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Tree-Hugger Tuesday: Living green doesn’t mean smelling like a dirty hippie… does it?

November 1, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if one of the reasons people don’t make more conservation-minded choices is because making the leap to going green just seems like, well a leap.

Leave your car at home! Give up toilet paper! Never wash your hair! Live off nuts and berries you forage for yourself!

Ok. Maybe that’s a little extreme. But the point remains: sometimes I feel like we get either a) overwhelmed with the barrage of better choices we’re supposed to be making, and/or b) feel like we could never possibly do enough, so why bother? And, of course, add to all that the fact that we are inherent creatures of habit. And also kinda lazy – let’s be honest.

Well, folks, as I may have mentioned before, I don’t think living sustainably means going all-in-off-the-grid-head-first. I do think we can make smaller choices in our daily lives that would really add up.

In addition, it’s not about jumping in head first. The way I see it, going green is a process – not a nose dive.

It’s how I came around to living my life the way I do – it was a step-by-step (oo baby gonna get to ya gir-er-erl… anyone? no?) process.

I started vegetarian. I went vegan. Then local (aside from the amount of money I now spend to feed myself, that was the best. switch. ever. Give up tofu for venison? Yes please). Then learned to put food by (i.e. freeze and can) so I could survive the winter.

But, for me, the eating steps were easy (going from processed to delicious). The things I really struggled with (yes, even I struggled with it) were my purchasing choices in the rest of my life. I didn’t want to give up Wal-Mart for local, independent vendors. Trade cheaper shampoo and condition for expensive, organic, do-no-harm biodegradable. Then lotion. And toothpaste. And make up. One of the last things to go? My soap-and-face-lotion combo I’ve been using since high school for local goat’s milk soap and Aveda.

I had excuse after excuse to avoid making those changes. The cost of things was a big one. But I did it, slowly, in my own time. I just had conversations, and educated myself, and made different choices when I was ready to bite the proverbial bullet. Eventually, I did. Bit every expensive bullet. And, I have to say, I don’t regret a single one.

It took time to get over my excuses and shell out the cash. I did find, however, the further I went with things the more apt I was to consider the next step. The more choices I made that were in line with what I believe, the easier it became. I also realized I felt really good about how I was living my life – which naturally also helped a lot.

Furthermore, my process isn’t over. There are switches I haven’t made yet. It is those choices, when I finally wrap up this mother-of-all-intros, that is the point of this post.

I don’t just want to spend Tree-Hugger Tuesdays telling other people what to do. I also see it as motivation for me to make additional changes in my life that I haven’t yet. To demonstrate how living sustainably is a process.

And, I hope, to provide further motivation for you, the reader. Kinda like we’re making those switches together. Awwww….

So. What’s the first one, you ask?

Well. I don’t know if any of you have tried the expensive, organic, do-no-harm biodegradable deodorant lately, but… just because I want to live green doesn’t mean I have to smell like a dirty hippie.

For a long time, I just couldn’t give up my Secret. I just didn’t want to smell. And sweat. And be that girl. I call myself a Lipstick Hippie for a reason.

Even though I knew that 1) the companies behind a lot of the conventional deodorants are not ones I want to buy from, and 2) it’s just another one of those superfluous things we buy that we may not need any way. In addition, there are those controversial arguments that conventional deodorant is really not that great for my body (it contains parabens and aluminum – things that have been linked to Alzheimer’s and breast cancer), although no causal link has been established.

I still sweat. I still want to smell nice. I still can’t seem to give it up. But. Then my twitter feed sent me to a BlogHer article which lead me to this Sew Green post.

Do-it-yourself deodorant? That some random person on the interwebs swears by? Sounds great!

So. This month on Tree Hugger Tuesday, we’re making deodorant.

Well. I already made it. And I’m going to tell you about that. Then challenge y’all to make it yourselves. And come back and tell me how it went.

At least, that would be my hope…

Alright. Let’s get started!

1.  All you need are a few very simple ingredients (you might already have many in your kitchen!)

  • 5 – 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Several drops of oil for scent (optional -Sew Green recommends bergamot oil)

2. According to the recipe, mix your dry ingredients first.

3. Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the coconut oil slowly.

4. Add oil until the mix has a “pomade” consistency and the powdered dry ingredients are mostly dissolved.

5. If desired, add a few drops of bergamot oil for scent.

According to Sew Green, that’s it. Their directions once you’re done: “To use, scoop out a pea sized amount and rub between your fingers to melt and create a smooth texture. Apply under your arms and rub any left into your hands as a moisturizer.

Wow. Sounds super easy, right? Right!

1. Have all my ingredients.

I recommend using Red Mill and Spectrum Naturals products. Also – note some commenters on the Sew Green website report experiencing irritation with the baking soda, so you can use less – even though the author doesn’t mind (I haven’t had any issues, either).

2. Powders mixed easily enough.

3. ….And we have our first set-back. Add the oil slowly? It’s solid, people.

In case you were wondering, adding solid coconut oil to power doesn’t really work. Well, I mean, you can add them together, but they certainly don’t do much mixing.

Quick fix: Melt coconut oil in a saucepan until it goes back to being liquid (and keep in mind coconut oil likes to be a solid).

Ohhh much better.

Another bit of advice: I started with half the powders, added in some oil until it blended, then more powder, and then more oil. That seemed to work well for me, as opposed to adding oil slowly to all the powder mixture.

4. Well. It’s kind of a pomade.

5. I added jasmine oil instead of… whatever they recommended. Should be ok… right?

Sweet! That was easy! I just made deodorant! And a mess. But that’s not new. At all.

After cleaning up, I went to bed feeling very proud of myself.

And woke up to a solid mass in the morning. Looked a lot like a stick of deodorant, actually. Scoop out a pea-sized amount? Um. Let me get a spoon. My apartment is cold ok?

It did warm up when I rubbed it between my fingers (why, yes, yes it does). And, you know, so far so good! This morning was my second day using my homemade deodorant (still sounds weird, right? That’s why this is a process!). I’ve practiced yoga both mornings, and rode my bike in yesterday, and will today. I realize it’s butt-ass freezing around here these days so I’m less likely to sweat (summer’ll be the real test) but… I haven’t noticed any hippie smells so far.

I’ll keep you posted!

Try it yourself! It’s easy to make (if I can do it…) Keep in mind my additional advice for making deodorant: make it somewhere warm. If you’re not somewhere warm, heat the oil slowly on the stove, and then leave your deodorant somewhere warm. Say, near a heater in your bathroom (if you have such a thing).

Mine might be sitting in the middle of my floor right now. In front of the heater. I only have the one, ok.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2011 9:27 am

    I have to admit that as “green” and hippie as I try to be, I will not be making my own deodorant. There are somethings that I will just pay a little bit more for–sushi, deodorant, etc.–to have someone else make than try and do it myself. However, I commend you for your efforts. I bet you smell delightful!

    • November 1, 2011 9:37 am

      Ha ha ha! And you see where *the process* has taken me: “What? Making my own deodorant is weird?”

      I’d be happy to use Tom’s of Maine or Kiss My Face, but they just don’t seem to cut it. We’ll see…. thanks for the support!

  2. Dubbikecommuter permalink
    November 1, 2011 9:41 am

    I’d be all in for making my own, but not a clue where to get some of those ingredients here in Dublin! You’re right about the process though. We are car-free now, but didn’t start that way. We started cycling by putting the bikes on the back of the cars and driving to places where we felt safe to cycle. It is a progression.

    I have to say, homemade deoderant is ok with me but giving up meat? Hmmm… probably not! 🙂

    • November 1, 2011 10:21 am

      I was able to get everything from my local grocer – and they are all conventional baking ingredients, so you should be able to find them (even if they aren’t Red Mill).

      Giving up meat SUCKED… I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I could eat it again once I went local. I think Europe makes this a little easier – as you can still buy meat from a local butcher. I fully support that over processed tofu from a box-store grocery.

  3. November 1, 2011 10:07 am

    If this blog was written by anyone else, I’d have said, “Yes, living green means you smell like a dirty hippie.”

    But I believe you.

    Question: I know this is gross, but I sweat like a woman having hot flashes 24/7. Well, not 24/7. Maybe 2/7. Still that’s 2 hours I’d rather not be sweating. Is there a antiperspirant recipe?

    • November 1, 2011 10:22 am

      Oh! I should clarify! This is supposed to help with sweating too! So far, I can attest to that, but I’ll let you know… I have a meeting on Friday, that should be a good test… 😀

  4. November 1, 2011 1:43 pm

    Ok – please post a follow-up to this as soon as you know it passes the gallons of sweat test. Most “natural” deodorants do not work at ALL for me, and as much as I want to go natural, I can’t have all my shirts have giant sweatstains like I’m some kind of anxiety-prone sweat nerd.

    If this works, I’m 100% making it.

    • November 1, 2011 7:24 pm

      I will let you know… So far, I’m not smelly and I’ve had it on since 5am, and been to yoga and several meetings. I haven’t noticed problems with sweat – but I haven’t been in sweaty situations, aside from yoga – where my whole self is sweating.

      I’ll post an update comment in a week… If anyone does try to make it, let us know how it goes! You can also click on the Sew Green link and see the comments there…

  5. November 1, 2011 2:10 pm

    Yeah do keep us posted if this continues to work. I had a phase when I tried a few different natural ones… some worked ok as long as it was not hot outside. I then spent a few sweaty, smelly days before I gave up.

    My sister mixes her own body scubs, lotions, creams and different body oils etc from all natural ingredients. Most are really good. It is a mess to make though… so I normally just order from her..

  6. November 2, 2011 12:02 pm

    I’m so un-green that I had no idea one could make their own deodorant — I have been officially enlightened 🙂

    • November 3, 2011 9:02 am

      I am glad I could start the green-enlightenment process…

  7. November 3, 2011 12:48 am

    I’ve been trying to go a bit more all natural with the products I use, because it is obviously better for you. But deodorant I feel would be the one thing I just couldn’t do. The ONLY deodorant that has ever worked for me is Secret Clinical Strength. I sweat a lot and yes, if I forget to put on deodorant one day (it happens to all of us at least once) I DEFINITELY notice the smell.

    If I could find some natural product that worked the same, I would happily switch over but I have yet to find one.

    • November 3, 2011 9:04 am

      I’m with you. I’ve tried the natural ones, and found I could only use them when I wasn’t going to have a particularly professional/sweaty/hard workout day. However, the comments on the post about this do-it-yourself deodorant convinced me to give it a try.

      So far, it’s definitely worked on the smell aspect. Sweating is more difficult to determine, as it’s been cold here, and I haven’t been sweating as much…

  8. November 4, 2011 1:03 am

    Wow, I am *so* impressed. Homemade deodorant! I can’t even chop my own vegetables.

    Also, I’m sorry, I can’t help it …

    “It did warm up when I rubbed it between my fingers.”

    That’s what she said.

  9. Movedup permalink
    November 4, 2011 7:34 pm

    Hey Nikki good for you. You might want to check this one out its claims are true. Having very sensitive skin I am quite careful! It actually works and my son uses it too. Green and economical…

  10. The Reality of White Picket Fences permalink
    November 9, 2011 11:47 am

    Hi, I found your blog thru “Just Me With”. I agree that Toms of Maine does not work for sh!t, but the Crystal Rock deodorant worked great,,, till I dropped it and it shattered into a million little pieces. I then went back to my Secret. What I liked best about the crystal rock is that when I showered my armpits actually felt clean… everything else always gives me the feeling like a residue is being left behind. But I digress some, on to my question… Does or will the oil leave stains on your clothing?


  1. Homemade deodorant with cocoa butter and coconut oil |

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