Salubrious Selection: Konjac Loofahs

Being eco-friendly means trying to be consciencious about every single thing you use, which is why I was ecstatic when I found out about this marvelous loofah made out of konjac in Taiwan.


For those who are unfamiliar with what a konjac is, it is a plant often used to make those sweet jelly candies that come in little plastic cups that can be found everywhere in Taiwan.

Unlike plastic or nylon loofahs, konjac loofahs are entirely made out of konjac plants that are molded into different shapes as they are dried out. This means it is made of only natural materials and is completely biodegradable once you're through using it.

Konjac loofahs have an interesting consistency of cool, soft rubber. However, it is surprisingly absorbant and can hold a lot of water and soap bubbles. It also has none of the abrasivness of non-biodegradable loofahs, but many online reviews swear that it still exofoliates the skin very well. It doesn't make much of a difference to me anyway, since I periodically exfoliate my skin using either my own exolfiant made of coffee grounds or a baking soda paste.


The manufacturer of this particular konjac loofah suggests running it under water to soften it up before use. After you're done, it recommended that you rinse it thoroughly, squeeze the water out and hang it up to dry.

If you don't plan on using a konjac loofah that has already been taken out of the package for an extended period of time, the manufacturer also advises that you put it in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator to keep it "fresh," and to prevent the risk of mold developing.

Cosmed (康是美) stores in Taipei do sell konjac loofahs, but they usually only have much smaller sizes used for facial exfoliation in stock. Online retailer momoshop (momo 富邦購物網) also sells them, just type in "蒟蒻洗臉綿" into the search bar and a bunch of results should show up. However, there are no English options, so if you can't read the text, you might need a Mandarin-speaking friend to help you with the check-out process.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find konjac loofas in the States, but sea sponges harvested eco-consciously are a good alternative.

Salubrious Selection: OP Biodegradable Cling Wrap (OP 生物分解保鮮膜)

For my Taiwan readers ...

I always try to use reusable containers to store my food, but sometimes a situation simply calls for cling wrap. In these cases, I prefer to use OP Biodegradable Cling Wrap (OP 生物分解保鮮膜), available at most supermarkets in Taipei.


When I first discovered this brand of cling wrap I was pretty excited. I didn't even know they could make plastic wrap that is biodegradable. According to the label, the plastic contains no chlorine or plasticizers that would emit toxic fumes under high heat, and it is 100% biodegradable, meaning it will eventually decompose over time when discarded.


Although the material feels much thinner than traditional cling wrap, it still works very well and doesn't rip unless you really tug at it. The roll comes in a cardboard box that delightfully does not have a serrated metal blade on the edge like most plastic wrap boxes. Instead, there is a plastic rail with a sliding handle that allows you to easily slice through pieces of cling wrap without accidentally cutting yourself. And when I'm done with the roll, in keeping with my habit of recycling everything I possibly can, I tear the plastic rail from the cardboard box and recycle both materials separately.

How to Reuse Plastic Bottles to Seal Up Plastic Bags


Ever have a leftover bag of beans, nuts, candy, etc. that you want to seal up but you've run out of tupperware, and no rubberband or fastening clip will do? Then consider using the top of an empty plastic bottle to do the job.



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You'll Need:

- a clean, empty plastic bottle with a twist cap

Directions:

1. Make sure your empty plastic bottle is dry and clean.
2. Cut off the portion of the bottle two inches from the top so you end up with something like this.


3. Pull the open side of your plastic bag of leftovers through the bottle opening like so.


4. Then fold the bag over the sides.


5. Screw the bottle cap into the top, and you should have a sealed bag protected from pests and moisture.


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I only recently learned this trick and wish I had known about this sooner. What a great way to reuse old plastic bottles, not to mention it's a space saver because it means I don't have to transfer the pistachio nuts into another air-tight container. This is a fantastic way to keep food products that come in a bag dry, and also a handy way to travel with treats if you need to bring them to a party, camping or anywhere else.

Salubrious Selection: DivaCup Menstrual Cup

For those who become squeamish when reading about things to do with a woman's menstruation cycle, feel free to click away from this post now. For women who are interested in learning about a wonderful device that not only makes your periods easier to manage, but is also a much healthier, environmentally friendlier and cheaper alternative to tampons and pads, read on.

I first learned about menstrual cups when I was researching eco-friendly alternatives to tampons. I was initially taken aback by the concept a reusable cup you insert into your body to collect discharge while you're menstruating??? Ew.

However, after having tried it, I've found it is much more efficient than any tampon or pad I have ever used, and it is so comfortable that I don't even feel it during use.




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My menstrual cup of choice is the DivaCup.

Salubrious Selection: DivaCup Menstrual Cup
The menstrual cup comes with a handy set of instructions, and the name itself is even inscribed right inside the cup.
Features:

Salubrious Selection: DivaCup Menstrual Cup
Tiny holes.
According to the company, the DivaCup is made out of medical-grade silicon, which means it should not cause any irritation or adverse reactions in the human body. The material is sturdy, but pliable enough for easy insertion, and tiny holes located along the edges help it create a light seal inside your body to prevent any leakage. The stem at the bottom is to help you grip the device better during removal, but you are free to carefully cut it off if you find it irritating, as I have.

The Diva Cup comes in two sizes, Model 1 and Model 2. Model 1 is designed for women under 30 years old who have never given birth, either vaginally or by cesarean section. Model 2 is designed for women over 30 or who have given birth. The difference between women who are roughly under and over 30 years old, apparently, is the width of their birth canals. According to the website, even if a woman has never given birth, their vaginal canals naturally stretch and become wider as they get older, which would make the slightly larger Model 2 a better choice for them.


Salubrious Selection: DivaCup Menstrual Cup
Comes with a little pouch to keep it in too.
How long DivaCups last depends on how you treat it and your unique vaginal pH levels. However, when used properly it should last you years, which means an insane amount of monetary savings. And just think of all the waste you would have created otherwise by using pads or tampons!

To Use:

You can check the DivaCup website for more detailed instructions, but basically for insertion, you fold the cup in a manner you find most convenient, and you should feel it pop open after insertion. If inserted properly, the device is extremely secure and comfortable. I have personally never experienced any leaks beyond very slight spotting while using the DivaCup, even while sleeping through the night, which means I can sleep comfortably at length without worrying about waking up to check for any stains on my bedsheets.

After using it for awhile you will be able to figure out how often you need to dump out the contents of your cup. There are also helpful measurements along the side of the cup to help you track your flow. Simply pinch the end of the cup and carefully slide it out, then dump out the contents in the toilet (make sure you check the toilet after you flush though, sometimes blood matter settles in the bottom of the bowl and requires an extra flush to disappear). You can wash the cup before reinserting it, or if you are in a place where that is inconvenient, simply wiping it clean with a piece of tissue paper works too.

Menstrual cups, like tampons, take a little getting used to at first, so I would recommend using it only at home for one or two menstrual cycles to make sure you are comfortable with it before making it a regular habit. Don't be intimidated by the size, it really isn't that big, and a woman's vaginal walls are very strong and flexible muscles.

However, I would not recommend menstrual cups for women whose hymens are still intact — unless you don't mind tearing it yourself. Menstrual cups are also probably not going to be very comfortable for girls who have not yet fully developed.

Salubrious Selection: DivaCup Menstrual Cup
To Leave the Stem or Not:

The DivaCup comes with a little stem at the bottom that is supposed to allow for easy removal after use. However, some people, like myself, find it to be a little irritating and not that useful. This is why I simply choose to cut it off. If you choose to do the same, just be careful that you don't cut too much of the stem off that you create a hole in the actual cup, rendering it useless.

Cleaning:

You can purchase a special gentle cleanser for your menstrual cup to clean it, but I personally find gentle soap works fine. It is also recommended that you boil your menstrual cup after each cycle to disinfect it.

At some point, the cup may become stained or discolored. I personally find the best ways to return the cup to its original translucent white color is to make a baking soda paste and scrub it with your fingers, or gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. You probably won't be able to make it look as pristine as when you first bought it, but honestly, who's going to notice besides you?

To Discard:

Should your menstrual cup become damaged or unusable for any reason, you can simply throw it away and get a new one. According to the website, DivaCups will break down in the environment over time. To help this process along, simply use a pair of scissors to cut up your unwanted DivaCup into little pieces before throwing it away.

Cost Comparison:

A box of 54 tampons used to cost me more than $11.00 and would last about three months. This means I used to spend about $44.00 a year on tampons.

The DivaCup cost me about $35.00. Assuming the cup will last me at least five years, that works about to be about $7.00 a year - or 58 cents a month to manage my period. It is clearly the better and more environmentally friendly choice.

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I highly recommend the DivaCup for anyone looking for an eco-friendly, money-saving way to manage their menstrual cycles. Another great thing is that it eliminates the risk of you suffering from toxic shock syndrome, which is a chance you take with tampons.

There are also other menstrual cup brands, including the Mooncup, Lunnette, Miacup, and Softcup. However, make sure to do some research by reading product features, reviews and testimonials before investing in a menstrual cup. This will decrease the chances of you having any regrets or confusion about your purchcase.


I chose the DivaCup after doing a lot of extensive research, and am extremely happy with my purchase. I no longer have to worry about trying to stuff a bunch of tampons into my purse, or how to inconspicuously bring one into the bathroom at work. Not to mention, traveling is much less of a hassle now that I don't have to make room in my luggage for boxes of tampons.

How to Make Natural Deodorant Powder


If you're looking for a natural powder deodorant, may I suggest making your own by simply combining baking soda and corn starch.

How to Make Natural Deodorant Powder
Old face powder brushes are perfect for powder deodorant application.

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You'll Need:

- baking soda
- cornstarch
- essential oils (optional)
- powder brush


Directions:

1. Mix together equal parts baking soda and cornstarch.
2. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils if you'd like and mix it in. Lavender or tea tree essential oils are good choices as they have antibacterial properties that will help kill odor-causing bacteria.
3. Place the mixture into a preferred jar or container.

To Use:

Dip a clean powder brush into the mixture and tap it a little to get rid of excess powder. Apply it directly to your underarms to use as a deodorant. If you're having trouble getting the powder to stay on your skin, wet your fingers with water and lightly pat your underarms so they are slightly damp before application. This will help the powder stay against your skin.

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This is a great recipe if you like dry, powder deodorant. If you prefer solid deodorants, find out how to make your own using coconut oil. If liquid spray-on deodorant is more to your liking, all you need is vodka!

How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks


If you are a big wine-drinker, start saving the corks from the bottles, that's what I did in order to make a stylish cork board of my very own.

How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks

If you don't have enough wine corks for this project, ask family and friends if they have any laying around that they'd like to give you. In fact, you can even ask restaurants and liquor stores if they have bags of corks they want to get rid of that you would be happy to take off their hands. Just make sure the corks are dry and mold-free before you begin.


You'll Need:

- a lot of wine corks
- a sturdy backboard with raised edges (I used a lid that was detached from a large wooden box)
- a sturdy piece of cardboard
- strong glue
- small nails (if needed)

Directions:

1. Crop the cardboard so that it is just a bit wider than the inner dimensions of the backboard.
2. Fit the cardboard to the backboard. Since it's been cropped slightly wider, it should be able to stay snugly in place. However, if you think it's too loose, keep it in place by hammering nails into the corners.

How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks3. Begin gluing corks to onto the cardboard. You can design the board any way you want. Line up the corks diagonally as I have done in the picture above, or place two vertically, followed by two horizontally, and so on until you've filled the board. Be creative in your design, use different sized corks if you want to. Trim some corks with a pair of strong scissors if you need to fill awkward spaces.
4. When you've glued corks to the entire board, press down on each one to make sure none are loose. When all of the glue is completely dry, you're finished!
5. If you'd like to hang the board up on a wall, simply insert one small screw into each vertical edge on the back of the board, making sure they are in the same place opposite each other, then connect the nails with a piece of strong string or thin rope. Now you can hang your self-made cork board on the wall!


How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks
I braided three pieces of string to create a stronger rope.
 
To Use:

Keep a collage of pictures, notes and messages on the board using fun and colorful thumbtacks.

How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks

How to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine CorksHow to Make a Cork Board Out of Wine Corks

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The reason why I choose to glue the corks onto cardboard instead of directly onto the backboard is because cork adheres more easily to cardboard. Also, since the climate is often humid where I live, I can easily remove the entire sheet of corks if they become musty or moldy from the weather, and simply make a new one to replace it with.