Sunday, January 13, 2013

Keep it Natural - Protecting Yourself and the Environment while Camping in Culebra

Ok, I admit it. I am sometimes a bit of a Hippy chick. In fact, on my recent trip to Isla Culebra, a man at one of the kiosks even told me I looked like a Hippy. I wanted to ask him if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I didn’t get the chance however, as the kiosk owner began asking me questions about how I wanted my food. I decided to take it as a compliment. I really wouldn’t classify myself as a Hippy, per se, but there are a lot of things about me that may make someone wonder. I care about my body, my well-being, and the environment. And just because I was away from home, didn’t mean that I left those beliefs behind. There were a couple things that I was concerned about while camping. Those were staying clean and keeping the bugs off. I wanted to be sure to do this while also keeping things natural. You don’t have to be a Hippy to take care of yourself and the environment. With a few simple steps, you can have a great and safe camping trip!

As you may already be aware, the showers in the camp area of Flamenco Beach are outside and expectedly rough. And they are a bit chilly. There is no drainage system. The water simply disburses on the ground and soaks into the surrounding earth. Anything that is in that water becomes part of the environment. You may remember that you are camping practically in a nature reserve, so what kind of impact are you having? What kind of chemicals are you using in the shower that may be harming the environment, and yourself?

A couple years ago I finally gave up on regular bath and beauty products.  I had read about all of the toxic chemicals that they have in them and was thoroughly disgusted. For instance, shampoo contains not only formaldehyde, but many other dangerous chemicals; some that are even used in other products such as oven cleaners! (Read about them here.) I did some research and discovered an all natural, all purpose cleaner called Castile soap. You may have heard of this. It has been around since the Middle Ages and was the first recorded soap made without animal fats. Originally it was made with only one type of oil: olive. Now it comes in liquid as well as hard soap form and contains other oils besides olive that give it a great feel and lather. It is completely non-toxic, although you still want to be careful about not getting it in your eyes or it will sting, and it is very gentle on the skin. It won’t hurt you or the environment. I like to get mine through Bohemian Apothecarium. It is a great product and I like knowing that I am helping a small, family business grow and succeed.

Liquid castile soap can be used for so many different things. I was sure to take a bottle of it with me on my camping trip to Culebra. I used it for body wash, shampoo, washing dishes, washing clothes, and as a shaving cream. It was perfect for all of those things. When you go camping, be sure to do the same. You will enjoy knowing that you are not adding toxic chemicals to the beautiful environment that you came to enjoy, as well as keeping yourself healthy. 

Another all-natural and inexpensive cleaner is simple vinegar. On the way to the beach I stopped and picked up a small bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar at the grocery store for less than $1. It served me well. Vinegar is great for getting things clean, especially oily things. It also makes a great hair rinse. Some people, especially those with oily hair, notice that without toxic shampoo stripping away their hair’s natural and helpful oils, they have a transition period where their hair may be too oily. This is usually only while the hair adjusts. (Mine may be still adjusting.) A simple, natural, and easy way to keep your hair light, clean, and very shiny, is to take a cup of water, add about a tablespoon of vinegar to it and run it through your hair. Let is sit for a minute and then rinse it out. Surprisingly, your hair will not smell like vinegar. The vinegar is safe on your skin and won’t harm the environment. It is a win-win situation. As an added bonus, ACV will darken and bring out red highlights and white vinegar or lemon juice will help to lighten your hair.


My other concern was keeping the mosquitoes away. I think I must smell and taste like chocolate to them because they flock to me and feast all night long, if I let them. Even with commercial insect repellant, I usually end up with at least a few bites. A few of them work pretty good, but what about all those chemicals that it is made with? What about that toxic DEET? Remember, DEET is used to kill living things, and you are putting that on your body. It has been shown to be a skin irritant and has even caused seizures in some people. And what about its effects on the environment? DEET has been found to be toxic to some fish and zooplankton. Remember, you are here to enjoy the environment, not destroy it!

Like most things, there is a natural alternative here as well. Many people are finding that it is simple and cheaper to just make up a batch for themselves as needed. I went ahead and made up a batch before my camping trip and it worked fantastically! I wanted to be prepared. Here is a simple recipe that works great:


Wellness Mama Essential Oil Bug Spray

Wellness Mama Bug Spray Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel [Found in most pharmacies]
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)


How to Make Homemade Bug Spray:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too! [If you have extremely sensitive skin, feel free to use less essential oils and add more as needed and able.]

~This and other great recipes at

Camping on Culebra is fun and a great time to be all natural. Protect yourself and the environment by using products that are not toxic. They are simple, easy to find, and easy to use. They are also less expensive than other products on the market. Your body and the environment will thank you. Your hair and skin with look and feel better and you will not be destroying the place that you came to enjoy.

Keep it Natural Tips

    • Bring a bottle of liquid castile soap to use for body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, washing dishes, washing clothes... anything really.
    • Use vinegar for a great hair rinse. Mix ~1 Tablespoon with 1 cup water and leave in hair for about a minute, rinse thoroughly.
    • Make and use your own bug repellant.


This post is a guest post by Beverly, creator of the vegan living blog Wind Whispers Creations

1 comment:

  1. Nice to know how to Protecting Yourself and the Environment !! I really recommend other to read this article .Keep up the good work .