home life, hygiene, money, natural living

Changing Your Focus

I previously wrote about Finding Your Focus, mentioning that right now my family was focused on money. It’s tax season, we’re taking a good hard look at our financials, so it just makes sense.

I feel all over the place right now as I find my footing with my new work-from-home life, and that is definitely reflected in this blog. Because right now, I feel like our focus should be finding the products that are best for our family.

We recently switched from Crest or Colgate toothpastes (whatever was cheapest in a 2 pack) to Tom’s of Maine. Now we love our Tom’s toothpaste, so I’m keeping track of how long one tube lasts us – me, my husband, and the 8 year old use the adult mint toothpaste. My 3 year old uses the kids’ fruit-flavored toothpaste and loves it, but of course it will last longer with just him using it.

The point is, we all love this toothpaste now, so it will be worth the expense, even if it’s not as cheap as another brand’s 2 pack. So we’re not saving green by buying this, but we’re using a natural product which is healthier for our family, and Tom’s offers recycling options for something that isn’t usually recyclable. That’s worth it to me, because I’d rather use a sensible product and dispose of it properly instead of buy something cheap, use it, and throw it in the landfill.

We are taking our time while we look at other products we use, trying to make good choices for what we use often. I’ll have to get into our kitchen and food situation another time, since it is always a work in progress. But switching toothpaste is a good start, and I have already switched to Tom’s of Maine deodorant. We drink Equal Exchange coffee because it is fair trade. My friend Victoria has some great information and resources about fair trade products, which we’ll also explore later. For us, it’s definitely worth finding quality, environmentally-friendly products and maybe spending a little more money, but getting more out of your investment in the long run.

How do you feel about spending more for something natural, fair trade, or made locally?

home life, hygiene

Brusha Brusha Brusha: Trying Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

It seems like I’ve been focused on toothpaste lately, so that’s where I’ll start.

We ran out of toothpaste a week or two ago. I mentioned we were using up my old travel tubes – old, but still good. They did the trick.

But we were almost out of those, too, so while I was at the store I picked up a tube of Tom’s of Maine Simply White. I know Tom’s is natural, but I’ve never used any of these products. Since we just needed a tube to hold us over until our subscription box* arrived, I wanted to give it a shot.

I brought it home and labeled it with the date, because I want to start taking note of how long things last us. This is our first year as a family of four, and my son is getting older and using regular products instead of baby items, so I have no clue how long dish soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and others will last.

toms2

I was excited to try Tom’s, and brushed my teeth pretty soon after I got home and got that bad boy labeled. I squeezed it onto my toothbrush and… yuck! I thought it was so gross – and I say this as someone who used to brush with baking soda only! The faint hint of mint really ruined it for me.

I’ve been using it for six days now, and it’s really grown on me. I guess since I’ve previously used just baking soda, I adapted easily. I feel like it gets my teeth much cleaner, also. Especially in the morning – I wake up with no gunky feeling on my teeth!

After considering the overall taste and benefits of my short experience with Tom’s, my mind went to packaging. I recycled the box after opening it, but the tube, of course… The tube! I always throw away toothpaste tubes; never really thought about it, since there is always stubborn toothpaste left inside.

I looked it up and found that Tom’s actually does recycle their tubes – you can sign up for free, ship your natural product containers to them, and have them recycled. They are recycled through Terracycle, and you earn points for what you ship, which can then be donated to charity (or redeemed for other things, but let’s keep the cycle of good going here). This is definitely something I’m going to look into, because it greatly affects what products I buy from now on.

I really hope I can get my whole family on board with this toothpaste. My husband has used it before and disliked it, but maybe he can adapt like I did. My 3.5 year old has used it twice, but said it was “too spicy”. He’s said that about kid’s toothpaste before, so I thought this lighter mint flavor would help, but maybe not. I’m going to keep trying it to see if he gets used to it, because he is very adaptable. I would like the whole family to be using the same product.

That being said, our subscription box includes a six pack of Crest toothpaste, which I imagine will taste very chemical-y to me after my Tom’s experience. The older boys (my husband and 8 year old stepson) are not as into natural living as I am, so I have a feeling they will want to stick with mainstream toothpastes.

I’ll report back with any updates to our toothpaste experiences. Next up: the perfect toothbrush!

 

* I’ll share our subscription box information and my thoughts on that whole deal, soon.

 

home life

Using What We Have

It seems like a simple solution, but it took awhile for me to think of it.

Use what we have.

I’ve always stocked up on things. Keep extra toilet paper in the cabinet. Extra toothpaste in the medicine cabinet, right next to the extra toothbrushes, because of course you can never buy just one toothbrush, right? (Oh trust me, we will talk about toothbrushes.)

When I lived in a 450 sq ft apartment, I stopped stocking up on everything. (Except toilet paper. ALWAYS have extra toilet paper.) I didn’t have much room for storage, so I started living smarter. I bought groceries weekly, because I didn’t have a standard fridge in my small kitchen. I kept just one of everything I needed on hand, and when I ran out, I added it to the list and picked it up on my weekly store visit.

It’s pretty easy to live this way when you’re single. You know what you use, what you need, and you can drop by the store on your way home from work to grab one thing.

When you have a family, though, it’s harder. You have multiple people using things, and you might not even get to it until it’s already rolled up with every drop squeezed out (I’m looking at you, toothpaste). At the risk of sounding like a martyr, it’s usually women who keep stock of household goods. Sometimes another member of the household will alert me that we’re low on something. “Add it to the list,” I say, because I don’t want to have to remember one more thing, even if I just need to remember it long enough to add to the list myself. If you notice it, say it out loud, fine – but it’s your responsibility to add it to the list.

The downside of this is that I am the one who buys the goods, and I am the one who puts them away, and I am the one who restocks them from our supply. It’s not that no one else knows where I store stuff – I show and tell them – it’s just that… I do it. So sometimes a product is added to the shopping list, when actually we have two more in the storage basket in the bathroom. Which means we just buy more at the store.

This most often happens in the kitchen, but that will have to be its own separate post. Our kitchen problem is one I’m already trying to solve, so I’ll have a lot to say on that.

The point is, we have stuff. We have plenty of stuff. And even though we’re technically out of toothpaste right now, we have those little travel tubes that work just fine. Yes, they were stored away for when we travel, but let’s be honest – that hasn’t happened in quite some time, so they next time we’re packing, we can just pick up some tubes if we need them. Better yet, we’ll just take our own big ol’ tube and save the hassle and the waste.

I have been using all my old shampoos and body sprays. When I was younger, I frequented Bath and Body Works and would always fall for the “Buy 2, Get 1” body sprays. So many scents, so much left over. It takes a long time to use a bottle of body spray. But I’m using them now, and it’s something I don’t have to buy, and it makes me feel productive to be using them up. We’re doing that all over the house with various products. It’s a small step, for sure, but it’s something we can do while we make big changes, too.