Thursday, June 27, 2013

Everlasting Plastic -- Another reason to use natural

This is a shared article, not one penned by myself. Very interesting!!!
All the more reason to use salt or sugar scrubs!!

Plastics in the Great Lakes

Guest post from Dr. Marcus Eriksen, executive director of The 5 Gyres Institute
When we joined the crew of the Flagship Niagara to study plastic pollution in three of the Great Lakes this summer – Superior, Huron, and Erie. We had no idea we would find a greater number of plastic fragments than any other water surface sample collected around the world.
The 5 Gyres Institute has traveled to each of the five subtropical gyres in the North and South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, collecting over 500 samples of the water surface. In the Sargasso Sea we had a few samples with over 400 particles of plastic pollution. Our net has a 1/3rd millimeter mesh with a 60cm wide opening. It looks like a manta ray, and is towed behind the boat at 2knots for one hour, so you’re collecting roughly 2 football fields of area when you trawl. You can imagine our surprise when we counted 1596 particles from one sample taken a couple hundred miles east of Cleveland, Ohio. But the fragments are tiny.
They look like little perfect spheres, multi-colored beads, the size of the period at the end of this sentence, and they’re everywhere. These micro-beads are difficult to find in the water. They are dirty, look just like fish eggs, and you need a microscope to tell the difference. But they are easy to spot on store shelves. In fact, many products say “microbeads” on the front, and in the ingredients section you’ll see “polyethylene”. They are the exfoliants in skin care products.
They are designed to abrade you face when you rub those creams into your skin. They are designed to wash down the drain, quickly finding their way into our waterways. This is the exact opposite of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) we aim to see in everything we manufacture, where you consider the full lifecycle of your product when you sell it. It’s just common sense. No longer can we consider the land and sea to absorb garbage unnoticed. We bought 4 skin products to see just what the exfoliating materials are.
Two of the products state they contain microbeads, and when you dissolve them in water and pour it over a t-shirt, what’s left behind is plastic. Two of the products were different, after dissolving them in water, we found crushed apricot shells in one and cocoa beans in the other. One is the problem, the other is the solution. We’ve uncovered a problem, once unseen, but now obvious to us all. The alternatives, Apricot shells and cocoa beans, do the same thing that polyethylene microbeads can do, but with the added benefit of being environmentally benign.
There are three approaches that must happen simultaneously in order to reach a positive conclusion. First, the consumer is responsible for their choice, both at the checkout line and voting booth, so we must raise public awareness. Second, EPR is a legislative move, one that makes companies adhere to the right choice. But we prefer the third option here, the one that puts choice in the hands of the companies making the product in the first place. Businesses, like Nutrogena and Johnson & Johnson, have known about the natural exfoliants for years, but they may not know that their product pollutes the Great Lakes. With this information, we believe good people will do the right thing. This means ending the use of plastic microbeads in consumer products.
This study was conducted in collaboration with SUNY Fredonia, specifically Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason, and with funding provided by the Burning River Foundation.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beer Soap

I made a batch of beer soap some time ago and was very put off by the smell. I decided to give it another try since I had purchased some alcoholic beverage fragrance oils. I helped myself to one of my husband's beers and there was no turning back. Unfortunately, despite adding a considerable amount of Oatmeal Stout fragrance oil, I still only smell the icky smell I remember from my first attempt. I will stick it out and see if perhaps it will become more pleasant as it cures. Here are pictures of today's soaps.

Blackberry Jam

Cucumber Cantaloupe


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Oatmeal Stout Beer Soap

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Soaps

It's been quite a while since I made soap, so, today was the day. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out the way I planned. I wanted to try to delay the browning effect of fragrances which contain vanilla, so, used a vanilla color stabilizer for the Chocolate Covered Strawberry loaf. For some unexplained reason, when I added the fragrance/stabilizer to the soap, it turned bright yellow. I wanted it to be creamy white.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Cucumber Cantaloupe

Rosemary Eucalyptus

Friday, May 24, 2013

Biker Theme Baskets

I was asked to make two baskets to be used for Chinese Auction at upcoming biker events. This is what I came up with.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Gift Baskets

Making gift baskets is an excellent way of putting together a collection of your finest products.  Here are pictures of a recent basket I made.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

“Synthetic” vs. “Natural” . The debate goes on.

We all have our own opinion regarding what "ALL NATURAL" means. Surprisingly, the opinions are as vast as the informational articles clarifying or disputing one opinion versus another. Is there a right or wrong opinion? Who can say? As with all of us, the true definition is what we each belive it to be.

It has always annoyed the life out of me to see handmade products highly advertised as "ALL NATURAL" but on examination of the ingredients, find highly controversial synthetic ingredients, generally the ingredients being used as a preservative. To me, ALL NATURAL means use of ingredients found in nature. Period. Perhaps I am wrong.

In researching this topic in an effort to educate myself, I did learn some interesting facts. Scientific facts, not someone's opinion, should be considered when educating oneself on the never to be settled controversy of what is natural and why or how is it better than synthetic.

According the U.S. National Organics Program (NOP), a natural substance is derived from a plant, mineral or animal source, without having undergone a synthetic process . Physical and biological processes can still render a substance as natural. A good example would be a food product such as corn. When dried corn kernels are removed from the cob, milled and turned into corn flour there has been a physical change, but is still considered natural.

A synthetic substance is a compound which is made artificially through chemical reactions. Natural substances have been chemically modified through human labour or skill to yield substances which are chemically different from the pre-reaction substances. The NOP definition of a synthetic is a substance which has been formulated or manufactured by a chemical process, and has chemically altered a substance which was derived from a naturally occurring plant, mineral or animal source.

When contemplating synthetic versus natural we are considering the difference between how each is made or how they come into being. Structurally there is not any difference between their molecules. The molecules are identical.

Believe it or not, water can be "made" in a lab.What makes water act like water is its molecular structure, that is, the type of atoms its molecules contain and how they are arranged relative to each other, and not how the molecule was built in the first place. Does making it in a lab make water any less "NATURAL"? Hmm. How would this be any different than manipulating other molecules in the lab to "create" other "natural" products?

One important difference between substances found in nature and those synthesized in the lab, however, can be the difference in cost. For example, substances which occur in nature in small quantities that are hard to extract from the plant or animal in which they occur, can be very expensive. So one great advantage of being able to unravel nature’s secrets and reproduce them in the lab is that, once the process is discovered, it becomes much cheaper to synthesize substances in the lab than it is to get them from nature.

Needless to say, the controversity over natural versus synthetic, or even what defines natural, will go on as long as life itself.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Ahead with New Ideas

With Spring approaching, I am working hard at new packaging for my products and will be taking pictures outdoors in natural light. Wish my daughter lived closer. She is an excellent photographer and has a photographer's eye, knowing just what to do to create stunning photos.
Labeling and packaging have always been a challenge for me. Too many choices. Colored, white or clear labels, or, hang tags. Font size, color and design. Company logo versus picture to match fragrance.
Right now, I am leaning towards 2 labels for each product. Trying to cram  everything (including ingredients) onto one label tends to make the label too busy, or, even require a magnifying glass to read. I don't want my customers to think I am trying to cover up something by making the print so small. It has been a matter of trying to get all of the pertinent information on one label. If I could really come up with something I liked and wanted to stick with for a while, it would probably be cheaper to have them done professionally than to buy labels and ink and print them myself.
I am also working on a flyer to use for marketing purposes. I will definitely have these professionally printed.