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The 3 Daily Essentials

Author: Zero Waste Volunteers

Toothpastes, Soaps and Shampoos are considered by most of us as the key products of our lives. We can't do without them else our teeth get decayed, our skin gets dried and our hair gets damaged. But little do we know that these products are the culprits for the problems we face.

Toothpastes, soaps and shampoos contain harmful chemical substances like Fluoride, Sodium lauryl sulphate, glycerine, parabens or any artificial sweeteners or flavours.

Fluoride is good for teeth as it helps in keeping our teeth enamel strong and reduces the chances of getting cavities. Nevertheless, a heavy amount of fluoride intake is dangerous for bones and leads to several diseases like weakening of teeth, bone cancer, kidney disease etc. Fluoride in the right amount is essential but high concentration found especially in groundwater is risky to human health.

SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a surfactant ( which is used to bind the water and oil together). It can be found in toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, dishwashers and floor cleaners. When SLS comes in contact with our skin, it reduces the skin’s ability to prevent harmful substances from our body and thus causes irritation. Accidental intake of SLS is also not safe (like in the case of toothpastes).

Glycerin on the other hand is used to prevent the toothpaste from drying out. But it also tampers the natural process of teeth’s remineralization and leads to tooth decay as glycerin is said to be present on the surface of our tooth for many hours until we rinse our mouth thoroughly.

Parabens are chemical preservatives which are used in body washes and shampoos so as to prevent them from bacterial growth. But they too have their share in spoiling our health by causing allergies, cancer etc.

The above-mentioned chemical ingredients are few out of the big list which we see behind our every “self-care” products. But very few amongst us are aware of the side effects they cause to humans as well as the environment.

Most of the cities do not have a wastewater treatment plant. The chemical filled water which goes to the drainage after we take a shower or wash our utensils or after mopping the floor goes straight to the nearby ponds or lakes or rivers thus poisoning the aquatic life, contaminating the water bodies and the groundwater.

Not just that, the plastic containers, cardboard boxes and the extra packing used to make the product look fancier is just making us fill the already filled and polluted landfills.

Alternatives:
There sure are several alternatives where we can ensure the safety of us as well as our Mother Earth. Where do we get to know about these alternatives? No websites contain better information than the alternatives which our grandmother uses! They are the ones from the golden era which have all the answers to the problems we face now. Let's explore them:

For Toothpaste:

  • Neem twig or Peepal twig can be used instead of both toothbrush and toothpaste.They keep our teeth strong, protect them from cavities and has antibacterial properties.
  • Oil Pulling is an ancient practice where people rinse their mouth with a spoonful of coconut oil or any other oil for 15- 20 minutes every morning. This activity has good oral impacts, whitens our teeth , reduces jaw pains and headaches as well.
  • Herbal homemade tooth powder: Sun dry a bowl of neem leaves, tulsi leaves, pudina (mint) and make a fine powder of the dried ingredients. Mix them with a little turmeric, clove powder and grinded rock salt. There goes our herbal tooth powder rich with Indian herbs.
  • A mixture of Cow Dung ash (No its not at all yucky) , clove powder, rock salt , natural camphor ( karpoor/ pacha karpooram).

Benefits:

  • Neem leaves: Medicinal properties of neem leaves can cure ulcers, tooth decays or cavities.
  • Tulsi leaves: According to Ayurveda, Tulsi is known as the “Queen of all herbs”. It helps in healing Gum related diseases. And provides a good breath.
  • Pudina Leaves (mint leaves), salt and turmeric : Their antibacterial properties prevent the growth of bacteria and thus keep cavities at bay.
  • Clove Powder: Cloves have both aromatic and anaesthetic properties, thus reducing the pain of the affected area and in healing swollen gums or bleeding.
  • Cow dung: Cow dung and Cow urine are loaded with nutrients and minerals. Their medicinal properties not only help for tooth issues but as a medicine for several other pains and aches. Cow dung is considered to be the best manure for a farmer, provides bio gas, can be used as fuel, and also as a medicine.
  • Camphor: Aromatic and pain absorbing properties.
  • All the listed ingredients help improve Oral health with their antibacterial properties and fight infections like sore gums, ulcers and tooth decays.

For Soaps and Shampoos:

  • 1. Coconut Milk

Method:

  • Cut the coconut into small pieces.
  • Grind them
  • Add a little water to the mixture, place the mixture on a thin piece of cloth and squeeze out the milk. Repeat this step 2 to 3 times till all the liquid from the coconut mixture drains out.
  • This liquid is called coconut milk which can be used instead of soap or shampoo.
  • Or you can also use store-bought coconut milk.
  • Use it in your hair like regular shampoo.

Benefits:
With its antioxidant properties, coconut milk helps in increasing the moisture content of skin as well as hair, heals wounds, restore damaged scalp and definitely improves hair growth.

  • 2. Besan or Gram Flour

A mixture of gram flour, curd or milk and little turmeric applied to the hair and massaged thoroughly like regular shampoo.
Benefits
This mixture Nourishes the skin deep from within , keeps it moisturized (milk), removes the dead skin cells (gram flour), and has antibacterial properties and helps remove tan (turmeric).

  • 3. Orange Peel Powder

Orange, known for Vitamin C, helps remove acne, dead cells and fights multiple skin problems.

  • 4. Multani mitti (known as fuller’s earth: a clay material)

Multani Mitti 50 grams, Karpooram (camphor) - 1g , soap oil ( sesame oil and cow dung juice)- 5ml, Aloe vera Paste- 10 ml , Cow dung ash- 10 g, red soil/ red clay- 10 grams , neem juice- as required.
Mix all these ingredients , transfer to a bowl and leave it to dry for sometime. Apply to your hair.
Benefits:

  • Multani Mitti- Acne fighting properties, removes dirt, tan and prevents infections.
  • Karpooram (Camphor)- Cleanses the skin and prevents infections.
  • Sesame Oil- Rich in Vitamin E, helps in softening and moisturizing the skin.
  • Aloe Vera- Acts as cooling agent. Contains healing properties for both hair and skin
  • Red Clay: Gentle on skin, it helps in healing acne and in removing dead skin cells.
  • Neem- Loaded with medicinal properties. Fights against skin diseases or infections.
  • Cow dung: Cow dung and Cow urine are loaded with nutrients and minerals. Their medicinal properties not only help for skin problems but as a medicine for several other pains and aches. Cow dung is considered to be the best manure for a farmer, provides the bio gas, can be used as fuel, and also as a medicine.


  • 5. Shampoo from Soapnuts and hibiscus leaves

Method:

  • Take 15 to 20 soapnuts. Hammer them such that the seeds and the outer layer gets separated. Take off the seeds.
  • Put the outer layers of the soapnut and the hibiscus leaves into the bowl of hot water and let it soak for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Squeeze the juice out from the mixture into the same bowl of water.

Benefits

  • Soapnut: Like its name, it truly gives us the feel of soap or shampoo with its lather, anti bacterial and medicinal properties. Soapnut is a vital ingredient in India for hair growth. It provides strong, healthy hair from the roots.
  • Hibiscus leaves: Reduces dandruff, cleanses the scalp with its medicinal properties and of course is widely used across the country for healthy, strong hair!

So far, we have seen a number of alternatives made out of the ingredients which are readily available at our homes. So why waste our money on commercial soaps and shampoos at the cost of our health and environment degradation! Wait no more, and let's get our hands messy in making these simple yet super powerful DIYs for our daily essentials!!:)