Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

Easy do-it-yourself eco-friendly disinfectant spray

I just made some of this today and it smells so wonderful! I felt like I was at a spa, even though I had 4 young children (3 in diapers) running around me all morning.

Disinfectant spray
1 ½ cups water
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender oil
Combine in spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray in the air to disinfect. Tea tree oil and lavender oil are anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-whatever!

If you want bonus points, you can up the water (roughly 1/2 – 3/4 cups for every 20 drops of essential oils) and add 20 drops of orange oil, lemon oil and/or eucalyptus oil. These oils also have antiseptic and disinfectant properties. I added the orange oil to the above and wow! Love it!

Making your own allows you to avoid the toxic chemicals found in common disinfectants.

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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!

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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BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. crockcreekcountries

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free. You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Crockodile Creek Countries lunch box.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals  and a sunflower.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

California Innovations is a nice lunch bag that Wal-Mart carries. It’s stylish no-nonesense bag and free from any characters or crazy prints.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonesense lunch box.

Citizens Pip is a new one available only online from what I can tell. The cool thing is you can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch bos itself!

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system and available on their website.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch. However, it is one piece with 4 sections, which may not be desireable for some.

ReusableBags.comhas a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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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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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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National Healthy Schools Day

header_hsn_nhsdayaltNational Healthy Schools Day
What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
 
by Janelle Sorensenjanelle
 When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet. 
 
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
 
While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.teacher_students_classroom
 
To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.
 
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
·      Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
·      Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
·      Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
·      Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
·      Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.
 
You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
·     Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
·     Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
·     Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”
 
She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.
 
The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support.  Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.
 
What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.
 
Additional Resources:

 
·      Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
·      Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
·      Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
·      The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy. 
 
Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org). You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

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