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10 September 2010

Seven Surprising Uses for Baking Soda

via GOOD by Alexandra Spunt on 9/9/10


Let us be clear: Baking soda is not going to permanently cure your acne or turn back the cruel hand of time. But if you’re looking to detoxify your body and your household, this multitasking ingredient will make your life easier (and more beautiful) without denting your coffers. Mom may have taught you that baking soda will make your bread rise and your fridge smell better, but did you know of its many cosmetic applications?

Even the ancient Egyptians—and what beauty post would be complete without them?—used a compound similar to baking soda as soap. The stuff is antiseptic, antifungal, and lightly exfoliating. It will take the stains off your coffee mug and your not-so-pearly whites, and can be consumed internally to ease your tummy ache. And fridge odors aren’t the only smells it absorbs so don’t turn your nose up, and bring on the baking soda!


Brush Your Teeth With It Most conventional toothpastes use sodium lauryl sulfate as their primary ingredient. You may remember this verboten surfactant from previous posts explaining its harsh effects and possible contamination with a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. If you don’t want peroxide in your mouth, whitening strips are out too. Go natural instead with some bad-breath-killing-tooth-whitening baking soda on your brush (tastes like the ocean, salty but bearable), or add it to your SLS-free Tom’s for extra-whitening powers.



Wash Your Face With It As a rule, we think that harsh scrubs and exfoliants do not belong on your face—not least of all because you need that top layer of skin to keep bad stuff out and moisture in. Most exfoliating scrubs also contain other sketchy ingredients—like plastic balls. If you’re hellbent on scrubbring, though, at least switch to baking soda. It works great on elbows and feet too, and combined with some raw honey, this DIY face wash is refreshing and soothing—and anti-acne, too.


Create a DIY Deodorant This recipe from our book makes for a pretty effective homemade deodorant. Here’s what we suggest: Mix four tablespoons of baking soda with about ten drops of your favorite essential oil and apply to underarms. Guys, this sounds girly, but there are plenty masculine smells too—like Texas cedar wood. Ladies looking to reapply throughout the day can carry it in their purses: Just fill an empty mineral makeup container with it and use one of those stubby Kabuki brushes for no-mess application.


Spot-Treat Acne Our favorite natural acne remedy is clay, like this green tea one we swear by. But in a bind, making a little paste from baking soda and water and applying it to an unwelcomed visitor will help dry it out. We don't recommend this for deep cysts, but for more surface afflictions, it works like a charm.


Cleanse Your Hair If you’re looking to join the ranks of non-shampooers (we know a few), to reduce how often shampoo, or simply to get rid of some product build-up on your roots, look no further than baking soda. Just fill a glass with warm water and dissolve about a tablespoon of baking soda into it. Take that to the shower, and after wetting your hair pour the mixture through. Comb it well before rinsing—your hair will feel a little coated and slippery until it’s fully rinsed out.


Soothe Your Stomach Acid stomach, heartburn, gas, and other tummy issues are quickly relieved by baking soda because its slight alkalinity can neutralize the acid causing the problem. Just mix a teaspoon into a glass of warm water and drink it down. We swear by this trick.


Soak Your Skin That's right, dissolve some into your bath for a soothing and skin-softening experience. The added bonus? You won't need soap—and sometimes that's a good thing.

Know of any other cool uses for this magic powder?

This is a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, a book by GOOD's features editor Siobhan O'Connor and her co-author Alexandra Spunt.

Read more on their blog

Illustrations by Brianna Harden

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

9 September 2010

Ten must-read books on prisons and criminal justice reform

Ten must-read books on prisons and criminal justice reform by Kelley October 05, 2008 05:33 PM (PT)

There are hundreds of books on criminal justice out there - from pulp legal thrillers to dry law texts. But somewhere between trashy and arid, we find these 10 gems - must-reads from the last four decades that cover the world's courts and prisons from every angle.

1Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975)

Michel Foucault

Considered by many to be the greatest work by 20th Century French philosopher Michel Foucault, this book examines the transition in Western countries from execution and torture to mass imprisonment. A prescient classic.

2Dead Man Walking (1994)

Sister Helen Prejean

This moving personal account of Prejean's moral opposition to capital punishment made her the face of the movement to end the death penalty. In this book, she tells of serving as a spiritual advisor to two Louisiana death row inmates before they are executed. The book was later adapted into a major film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

Also by Prejean: "The Death of Innocents - An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions."

3The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison (1979)

Jeffrey Reiman

An important textbook by American University philosophy professor Jeffrey Reiman on class inequality in our criminal justice system. Reiman argues that the American criminal justice system punishes the poor while ignoring white-collar crime and injustice.

4. The Gulag Archipelago (1973)

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

A personal account of life in the Soviet Union's horrifying labor camps by the late Russian Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was imprisoned and then exiled by the Soviet state for his writings. This book is an indispensable examination of human rights violations and the horrors possible in a society that incarcerates millions.

5. Tulia: Race, Cocaine and Corruption in a Small Texas Town (2005)

Nate Blakeslee

The stunning tale of a rash of false and overstated drug arrests in a small Texas town in 1999 that left 20% of the town's African-Americans in jail - many of them completely innocent.  Blakeslee then examines the case to overturn their convictions. This book tells the story of the injustice of America's War on Drugs through a fascinating microcosm. A forthcoming film from director John Singleton is based on the book.

6. In Cold Blood (1966)

Truman Capote

The book that inaugurated the "true crime" genre that continues to fascinate readers around the world today.  It's a classic, gripping character study and a compelling glimpse into the minds of two men who committed several heinous, and seemingly random, murders. Capote captures the reader's attention with wonderful - and sympathetic - profiles of the victims and the men executed for killing them. In the process, he questions the American criminal justice system, its role in creating the two men who committed these murders, and the justice - or lack thereof - offered by the death penalty.

7. Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It - A Judicial Indictment on the War on Drugs (2001)

James Gray

Gray, a prosecutor and judge, offers a fierce and thorough indictment of America's War on Drugs - calling it a waste of time, money and lives. He argues that incarcerating hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders has diverted precious government resources from more important needs, and presents as evidence statistics, case studies, and the words of dozens of participants in all aspects the legal system.

8.  The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2007)

Jeffrey Toobin

A surprising page-turner chronicling the current U.S. Supreme Court and how it came to be. Toobin walks readers through the nomination of justices Rehnquist through Alito, and covers the major decisions through this era, comparing the court with its predecessors throughout American history. Toobin focuses on major decisions made by this court and these justices, and renders harsh judgment of what he considers a major blunder by the court in the Bush v. Gore in 2000. Through extensive interviews with former clerks, friends of the justices, and others, Toobin offers a rare backstage view of the most powerful court in the country.

9Actual Innocence (2000)

Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, Jim Dwyer

This book introduced the American public to the new era of criminal justice ushered in by DNA science. The founders of the non-profit Innocence Project (for whom I work), writing with New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, detail the causes of wrongful conviction as they've been revealed by DNA testing and how these causes play a part in all convictions - not just those involving DNA testing.

10Courtroom 302 (2006)

Steve Bogira

An extraordinary and memorable account of a year in a criminal courtroom on Chicago's South Side, this book leaves the reader with an insider's knowledge of America's criminal justice system, from the perspective of defendants, guards, judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors and reporters.

Matt Kelley is the Online Communications Manager at the Innocence Project and a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Jim Reid

412.464.4000 x4034

SouthWestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Coordinator

Mon Valley Initiative

303/305 East Eighth Ave

Homestead, PA 15120-1517

Fax: 412.464.1750

“The problem of crime cannot be simplified to the problem of the criminal”

-Leslie Wilkins

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog


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