Talking sustainable fabrics with Leigh Anne Van Dusen

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Leigh Anne Van Dusen, founder of O Ecotextiles. O Ecotextiles partners with fabric manufacturers to create safe, low-impact and gorgeous fabric for home design. Leigh has an encyclopedic knowledge of sustainable (and unsustainable) fabric production, and she has been passionately pursuing change in the textile industry for over a decade. I’m tremendously excited to welcome her to Crab & Bee to share some of her wisdom about she runs O Ecotextile’s business, textile industry issues, and how to purchase healthier fabrics!

You became interested in sustainable textiles in 2004 when you wanted to reupholster your sofa. How did that lead you to create O Ecotextiles? Leigh

Leigh: In looking for a “green” fabric for my sofa, I found many fabrics that were sophisticated, but not environmentally friendly; or green (mostly recycled polyester), but not stylish. Even the “organic” fabrics were processed with chemicals that were harmful for people and the planet. Since I couldn’t find a company that was creating sophisticated, stylish fabrics using organic or sustainable methods, we (my sister and I) decided to create our own, never thinking it would be as hard as it has! We quickly learned how absolutely gigantic the textile industry is, how polluting, and how often it was exploitative of its workers. And there were no natural fiber fabric collections extant that combined high design, high performance and “green” credentials. We decided to offer fabrics that would change the way textiles are being made by proving that it’s possible to produce luxurious, sensuous fabrics in ways that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. Our initial impetus and goals remain our current objectives. We desire our production and end products to have a benign toxicity profile for the earth, and for humans and animals (yes, those are different considerations); to be fiercely carbon positive; and to be a consistent fair trader and good employee that pays family wage long term jobs and affords good working conditions.

Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles
Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles

Can you describe the lifecycle of one of your fabrics?

Leigh: We are primarily focused on the textile manufacturing process. We want to clean up this industry, to ensure that workers are given a fair shake and to realistically evaluate carbon and water issues. We want the end product of this new industrial paradigm to be beautiful and durable – without sacrificing luxury. We select only the very finest natural fibers that have been grown entirely without chemicals which have been identified as being harmful – to humans or other life on the Earth. Since growing even organically certified cotton, one of nature’s thirstiest plants, can contribute to the desertification of the world, we emphasize the use of less thirsty natural fibers such as hemp, bamboo and linen. Then we process them minimally, stripping the many finishes (all those “antis” – static, wrinkle, stain, bacterial, mildew, etc.) from the finished product, offering it in its purest form. We have also been inspired by overcoming technical roadblocks: When we began this process almost eight years ago, we had to find partners who were willing to work with us. We were, after all, just two unknown women from Seattle with a crazy idea. It turns out that we had to have our hemp linen piece dyed – almost unheard of these days – because our dye house in Italy, run by women who were themselves committed to changing the industry, could not dye the yarns. Nor could we afford to ship the yarns back and forth for weaving. The result is a fabric that, instead of reading as a solid block of color like a painted wall, has subtle variations due to the different amounts of dye uptake along the length of the yarns. The fabric is alive. It would be impossible to replicate this effect in a yarn-dyed synthetic. Another example of overcoming technical problems was finding a low impact, fiber reactive dye that could pass the colorfast tests. Our first formulation of GOTS certified dyestuffs yielded color that didn’t pass the tests – we were crushed. But a few lab dips and tests later we found a formulation that was colorfast to ACT as well as GOTS standards And at the end of their useful life, our fabrics can be used as mulch in your garden.

Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles
Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Leigh: I really like to being able to provide a solution for the many people who call us at wits end: the mom whose child is allergic to everything; the chemically sensitive people who thought they’d have to do without fabrics. It makes me think we’re really providing a service.

Lots of companies market their products as “sustainable” or “eco-friendly”, and I find it difficult to navigate the marketing terms. What are some important things to look for when shopping for sustainable and safe fabrics?

Leigh: The most important thing to do, by far, is to search out third party certified products: Global Organic Textile Standard-certified fabrics (GOTS) or Oeko Tex certified fabrics – not just the fibers. The fabrics certified to these standards ensure that what you’re getting is safe – think of a fabric as being similar to organic applesauce. If you begin with organic apples but then process those apples with preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, etc., then the final product cannot, by law, be called organic applesauce. There is no similar law protecting you in fabrics, so it’s easy to find a fabric made of organic cotton, but which is processed conventionally. It is not an organic fabric.

  1. If organic fabrics are not available, pay attention to the type of fiber used in the fabric and the production methods employed. Never buy conventional cotton if you can help it; never use PVC or acrylic. If buying polyester, is it antimony free?
  2. Be aware of greenwashing. Remember, avoiding greenwashing doesn’t mean waiting for the perfect product. It DOES mean science, honesty and transparency is paramount.
    1. Look at the company you’re buying the product from: It’s important to look beyond the hype – green registers as dollar signs in many corporate minds, so look at the company’s claims: do they offer a gazillion products but have a small “green” section? (Some cleaners come to mind, like Method vs. the green offerings from Clorox, for example.)
    2. Can you easily find info about the company’s sustainable practices on their web site?
    3. Google the company name + environment.
    4. Also, if it’s a really big company, check their R&D budget – if they’re invested in sustainable solutions, it should show up.
Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles
Photo courtesy of O Ecotextiles

I mostly sew garments; are there any manufacturers of fashion fabrics that you like? Do you have any plans to sell fashion fabric?

Leigh: There are too many to name! Some mills make deliriously delicious fabrics – but they’re not green. So sad. We have our hands full with our upholstery and drapery fabrics, but practically every fabric we carry has been used as a garment. The problem for fashion fabrics is that fast fashion has pushed the prices of fabric even lower, making the mills use ever more toxic chemicals (because they’re the cheapest and easiest to use). It’s a vicious cycle.

As someone who handles a lot of fabric, I find it disturbing that I’m not better protected against toxins from textiles. How can I get involved in the fight to make textiles safer?

Leigh: There are many ways to be involved. The Washington Toxics Coalition ( is doing a great job in fighting for revision of antiquated toxics laws in the U.S. Write your senators and congresspeople that you support the Toxic Substances Control Act of 2013. But above all, become educated in what makes a sustainable textile – the government isn’t going to do it for you, so it’s really up to us to discover what the issues are – and the risks of not paying attention.

Thank you, Leigh!

Meeting Leigh has given me a lot to think about. Obviously (based on my blogging history), I’ve been focusing more on thrifted/second-hand fabrics in the past year and not as much on how to find sustainable new fabrics. Since our chat last year, however, I have started seeking out GOTS-certified organic cotton for basics like t-shirts and tank tops, as Nathan and I tend to live, work out, and sleep in them. And I plan to make us a new set of sheets in a healthy fabric when ours give up the ghost. I’d like to strike a personal balance of thrifted fabrics, healthy/sustainable fabrics (for the garments and textiles I touch the most), and the occasional random fabric purchase.

Sometimes reading about toxicity and environmental impacts of the products and food we consume brings me to a very low place where I feel simultaneously terrified and apathetic, so I wanted to say that I shared this interview not because I want to scare anybody, but because I believe our wonderful sewing community deserves more information on the textiles we work with every day. I believe that the majority of the textile industry needs to change their practices, and I think the more we learn and talk about it, the faster change can happen. It’s been hugely inspiring to see people speaking out and taking personal action against the terrible garment factory working conditions and environmental practices, for example.

Have sustainable fabrics been on your mind lately?


Interview with Pollen & Wax + giveaway

When I was a teenager, I was content with using the Costco shampoo and Ivory soap provided by my parents. My sister, on the other hand, was blowing her allowance on $20 bottles of conditioner. I think she bought her first Dr. Hauschka product at the tender age of 14. She’s always been on a quest for the best beauty products.

For more recent readers, my sister was also the original “Bee” of Crab & Bee – we started this blog together in 2011 before realizing that our interests (sewing for me, and clean beauty and living for her) easily deserved their own sites. She’s been been immersing herself in the health and safety issues in the beauty industry, as well as learning how to make what she wants with clean ingredients. She started her company, Pollen & Wax, last year and has been busily adding to her line ever since.

(Also, her product design and photography is insane!)

Pollen & Wax Satellite

Pollen & Wax Hothouse toner

I’m so excited that the Bee is back for an interview and a giveaway!

What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed since changing to a clean beauty routine?

Bee: Consistently good skin without unhealthy dependencies – before, if I didn’t wash my face for a day, it became a Serious Problem.  That’s what I love most about clean products – they don’t throw your system into imbalance by their absence, since the best ones work with and support your body’s natural processes.

How did you educate yourself on making products that were both safe and effective?

Bee: Gosh. It all started so gradually, it’s hard to pin down! One moment you’re a tween buying bargain makeup at the drugstore, and the next you’ve got your face buried in an organic chemistry text book and PubMed research articles. Mentors, teachers and a support network is a must, and if you have an experimental spirit and love reading, there’s very little in the way of instructional knowledge that’s out of reach! Dreaming big is just as important – you’re bound to fail at a few things, but it’s the “why not?” that really creates change.

Do you have any suggestions for people who are interested in removing toxins from their beauty routine but don’t know where to start?

Bee: I’m a huge fan of No More Dirty Looks – their book and blog changed my life by educating me on the perils of a cheap, industrially-produced beauty fix and helped me look for (and then make) clean products that worked (naturally, I gravitated toward the Good Stuff!). It can feel a little scary walking away from a trusted panel of products you’ve spent years cultivating for particular or fussy skin, and I totally understand!

No More Dirty Looks
Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt of No More Dirty Looks

Luckily, there are more green beauty bloggers happily digging in to every shade of product than you can imagine – and truthfully, I owe much of my present success to their kind words and enthusiasm for green products, so it’s really wonderful to experience how green entrepreneurs can support each other.  After you dig into to some inspiring blogs and books, take a page from the NMDL ladies and go at a pace you find comfortable. If you want to throw everything out and start over, or if you’d rather replace things as they run out, do that. (And give some consideration to first swapping out the products that cover the largest surface area – body oils, lotions, washes.)

One easy green fix is to avoid anything with “fragrance” listed as an ingredient – usually that means a chemical cocktail protected by proprietary license notoriously riddled with hormone disruptors and other toxins.

What are some easy or free things people can do to improve their skin without using a new product?

Bee: Oh, I love this question! The most important free thing you can do for your health and skin is educate yourself on the products you use and understand how they influence your health.

Everyone knows the usual mantra for good skin (sleep, hydration, stress management and diet) but there are tons of very affordable remedies very accessible to just about everyone. Grapeseed oil is a fantastically light oil just packed with antioxidants – it’s shelf stable and very affordable for its virtues, and I would venture to say suitable for just about any skin type that needed some light moisture. Shea butter is terrific for more intensive moisturizer and is great for hands, feet and night treatments.

Lavender essential oil is, in my mind, the most important essential oil I would single out for a beginner. It’s very safe and gentle – lavender is remarkable on burns, zits and other skin maladies.  It tones and heals with remarkable strength and support a healthy cellular structure. There really is such a remarkable wealth of knowledge on the net, I encourage anyone interested in natural healing to dive right in!

Pollen & Wax Fresh Deodorant

Also, I have to say – though I make a very fine deodorant myself, I feel so strongly that people need to walk away from the drugstore stuff that I’d like to share a DIY recipe with you. Three ingredients from the cupboard, plus any essential oils you like will make a killer deodorant, and very effective.  (P.S. I did not care for the grapefruit essential oil she suggested in that recipe – I smelled like a pina colada – so my personal taste would be a pleasant combo of lavender and tea tree, or whatever floats your boat!)

I love a good disaster story. My biggest beauty foible was trimming the baby hairs around my forehead and having them grow back in a thick line. That, or my penchant for poorly-applied Wet-n-Wild brick-red lipstick – I think I wore that stuff to bed. What’s yours?


Bee: It’s hard to pick just one…was it the time I tried to recreate an editorially glossy aqua eye and nearly blinded myself?  Or greasy middle-school bangs?  Or obliterating my eyebrows into two almost non-existent yet perpetually surprised commas? No…I think it was the time that I decided a heavy, oily pomade was an appropriate choice for my hair. My long hair. My long, very fine hair. Needless to say, I looked like something that had been fished out of the drain.

I was actually jealous of those eyebrows… Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on clean beauty, sister!

Bee: Thanks for having me!

Pollen & Wax
Bee is offering one of her four skincare collections to any Crab & Bee reader, along with a makeup bag made by yours truly! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment saying which collection you would like to win. (Check out P & W’s Typology feature to figure out which collection would work best for your skin.) Also, please feel free to also share your best beauty disaster story (because I love them so freaking much), ask Bee a question, or share your favorite clean beauty trick.
We’ll close the giveaway by Tuesday March 4th at 2pm PST and announce the winner shortly after!

The grand experiment

Last year, I took stock of my lifestyle with regards to sustainability. Just over a year has gone by, and it feels like time to re-visit this concept. That said, I can’t really re-visit this concept without mentioning that I decided to take a few months off of work, starting last November. While I adhered to a lot of my personal sustainability goals (buying used clothing, reducing packaging waste, eating mostly veggie, etc.), here are some of the most striking areas ways my life has been different in the last few months:

Focusing on creative projects was my main goal during my time off. I’ve been drawing and sewing like crazy, and educating myself about pattern-making and fit. I’ve been taking art classes (in the day time!) as well. It’s been dreamy, and I don’t think I would have had the energy and focus to embark on these longer-term projects while I was working. Sewing was therapy when I was working, which (for me) tended to entail simpler projects. | illustration, copyright

Emotional capacity
I feel infinitely more capable of giving my whole attention to the people in front of me. This includes the usual suspects – my husband, my friends, my family – but also people I happen to interact with.

While I loathe food waste, it was much harder to keep on top of it last year. I’d find little produce bags of spoiled cilantro every week in our fridge. Since November, we eat all of our fresh food, all of our leftovers and make significant dents in our bulk staples like oats and rice. We’re on a skeleton budget right now, with time to cook, so we focus on produce and bulk food instead of packaged foods (which are both expensive and create lots of waste). I’ve even been making bread for Nathan!

Hand in hand with eating changes is how I feel. Before November, I would have estimated that my stomach was angry about 40% of my waking life; recently, it’s been felt like 5%! And, for the past few years I’ve favored sewing, cruising the internet, and most other activities over exercise or sleep, but I’ve been putting myself to bed before midnight and actually making time for yoga.

It behooves me to spend less money when I’m not making any, of course, but I noticed that a lot of my discretionary spending dried up more effortlessly  than I would have expected once I’d left my job. Purchases made out of convenience, lunches out, and transportation constituted a lot of my spending, not to mention the online fabric and pattern shopping I’d do to distract myself during breaks at work. I think most of us aim to net more than we spend when we work, but I found it eye-opening to see which expenditures were tied to my working lifestyle.

So what’s next?
As you’ve probably guessed, this life isn’t sustainable in the literal sense of the word. This experiment has a shelf life. I’m not independently wealthy – I just saved up for a long time, knowing that this was a gift I wanted to give myself, and I’ve managed to avoid long-term financial burdens. I feel unbelievably lucky to have gotten to do this.

After three months, here are my conclusions. I haven’t minded trading full-time income for creative time. Time to take excellent care of myself and others has also been worth it. Conveniently, I’ve found I also enjoy a frugal lifestyle! My next career move has yet to be solidified, but I will be incorporating my learnings into my search.

Have you ever had a dramatic change in lifestyle? What did you learn about yourself?

Also! Those of you interested in clean beauty will be excited to hear that I’ll be hosting a joint giveaway with my sister (of Pollen & Wax) next week. Stay tuned!

Sustainability update

Now that I’ve gone through the process, I can say that moving one’s blog is akin to a physical move. You can’t help but see your posts in a fresh light as you export and import them, and make sure they’ve survived the move. I was surprised to look back and see the variety of posts on sustainable living, clean beauty, and food. While my love for sewing has really taken over Crab & Bee (and I’m not fighting it), I still spend a lot of time thinking about how to live healthfully, happily, and more thoughtfully. So in the spirit of Crab & Bee’s beginnings, here’s a smattering of updates on what I’ve been up to!

An illustration I made in 2009

I was feeling pretty happy about my eating habits – lots of cooking and bringing my lunch in – until school started this September. My consumption of packaged foods has definitely been up because I have less time to cook. And  while I’m good about buying lunch at places I know have compostable containers, but my snacks – and I snack often – come in crinkly plastic that goes into the garbage. (Do any of you have good tips on how to eat home-cooked food given my time limitations, or favorite snacks with responsible or no packaging?) The other complicating factor is that I’m eliminating wheat because of potential allergy issues. Because of that, I’ve integrated an occasional (maybe once a week) serving of fish back into my diet after being strictly veggie for over a year.

On the food waste front, we’ve been composting our food waste for a few years now, but I’m still amazed to see how much it cuts down on garbage!

As I explained in one of my Wayback Machine posts, my career path has been all over the place (although mostly in creative fields). I’ve been working at the same job for the past year and a half now, which has been a much-needed break from freelancing and self-insuring. That said, I work for an online retailer. Considering how interested I am in handmade and thrifted clothing, I have some cognitive dissonance around that fact! There’s a lot to like about my company; they hire locally, they sell higher-quality items, they treat their employees ethically, my team is made of awesome and genuine people, and I’m not sure how I would have survived this year without health insurance. I also feel really fortunate to have a job when many people are having difficulties finding anything, let alone fulfilling work. But ideally, my personal convictions would match my work life.

Cleanin’ and Beautifyin’
Really exciting developments in cleaning department!  My main goals have been to keep the same level of cleanliness while using safer products and reducing packaging. This includes:

  • Making my own re-fillable surface cleaning spray from water, baking soda, Borax and tea tree oil. (Just a warning about essential oils – they can be toxic to pets at their full concentration, so dilute them. I couldn’t find a consensus on a safe concentration, but I used 10-15 drops per 12 fluid oz. of water for my cleaning spray and wiped it up as I cleaned.)
  • Based on a tip from No More Dirty Looks via Readymade, I’ve been making my own eyeshadow and brow powder from activated charcoal tabs. (Another warning, The granules are bigger than the ones in makeup powder and can scratch your eyes more easily.)
  • Continuing to make my own laundry detergent, recipe here!
  • Continuing to buy bulk shampoos and soaps

Next up, I’m going to try and make some blush from beet powder and starch, as well as look for a bulk dishwashing soap solution!

Clothes and sewing
Here’s some familiar territory! In my Top 5 Reflections on 2012, I talked about my interest in both new and thrifted fabric. After some extra fabric purchases in 2011, I tried to stick to buying fabric only for the project I was currently working on this year. This was both good (my tiny fabric closet stayed about the same level of crammed throughout 2012) and bad (I bought expensive fabric in a pinch.) Still, this year I’m planning on staying the course, buying fabric on a per-project basis and also spending more time looking for environmentally responsible fabric as well as thrifted fabric sources.

As for what I bought retail, I was able to keep my clothing purchases down through a mixture of thrift shopping and sewing. I bought two sweaters (I have little luck at thrift stores with sweaters and am super jealous of So, Zo’s thrifted beauties), leggings, a dress and… designer sweatpants off of ebay, for a total of 5 items. I did, however, purchase way more shoes than I had intended! I was planning on keeping it to 0-2 pairs, but ended up at 5. They all met my requirements (durable, repair-able, walkable) and 4/5 of them have seen a lot of use, but hopefully I’m set for 2013.

I’ve also decided to do the Seamless pledge, during which I would create or thrift any new clothes for a given period of time. I’m super excited that Gillian is both joining in and helping to re-vamp it.

What are you up to?
I was going to get into transportation, but as this post has run a bit long and I’m pretty much keeping to my bus/walk to work, drive-occasionally routine, I’ll table that topic! But, I’m interested in hearing some of your favorite ways to maximize your resources and reduce waste, so please share! I’m also interested in hearing how these sorts of practices vary by location.

Reflections on 2011

What an eventful year! With so much having happened, I wanted to reflect a moment on all of the blog-inspired changes made this year.

From dirty shampoo to no shampoo to clean shampoo
I started out the year using a supposedly “natural” shampoo that ended up containing fragrance and SLS. Then, I did baking soda/vinegar every three days for a few months until I heard and saw that my kind of scalp can get irritated by that routine. Currently, I’m using a fragrance/SLS/paraben free shampoo without conditioner every other day and it’s working great! My hair feels very similar to the baking soda/vinegar routine, but my scalp is happy. I’m considering working my way up to three days in between washings.

Less driving, more walking
Thanks to moving even closer to work, I walk the 2 miles to work about half the time. It’s even cheaper than the bus and I’m in way better shape! If you don’t live close to your office, consider getting off at an earlier stop or parking your car and walking part of the way. Walking to work has also made me more likely to meet up with friends or run errands on foot. I have to say that I’m not completely self-motivated; finding street parking in my hood is a total pain and a very effective deterrent to getting in my car.

I also have been trying to combine errands that require the car into efficient trips. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to spend 30 minutes scouring my neighborhood to find my car.

Still vegetarian, post-Vegetarian Month
I’m proud to say that I’m still going strong! Inspired by Bee’s veganism and some information like this amazing infographic from, I’ve been able to stay steady. Also, perhaps it’s owning a cat that’s about the size of a large chicken, but I’ve become more squeamish about the idea of killing animals so vegetarianism is a good fit for me now. If only I could reduce my cheese intake… perhaps something to tackle in 2012?

Repairing my shoes
Yes, I still wear leather shoes, which have very high carbon footprints (ha! footprints) when bought new. Almost all of mine are thrifted, but some aren’t. One thing I’ve started doing this year is taking them to a cobbler! I got my favorite cowboy boots resoled and weather-proofed and now they’re better than new. At $70, repairs cost more than I paid for the boots at the Goodwill, but cheaper than equally good new boots and easier on the planet. I have three other pairs being fixed as I type.

I’m still new to repairing my shoes, but I highly recommend taking your damaged shoes in to a cobbler and see if they can repair them. If you do need new shoes, I highly suggest springing for higher-quality shoes because they can be repaired much more easily than cheap ones.

How about you?
I’ll stop here because this is a daunting block of text. But Bee and I would love to hear what improvements you’ve made this year and what you look forward to accomplishing in 2012!

Thoughts on hair and showering

Me and my hair

It’s been awhile since we chatted about beauty routines and cleansing habits. Since starting a new job, I’ve eased up on the no shampoo thing. My scalp was getting increasingly irritated by the baking soda and vinegar which resulted in… flakes.

What I have been doing is washing my hair every other day with an extremely clean shampoo that both No More Dirty Looks and EWG would approve of. I buy it in bulk at PCC (for non-Seattlites, an amazing grocery co-op) so I’m not fretting about all the containers I’m using.

I was feeling really good about my routine until I read that the average 10 minute shower can take anywhere from 25 – 70 gallons of water! Even every other day, that’s a lot. So I’m going to try to cut back to 3-5 minute showers, with the aid of a timer or my cell phone. And, I should also probably hassle our landlord to put in a low-flow shower head.

Does anyone have any water-saving techniques to share? For the shower or elsewhere?


Bee and I had so much fun yesterday! We were invited to a clothing swap held by fantastic and thrifty Elizabeth of La Vida Desconocida.  We showed up with 6-7 bags of clothes between us, having leaned on Elizabeth to host after our recent wardrobe purges.

We organized loosely by item type: dress, skirt, pants, jacket, sweater, shirt, shoes, accessories, housewares. Then, a very polite free-for-all ensued. Many a “if you don’t want it, I’d like to try it on” and “oh! this might look better on you!” were heard.

Our hostess Elizabeth (left), wears a dress from Bee,
and Katie checks out a shirt.

Here’s the official Crab and Bee haul. It must be noted that there were three sister swaps, a tank and jeans that went from me to the Bee, and then a shirt that went from her to me. I laid future claim on some items that I’m hoping she gets tired of, and vice versa.

Our combined haul!

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest starting up a clothing exchange with some fun ladies! It’s an extremely pleasant way to spend a morning and a good excuse to down some mimosas.

A few good links

Man, Zo at So, Zo… keeps on killing it with her posts on consumerism. And not only is her most recent post great, but the comment section is just as good! Check it out:

The author, lookin’ mean
but not dirty

Also, I’m halfway through “No More Dirty Looks”, graciously lent (well, shoved into my hands) by Erica! One resource they high recommend is the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, which is, in their own words, “Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group.” Since the personal care products industry is all but unregulated for safety, EWG’s Skin Deep is picking up the slack:

The No More Dirty Looks girls also write their own blog that continues the theme of their book:

That’s all for now! I plan on spending this weekend blissfully buried in projects, including the slipcover and a (fingers crossed) a surprise project that uses a ton of fabric scrap.

For all the cheapskates out there (who like clean clothes and not too many chemicals)

I’m pretty cheap. I am also driven to find the simplest, least toxic, least wasteful way of doing something, whether it be eating, washing my hair, getting dressed. My good friend Jen, a truly like-minded person, knows this and she shared this amazing revelation with me:

Yep, that’s the magic formula for making your own dry laundry soap.


  • 1 bar of soap, grated
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of Borax

Jen lists out the reasons to get all DIY on your laundry soap on the blog she and her husband write, including the fact that it costs about $10/year in detergent vs. the $30? $60? you might spend otherwise.

So, thank you Jen, and happy cheap washin’!