Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category

Snackaby reusable snack and sandwich bags review

The sweet folks at Snackaby contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a review of their reusable snack and sandwich bags. School was about to start and my hubby takes his lunch almost daily, so I was excited about the opportunity.

This was my first experience with reusable baggies. We usually used reusable containers, but sometimes those just are not practical – like taking sandwiches to the museum, or sending almonds with my husband. I really hate using ziplocks because I feel like I am throwing money away.

Snackabies are made by two moms who knew there was a better way than plastic, disposable bags. They wanted something safe, reusable and environmentally friendly. They accomplished just that.

I really like these bags. I was afraid that because they were not air-tight that the sandwiches would dry out, but that was not the case. I made a PB&J for my daughter and she only ate half, the other half stayed in the Snackaby bag in the fridge for a few days and the bread was as soft as when I made the sandwich. Love it!

The velcro closure is also easy for kids to use.

The best feature of these bags is the pull-out tab to clean the inside and outside of the bag at the same time. Genius! The bags can be washed this way in the dishwasher – another genius feature.

Of course Snackaby reusable bags are non-toxic – Snackabies are made of laminated cotton on the outside and a food-safe, polyurethane laminate that is free of DEHP, Phthalate and BPA plasticizers, on the inside.

Cons – Hmmm, if I HAD to come up with cons I’d say if you wash these by hand don’t submerge in water because they take forever to dry that way. These bags are also not completely air tight, thus not good for anything that may have liquid, like some fruits (i.e. berries, watermelon, pineapple).

Cost – $10 for the sandwich bag, $8 for the snack bag or $17 for a set. I probably spend around this a year, so it will be a cost-saver in the long-run.

But I have no reservations about recommending these bags. The pull out tab for washing is great and they wipe clean very easily too.

See all Snackabies on their Etsy site: www.snackaby.etsy.com
Visit them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Thank you Snackaby for the opportunity to try these great bags!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Body Wash review and giveaway

Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Wash

When the Happy Mama wash first arrived from Earth Mama Angel Baby, I was not sure I liked the smell (but read on… :). I think I was expecting something similar to the baby wash (a vanilla-orange scent – oh so yummy!). The Happy Mama wash is a ginger-grapefruit scent.

The next morning I gave it a whirl. Now, I do not know if my sniffer was having a moment when the Happy Mama wash first arrived, or if the hot steam in the shower had anything to do with it, but the scent was awesome!!! I truly felt like I was at a spa. The ginger scent is supposed to be great for those with morning sickness and since the EMAB products are rated zero (0) on the EWG’s database, it’s completely safe during pregnancy and beyond. Good to know because I had horrible morning sickness with both my kids – just in case the Lord blesses us with a third. Being non-toxic is so important as chemicals can be absorbed into your skin. So this wash is safe for the entire family!

The Mama Wash is made of essential oils and comes in a foam pump, which I really love. The soap is hydrating, so does not dry out my sensitive skin like some soaps. The packaging is really sweet and the ingredients are spelled out clearly and you can pronounce them, which is a must in my book.

The only negative I have is that the suds do not last long, but admit that could more so be because we have hard water. I use a loofa and have to reload with a few pumps of the wash several times during the cleansing process. While my son’s wash has lasted 3-4 months, I don’t think this bottle will last this long, maybe half that. Being on a tight budget, I will probably keep this as a special treat one or twice a week, and use my olive oil soap in between. It smells so wonderful though, I fully expect I will cheat….

From EMAB
Happy Mama Wash
NEW for mamas and the whole family! USDA Certified Made With Organic Ingredients

  • Rated All Zeros on the Skin Deep toxin database, the best rating a product can receive
  • With fresh Ginger to combat queasiness, and organic Pink Grapefruit essential oils to give spirits a lift
  • Naturally safe organic olive oil castile soap base
  • No harsh detergents and zero toxins mean that it’s safe enough for pregnant women, so it’s safe enough for the whole family!
  • A morning sickness busting companion with Happy Mama Spray
  • Certified vegan and cruelty‐free

The Mamas at EMAB are also amazing! They really know their stuff and have an amazing product line. And customer service is top notch.

Win some Happy Mama Wash for yourself.

OK, here are the rules. Contest is open to US and Canadian Mama’s only.

Ways to enter
1. Go to the EMAB website and tell us which product you would love to try (or which is your favorite if you are already a fan).
2. Follow @greenparenting on twitter and leave a comment here
3. Follow @earthmamahq on twitter and leave a comment here
4. Sign up for the EMAB newsletter and leave a comment here
5. RT this giveaway and leave a comment. One tweet per day allowed. Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Wash review and #giveaway will make your sniffer happy! via @greenparenting http://bit.ly/aRSlK6

Contest ends at midnight CST on November 14.

Or if you don’t want to wait, hop on over to the EMAB website and pick some up for yourself, while there, don’t forget about baby and get the Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash, Angel Baby Bottom Balm and Angel Baby Lotion too. The lotion is amazing for eczema – I use it on my son as well.

Disclaimer: EMAB sent a bottle of the Happy Mama Wash in exchange for a honest review. All opinions here are my own and in no way is reflected by receiving this product – not how I operate!

Natural ways to unclog a drain

Until a few months ago, I never thought twice about pouring Draino down the drain to clear a clog. After several failed attempts at clearing a drain with chemicals, including one incident where the pipe had been eaten through and I had water on the bathroom floor, I knew there had to be a better, chemical-free way.

In this quest I saw the reality of pouring chemicals down the drain – they end up back in our drinking water for one, and I could not believe that I had been so duped into thinking this was safe, especially since I have eliminated all other chemicals for reasons such as this. Not wanting to drink Draino residue any longer, or at least not contribute to the problem, I found 2 very easy and non-toxic solutions for clearing a drain.

Method one – look in the pantry
Remove the stopper from the drain
Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup of vinegar.
Let sit for 30 minutes.
Pour boiling water down the drain (use common sense here to not burn yourself or others)

Method 2 – be your own plumber
Clogs form at the curved part of the pipe sitting at lower point than the rest of the pipe. Because of this, soap scum, hair, dirt, etc. get trapped there and start to collect and form a clog. Since that part can easily come off, there really is no need for chemicals or otherwise.

Remove the curved part of the pipe from under/behind the sink.
Unwind a wire coat hanger and use the end to scoop out the gunk form the pipe
Or take it to the yard and spray out with the garden hose. The pressure from the water will push out the clog.

My husband used the garden hose method and it was easy, less frustrating, free and most importantly worked even better than any chemicals!

Go green and reduce waste

When we toss out old items, we really do not think about the toxins in old cell phones, styrofoam containers, etc. and the impact they will have on the health of the earth, animals and humans, especially our children. Even when going to a landfill, those toxins leach out into the ground and eventually taint our drinking water, soil and air. The good news is, we can reduce the amount of trash we contribute on a daily basis to help keep this Earth clean and healthy for our children and grandchildren.

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and reduce waste.

1. Stop the junk mail and remove yourself from those catalog mailings you never look at
2. Pay your bills online
3. Use your own coffee mug or reusable water bottle at work (and home). Skip bottled water
4. Use reusable shopping bags
5. If you use plastic bags to get your purchases home, use the bag for other things: lunch sack, trash bag, etc. My kids’ daycare loves to get these to send home soiled clothes
6. Donate old furniture, appliances, cell phones, eye glasses, etc. rather than sending them to the dump. Whole Foods has bins for old glasses, cell phones and plastic bags.
7. Bring your own container when ordering take out or dining out, rather than using their styrofoam container
8. Give the gift that keeps on giving – family passes to the local zoo and and science museum create no waste, supports local organizations and provides “free” entertainment all year long
9. Shred paper rather than tossing it and use it for packing material or even composting. Or put it in the recycling bin.
10. Use rechargeable batteries and be sure to recycle any non-rechargeables
11. Put old newspaper under mulch in the flowerbeds to help rid of weeds
12. ALWAYS recycle electronics as they contain mercury – includes batteries, computers, cell phones, TV’s, etc. Gazelle, Cell for Cash and Office Depot offer programs. Locally try 1800gotjunk who will even come pick everything up (not free), Office Depot or Staples
13. When purchasing new items, purchase quality items that will last a long time
14. Of course, take what you can to the local recyling place. My waste management provider picks up recycling once a month and will take glass, cans, carboard, newspaper, plastic… makes it much easier to recycle
15. Get paid for your recycle-able goods — you can get cash for aluminum cans, glass bottles and other items at many recycling centers. Check with the center to find out details. See #12 about getting paid for electronics.

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Go green and eat smart
Go green and save energy

Ways to go green and eat smart

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and eat smart.

Eat smart
1. Plant a garden
2. Compost food scraps
3. Buy local, if not available, then organic foods whenever possible
4. Join a farm co-op
5. Go meatless at least one meal a week (i.e. Meatless Monday). We’ve done this with great success and even look forward to it now. We are a meat and potatoes family, so if we can do it, anyone can! 
6. Buy foods that are in season
7. Use glass storage containers and baby bottles to avoid plastic – definitely avoid polycarbonate (BPA), Styrofoam and PVC plastic. Sometimes plastic can’t be avoided. Be sure you choose safer options.
8. Do not cook in any type of plastic (includes rewarming in the microwave) even if it is label microwave safe
9. Buy in bulk and freeze or share what you can’t use
10. Getting take out? Bring your own container to reduce on waste. Great way to carry home leftovers when dining out too
11. Don’t use Teflon coated pans
12. Avoid artficial sweetners, flavors and colors
13. Avoid MSG and high fructose corn syrup
14. Avoid processed foods, opt for fresh or frozen whenever possible
15. Avoid canned foods – most are lined with BPA which leaches into food (exception is Eden Foods, all but canned tomatoes are BPA free. Pomi tomatoes are boxed and BPA-free. Other BPA-free tomato options can be found here.)

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Easy ways to go green and save energy

Easy ways to go green and save energy

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and save energy.

Saving energy
1. Unplug appliances when not in use such as computers, printers, toasters, can openers, even the microwave! Or install a smart power strip that senses when appliances are off.
2. This includes cell phone and toothbrush chargers – don’t leave them plugged in all the time. Charge them during the day so you can unplug when it’s fully charged rather than leaving it plugged in all night.
3. Turn off lights when not in use
4. Keep the thermostat a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter. And switch to a programmable thermostat (Alabama Power was giving these away and offering a credit on your bill for switching.)
5. Open windows on a nice day instead of running the AC
6. Turn down the water heater a few degrees to 120
7. Run the washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load
8. Wash clothes in cold water
9. Air dry your clothes as much as possible rather than using the dryer
10. Don’t use the dry setting on the dishwasher, open the door, slide out the racks and let the dishes air dry (use caution and common sense when you have children about) or dry with a towel
11. Ensure all windows and doors are sealed and caulk when needed
12. When replacing appliances, windows and doors, ensure they are energy efficient (and check to see if you get a tax credit!)
13. CFL light bulbs contain mercury (I personally avoid them). If there is a breakage, follow appropriate instructions for mercury clean up. Make sure you recycle all CFLs and other flourecent lighting – never put them in the trash

Have your own energy-saving tip? Please add a comment below!

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Ways to go green and eat smart

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer: Product Review

I had been looking for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer for some time now that I could use on the go when I would not have access to soap and water, like at the playground, or after changing a diaper in the car (not while in motion) when we are out and about. I knew the alcohol-based ones were not safe for kids. If a child ingested it, they could get alcohol poisoning, so I didn’t even want alcohol-based sanitizers in the house knowing I can’t use it without my toddler begging for some as well. I prefer to avoid the ER.

Also, Triclosan is toxic, so that was out as well. As well as parabens, phthalates, PEG compounds, etc.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It claimed to be all natural, alcohol and triclosan free and kills 99.99% of germs, including MRSA, staph, E. coli, and Salmonella. It is botanically based, and no pesticides or chemicals are used. Plants are also a renewable resource. No petrochemicals or harmful byproducts are created during harvesting or manufacturing.

cleanwell6oz

OK, I gotta be honest here, I LOVE this stuff. It smells great – a nice herbal smell. One or two sprays is all you need. One 1 ounce bottle will yield 225+ sprays, so you get 4 times as many uses as the gel sanitizers.

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is safe, no parabens, phthalates, alcohol or other ickies. Thymus Vulgaris Oil is the active ingredient (hence the herbal scent). EWG’s cosmetic’s database does not list Clean Well Hand Sanitizer, but I entered the individual ingredients and everything was in the safe (0-2) category except citric acid which was a 4 (it seems mostly for skin sensitivities).

It’s important to note that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria, so using antibacterial products on a regular basis is not good or recommended. In fact, the over use of antibiotics and antibacterial products cases viruses to mutate creating superbugs and strains that are resistant to medication. So while CleanWell is a great product, it, along with other hand sanitizers and antibacterial products, should never be used on a regular basis. It should only be used when hand washing with regular soap and water is not an option (think port-a-potty, wiping noses in the car, etc.)

CleanWell Hand Sanitizer is available in purse/travel size (1 oz) and regular size (6 oz). I’d recommend several to keep in various places – your purse, the diaper bag(s), at work – so you will have it when needed. I have one in each diaper bag (we have 3), in my purse and on the changing table (easy for between kids when I am changing both).

CleanWell has a whole family of products including CleanWell Sanitizing Wipes, CleanWell Foaming Hand Wash and the CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

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Organic Milk vs Hormone Free Milk

Alison asked if hormone-free milk was as good as organic.

As for as Organic milk vs hormone free, neither will have the hormone added, but the hormone “free”-only will still have pesticide residue. Organic milk comes from cows fed an organic diet – grain or grass. In most cases, organic cows are treated better (more room per cow, most organic cows graze in an open pasture), while conventional cows don’t have much room to move around. So that to me even means healthier milk since cows treated better tend to be healthier anyway, thus not needing antibiotics, etc.

art_rbst_free_milk_cnn

Hormone free vs organic – cows naturally produce hormones, so the milk is not entirely hormone free, however no synthetic hormones are added (which to me is still better than conventional milk). However, it seems as though “hormone-free” is more of a marketing term.

CNN also reported on this topic pointing out research has shown there is no difference in milk from cows treated with rbST and cows that were not. However, the author echos many who feel “science” and the FDA has let us down before and consumers are questioning the safety of, well everything.

But then again, Natural News debunks that and gives a glowing review of why adding hormones is not good, including pus getting into the milk from these cows who often get mastitis due to the overproduction of milk and these cows are then given antibiotics to treat the mastitis infection. Now, who wants all that in their milk?

Benefits of Organic Milk
Here is another very good article showing the benefits of organic milk vs conventional milk. Such benefits include less pesticide contamination, more vitamins and antioxidants, improves the quality of breastmilk and helps prevent asthma and eczema in children. Read the entire article for more benefits.

SFMilk-FamilyAs for as choosing a good organic milk, first things first – Horizon milk is not really organic, which is really sad considering it is the best selling brand of organic milk. There are several links on there, one of which is a link to thorough research of many organic brands of milk rated on how “organic” they really are. So if you choose to stay/go organic, you can choose a good brand. Also, you can usually sign up on the manufacturer’s website and get coupons — for example, Stonyfield Farm or Organic Valley may send out coupons in a newsletter.

We eat the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies (mostly these are the ones where the outer skin is exposed like peaches, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples…) these are the ones that will have the most pesticides and bananas for example, do not have near as many pesticides since it is protected by a thick peel. So I get organic apples, but not bananas. I say that to give you an example that there are tradeoffs. You don’t have to go 100% organic on everything. To me, milk is one of those areas where the benefit definitely shows organic to be better.

Certainly cost is a factor. I get our milk from Whole Foods. If you drink a lot of milk or you have room in your freezer, Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you purchase a case of milk (4 gallons). We go through that in about 10-14 days, so I do this sometimes, but it’s a little hard to drink that much milk when we still give our 3 year old whole milk. And I am not sure about freezing milk, have not tried it, but know people who have with great success. And as mentioned, you can usually sign up to get newsletters which may contain coupons.

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Link Round-Up: Mommy blogger edition

This week I am picking my favorite posts from some other safety and eco-concious mommy bloggers.

SAFBaby has a great post on Eco-Smart pest control. A great botanical based insecticide system for all your pest control needs. Read more.

Safemama has a great “Dear SafeMama” edition this week on having a green baby shower. How do you avoid (or reduce chances) of getting baby gear and products laced with parabens, BPA, etc.? SafeaMama turns to its readers to get some really great tips for proper etiquette on having a green baby shower. Read more.

The Softlanding has researched and reported back as to which International Playthings are BPA, PVC and phthalate free. Thanks Alicia! And as always, do check www.healthytoys.org to make sure the toys are also free of lead and other ickies. Read more.

Tiffany at Naturemoms.com/blog has a great post and giveaway for Yummy in My Tummy gourmet and organic baby food. My baby is 5 months old, so I am going to have to check this stuff out. I will me making my own (you know in my “spare” time) but I have to bring the unopened, packaged stuff to daycare, so this may fit that bill. Tiffany and her 2 kids gave this product 6 thumbs up! Plus the packaging is free of all kids of icky things, including BPA. Read more.

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Green Cleaning: Do it yourself

USA Today had a nice article today about Green Cleaning, highlighting that there is a growing trend with people making their own cleaners at home. Parents, including myself, are going green with their cleaners due to the toxic chemicals typically found in traditional cleaners.

I use plain ole vinegar to clean just about everything and even use it in the rinse cycle when doing laundry. It is a fantastic glass cleaner — something I learned from my dad decades ago. You can use it straight, but even diluting with water works well. Add a little vinegar to water you have a cleaner to mop your floors, wipe the counters, wash walls, etc. And vinegar is cheap!

Baking soda also cleans very well. It’s great at scouring tubs, helps absorb odors and interestingly enough, helps soften clothes in the laundry! Just add a half cup or so to the laundry. Baking soda is also cheap.

For dusting, we use a simple microfiber cloth which is a fantastic cleaning cloth requiring no additional cleaners. For heavier dusting, we use a damp cloth — no cleaners. Most microfiber cloths are roughly a dollar each.

I do not make my own laundry detergent, but many do using Borax. I have not gotten that adventurous. And I like my Charlie’s Soap which does not require any extra softeners or otherwise. See my review here. If you are interested in giving the make your own detergent a try, here is a great article telling you how to do it, for about a penny a load!! Hmmm, maybe I should give this a try…

Some Green Cleaners Are More Effective

And most are just as effective. The article states that doctors say even the simple act of scrubbing is usually enough to kill the germs and cleaners like bleach, are an overkill. They say bleach is needed for messes if blood or other bodily fluids are involved. I stopped buying bleach after my daughter was born 3 years ago. I found it is not needed and I certainly do not miss it.

We had some mold on our bathroom ceiling last year and I mixed a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup of water and sprayed on the mold. It killed the mold and has not been back. Previously, my husband had sprayed water with bleach on it but it always came back. One treatment with tea tree oil  kept it away.

Gotta green cleaning do-it-yourself or frugal tip? Please share your tips below.

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