Blog post 15: Are essential oils sustainable and safe?

…more than 330 roses needed for 30ml rose petals essential oil…

I’ve just had a friend visiting me who I would call “advanced” in her ecological and sustainable life (I would rate me “very motivated beginner”) and expert in herbalism. We were discussing about many things out of my blog, website and life. (NC, you will recognize yourself, he?)

She opened my eyes!!! Did you ever think critically on essential oil? I did not… and I feel a little bit stupid now.

Do you have any idea how many plants do you need to produce a drop of essential oil?

Of course, it depends on the type of essential oil. An example: to produce 28gr of rose essential oil (I guess about a bottle of 30ml), you will need….10.000 rose petals! (According to google, roses have 20-40 petals per flower… so you need about 333 flowers!).

What about the resources?

Yes, you have to think about the water used to grow the plants, fertilizers, the eventual products (pesticides?) used to keep plants alive and fit. Don’t forget the energy consumption to produce it (by distillation, or extraction) or the solvent use for the extraction of some essential oil (some flower-based oil). The it has to arrives to you… (transportation)

Is it bad for the environment?

Some plants can be found locally, and sometimes you can find alternatives from local distilleries. Otherwise, you can have a look at the list of “united plant savers” where they have a list of wild medicinal plants that are currently the most sensitive to the impact of human activities (deforestation because the demand is higher than the growth rate). And some essential oil in high concentration can be toxic for the environment or can contaminate ground water.

How do you need to dispose the bottles?

I thought this was an easy question… but apparently, commonly used essential oil (lavender, tea tree) are highly inflammable and can cause a danger to workers in recycling industries… At my next visit to the recycling park, I’ll ask them if I have to bring it to them (hazardous products)…

And at last, is it safe? For Palmarosa, I’ve searched the scientific literature, and didn’t find anything about it. But apparently (and I do believe it is true as essential oils contains so many components and possible allergens), if you use pure essential oil for some time, you are at risk to develop an allergic reaction to it, from which you’ll never get rid of. So, it is actually advisable, if you still want to use essential oil after ready this post, to use it in very small quantities in beauty products, or dilute it on plant-based oil (almond for example; or another one which doesn’t smell too much) if you use it on your skin.


I’m a positive person, and if I don’t like to criticize without offering possible solutions… So, I’ve been trying to find alternatives.

If you use oil or vinegar for beauty or cleaning products, we want the smell of the essential oil (most of us do), not specially all the other characteristics.  Why not add some flowers/plants/leaves (fresh or dried) in it so that it can gives some smell? Hence, you don’t need to add any additional essential oil! To make lavender-vinegar, I’ve read that you need to add 1 volume of flowers (fresh or dried) for 4 volume of vinegar. I’m going to try it!!!

If you don’t have the time or energy for it, you could buy hydrolats (water with water-soluble components obtained after distillation of the plant).

I hope I did not demotivated you… but at the contrary that next time your neighbor will cut his lavender plants, that you’ll ask for the flowers and make liters of free laundry softener.😉


PS: thanks to those who like my posts, share the website with friends or follow me on my Facebook page. It makes me happy to know that other people share my interest, and it makes me dream that you all make small changes in your life 😉. Thanks!

Blog post 14: Zero waste presents?

Present from my daughters for their father (birthday)

I don’t like to feel obliged to give presents, although I like giving and receiving them when I’m sure the person will be happy with it.

Some people started the concept of “Green Friday” to fight the “consumption fever” of the Black Friday 😉 I love it!

Idea of the Green Friday: Think different:

More ecological, more sustainable. Where was the product produced and how does it comes to me? Which material is it made of? Is it durable or cheap-breaking-after-2-hours? Is there a more sustainable alternative (not too expensive)? Can you find it in second hand?

The most difficult is to find ideas of zero-waste/sustainable/eco presents. And don’t get fooled by the increasing market using those words to sell their products… We don’t need 100 reusable of cotton bag, nor 30 straws of all kind, so many reusable cans or bottles… It also costs a lot of energy to produce them!

I’ve been looking for some idea for you ;-):

  • Some activities (cinema, museum, overnight in B&B, excellent meal at your home,…
  • In summer: Zero waste flowers or fruits where you can pick up the flowers or fruit you like in the field, and just pay what you take (based on trust of course!)
  • Chocolate in your own container: I usually go to the pralines shop with my own box; they love it! (my husband and kids; as well as the shop who saves some money).
  • Bake cookies! I’ve a lot of quick and easy to make recipes; but there are for sure plenty as tasty on the internet!
  • Home-made beauty or cleaning products? For beauty products, you have to go to other sites than mine (promise, I’ll search for easy and quick recipes, but not now…); the website from the list of my favourite blogs/website have plenty of recipes. Give some home-made laundry with the recipe so that they can make it themselves! (it is as giving a win-for-life as they will save so much money with it!)
  • Cooking lessons or book: seasonal vegetable or vegetarian dishes. My favorite books (in dutch: “de moestuin van Mme zsazsa”, the “Lekker ecologish” van Velt.
  • Reusable stuffs (bottle, straw, tea bags, toothbrush, ear bugs, lunch box,…). But check first if this is the 23th reusable bottle that the person will receive, or is there something that he/she would really like or use frequently. My favourite is the reusable baking paper. It is very cheap, and you can use it for years (I’ve mine more than 10 years!). You can also use it to protect your oven for spilling, to lay under a pizza in the oven, to grill vegetables,…)
  • If you know what you will and you have time, you can search in second hand shops.
  • Or if you need more inspiration, I found a website with 101 ideas, even for kids.

IF this is too difficult, why not try to reduce the packaging by wrapping it in fabric left overs? (you take them back afterwards for next time). Or even old t-shirts or home-made gift bags?

Enjoy giving and receiving presents!


PS: Please, if you have some excellent ideas, feel free to post them here below (it doesn’t appear directly as I’ve to approve the comment first).

PPS: Follow me on Facebook if you want to be updated for nice tips, extra recipes, order washing products,…

Blog post 13: Eco baby: top 3

Do you need to buy a present for a new-born baby? What about buying a sustainable present?

It seems contradictory… being ecological and having kids (having kids has the worse carbon footprint…), but we discussed this already.

But some people (like me) did the “eco-mindset” switch after having children. You want them to be as healthy as possible, to not expose them to chemicals, and you want to try to preserve the earth for them,…

However, your life gets sometimes so exhausting and busy with small kids… So here again, I would encourage you to take it easy.

Honestly, the “eco baby” is my worse ecological achievement, but never mind, I’ll share with you my experience so that you can see that I’m also just a normal human being :-). I’m sure (and hope) that many of you do/did better than me.

Here is my top 3:

1) Reusable baby wipes & napkins!

This is for sure the number one for me!!!

I discovered reusable baby wipes (NL: billendoekjes; FR: lingettes) with the birth of my first daughter. We received “Cheeky wipes”.

They have 2 sets: white wipes which are meant to clean buttocks of babies (and why not adults; I tried it and it feels amazing!); and the colored ones which can are meant as moisten napkins (dries much faster than washcloth!!!). I gave “cheeky wipes” to some friends who got babies and they told me that it was the best present they got (not being on their wish list).

How to use them:

  • moist them (eventually in container with water and some essential oil of lavender; I have them dry in the cupboard and I moist one with tap water before use)
  • clean the buttock
  • then throw them in an appropriate container (they recommend a container with essential oil of lemon for disinfection; but we throw them in a dedicated garbage bin (I take the bucket inside the garbage and drop the content in the washing machine without touching it).

Pros: you save thousands of baby wipes and you don’t smear any chemicals on your child.

Cons: you need to wash them hot (at least 60°C) which is less ecological than washing at 30°C. For the warm laundry I do not use horse chestnuts for the laundry but my home-made laundry powder.

I usually do a short rinse program (15 min) with the reusable diapers and reusable wipes before adding all the rest for the warm laundry (towels, underwear,…) at 60°C or 90°C.

2) Reusable diapers (NL: luiers; FR: couche culottes ou pampers)

First of all: of course you don’t put diapers full of shit in your washing machine! You add thin layer of paper in it, which you can wash if it only contains urine, and you throw away if it’s dark and smelly 😉

I must admit that this one was not really a success at the beginning. I thought I was a super-mother and bought diapers which were not so easy to tie up and which were leaking at least once a day… so I only used it once in a while because it was too much work…

Once my daughters only needed a diaper during the night; I discovered them again!

Here the one I like best (and use(d)): “TotsBots Bamboozle stretch” and the water-proof layer from “Lulu nature Boxer”. This one has fleece instead of an elastic band at the thighs opening. Those with elastic (I tried many brands) were leaving painful red stripes on their thighs…

3) the Greenkit!

I discovered the GreenKit not so long ago, but I wish I did before!

When I was pregnant, I received a box full of product samples (cream, soap, diapers, shampoo, buttock cream,…) and full of packaging and plastic wrapping…

A smart mother of 2 decided to help young parents to think about ecology and started a similar box with samples from sustainable products only. How great is this!?!?!?!