Even when I was in denial, I always felt guilt. Sometimes it was too subtle to notice underneath all my day-to-day weariness. I would sort of slip in and out of consciousness about this issue of enormous magnitude. I consoled myself that I was better than many in terms of following the 3R's, but in reality, I was still smack in the middle of this zombie-herd mindset. As a result, most of the time I convinced myself that humankind and its governing bodies must have all this waste stuff worked out. I mean, we're not going to trash our very habitat, that would be inconceivably stupid.
Well, I have finally, permanently come out of denial. And in looking to end my addiction to convenience, I am seeking ways to eliminate, or far reduce, my dependence on packaging, especially of the unsustainable type. At this stage, I am still working on doing so with items I use routinely. Toiletries are high on this list.
IT HAS TO BE EASY
The trick is that doing it myself has to be easy. Very easy. And when I began hunting for lotion recipes, I found that for most of them, I would need to be an amateur chemist, complete with all the equipment that implies. This wasn't appealing. Then I thought, surely there have to be ingredients out that that pretty much are the whole product; like shea butter, perhaps?
With some digging I found that there are some simple recipes...at least there are for body butter, which is one item I find essential in maintaining my not-as-young-as-it-used-to-be body. I love body butter for my breasts, arms, and tootsies.
Following is the basis for a recipe that can be changed to infinity to create just the body butter you love. The idea is that you need just 4 simple ingredients (5 if you want a preservative), and three tools: a microwave (or stove), stainless or pyrex container and blender:
BODY BUTTER BASICS
plant-based butter (shea, cocoa butter or other plant-based butters of your choice)
carrier oil (such as apricot kernel)
fragrant oil (essential oils are best in my opinion)
wax (important but not essential in a pinch...but just go find your natural candle and shave a little)
preservative (ex. tea tree oil, thyme oil, grapefruit seed oil, bitter orange extract, honeysuckle flower exract) - optional
So, fancy an easy body butter making experience? Try this...you may just have all the ingredients you need at home already. And it takes only a few minutes of melting and blending until whip cream smooth. Be sure not to boil, but do cook for several minutes, long enough that the ingredients bind well, to prevent separation later. If you do not use a preservative, you may wish to store your new body butter in the refrigerator. But if you find the consistency harder than you would like, add more oil, or less wax (the next time) and experiment until you find what works best for you.
INFINITE POSSIBILITY - EASY BODY BUTTER RECIPE
1/2 cup olive oil (since most homes have it on hand already)
1/2 oz essential oil (of your choice, or try a natural perfume or scent you have at home)
1 1/3 cups shea butter (or other butter, how about mango butter?)
1 tbsp bees wax (shaved or granules. you can even SKIP this ingredient if you don't have it)
1/2 oz corn starch (optional)
And, if you don't have plant-butters lying around, you can order them online. Here are two sites than carry these products. (I don't endorse the sites or their products, just offer options for you to peruse). Be sure to ask for minimal, sustainable packaging.
TO PRESERVE OR NOT TO PRESERVE
The trouble with not using a preservative is that natural products go bad, often in weeks, accumulating mold and the like. There are some natural preservatives like rosemary oil, but alas, the effect is still much less than a synthetic like germall. Most commercial products include such synthetic preservatives, or their stock would simply not make it to consumers cabinets. So, I find myself torn, but will err on the side of caution, and for my purposes choose natural alternatives, with the hope of not needing to make frequent batches and risk batches going bad before I can use them completely.
UPDATE 9/19/11: Borax is another possibility for use as a preservative. It is both natural and less toxic than many chemical preservatives, though it should not be ingested.
So that's it. 3-5 ingredients and a little melting and blending, et voila! And, all but one lying around your home just waiting for creative use. Once finished, just place into a small container you've picked out and enjoy...ahhh, the simplicity.