Tag Archives: farmers’ market

Stop Buying Water for Your Shower

We all know that bottled water is bad.  It’s usually just tap water put into plastic bottles and dropped off in pallets at our local grocery store.  You end up paying dollars for something that costs cents when it comes out of the faucet in your home.  Add in the plastic waste and you get a bad environmental actor that no one wants to defend.

But what about your shampoo and shower gel?  Look at the first ingredient.  I am betting dollars to donuts that the first ingredient listed is water.  How much water?  Seventy to eighty percent depending upon the formulation. [1]  Shower gel is in the same boat and considering its rise to prominence over bar soap I am guessing that most people have multiple bottles of what is mostly water in their showers. [2]

Every one of those bottles of shampoo and shower gel are just a step up from buying bottled water.  I have always been a bar soap guy finding the entire loofah and shower gel combo unsatisfying on a number of fronts.  Foremost among those is what wondering what is lurking in the folds of that loofah that do not get clean.  Sorry for that image, folks.

Bar soap is the easy answer to shower gel.  Hell, it’s also one of the easiest things to get from a local provider because almost every farmers market I have been to over the past decade has a soapmaker or two.  Or you could get the soap that I like the bestPacha’s Dirty Hippie.

The shampoo angle seems a little harder until you do a little digging.  I would not have thought twice about it until a friend re-gifted me a Lush Seanik shampoo bar.   All I could remember thinking was why I did not come across this concept sooner.  Now, I do not care to afford Lush’s products although I do love their ingredients and social bent.  Once the Seanik bar ran out I bought some J.R. Liggett Old Fashioned shampoo bars and I am working through them currently.

Bar soap and shampoo bars come with none of the packaged plastic waste that comes from shower gel and liquid shampoo.  If we really want to make a change in the way we consume things we really need to examine the nature of the products that we buy and the packaging that those products come in.  A little paper wrapper seems like a much better solution than an empty plastic bottle.


  1. http://chemistscorner.com/how-shampoos-are-made/
  2. http://fortune.com/2016/08/25/bar-soap-declining-sales/

Stuff I Like: Apps to Shop Better

Americans spend a lot of money on food.  How much?  In 2010 total food expenditures in the United States exceeded $1.24 trillion.  Yep, trillion with a T.  Naturally, with that size of spend there is a lot of power in the decisions that we make regarding food.  This concept is nothing new to activists of any stripe.  Boycotts and buycotts are powerful tools in getting companies to change their behavior.

But what about our own personal behavior?  How do we do better on a day in and day out basis?  It’s easy to avoid eating grapes because you want to show solidarity with pickers striking for better conditions.  How does one choose what kind of fish to buy when staring at a fishmonger’s case with three people in line behind you?  How do I know what vegetables are in season when I am wandering among the abundance of the farmers’ market on a glorious weekend morning?

My iPhone comes to the rescue.  More to the point, apps on my iPhone come to the rescue.  Two apps in particular—Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Eat Local.

Choosing what seafood to eat can be almost infinitely complex.  Wild caught or farm raised?  U.S., Canadian, Nordic, or Chinese?  Gill net, seined, or trolled?  Coho or Cobia?

For years the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been handing out free pocket sized guides for people to consult.  However, times have changed and the one indispensable item in almost everyone’s daily arsenal is a phone.  So, there is an app:

It’s pretty easy.  Just type in the name of the seafood and the best choice will appear at the top of the list—assuming there is a best choice.  If you type in Chilean seabass you should get smacked upside the head for even having to consult an app.  Really?  Why not just type in whale meat.

There is also a location service that uses your current location to choose the best seafood option.  Cool.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Eat Local app is similar in that it helps to provide better choices when we are at the farmers’ market or green grocery.

The app provides two avenues of information: locating farmers’ markets near your location and telling you what produce is “in season” at those markets.  The idea is good, but it needs a little work.  For the region I live in—Iowa—for this time of year apparently Alaskan Pollock is in season.  Maybe so, but is flying fish in from Alaska really in season or local?  I do not think so.

Nevertheless, the Eat Local app provides another data point for trying to figure out what is the best option when I am inundated with the abundance at the farmers’ market.  It is so easy to become swayed by the colors and smells:

Additionally, the app lets me locate farmers’ markets when I am travelling.  In Hawaii one of my favorite things to do is visit the closest farmers’ market to get food rather than paying the prices for imported food from the mainland.  Nothing beats getting a bagful of limes and a pineapple freshly cut to enjoy on the lanai.  Being able to search for these markets with an app in my pocket will make finding those experiences just a little bit easier whether I am in Hawaii, Colorado, Florida, or Iowa.