Mimi McGee makes no excuses for it and she never tries to hide it.
“I’ve been a nature girl from way back,” McGee said, with her signature smile and bright eyes lighting up.
Long before eco-friendly products and do-it-yourself projects began buzzing in the mainstream, McGee was already practicing those habits. She wasn’t exactly doing it to save the planet and be kinder to the environment, though those side effects are an extra bonus.
Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, the now resident of Brunswick was one of six children all living under the same roof. Her mother was sure to stretch her dollar as far as she could, as clothing, feeding and keeping up with six children was quite a task to tackle.
Fabrics, papers, plastics and just about anything that could be repurposed and reused, was.
“We gardened, too, using our own yard to grow our own food,” McGee said. “Before it became popular to do-it-yourself, we were doing it ourselves. I just figured that was how it was supposed to be.”
Her mother was always whisking up some concoction, from homemade lotions to counter cleaner, with ingredients like baking soda and vinegar always well-stocked on her families shelves.
“She also had these great collection of do-it-yourself recipe books and cook books,” McGee said, pointing to a large stack of such books on her kitchen coffee table. “I still have some of them. These are just a few of the recipe and cookbooks I have.”
As she grew from child to adolescent into a young adult, it hit her how little of an environmental footprint she was making, and how much of a boon that must be for the overall ecosystem. She developed a passion for caring for her planet and took pride in continuing the family tradition of self-reliance.
So it was no shock to anyone who knew her when, upon entering college, she majored in environmental science.
Fast forward to now, and McGee has multiple credits and certifications for her DIY-living, earning her titles ranging from health coach and plant-based nutrition specialist to Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Classes cooking instructor and expert green-living workshop leader.
A modest individual, McGee merely shrugs off the accomplishments, saying she has a passion for green living and wants to help as many people as possible take steps– however big or small– in that same direction.
Much like her mother, she too always has a ready supply of baking soda and vinegar at the ready, as well as certain salts and her large “Pandora’s box” of her essential oils, such as lavender for calming purposes, she said.
“These are simple remedies to everyday problems,” she said. “Having a solid set of certain ingredients on hand can save so much time and money. I also recently learned that for (essential) oils, they never go bad, so when you invest in them, they last a very long time.”
This time of year, McGee is quick to point to her DIY methods and oil cocktails are prime remedies for some of the seasons biggest threats, specifically sun-related concerns. Sunscreen is mandatory (or should be) this time of year, as individuals spend more time outdoors and more skin is exposed to high rays, she said.
All that sunshine, too, can do damage to an individual’s hair, which can be doubly impacted by harsh chemicals and everyday shampoo routines. McGee has a remedy for that as well. For her so-called shampoo, which she refers to as a hair cleanser.
The concoction is simple, of course. The cleanser is made by mixing one part baking soda with three parts water, then applying the mixture to hair, and rinsing.
And while it may be a year-round needed project, laundry detergent is a household staple that McGee guarantees to be an easy, make-at-home “fairy dust” staple, by mixing one cup Borax, bar soap and one cup washing soda.
“Making your own products is just so easy to do, it makes more sense to make it than to buy it,” she said. “That’s the thing with these do-it-yourself recipes. They are easy to make, aren’t expensive and overall, they are better for the world around you.