Health

Beware the perils of caffeine withdrawal

I may have discovered the culprit for yesterday’s horrible relapse…..caffeine withdrawal. For some reason I thought I’d go off coffee cold turkey to help get over this illness. Turns out, that was probably a bad idea. By last night I was nauseous, light-headed, deeply fatigued and my head was pounding with a killer headache. It probably also explains my irritability yesterday.

My coffee intake has been gradually increasing over the last month to the point I was drinking three or four cups of strong coffee most days. Yes I know coffee in that quantity is not good for me, but I guess that’s how most bad habits start; They just creep up on you slowly until they get a bit out of control.

So after a bit of research this morning I discover I am among the estimated 80 to 90 percent of North American adults and children who consume caffeine products every day. Apparently about half that number will experience headaches and other symptoms from caffeine withdrawal syndrome. According to experts, withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week. Ick! I’m not putting up with that for a week!

I’ve decided to forgo the cold-turkey approach to caffeine withdrawal. I am now going to sensibly wean myself off coffee over the next couple of weeks. Apparently it’s best to reduce caffeine consumption by a half to a whole cup per day.

It makes sense for me to reduce my dependency on coffee. After all, I’m trying to reduce my dependency on cheap oil and fiat money so I had better add caffeine to that list. Anyone else managed to kick the habit? Did you suffer these types of withdrawal symptoms?

Photo by : pfv

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I wish I was Boy Scout – I want to Earn these Merit Badges

Last week I mentioned that I want to learn more skills. A number of coincident events got me to thinking about the Scout’s and how great it is for teaching young people worthwhile skills. Since we are never too old to learn new things, I’ve decided to focus on gaining some new skills this year. Using the Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge system as a guide, I’ve decided on some badges I want to earn this year:

First Aid:

Administering First Aid is something everyone should know how to do. The reasons are obvious, so I won’t go into them other than to say that you never know when you might be first on the scene of a car crash or have someone have an accident while out hiking. As part of my job I used to have to do a refresher First Aid course every couple of years, but I don’t think I’ve done one in the last 5 years. It’s time to refresh those skills.

Because I’ve undertaken first aid course before I can probably just refresh my memory with a couple of books I have at home. One of the best investments I’ve made is the 493 page tome, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency

My local Fire Department offers CPR courses every month for $25, which I might consider doing. 

Emergency Preparedness:

While I was looking up information on First Aid courses, I came across another fantastic initiative in my community: The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).  I think I’m going to sign up for their Spring training course which covers the following classes and skills.

Module 1 — Disaster Preparedness. Introduction to types of disasters and the role of CERTs in a disaster.

Module 2 — Disaster Fire Suppression. Basic fire suppression strategy, fire fighting resources and fire fighting techniques.

Module 3 — Disaster Medical Operations. Treatment techniques for life-threatening conditions, principles of Triage, establishing treatment areas, and more.

Module 4 — Disaster Light Search. Search and rescue priorities, size-up strategies, and rescuer safety.

Module 5 — Terrorism/Disaster Psychology/Team Organization. Potential threats and how to identify them, CERT activation and Preparedness. The post-disaster emotional environment, the CERT organization and decision making.

Personal Fitness:

Working on my personal fitness is one of my primary goals in 2010. I aim to be in better shape, have more energy and gain confidence in my bodies ability to do whatever it is I put my mind to.

Late last year I had a complete physical including blood tests. Everything was  within normal range so I was happy that my first two years in America had not given me high blood-pressure or anything that might lead to diabetes, despite the pounds I put on.

As part of earning my personal fitness badge I aim to do the following:

  • Get back within my healthy weight range
  • Increase strength and endurance, through a regular weight lifting routine.
  • Eat a nutritious, healthy diet which consists of foods that are as much as possible: minimally processed, local, organic and fair trade. 

Hiking

Hiking is the activity I love to do to keep my body and mind in shape. Walking packs power into my legs and makes my heart and lungs healthy and strong. Getting out into the outdoors challenges my senses and makes me happy.

To achieve this badge there are a few things I need to learn/work on.

  • Know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while hiking, including hypothermia, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, frostbite, dehydration, sunburn, sprained ankle, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, hyperventilation, and altitude sickness.
  • Adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace.
  • Develop a plan for conditioning myself for 10-mile hikes.
  • Plan and undertake five 10-mile hikes, including map routes, a clothing and equipment list, and a list of items for a trail lunch.
  • Take a hike of 20 continuous miles in one day.

Camping:

I used to go camping with my family as a kid and last year Brendan and I went a couple of times. I mostly relied on him to pack everything we needed, so this year I want to work on my own camping skills.

To achieve this badge there are a few things I need to learn/work on.

  • Know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while camping, including hypothermia, frostbite, heat reactions, dehydration, altitude sickness, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
  • Plan an overnight trek using a topographical map and compass OR a topographical map and a GPS receiver.
  • Prepare a check list of clothing and gear needed for overnight campout in both warm and cold weather.
  • Know the importance of camp sanitation and know a couple of ways to treat water.
  • Know how to use different types of lightweight cooking stoves and be able to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner on the trail.
  • Know how to make a fire using materials in the local environment.

Climbing:

Brendan has been climbing for a couple of years and our friends back in Australia are keen for us to become their climbing partners when we get home. I’ve been indoor climbing, but have yet to learn the skills required for rock climbing. Lucky for me, Brendan is an instructor so I should be able to learn what I need to know from him.

  • Know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur during climbing activities, including heat and cold reactions, dehydration, stopped breathing, sprains, abrasions, fractures, rope burns, blisters, snakebite, and insect bites or stings.
  • Learn how the difficulty of climbs are classified. 
  • Learn the verbal signals required during every climb and rappel, and while bouldering.
  • Learn the kinds of rope acceptable for use in climbing and rappelling and know how to care for rope to prevent damage.
  • Learn the different types of knots required for belaying, climbing, or rappelling.
  • Learn how to belay a climber using a top rope as well as a lead climber.
  • Learn how to climb different types of routes on rock face.
  • Refresh myself on how to rappel down rock face.
  • Learn how to store rope, hardware, and other gear used for climbing, rappelling, and belaying.

Backpacking:

After I’ve worked on my hiking and camping skills, the next logical step is the Backpacking merit badge. I’ve always wanted to undertake more backpacking trips. The last one I did was over 10 years ago when I was much younger and fitter and it was tough work. I want to work up to being able to go away on backpacking trips later this year.

  • Develop a list of essential items to be carried on any backpacking trek, while limiting the weight and bulk to be carried.
  • Adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace while backpacking, including the proper methods of handling human and other wastes.
  • Know what to do if I get lost.
  • Know how to prepare properly for and deal with inclement weather.
  • Plan and undertake a backpacking hike of at least three days.

Cycling:

I currently ride my bike to and from work most days, however Brendan does all my repairs and tune ups. I need to be a little more self-reliant and know how to do these things for myself. As part of Brendan’s new bike business he’ll be offering bike maintenance course, so I guess I can start there.

  • Know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while cycling, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
  • Learn basic bike maintenance.
  • Learn the skills required for mountain biking on cross-country trails.
  • Plan and undertake two rides of 10 miles each, two rides of 15 miles each, and two rides of 25 miles each.
  • Plan and undertake a a 50-mile trip within eight hours.

Energy:

Saving, producing, and using energy wisely is something we all should be doing and I was pleasantly surprised to see this merit badge on the scout’s list. While I already minimise the amount of energy I use, I suspect there is still so much more to learn.

  • Conduct an energy audit of my home and then record what we did to reduce our energy use.
  • Know the types of energy used in our home (electricity, oil, liquid petroleum, and natural gas) and know how each is delivered and measured, and the current cost.
  •  Know ways to use energy resources more wisely. Consider the energy required for the things you do and use on a daily basis (cooking, showering, using lights, driving, watching TV, using the computer). Know how you can change your energy use through reuse and recycling.
  • Identify and describe examples of energy waste in our community, suggest possible ways to reduce this waste and describe the idea of trade-offs in energy use. Examine how the changes would lower costs, reduce pollution, or otherwise improve the community. Examine what changes to routines, habits, or convenience are necessary to reduce energy waste. Consider why people might resist the changes.
  • Learn which energy resources supply  most energy, the share of energy resources used by different countries, the proportion of energy resources used by homes, businesses, industry, and transportation, the fuels used to generate electricity and the world’s known and estimated primary energy resource reserves.
  • Learn what is being done to make FIVE of the following energy systems produce more usable energy. Understand the technology, cost, environmental impacts, and safety concerns.
    • Biomass digesters or waste-to-energy plants
    • Cogeneration plants
    • Fossil fuel power plants
    • Fuel cells
    • Geothermal power plants
    • Nuclear power plants
    • Solar power systems
    • Tidal energy, wave energy, or ocean thermal energy conversion devices
    • Wind turbines

Rifle Shooting:

I already know how to safely shoot firearms and have experience with rifles, air guns, 9mm and cross-bow. I wouldn’t say I’m always the best shot, but  I do OK and know how to be safe. I’ve already met most of the requirements for this badge, but there are a few things I need to learn first.

  • Understand the main points of the laws for owning and using guns in my community and state.
  • Understand the main points of hunting laws in your state and any special laws on the use of guns and ammunition.

Wilderness Survival:

I’d really like to learn some wilderness survival skills. It’s likely I’ll learn some of these skills while working on my other badges, but if I do get a chance this year, I’d like to add this badge to my list. 

  • Learn the priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. 
  • Know what steps I would take to survive in the following conditions:
    • Cold and snowy
    • Wet (forest)
    • Hot and dry (desert)
    • Windy (mountains or plains)
    • Water (ocean, lake, or river)
  • Put together a personal survival kit and know how each item in it could be useful.
  • Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires. 
  • Know how to attract attention when lost, use a signal mirror and give ground-to-air signals.
  • Improvise a natural shelter.
  • Know how to protect myself from insects, reptiles, and bears.
  • Know how to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.

LS had some more good ideas for Peak Oil Prep badges. Anyone got more suggestions?

Where in the World? Engelberg, Switzerland

In May of 2009, Brendan and I spent eight days in Switzerland. I had a couple of days work on, but after that we spent some quality days visiting little villages and hiking in the mountains. Honestly, this is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to. I’d live there in a heartbeat!

All photos taken by me. Please do not copy without permission.

Click photos to embiggen.

Although I had the beginnings of a horrible cold, this day remains one of my favourite ever. We awoke in the morning to this view from our hotel balcony.

We decided to catch the gondola to the top of one of the surrounding mountains and hike down. Usually we would have chosen to hike up, but I wasn’t feeling 100% and those Swiss mountains are steep! We caught an enclosed gondola halfway up the mountain and then a chairlift the rest of the way. By the time we reached the top we were in dense fog/cloud and once the lone base jumper had launched, we had the entire mountain to ourselves.

We located a trail which would take us back to the village and we started on down. All hiking trails in Switzerland are really well marked; it must be virtually impossible to get lost. Even if there isn’t a sign, you just have to keep a lookout for the painted markings as seen in the photo below with Brendan. They can be on rocks, houses, fences or even trees.Eventually we had descended enough to come out below the clouds and were rewarded with this view.

If I ever have any trouble relaxing or sleeping at night, the photo below is the happy place where I take myself. It is the most perfect place I’ve ever been to. Some people love the beach, some love the desert. Brendan and I love mountains and green fields. These mountains were full of spring flowers and softly lowing cows with jingling bells. Have I mentioned how much I love cows?

We stopped here to eat our packed lunch and have a little sleep in the warm sun before hiking the rest of the way down into the valley.

The fields throughout the Swiss Alps were full of animals enjoying the spring weather. Each animal has its own bell, sized to suit. Sheep have small bells which tinkle like wind chimes. Cows have larger bells which clang as they move about. The combination makes for a beautiful symphony.

After looking back through these photos I’ve become inspired to take some more active vacations. Forget rushing around, spending long days travelling and packing on the pounds from too much food. I want to travel slow. I’ve already mentioned potentially hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail later this year, but now I’m also thinking of hiking the Amalfi Coast in Italy for a week or so next Christmas. It looks fantastic!

Check out more photos from my travels

Working on fitness: Becoming more resilient

Today I wanted to talk a little about my goal of getting in shape.  Thirty days ago, I began an exercise program called “ChaLEAN Extreme”. I got this idea from the strangest place… the Chris Martenson website. I’d started following Chris about a year ago and at that time he seemed like the lone voice of reason in what seemed to be a world gone crazy. Chris linked together the concept of the Three E’s (Energy, Economy and Environment) in a way no-one else had. I began to trust his views and learned a lot from his very detailed and well considered articles.

Late last year, Chris started a thread on the forum called ‘Making Our Lives More Resilient – The Martenson Family Chronicles.’ He began to outline what he and his family were doing to become more resilient in the face of our current predicaments. He had two primary goals:

  1. Buy a house and ‘trick it out’ to be more resilient
  2. Get back in shape and take better care of myself.

The second struck a chord with me. I realised that I really needed to dedicate 2010 to getting back in shape as part of my plan to become more resilient and self-sufficient. Chris mentioned that he’d started P90X and I’d heard a couple of friends mention this program, but when I looked into it I decided it was probably a bit advanced for me. So after plenty of research I decided on ChaLEAN Extreme.

It’s a 90 day program broken down into three phases: Burn, Push and Lean. I’ve finished the Burn Phase where your goal is to “fail” in 10-12 reps and you work both upper and lower body in combination exercises. I’ve just started the Push Phase where you attempt to fail in 6-8 reps and focus on one body part at a time. Three days a week are circuit workouts, each about 30 minutes long. An extra two days workouts consist of cardio intervals, Abs and some Yoga/Pilates. Two days are dedicated to rest.

I love that I have a program all set out for 3 months and that every day is different. I have a short attention span and get bored easily, so this program is perfect for me. It’s flexible enough that I can do it whenever it suits me and it really seems to be working. I even look forward to working out. It’s been a long time since I could say that!

I’ve lost about 2lbs, but I’ve gained a bunch of muscle, trimmed down and have so much energy! Everything feels stronger and hiking today was a breeze after just a month of this program. This next month looks like a strengthening phase and then the final month is supposed to make you lean. We’ll see. For now it’s enough that I’m exercising, enjoying it, getting stronger both physically and mentally.

Here’s the infomercial if you are interested in seeing what the program is all about. I was lucky enough to find someone selling the program on Craigslist for a steal.

Wishing I had some Cayenne Pepper right now

I have a shocking headache and I wish I had some cayenne pepper on hand.

I swore off pharmaceuticals last year for a variety of reasons. I wanted to reduce the amount of toxins I was putting into my body and therefore making their way into the water supply. I didn’t want to support the pharmaceutical industry either, because I think drugs have become far too pervasive in our society. For these reasons, I now try to find a natural alternative when before I would have popped some type of pill. Today I have politely declined all offers of headache tablets and I’ll wait till I get home to make myself a cup of Cayenne Tea.

“In 35 years of practice, and working with the people and teaching, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is, whenever I go in–if they are still breathing–I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water, and within minutes they are up and around).” ~Dr. Christopher

Cayenne pepper tea is our elixir of choice when it comes to pain relief. Whether we have a sore throat or a pounding headache, Cayenne pepper does the trick.

For centuries Cayenne pepper has been used medicinally to treat pain, inflammation, headaches, the circulatory system, digestive tract disorders, sore throat, and to boost immunity. It has been referred to as the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom by many herbalists.

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne brings relief by depleting Substance P, a neurotransmitter that helps transmit pain impulses. Cayenne works in seconds and gets the blood moving faster than any herb known. The fact that it is such a great blood circulation stimulant makes it beneficial for many ailments.

How lucky we are to have six Cayenne pepper bushes in our garden. They supply more than enough peppers for all our cooking (cayenne goes in most meals in our house) and medicinal needs. Soon we will grind up our hundreds of dried peppers into flakes and give them away to friends.

Update:

My Cayenne Tea recipe

  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 3 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Lemon if desired
  • 1 cup hot water

Photo by: Chiots Run

Being prepared for an Earthquake (or any other natural disaster)

By now, we’ve all heard about the terrible earthquake that struck Haiti this week. Living in Southern California I’m no stranger to earthquakes, but until now I’ve been very lucky to not have experienced a big one. This latest disaster has served to remind me that a similar sized quake could happen here….and I simply don’t feel like I’ve adequately prepared for the possibility.

Scientists predict that California is due for a ‘big one’ along the San Andreas Fault system.

But the 100-mile (160-kilometer) southern section of the fault, which runs south from San Bernardino to the east of Los Angeles and San Diego, has remained eerily quiet for nearly three centuries. Now, scientists believe, the fault is ready to rumble.

“It is fully charged for the next big event,” said Yuri Fialko, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. When the event will occur, we cannot tell,” he continued. “It could be tomorrow or 20 years from now, but it appears unlikely the fault can take another few hundred years of slow strain accumulation.”

~ Major Earthquake Due to Hit Southern California, Study Says, National Geographic News

Being Prepared for Natural Disaster

The real key to surviving an earthquake and reducing risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what we will do if it happens. While Earthquake is the most likely natural disaster I might experience in this location, the following suggestions can easily be adapted to preparing for Bushfires/Wildfires, Hurricanes/Cyclones, Floods, Tornadoes etc.

Practice Drills

By planning and practicing what to do if an earthquake strikes, we can learn to react automatically when the shaking begins. During an earthquake most deaths and injuries are caused by collapsing building materials and heavy falling objects. I need to learn the safe spots in each room of my home and office.  

Last year our office undertook an earthquake drill. We all thought it was a bit of fun diving under the desk at the appointed time, but I guess it’s important to automatically know what to do if the real thing happens.

Here’s what to practice during an earthquake drill:

  • Get under a sturdy table or desk and hold on to it.
  • If not near a table or desk, cover your face and head with your arms; and
    • stand or crouch in a strongly supported doorway OR . . .
    • brace yourself in an inside corner of the house or building.
  • Stay clear of windows or glass that could shatter or objects that could fall on you.
  • If inside, stay inside. Many people are injured at entrances of buildings by falling debris.

Evacuation Plans

If an earthquake occurs, we might need to evacuate the area afterwards.  We need to come up with a plan for what we would do for evacuation so we’ll be better prepared to respond quickly to signs of danger or to directions by civil authorities. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take a few minutes to discuss a home evacuation plan. Walk through each room and discuss evacuation details.
  • Plan a second way to exit each room or area, if possible. If you need special equipment, such as a rope ladder, mark where it is located.
  • Know where your emergency food, water, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers are located.
  • Know where the utility switches or valves are located so that they can be turned off, if possible.
  • Determine the location of your family’s emergency outdoor meeting place.  

Establish Priorities

Before an earthquake strikes, write an emergency priority list, including:

  • important items to be hand-carried out
  • items to be removed by car if available
  • things to do if time permits, such as locking doors and windows, turning off the utilities, etc.

Write Down Important Information

Make a list of important information and put it in a secure location. Include on your list:

  • important telephone numbers, such as police, fire, paramedics, and medical centers
  • the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your insurance agents, including policy types and numbers
  • the telephone numbers of the electric, gas, and water companies
  • the names and telephone numbers of neighbours
  • the name and telephone number of your landlord or property manager
  • important medical information, such as allergies, regular medications, etc.
  • the vehicle identification number, year, model, and license number of your automobile, boat, RV, etc.
  • your bank’s or credit union’s telephone number, account types, and numbers
  • radio and television broadcast stations to tune to for emergency broadcast information

Gather and Store Important Documents in a Fire-Proof Safe

  •  Birth certificates
  •  Ownership certificates (automobiles, boats, etc.)
  •  Social Security cards
  •  Insurance policies
  •  Wills
  •  Household inventory

Emergency Supplies for Earthquake Preparedness

Stock up now on emergency supplies that can be used after an earthquake. These supplies should include a first aid kit, survival kits for the home, automobile, and workplace, and emergency water and food. Store enough supplies to last at least three days. I’ll write another post soon with some things to consider putting in each of the kits.

Photo by: Telstar Logistics

Why we choose a bike over a car

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Photo by wvs.

I’ve always owned a bike, but mostly it sat in the garage collecting dust. When we moved to the USA, however, we decided not to get a second car but to rely instead on our bicycles. For the first six months or so, my bike remained in the garage, but on the 4th of July last year I dusted it off and haven’t looked back since. Independence Day in our neighbourhood is a big thing. People from all over make the trip to our little city and clog up the streets with cars. If you don’t get a park by about 5am, you aren’t getting one at all. The parade down the main street at 10am makes getting around by car even more difficult. The solution? Peddle power. We rode everywhere that day – to the parade, to the shops, to a friends party on the other side of town. What I hadn’t expected was how much fun it would be. At about midnight as we slowly cruised back home, there were still plenty of people out riding their bikes and enjoying the beautiful night. Since then, I ride everywhere in my neighbourhood and to work most days.

Saving Money I know this is so obvious that I probably don’t even need to mention it, but have you ever done the sums? Here’s what we pay for our one car on a monthly basis (averaged over three years):

  • $105.00 – insurance
  • $8.00 – roadside assistance
  • $30.00 – registration
  • $55.00 – maintenance
  • $95.00 – gas

Since we always make a point of buying our cars with cash, we don’t have interest payments to consider. However, if I have $10,000 earning 7% in my mortgage offset account rather than using the money to buy another car, that’s another $2,329 in interest earnings over three years. I also need to account for depreciation which is the most painful aspect of owning a car in my opinion. Using a car depreciation calculator I worked out that a $10,000 car could depreciate between $2,950 and $4,880 in three years. Over the three years we will be living in the USA, the decision to not have a second car saves us somewhere between $15,800 and $18,000! That’s a darn good holiday!

Health Benefits My legs are stronger, my heart is fitter, my mind is clearer. These can only be good things. Taking away a passive activity (sitting in a car) and replacing it with a simple everyday activity has been an easy way to increase my movement. I’m usually the type of person who battles exercise, but when I took up riding with its many benefits, I didn’t see it as just exercise. It’s been a clever way to trick my mind.

Better for the environment For me, this is a big one. Often when I ride home from work I overtake about a hundred (not an exaggeration) cars caught in traffic jams. I casually cruise by while each of their gas guzzlers idle and belch out toxic emissions. Not only am I saving money, but I’m saving non-renewable raw materials. I’m reducing my carbon footprint. I’m keeping the air cleaner and reducing that nasty smog which seems a permanent fixture in many American cities.

Simplifying Life Getting out and riding a bike to work and around the neighbourhood truly makes me notice things I wouldn’t have while stuck in a car. I enjoy the breeze in my face, the sun on my back, the exchanging of pleasantries with people I pass. I find it so much more relaxing to ride to the local library than to drive and try to find a park on the main street. Using the bike has so many benefits that I truly hope that this can be a permanent change in my life. Who else has discovered the joys of using a bike instead of the car?

Going Grey Gracefully…and some Greenwashing

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Photo by: The Rhumb Line

14246393At 17 I noticed my first strands of grey hair. At first it was just a few and they were easily disguised by my bleach blonde streaks. Throughout my twenties, a distinctive patch started to emerge and I started to fancy I was going to look as distinguished as Maxwell Sheffield from The Nanny. Unfortunately, the remainder of my hair is mousey brown, and let’s face it, I’m no TV star. So I continued to dye my hair…sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette.

More recently, I started caring more about the kinds of chemicals that I was putting on my head, so I considered growing my natural hair out for a while. I even discussed it with a few female friends and acquaintances and they strongly urged me not to go there. Overwhelmingly, they had stories of young woman who had let their hair go naturally grey and it didn’t work out so well. In all cases, said young woman was almost instantly treated poorly, as if she had aged overnight. Why is it in our society that men are allowed to age gracefully but the popular media considers women largely past our prime by the time we hit 35?  It’s frustrating!

NaturtintI let my hair go without colour for a few months, but it started looking limp, lifeless and dull. I started to feel the same way just looking at it. Back to hair colouring it was, but I wanted to use the most natural product I could find to avoid those nasty chemicals. In the interests of expediency I made a visit to the local (mostly) organic store and picked up a box of Nutratint Dark Golden Blonde with Grey Coverage. It said it was made with organic ingredients, and of course we all believe packaging don’t we?

Alas it wasn’t such good news when I checked Natratint on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Despite being packaged as a good alternative to other chemical hair colours, Natratint scored a 7/10 (high hazard). That’s a big red light. eeeeccckkkk! I got greenwashed!

After further investigation I found this on the Natratint website:

WARNING – The Naturtint Permanent colours do contain the minimum amount of ppd (p-PHENYLENEDIAMINE) necessary to make them work well and cover grey permanently. However, this is a chemical that some people with sensitive skin may react to, even though there is a lot less of it in the Naturtint ones compared to many other ranges.

OK, so they have less of the bad stuff than others, but at 7/10 on the hazard scale I won’t be using this product again. Back to the drawing board.