Sustainable Marshfield column: Resolve to rethink health and beauty this new year

11:36 AM, Dec. 22, 2012  |  Comments
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The New Year is upon us, and with it comes new beginnings and an opportunity to see our world in a new way.

The New Year's resolution has many historical roots, but a common theme among them revolves around improvement in our lives and the lives of others.

Environmental responsibility is a common theme for resolutions, but what does that really mean?

Start by challenging yourself to rethink the products you use on a daily basis.

Consider three things for each product: speed, size and location. How quickly do you consume the product? What is the size of the product and what type of packaging surrounds it? Finally, where is the product made, what types of materials comprise the product and where do those materials come from?

What do you use in your daily health and beauty regime? Shaving cream? Make-up? Hairspray? Let's look at two products to determine the environmental impact:

? Shaving cream has certainly developed since it first was used in Sumer in 3000 BC. It is most often found in a can; there are multiple scents and even gel that turns to foam.

As far as speed is concerned, the rate of consumption varies among individuals; however, statistics show that women shave an average of 12 times per month and 75 percent of men shave daily, so it is consumed rather quickly.

Most shaving cream containers are made of steel and aluminum. Both are recyclable (in some cities), but require some sort of propellant to actually get it out of the can - usually a hydrocarbon like butane or propane. Hydrocarbons produce greenhouse gases, which have been proven to impact global warming. Shaving cream is primarily water, so the actual make up is relatively benign.

So, how can you "green" your shaving cream? Focus on packaging! Shaving soap is a great alternative: it lathers easily, there is little packaging (usually biodegradable cardboard or paper), it is inexpensive and, if kept out of the water, lasts longer than the average can of shaving cream.

? OK, ladies, I am going to delve into a topic that is usually considered taboo: tampons and pads.

The fact is that half of our population menstruates for an average of 35 years. If the average period lasts five to seven days, and you are supposed to change your tampon every six to eight hours, it adds up to about 21 tampons per cycle. Multiply that times 12 months per year and 35 years of menstruation and, well, it certainly adds up to a lot of waste.

But what other options exist? There are actually a number available: the Diva Cup or Moon Cup can be used in place of a tampon. They don't leak and never will cause toxic shock syndrome. Another option is reusable pads such as Glad Rags or Party in My Pants (made in Ashland). The cost is more up-front, and they may take some getting used to, but will greatly decrease your environmental footprint and save you a lot of money in the long run.

New Year's is a great time to rethink your daily activity and consider the small steps that you can take to reduce your environmental footprint.

Betsy Tanenbaum for the Marshfield Sustainable Committee.

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports