Key Charms: New Etsy Necklaces

New to my Etsy shop [editor’s note: the shop has closed]: Keys covered in words from a recycled old book (a paperback copy of “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin with yellowed pages and a missing cover). Here are two out of a dozen recently added to Miss Stefanie’s House of Crafts & Collectibles.

The Right Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but you probably know that already. You’ve seen the pink ribbons on products and on apparel. If you watch NFL football, you’ve even seen players wearing pink shoes, gloves, and caps. Hoorah for pink! I will cheer from the sidelines with pink pom-poms at efforts to raise awareness and research funds for a dreadful disease that affects far too many.

But here’s where I draw the line. So many of cosmetics being sold to women with pink ribbons stamped on the packaging contain toxic ingredients on the inside — and some of them are carcinogens. I want to applaud Avon, Revlon, Estee Lauder and other companies for what they are doing to raise awareness — and millions of dollars for research to find a cure for this disease — but not nearly as much as I want to sit their executives down in a room and ask, “What the f#$%?” Or, maybe I would hold it together and take a more calm approach: “Why are you selling products with harmful toxins, including carcinogens, when you know you can make safer products — when, in fact, so many other cosmetic companies are already making high-quality products without the toxins?”

That’s right. The good news in this rant is that there are companies making personal care products and cosmetics with safer ingredients. I use them. I don’t miss the makeup I previously used, before finding out about the dangers hidden in those tubes, bottles, jars, and compacts. I don’t feel like I’m compromising by using the better-for-you choices. You can also look up individual products to see how they rank for safety at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

And the practice of the other companies fooling consumers into thinking a product with a pink ribbon stamped on it is a good one? It’s know as “pink-washing” and it’s disheartening (more on that here, from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics). But we all make choices with our wallets. Here is one: Would rather buy a lip gloss from a company that knowingly uses harmful ingredients (including known or suspected carcinogens) to make its products or from a company making lip gloss with safer ingredients? I always like to support the good guys (and girls).

Added: Support the Safe Cosmetics Act.

My Big Green Resolution

closet_photoAt the start of 2010, I made a resolution that felt big for me. It started with my desire to make a stronger commitment to green living—making more choices that were better for the environment. But I am a collector. I have a lot of stuff. And I really like my stuff. I have a closet filled with clothing and accessories I love (yes, love) and my house is full of treasured possessions. Still, I felt the need to simplify. I felt overwhelmed by the drive to acquire. Stuff! More stuff! So I decided to give up shopping for new stuff for the year.

I would refrain from buying new things I wanted. For things I needed, such as food and toilet paper and soap, I would stick to my resolve of buying the eco-friendly choices. New jeans, a new handbag, or new silverware? No. For any non-necessities, I would buy only pre-owned items—after carefully considering whether the purchase was necessary. I would shop at thrift stores, consignment and vintage shops, yard sales, on eBay and Etsy. I would be spending money on items already produced and in circulation (and withdrawing my consumer support for new products), which would help to reduce my carbon footprint.

I expected this to be a challenge and ended up being surprised with how easy it was. (And fun—thrift shopping is like treasure-hunting.) I thought I would write about my temptations and possible slips, but exceptions I made were few and far between (new underwear, practical running shoes…) and felt permissible. Then there was the upside: saving money. When the year ended, I decided to keep going and it’s become my new normal. Just like that. And while I’m shy about suggesting how others should live their lives, I like to share my example and offer it as a challenge to anyone who might like to try. For today or a week or a month or a year….

Better Than Before: Upcycled Bracelets

My favorite DIY projects are ones that involve taking something you have and making it better—more functional or simply more fun and stylish—using materials I already have. Before I added some embellishments to these two bracelets, they didn’t come out of my jewelry box very often. The one with the subway tokens now has the addition of glass beads from a broken chandelier I found years ago at a yard sale, along with some freshwater pearls from a broken bracelet. The silver Tiffany ID bracelet now has tulle ties from a leftover roll of tulle I got when I made a hair accessory for a family wedding.

Sipping in Style: Vintage Glasses

I like to drink wine (or juice or water) in vintage glasses. I share this fondness for vintage glassware with friends—Annie owns the blue and gold ones, Kristine the etched, dotted ones. The daisy one is mine (I’m crazy for daisies).

Kitchen Sources for Beauty: Olive Oil

I saw a post on a style blog yesterday about a new product available: an anti-frizz comb infused with olive oil. Infused with olive oil! To that, I say this: Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. There’s no need to buy a new comb or product—simply use olive oil. I keep olive oil in a vintage glass bottle in the bathroom. Usually I take a few drops and rub it between my palms and then gently run my hands through my hair, away from the scalp. When hair is very dry, I use olive oil as a deep conditioner, soaking the strands with the oil and twisting it into a ponytail knot for an hour before shampooing it out in the shower. Hair is softened and frizz-free—and I take great comfort in using a product that’s safe enough to eat (and already in the house). Photo note: I keep the olive oil away from the light to keep it fresh, but it’s photographed in the window here to catch the pretty morning light.