – Part 2 of 6″

This lecture was given by Don Huber PhD. in 2012 and I heard a couple of things that he said that I wanted to share (He starts talking about these two things at about the 13 minute mark).

He was talking very scientifically about the effects of Glyphosate – the active ingredient in Round-up. He was specifically talking about how it chemically affects plants and nutrient absorption; it’s mechanisms of how it works. I found the lecture to be dry, but very informative and chemistry heavy. I thought I would pull out a couple of things that surprised me and tell you about them, because, I doubt many people will listen to an hour long lecture on the chemistry of Glyphosate. And, just to keep in mind, the reason this is important is because all GMO crops, and many (the majority I believe) other food crops, are sprayed with Glyphosate before you eat them.

1st – 80% of the Glyphosate stays in the plant. Which means you EAT it!, or the Cow’s eat it, etc. I didn’t realize that they used Glyphosate on non GMO crops too…basically they spray it on wheat, barley, peas, etc. to desiccate them (kill them and stop them from growing) before they harvest them.

2nd – the Glyphosate in the food goes into your gut and affects the balance of gut bacteria to favor those that harm us and make us sick. He said “in your intestine it (Glyphosate) stimulates clostridium ( encourages bio-toxins, stimulates clostridium perfingens ( difficile (or diarrhea), salmonella and e ‘coli. Glyphosate is toxic to many of the beneficial organisms in the soil (and in your gut) which normally control these pathogenic (bad) organisms.” This means that both in your gut, and in the soil, the balance tilts in favor of the negative pathogenic organisms.

Why is your gut bacteria balance important? Mounting evidence shows that it effects more then we ever thought about your health, including Obesity, Heart Disease, your immune system, your brain, and even infant colic ( Some people are even starting to suggest a link to Autism and depression, so research into these connections has started to become more prominent and as we study the relationship of gut bacteria to health, I predict the connection to Glyphosate will not be far behind.

Another great gut bacteria study is currently being undertaken, to catalog and study the variety of gut bacteria in people throughout the world…The Human Microbiome Project ( being conducted by the US National Institute of Health.

Just another reason to eat only organic food! And to keep the laws for organic food labeling very strict!

14 Mar

Raw Manuka Honey for Natural Skin Care – Review

My Experience with Manuka Raw Honey as a Health and Beauty Product.
In the quest to use more natural beauty products one of the first products that I had read quite a bit about and wanted to try was Raw Manuka Honey.

Raw honey is honey that has not been heated and pasteurized. Manuka Honey is honey that is made by bees primarily taking nectar from the flowers of the tea tree…which grow wild in New Zealand and Australia. This honey is very specific, and quite expensive, because it is only produced in this small part of the world.

Since it is so expensive, it has become very profitable for those selling it, and in fact, most of the Raw Manuka Honey sold is actually not Manuka Honey at all, but counterfeit. So right off the bat, I have to say, that I am suspicious of spending so much money for something that I can’t even be sure is the real article. Some estimates put the percentage of counterfeit Manuka honey on the market today as high as 80% or more. So in my opinion that is strike one against using this product.

Raw Manuka Honey (as well as Raw Honey made from nectar from other flowers) It is touted as having a lot of therapeutic effects and being very beneficial for your skin. I have read a lot of the research, I believe there are definite benefits of raw honey over pasteurized honey, but I’m not convinced that there is a huge benefit of Manuka Raw Honey over non Manuka Raw Honey to justify the additional cost.

Raw Honey does have therapeutic benefits such as having antibacterial properties. Research indicates that Raw Honey doesn’t work like an antibacterial lotion, killing 99% of germs and leaving the 1% not effected to become “super bacteria”, it in fact, by it’s physical properties kills ALL of the one celled organisms because they can not physically live in the environment of the Honey.

So I tried using it on minor scrapes and cuts, and on other wounds as you might use an antibacterial ointment. I put some Raw Honey on the affected area, and put a bandage over it. The results were very good. It is very good at keeping wounds from getting infected, and they seemed to heal as fast, or faster than similar wounds I have treated using antibacterial ointment. So, indeed, as people have known for Thousands of years, Raw Honey is great for wound care. I give Raw Honey a thumbs up for first aid!

I also used the Raw Honey as a Facial. I tried the raw Honey by itself, as sort of a cleanser. Rubbed it on my face by itself….massaged it in, let it sit on my face for 10 or 15 minutes, and rinsed it off. It smelled good. It tasted good on my lips while I waited to rinse it off. But, did it do anything form my acne or rosacea, or skin in general? Well…no…not really. In fact, I think it made my skin red and somewhat uncomfortable and even a little itchy. I really didn’t like the way the honey made my face feel. I tried this about twice a week for a month. Still I got the same results…I didn’t get the improvements in my complexion that I was hoping for. I also tried adding course sea salt to the Honey and used it as a exfoliator scrub. I tried this concoction at least half a dozen times. I definitely did not like the results of this regimen on my skin. It was much too harsh and made my skin red and inflamed. Now, keep in mind, I do not have great skin…I have sensitive skin, and some mild rosacea and acne, so for my skin type the Raw Honey, both by itself, and with Sea Salt, is just too harsh. I really wanted to like this as a facial product because of how many other Blogs described Raw Manuka Honey as a great beauty skin product, but it failed my tests.

So I’m putting a small amount in my first aid kit, and the rest is going in my evening tea.

11 Mar

Sprawlstainable – New and Improved for 2014

Spawlstainable began as a two year chronicle of Dan and Mary Deweese’s journey to create a more sustainable lifestyle while living in the suburbs. Their 2 year goal was to reduce their energy consumption by 50% (which they did) and to grow 10% of their own food (which they didn’t). After the two years was up they had many followers, and had enjoyed their blogging experience, but new things came along and Sprawlstainable went dormant, without updates, for another couple of years. Now, Mary is resurrecting Sprawlstainable with new categories, a new mobile compatible word press template, and most importantly, a new commitment to adding content, because, even though the blogging had taken a hiatus, the Deweese’s journey towards sustainable living did not, and there is a lot to write about and catch up on… welcome to the New and Improved Sprawlstainable Blog….Thanks for Visiting!

Mary Deweese

16 Apr

We’re Part of the Problem… Now What?

in the middle of the sprawl

Not too long ago I woke up and realized…I’m living as part of the problem: the middle of suburbia…in an outdated, energy hog of a house, a big grassy yard, and a car I drive every time I need anything because I’m smack dab in the middle of residential sprawl.

What can I do about the environmental problems?  Should I move to the city and live in a dense urban core?  Should I move to the country and live off the land and off the grid?  Certainly being in the suburbs is the worst place to be…everybody says so. “Sprawl”: it is a bad word, and I am part of it.  I grew up in a cul-de-sac neighborhood…and now I live in one. Read More

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