inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #26 of 145: Maria Rosales (rosmar) Thu 4 Feb 10 12:15
    
Thank you so much. Even without having read the book yet, I am
thoroughly enjoying this conversation.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #27 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 4 Feb 10 13:52
    
Thanks Maria, I'm enjoying it too!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #28 of 145: the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Thu 4 Feb 10 15:01
    
Thanks for all these answers, Ellen.  Boy, as if to illustrate your
point, here's some economic news from today's paper: 

"Household products maker Clorox Co. said Wednesday that its
second-quarter profit jumped 28 percent as it continued to get a boost
from sales linked to the swine flu.  The company also increased its
earnings outlook for the full year.  Clorox said both U.S. and
international sales of its disinfecting products benefited from demand
associated with the H1N1 flu pandemic for a third straight quarter." 
(http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2010/02/04/financial/f0556
11S95.DTL#ixzz0ebuWF9P0)

To take the place of toxic chemicals like bleach, I liked your
suggestion for using hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle for cleanups
around the kitchen, Ellen.  Talk about scrubbing bubbles!  The edges of
the sink looked like they had rabies.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #29 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 18:58
    
ellen, i think i have been a honorary green barbarian for a longtime
(fear chemicals, not germs) --- but one contemporary development has
given me pause: i am personally acquainted with people who have had
tiny scratches (which they washed and disinfected) turn into raging
infections requiring emergency-room visits; and friends-of-friends dye
(make that die! can. not. type) from community-acquired resistant staph.

so the bad superbugs -are- out there; which has made me a OCD
about dousing all cuts with alcohol, after washing. i wasnt nearly
so persnickety about them a few years back.

so while i agree about general overuse of germicides and sanitizers,
i have become phobic about treatments of open wounds...
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #30 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:01
    
Hello Loris, 

Yes, the overuse of antimicrobials and antibiotics has turned what
used to be rather ordinary bacteria into supermonsters, and we have
only ourselves to blame... My father in law, for instance, who is in
general extremely healthy, somehow ended up with an abscess that
covered the entire front of his liver last winter--the bacterial
culprit was MRSA, and no one could figure out how he acquired that
bacteria, since he had not been in the hospital and had no risk factors
for that. He is fine now, thank goodness!

I agree that wounds should be thoroughly cleaned, and I am glad you
are using alcohol rather than antimicrobials to clean your wounds. The
frequent use of alcohol to clean the skin may not be such a good idea
though, because alcohol is very drying, and chapped skin can easily be
invaded by dangerous bacteria.  

Eating a lot of fermented foods, and even rubbing a bit of real kefir
into your skin now and then may also help you resist dangerous
bacterial infections. I have even made kefir out of cream, just so I
could use it on my skin. Kefir cream feels lovely on the skin, and it
is also ridiculously delicious!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #31 of 145: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:12
    
Alcohol is an antimicrobial, and is the active ingredient in the bulk
of hand sanitizer.

Rubbing it on wounds can kill some of the healthy cells in the wound
along with bacteria that cause infections, so it's best used to clean
areas of intact skin.

I agree that people have gone a bit crazy with the use of more potent
and specific antibacterials, including antibiotics, helping to create
resistant bacteria like MRSA.  Today, however, MRSA is so common that
it's no longer just--or even primarily--a hospital acquired infection. 
Your father in law probably got his MRSA from a friend or relative or
acquaintance who happens to have been colonized by the bug without
having gotten ill from it.

More later, because I have not yet had a chance to get very far yet in
my reading of the book.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #32 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:17
    
not to sidetrack from ellen's book, but i feel i would rather wash a cut,
then douse with alcohol --- then apply something like neosporin (antibiotic
overuse).
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #33 of 145: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 20:23
    
Alcohol hurts when you use it to wash a cut, for good reason:  it's
damaging the raw tissues and irritating the nerves.  It is not a
healthy disinfectant. 

A minor wound that is washed with clean water doesn't need alcohol, or
neosporin, just a bit of protection from dirt and further injury by a
bandaid.  
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #34 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 4 Feb 10 21:42
    
interesting. as a kid i was taught to NOT use bandaids, unless the skin
injury was something like a burn or blister, which needed protection for
awhile. exposure to air = letting a scab form = good. or so i was taught...
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #35 of 145: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Thu 4 Feb 10 22:05
    
That's what I learned too, but current dogma is to keep it moist for
quicker healing.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #36 of 145: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Thu 4 Feb 10 22:33
    

>  current dogma 

I long for a day, hopefully not too far in the future, where dogma
is replaced by more complete knowledge.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #37 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Fri 5 Feb 10 06:41
    
Hi everyone!

Debunix is right about alcohol, and actually, I never use it on cuts
myself, because it hurts like hell, and because a good thorough wash
with soap and water should do the trick for simple abrasions and cuts.
I do use hydrogen peroxide on deeper wounds that I'm not sure I can
clean out thoroughly enough with soap and water. I know that hydrogen
peroxide also causes tissue damage, but it definitely kills bacteria,
and it doesn't sting the way alcohol does. 

I do try to encourage the normal microbial inhabitants of my skin by
not scrubbing my skin too hard and avoiding harsh detergent-based
soaps. In fact, in the winter, sometimes I just put white distilled
vinegar on my washcloth and scrub myself with that, because the vinegar
does not upset the ph balance of the skin. I also don't shower as
often in winter as I do in summer--I don't sweat as much in the winter
for one thing, and my really filthy chores are less frequent in the
winter.  Winter in Northern Minnesota is quite hard on the skin--I
don't need to remove all my protective oils every day!

I think that the real answer to controlling dangerous strains of
bacteria is to sic phages on them. The Russians have been working on
phage therapy, utilizing bacteriophage viruses that target bacteria,
and only bacteria.Phage therapy is extremely effective and safe, and
bacteria cannot adapt to it. During WWII, the Russians fought bacterial
infections with phages, rather than with antibiotics, and they have
continued to do so. It is just too bad that we did not do the same.
We'd all be much better off now if we had!

Russian phage therapy facilities custom-grow a set of phages that
exactly match each patient's infection. We in the West are just
beginning to try to catch up. 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #38 of 145: Travis Bickle has left the building. (divinea) Fri 5 Feb 10 11:01
    
Jerry, that particular piece of dogma is the result of more complete
knowledge! I had a fascinating conversation with an elderly emergency
medicine specialist once about the progression of thought and research
on wound care over the course of his career.  
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #39 of 145: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Feb 10 15:09
    
I'm surprised to learn you can't get soap flakes. I hang out with a
bunch of sustainability people who make their own laundry soap.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #40 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Fri 5 Feb 10 16:43
    
The only plain laundry soap flakes available when I was working on the
book were imported from Italy and from England.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #41 of 145: the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Sat 6 Feb 10 10:37
    
And they're so expensive, too!  Saw a 500g box of L'Amande (with that
admittedly adorable illustration on the box) on Amazon for $16.50, plus
$6 shipping, which seems like a lot for plain old soap.  Especially
when soap flakes can be made (according to
http://www.greenhome.com/info/magazine/001/soitriedit.html) by grating
bar soap.  Has anybody tried this method?  I would think Ivory soap
would work well here, maybe fed through a food processor to save time
and aggravation.  Sounds like something worth trying...

It's hard to get around the fact that it's so expensive on many fronts
to live green.  How can we combat that?  It's hard not just for us,
but this makes it more difficult to convince people to change their
ways.  For example, with prices so high, how do you change the minds of
people who think that organic food is elitist?  How do you get people
to pay $2, say, for a head of organic celery when they can get a
"normal" head of celery for 79 cents?  
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #42 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sat 6 Feb 10 11:38
    
I would use a grater to shave either a bar of Ivory soap or a bar of
Kirk's plain old castile soap. I also have a hand-cranked grater that
would probably work really well for that job.  Another very nice
alternative to commercial laundry detergents is soap nuts, which
actually do grow on trees in tropical regions. Soapnuts are loaded with
saponins which lather up in water and work extremely well for washing
purposes. I've tried both whole soapnuts and the powdered kind, and
I've had excellent results from soapnut tea made from the powder. The
saponins are released most efficiently from hot water, and since I
don't want to have to do hot water washes just to make the soapnuts
work, I boil the powder first and then strain out the liquid. The
soapnut tea is extremely effective--I only have to use a teaspoon and a
half per load of laundry, and it actually gets the terrible smell out
of my socks! Regular laundry detergent often fails miserably at this
task...

How to combat the expense of eating organic food? I think each of us
needs as much good information about the pesticide residues on our
foods as we can get, and a good source is the Environmental Working
Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. When we have good information,
we can make more informed choices. 
workinghttp://www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php

However, not everyone can afford to buy organic food. I have made my
living as an organic landscaper, artist, worm wrangler, and writer for
most of my adult life. None of these occupations has brought me even
within shouting distance of the middle class. I am not willing to try
to make anyone feel guilty for not buying organic food. I can’t afford
to buy only organic food, though my husband and I eat as organically as
we can. We grow a very large percentage of our own produce, and
preserve as much as we can, in season. 

The real key to eating healthily and inexpensively is to do your own
cooking, and buy as much of your food as you can in season, in bulk,
and unprocessed, and then not allow it to go bad—-freeze or process
your surplus for later use. If you don’t know how to cook, eating is
going to be an expensive proposition. I think that one solution to the
problem of expense would be for several households to pool their
resources in order to buy dry food staples and produce in bulk, and
then divvy it up, perhaps even cook some of it together in a public
kitchen and then divide it into freezable portions. A fifty pound sack
of potatoes is a lot less expensive per serving than is a bag of
McDonald’s French fries. A fifty pound bag of brown rice is a much
better buy than a box of Uncle Ben’s Rice. 

The beings who are the most adversely affected by agricultural
pesticides are not the consumers who eat these foods, but rather the
farmworkers who apply the pesticides and the wildlife that is exposed
to the spray and the runoff. For the sake of the farmworkers, the wild
critters, and the environment, everyone who can afford to buy organic
food should! Also, the more insistent we are, the more things change.
Though local organic produce stores and farmers market are very
important, when the masses begin demanding safer food, and the big guys
like WalMart and Safeway feel the heat, really big changes can occur
and have occurred. 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #43 of 145: Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 6 Feb 10 11:53
    
What's wrong with Ivory Snow, aside from the scent?
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #44 of 145: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sat 6 Feb 10 13:24
    
Come to think of it, the recipe I know for laundry detergent called
for shaved Fels Naptha.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #45 of 145: (fom) Sat 6 Feb 10 13:34
    
I love the laundry soap suggestions! Must try them.

I have multiple environmental sensitivities but apparently a good immune 
system. I have to use the scent free, etc, versions of everything. I have 
had terrible reactions to neosporin, so for a wound I use plain vodka and 
occasionally -- if it covers an area larger than .5" square -- some 
benzalkonium chloride. (I almost lost a foot to a case of MRSA that came 
from a toe blister, so I am ultracautious about things like burst 
blisters.)

What I use for a hand sanitizer is my own blend of vodka and lavender 
essential oil.

Anyway -- I am about half green barbarian and half OCD germphobe. Overall 
my sense that we live in a sea of bacteria anyway makes me think that my 
modestly germphobic practices won't set me back too much. I really try to 
keep a sense of proportion.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #46 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sat 6 Feb 10 14:08
    
when i happened by my local natural foods store (which like most in the
greater bay area these days has dispenser of natural hand-sanitizing wipes
by the door) --- i checked the ingredient statement: #1 is organic alcohol,
#2 organic lavender oil, etc etc. i remember reading news stories within the
last year that the company that makes this, eos, couldnt keep up with
production demands --- and was proud to have a natural alternative.  local
company and all; previously known for a similar skincare line (lavender
based).

i was thinking about all this when at a medical appt yesterday; the other
woman in the waiting room was snorfling and clearly miserably ill, and
commented to the receptionist that she might not be able to talk well to the
doc, as she was so nauseated she might have to run to the toilet to vomit.

so 'let my immune system face this challenge?' or 'run away!'
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #47 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Sun 7 Feb 10 08:17
    
Wow! Lots of new posts! 

In order: 

Andrew, I just looked up the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for
Ivory Soap bars--nothing is wrong with Ivory soap, except the
fragrance. The fragrances that are added to consumer products are
petroleum products. My skin will not tolerate any fragrances at all,
especially fragrances that have gotten embedded in my clothing during
laundering.

Sharon: I just looked up the MSDS for Fels Naptha Soap, and its
components are hydrocarbons and a soupçon of byproducts from terpene
processing. This is definitely not a natural, gentle product--I
wouldn't want to be messing around grating or shaving it and breathing
the dust!

Felicity: I use lavender infused vodka for disinfecting too! It is
great stuff, but I try to avoid using it for regular hand cleaning,
because alcohol is so drying and damaging to the skin. Dry, rough,
damaged skin is much more susceptible to invasion by dangerous bacteria
than smooth, undamaged skin is. 

Loris:  When my daughter was embarking on a trip to Scotland with her
high school theater group, to perform at the Fringe Festival, the team
doctor (whose daughter was in the group) told the kids: "Don't touch
your noses, don't rub your eyes, keep your hands away from your face.
If you have to touch your face, wash your hands first." That's very
good advice for anyone who is determined to remain engaged with the
world and doesn't want to emulate the late Howard Hughes. I probably
would not want to sit right next to the snorfling woman though!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #48 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Sun 7 Feb 10 11:24
    
but there is a larger question here, i think: if you are an adult,
with your immune system being what it is (or isnt) at this point,
how much should one be avoidant of cooties, vs laissez-faire (i.e.
allowing the good challenges)? also, if, as an adult, you are already
one who has the allergies and the sensitivities, would getting sicker
more often -help-?

and oh, i wanted to say i particularly enjoyed the passage in the book about
stainless steel vs other metals. confirmed my
experience/observations/prejudices about the stuff...
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #49 of 145: (fom) Sun 7 Feb 10 14:09
    
 >Felicity: I use lavender infused vodka for disinfecting too! It is
  great stuff, but I try to avoid using it for regular hand cleaning,
  because alcohol is so drying and damaging to the skin. Dry, rough,
  damaged skin is much more susceptible to invasion by dangerous bacteria
  than smooth, undamaged skin is.

I add about 50 drops of the lavender essential oil to a 3-oz bottle of 
vodka and it's not particularly drying -- the lavender oil is soothing. 
Plus I do use a lot of hand lotion (eco-groovy types).
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #50 of 145: Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 7 Feb 10 14:28
    
I am ivery interested in the fact that Canada and the EU have banned certain
chemicals and hormones that the FDA has yet to ban.  Your comment that
socialized health care may be the reason rings very true in my ears.  Is
any of that likely to change once we (hopefully) pass health care reform?
  

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