Posts Tagged ‘green’

Natural, homemade deodorant recipe

Roughly 7 years ago, I learned that aluminum was linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and even more recently learned of it’s potential link to breast cancer. So I set out to rid my life of aluminum. Aluminum is the active ingredient in most antiperspirants, so I tried several natural deodorants. Some worked better than others, but nothing seemed to work for my husband. He either broke out or smelled. Neither of which was acceptable.

Then I found a homemade recipe that got rave reviews, so I figured, “Why not?”

The recipe is easy to make, inexpensive and it WORKS! My husband is amazed and has been singing the praises of this homemade deo. He has not had any odor issues since using this, even after playing basketball.

Coconut oil has antibacterial properties, so it will not spoil and is likely the main reason this is so effective since body odor is caused by bacteria. I’m just beginning to see all the wonderful uses for coconut oil.

The recipe is very simple:
5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil (use in solid form)
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Mix together the baking soda and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until blended. Add in the coconut oil until you get the same consistency as regular deo. You can store in a lidded container and apply with your fingertips or an empty deodorant container (which is the easiest to use). 

To avoid any redness, I reduced the amount of baking soda just slightly and added some Shea butter (probably 1 tsp – 1 tbls).

Also, check out the comments in the post to find other ideas of things to add. Like a drop or so of tea tree oil for added antibacterial properties, or essential oils for a nice scent.

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.

Related Articles
Green Cleaning: Do it Yourself
Safer Sunscreens 2009
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder: Product review

Does organic milk come from grass fed cows?

Not now, but it very soon could be a requirement. The USDA is considering requiring that all dairy cows used in producing organic milk be grass-fed during grazing season.

I think this is a great step. Currently, these cows are fed grain that is not treated with pesticides. Grass is what cows naturally eat and what their bodies know how to process. Grain is not as easily digested and because of this, cows fed grain often have stomach ulcers, indigestion and other issues. Because of this unnatural diet, grain fed cattle are often treated with antibiotics to help prevent diseases common among grain fed cattle.

Certainly would be a great step for all — healthier for the cows and for our consumption. Read the entire article here.

Related Articles
Is Horizon milk really organic?
How to save money at Whole Foods

Grass fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic

Today Show on Bishenol A (BPA)

Praise for the Today Show for discussion the use of plastics, particularly BPA. Sadly many parents have no idea that BPA is not safe at any level, yet it is found everywhere in children’s products — namely baby bottles and sippy cups.  

See the report.

During the segment, Matt Lauer interviewed Dr. Leo Trasande from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, who urged viewers to not to use PVC (#3 phthalates), polystyrene (#6 which is styrofoam) or polycarbonate containers (#7 which contains BPA).

PVC or Phthalates are commonly found in children’s toys — it gives the toys flexibility. BPA is also commonly found in the lining of canned foods. So it is not always as easy as just looking at the bottom of a container for a recycling symbol, however, it is a great start.

I have several other articles on BPA, please click on the Bisphenol-A category to the right to read more on how to avoid BPA.

Related Articles:

  • “Cheat sheet” of BPA-free sippy cups and bottles
  • US Government says BPA is harmful
  • Pregnant women told to avoid BPA
  • Today Show report on BPA & plastic safety
  • BPA may lead to health problems such as obesity and ADD/ADHD
  • Whole Foods private label canned food contain BPA
  • Canned foods and BPA
  • BPA is found in infant formula
  • Gerber baby food containers
  • BPA and other plastic safety
  • Z Recommends: The Z Report on BPA In Infant Care Products, Third Edition
  • Environmental Working Group: Guide to Baby Safe Bottles & Formula
  • Environmental Working Groups Report on BPA in Baby Formula
  • Breastmilk contains stem cells
  • Breastmilk cures
  • Can breastmilk cure cancer?
  • Safe, ‘Green’ Insecticides Can Reduce Chemical Exposure in Homes and Gardens

    Awesome! I have been looking for a safe alternative for pest control. I hate paying Terminix. One because they are expensive and two because I hate spraying harmful chemicals around. Additionally, these chemicals cannot be sprayed in homes with young infants (usually less than 6 weeks) which is also a concern. I will definitely check out this product, it sounds pretty good and right up my alley!

    Safe, ‘Green’ Insecticides Can Reduce Chemical Exposure in Homes and Gardens
     
    ATLANTA, April 1, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — With organic food and eco-friendly cleaning supplies now widely available, being ‘green’ at home is getting easier. When it comes to killing bugs, however, most people still reach for chemical insecticides because they are not aware that safe and effective botanical alternatives exist.

    “Most Americans don’t realize that they can kill household insects without using conventional pesticides that leave behind a harmful chemical residue,” said Steven Bessette, the president of EcoSMART Technologies, which makes organic insecticides that are safe to use around children and pets, and are recommended by the non-profit group Healthy Child, Healthy World.

    EcoSMART’s university-tested botanical pesticides kill bugs as effectively as synthetic pesticides, but their formulation is based on the centuries-old natural defenses that plants and trees use for their self-protection against insects and pathogens — essential oils. EcoSMART’s unique blends of essential oils block specific neural pathways in insects that regulate insect movement, behavior and metabolism. This results in instant immobilization and/or knockdown followed by the insect’s death. Because these neural pathways do not exist in mammals, the formulations are completely safe to use around children, animals, birds and fish.

    “There are many smart and affordable ways to create a safer, healthier environment for children,” said Christopher Gavigan, CEO / Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World, which offers free information and expertise to help create healthy environments for families and children.

    At its website, http://www.healthychild.org, parents can find tips such as these for healthier pest control:

        —  Prevent pests through good sanitation and food storage habits

        —  Remove shoes and wash hands immediately after playing outside to

            prevent tracking dirt indoors.

        —  Seal cracks and install door sweeps

        —  Use or fix window screens

        —  Manage outdoor lights to prevent insects gathering

        —  Eliminate moisture problems to keep the home dry

        —  Properly store all food

        —  Use non-toxic products

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recent reports indicate at least one pesticide product is used indoors by 75 percent of U.S. households each year and that 80 percent of the average person’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pesticid.html.

    The active and inert ingredients in EcoSMART products are exempt from EPA registration and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These oils are commonly used to add flavor and aroma to many cosmetic, beverage and food products.

    The new 14-ounce aerosols, available in Wal-Mart, Albertsons and other large retailers, include Ant & Roach Killer, Flying Insect Killer and Wasp & Hornet Killer. Consumers can also buy EcoSMART products online at http://www.ecosmart.com.

    “EcoSMART has made it easier to protect children by reducing their exposure to harmful chemical pesticide residues while keeping homes clean and bugs under control,” Gavigan said.

    In the spring of 2008, EcoSMART will also launch a highly effective 6 oz personal insect repellent that provides 2-3 hours of protection against mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies and no-see-ums. It is DEET-free and safe for kids.

    For more information, visit http://www.ecosmart.com or call (877) 667-0006.
     

    Popular ‘green’ products test positive for toxicant

    Well, this just sucks. Guess I have to change my soap and shampoo again. Ugh.

    Popular ‘green’ products test positive for toxicant

    A cancer-causing chemical is found in almost half of 100 such goods studied.

    By Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    March 14, 2008

    New tests of 100 “natural” and “organic” soaps, shampoos and other consumer products show that nearly half of them contained a cancer-causing chemical that is a byproduct of petrochemicals used in manufacturing.

    Many items that tested positive for the carcinogen are well-known brands, including Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature’s Gate products, sold in retail stores across the nation.
     
    The findings of the Organic Consumers Assn., a consumer advocacy group, are sending a jolt through the natural products industry. Gathering today in Anaheim for a national trade show, many leaders worry that the test results will taint the industry in the eyes of the public.

    Of the 100 products tested, 47 had detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals.

    Most traditional soaps and shampoos contain 1,4-dioxane. But the discovery that the chemical is present in many housecleaning and personal care products, including some for babies, that are advertised as being natural, organic or “green” comes as somewhat of a surprise.

    “For companies to knowingly or even carelessly put a carcinogen into commerce in this day and age is barbaric, I think, particularly products that have the moniker of natural or self-proclaimed ‘organic,’ ” said consumer advocate and author David Steinberg, who directed the study.

    “We need standards,” he said. “Consumers walk into a health-food store or natural-product supermarket with the expectation that the product they purchase will be natural or safer than what they could purchase at the drugstore or supermarket.”

    The compound is not intentionally added to products; it is a byproduct of a process used to soften harsh detergents. It is formed when foaming agents, or surfactants, are processed with ethylene oxide or similar petrochemicals.

    Said Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation Inc.’s director of product and environmental technology, “The natural world is filled with things that can harm. . . . All we can do is work as hard as we can to keep the levels as low as possible and keep our products as safe as possible.”

    Hain Celestial Group, the Boulder, Colo.-based owner of four of the tested companies — Alba, Jason, Avalon Organics and Zia Natural Skincare– said Thursday that it would reevaluate all of its products. Two Alba and three Jason products contained 1,4-dioxane, but the chemical was not detected in tested Avalon and Zia products.

    “We are committed to selling products without detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane . . . and will review all formulations accordingly,” said Lisa Lehndorff, Hain Celestial’s director of corporate consumer relations.

    No one knows exactly what amount of the compound may be unsafe. In scientific studies, lab animals that had been fed 1,4-dioxane for many weeks developed nasal, liver and gall bladder cancers. But scientists do not now know what, if any, cancer risk humans face from years-long use of products containing the chemical.

    The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates cosmetics, has set no standards for 1,4-dioxane. The agency has occasionally tested products for the compound since the late 1970s and says levels of it have substantially declined since then. The FDA says the current levels “do not present a hazard to consumers,” although it has advised the industry to reduce amounts in cosmetics as much as possible.

    Many companies in the “natural” business have been striving for years to eliminate 1,4-dioxane. They use coconut or other plant oils as surfactants, and they have reformulated products and added a process called vacuum-stripping. But traces still remain, in the parts-per-million range.

    Josef Koester of Cognis Corp., a Cincinnati-based chemical company that caters to manufacturers seeking “green” compounds, said most companies can avoid 1,4-dioxane but that it “typically requires a higher price point and sometimes performance restrictions for the product. How green the formulators want to go — it is their choice.”

    Some organic company owners said it is deceptive for many products to be called natural when the carcinogenic compound indicates that petrochemicals are used in their manufacture.

    No standards govern the words natural or organic for personal care products. But a few companies, including TerrEssentials, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Sensibility Soaps Inc., which makes the Nourish brand, have certified their products as organic under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food standards.

    “It makes it really difficult for us to communicate real organic when our little voice gets lost in this sea of products that are all claiming to meet the [USDA organic] standard when, in fact, they don’t,” said Diana Kaye, co-founder of TerrEssentials, a small Maryland company. All six TerrEssentials soaps and other products tested were free of 1,4-dioxane.

    Other brands, including Burt’s Bees, Desert Essence and EO, are not certified to meet organic food standards but still contained no 1,4-dioxane in the tests.

    But because the vast majority of shampoos, soaps and other consumer goods do not carry the USDA organic seal, it’s nearly impossible for buyers to know whether the ones they use contain 1,4-dioxane because the chemical is not listed on ingredient labels. Products most likely to contain the compound usually list polyethylene glycol or compounds with the syllables PEG, short for polyethylene glycol, -eth or -oxynol-,according to the FDA.

    Method, a San Francisco-based company whose products are sold at Target, intentionally does not call its products “natural,” said co-founder Adam Lowry. Instead, the labels say “naturally derived” because the plant oils have been processed with ethylene oxide to make them better cleansers.

    Three of its products were tested, and two — its ultra-concentrated dish soap and a hand soap — contained 1,4-dioxane.

    “For us there are no alternatives that are still effective,” Lowry said. “Unless you can have a high-performance product, if you have a green product or a natural product, then what’s the point of having one that doesn’t work?”

    Method’s creamy hand soap, which had 7 parts per million of 1,4-dioxane in the tests, has been reformulated and now contains none, Lowry said.

    “We 100% believe that our products are completely safe and there’s zero risk,” he said.

    Whole Foods on Thursday declined to say whether the test results would prompt any changes in products sold at its stores. Three of four products tested in Whole Foods’ own product line, 365 Everyday Value, contained 1,4-dioxane.

    Dishwashing liquids are particularly hard to keep free of 1,4-dioxane because they require surfactants that are powerful grease cutters.

    Seventh Generation uses coconut oil in its dish soaps, which although it is processed with a petrochemical and vacuum-stripped, still contains almost 2 parts per million of 1,4-dioxane. Wolf said the only way to remove all traces would be to use another surfactant that irritates skin, which the Burlington, Vt.-based company considers unacceptable.

    Seventh Generation is “working with several surfactant manufacturers to look for alternatives to this process to modify coconut oil,” Wolf said. “We’re not there yet. We have more work to do.”

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