Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category

Spring cleaning tips for people with allergies or asthma

Seventh Generation had a blog post with tips to help those of us with allergies and asthma cut down on the sneezing while we are cleaning.

Read about it here.

Create an eco-nursery; County bans BPA baby bottles and Rubber mulch is toxic

Something new: Link Round up!

It’s difficult to post even weekly now with 2 kids and working full time, so I decided when I have several interesting topics at once, I will give a smaller summary and post the link to the article.

Eco-proof the nursery this is a great little article highlighting common concerns for today’s new parents (or new again). It shows how parents are concerned about the expense of raising a “green” baby and offers tips on how to go free for free or for very little money.

One NY County Bans BPA Baby bottles Hats off to them! I hope this catches on, though with manufacturers stopping the production of them and national retailers stopping the sale of them, bottles made with BPA will be hard to come by soon enough.

Rubber mulch is not non-toxic and contains metal fragments. And Obama just used it on his girl’s White House playground. Hopefully he will replace it. While it seems like a great idea to turn used tires into mulch for playgrounds and landscapes, it really is not non-toxic or safe for kids or the environment. Plus, rubber is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once on fire.

Related Articles
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The Real Story Behind BPA

Kiss My Face Hair Care: Product Review

I was looking for a 1, 4 dioxane-free shampoo for my husband and I to try. He has had some skin cancers removed, so anything I discover is a known or probably carcinogen, it’s out the door. I found out that Kiss My Face’s shampoos were dioxane free, so I picked up the Miss Treated Shampoo and conditioner for myself and the Big Body one for my husband. Of course, the line is free from parabens, phthalates, SLS and other yuckies that I wanted to avoid.

The Miss Treated Shampoo I absolutely LOVE. It’s hydrating, smells nice and rinses clean, so there is no residue weighing down my hair.

The Miss Treated Conditioner is FANTASTIC. The first time I used it, my hair felt like silk as I was rinsing it out and was very soft even after using a blow dryer. My hair is long (I am growing it out for Locks of Love), so the ends do get dry. To help this, I will sometimes put a very small dab of the conditioner on my hands and comb through my hair, rubbing a little more on the ends. It helps immensely.

It also lasted a long time – a couple months for 1 bottle and I have very long hair. So I was please with that as it was more expensive than the Whole Foods 365 stuff I had been using. But the end result, no dioxanes and soft hair, is worth it.

The shampoo sells for about $8 at my Whole Foods or $6.42 at Amazon. The conditioner sells for the same.

I give the product an A for delivering results!

Related Articles
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Dangers of BPA, phthalates and a host of other substances 
Do your cosmetic and beauty products contain toxic ingredients? 
California Baby line product review 
Aubrey Organics Kids line product review

The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A

How a handful of consultants used Big Tobacco’s tactics to sow doubt about science and hold off regulation of BPA, a chemical in hundreds of products that could be harming an entire generation.

I always liked FastCompany magazine. There are always great articles. Well, they have recently looked into the BPA controversy / debate as well and published an article here last week. They looked at both sides, the history, how the studies were done, what the FDA reviewed and who funded the studies, etc. Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about the BPA issue. They interviewed several folks from both sides. It’s a very long, but very interesting read.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:
“The United States has a long tradition of keeping harmful substances — lead, DDT, tobacco, PCBs — on the market for decades after scientists find adverse effects.”

“Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, who has launched numerous investigations into the agency, contends, “The FDA has got to be a watchdog, not a business partner with industry.”

“If these low-dose findings were counterintuitive to toxicologists, they made perfect sense to developmental biologists. After all, BPA is a synthetic hormone. Any physician knows that at small doses, most hormones are extremely powerful in stimulating their target organs, while at higher doses — above a certain threshold — they can paralyze these same organs. (Testosterone powers the male sex drive, for instance, but at high doses causes impotence.)”

Very interesting indeed. I could pull more quotes, but then I may as well copy the whole article! They have uncovered what many of us already know – there is enough evidence that it may cause harm at any dose so it is best to just avoid BPA altogether. Retailers such as Babies R Us, Wal-Mart and Target had said they would stop selling polycarbonate baby bottles at the end of 2008 (though I have seen them on the shelves as of last week). Nalgene has gone to a BPA-free plastic water bottle as consumers demand a safer product and the FDA sits and takes money from the plastic industry and tries to convince us that BPA is safe when there are over 100 studies not funded by the plastics that claim otherwise.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a hormone-mimicking chemical found in plastic polycarbonate baby bottles, water bottles, dental filings, in the lining of canned foods, etc. Even at low doses it can affect the endocrine system. Learn more here

I have several lists with safer alternatives to polycarbonate plastics.
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and food storage
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
BPA free dishes, utensils, snack containers and food storage for kids

And I am finishing up my BPA free food storage list in between nursing my newborn, so please check back!

Related Articles
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Crack the code on organic food labels

The Daily Green has a quick little guide to help crack the code on those organic food labels. Check it out here.

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Is Horizon milk really organic?
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Product Review: Charlie’s Soap Laundry Detergent

I saw Charlie’s Soap on Amazon as an eco-friendly laundry soap. On a trip to Whole Foods, they had some in the store, so I decided to try some since I was in need of laundry detergent anyway.

The soap is intended to clean your clothes without leaving behind any residue. In fact, they recommend running a load with just Charlie’s Soap to clear the washing machine of all detergent residues. I will admit, I did not do this. I did do a small load the first time, though.

The soap cleans well, does not leave residue and is not scented. In fact, the package says “If you want flowers, go pick some.” It works just as it promised to do. It is great for people with sensitive skin. I will say that they do not recommend fabric softener, but I found my clothes still needed it. They were a little stiff without it. I used Seventh Generation’s fabric softener.

In fact, I did not realize the difference until I picked up an article of clothing tht had not yet been washed in Charlie’s Soap and I was surprised how much detergent and fabric softener residue I could feel on the garment. I am not sure how I wore those clothes washed in conventional detergent (sorry Proctor and Gamble).

The best part is it’s economical as well. It’s about $13 from Amazon  for a bag that will do 80 loads so that equates to 16 cents a load (though truth be told, I am pretty sure I got mine from Whole Foods for less than this on sale). And yes, 1 tablespoon of the soap is all that is needed, so that bag is small as well. So it is eco-friendly in that respect too.

Overall I give this product an A. I would go ahead and try without fabric softeners as they recommend, and if you find you do need one, I would recommend Seventh Generation’s fabric softener, I personally like the blue eucalyptus

Also available in liquid form
This review refers to the powder form.

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?
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Grass fed beef is healthier
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Christmas on a budget: Homemade Christmas Gifts for Everyone on your list

With the economy on a downswing, many are wondering how they can still have a great Christmas, or a Christmas at all. Luckily, there are many thoughtful gifts you can make for just a few dollars or even less.

Gifts for Kids

- Consider a toy swap with neighbors and friends. They may have new or gently used toys that their children are not interested in or are too old for.

- Check garage sales or thrift stores, you can find great toys, clothes and games at great prices. You will certainly have to dig a little, but great finds await you.

- Coloring books from the dollar store.
- Board games like Candy Land  are often on sale for 2 for $10 at Wal-Mart
- Buy discount fleece and make a no-sew blanket

If you have very young children, you can make many things at home for very little.
- A cardboard refrigerator box can be turned into a playhouse. Most toddlers prefer the box the toy came in to the toy themselves. You can cut out windows and door, then use markers, crayons, paint, fabric, etc. to make curtains, pictures, a fireplace, etc.
- Old socks can be turned into puppets with a couple button eyes and a permanant marker for a mouth. You can get creative and use fabric scraps for ears, a tougue, arms, etc.
- Fabric scraps can be turned into blankets, doll clothes, dress-up clothes… or use to make book or photo album covers, which you can also make yourself.

If you really cannot provide for your child(ren) this Christmas, check out local charities and see if you can get your child(ren) on an Angel Tree.

Parents/Grandparents
- A framed photo of your child with the grandparent(s)
- Have your child draw a picture and frame it
- Personally monogram a coffee mug, or have your child paint it
- Create a blog to share stories and photos of your family. This is especially great if there is some distance between the grandparents and grandkids

Neighbors/Friends/Anyone
Stencil napkins or linen hand towels and tie together with a pretty ribbon 
- Bake cookies or bread and deliver in a pretty basket, a plate or tin
- Potted plant
- Make bath soaps or bath salts with the kids. You can make all-natural soaps and milk-based soaps for eco-friendly options.
Bargain books from Amazon or Barnes and Nobles
- Make ornaments with thick poster board and glitter
- Melt your old candles and make new ones. Or make them from scratch.
- Make a book of coupons: use services you can provide such as free babysitting, grass cutting, oil change, music or singing lessons… whatever you can provide to the recipient. This is completely free, other than for your time
- Check local trade schools. Many offer free or discounted prices for massages, manicures, and hair services.
- Decorate old jars with ribbon or craft foil and fill with candies or other treats
- Cookie jar – fill an old jar with the pre-measured dry ingredients for cookies or brownies with the instructions to add the “wet” ingredients and how to bake. Decorate with festive ribbon.
- Make a calendar. You can use your own photos or find images online. You can add birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, and other important dates that would be important to the recipient.
- Make your own bath salts and put in a jar with a pretty ribbon
- Make a trivet. Buy a discount tile from a home improvement or flooring store and glue felt to the back. For a personal touch, add a monogram. If it’s for a grandparent, you can have the child paint it.
- Coupon for soup of the month club – give a quart of soup each month of the year. Great for an elderly neighbor or even a college student. Don’t like soup? Do a casserole or other dish theme instead.
- Create your own spice rub. Google spice rub recipes, make your favorite and deliver in a glass jar decked out in a festive ribbon.

Spouse
- Coupon book for a night out without the kids, massage, or whatever you desire.
- Framed family photo
- Collage of family memories
- Make a photo album of favorite memories of your years together
College kid
- Make a hamper of essentials like shampoo, loopha, lotions, cotton balls, towels, washcloth, toothpaste, etc.
- Gift cards in any amount
- Make a scarf from discount fleece. Cut the desired length and then cut fringe on each end

Today Show: Martha Stewart’s Homemade gifts and goodies

Today Show: DIY sweet and stylish gifts

Frugal Finds under $20

What are you making this Christmas board

Holiday projects board

Related Articles
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BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
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Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products

study released in March 2008 commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group, analyzes leading “natural” and “organic” brand shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care products for the presence of the undisclosed carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. A reputable third-party laboratory known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing.

Excerpt which describes the process of how 1,4 dioxane makes its way into body care products:
Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under proposition 65, and has no place in “natural” or “organic” branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading “natural” and “organic” branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.The group is calling for the mislabeling of organic products. 1,4 dioxanes have no place in true organic products.

 

Some of the Leading Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
JASON Pure Natural & Organic
Giovanni Organic Cosmetics
Kiss My Face
Nature’s Gate Organics.

Brands Found not to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
All USDA Certified brands tested in this study were 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
Dr. Bronner’s
Sensibility Soaps
(Nourish)
Terressentials

All German Natural “BDIH” Certified brands tested were found to be 1,4-Dioxane-free:
Aubrey Organics 
Dr. Hauschka

How to avoid 1,4 dioxane
To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, the OCA urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. In general, the OCA urges consumers to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients. “When it comes to misbranding organic personal care products in the US, it’s almost complete anarchy and buyer beware unless the product is certified under the USDA National Organic Program,” says Cummins.

The products/brands tested can be found here with the level of 1,4-Dioxane detected, if any, along with ethoxylated ingredients listed on the label. Note, only certain products of these lines were tested, not all products in the line and certainly not all natural and organic products were tested.

Here are the products from the study that were found to be FREE of 1,4 dioxane. However, one still needs to read labels to avoid parabens and synthetic fragrance (due to the possibility of the presence of phthalates). All dish soaps  tested were found to have 1,4 dioxanes present. Surprisingly, so were a couple conditioners. And oddly enough, some brands, like Kiss My Face had 1,4 dioxane present in their body wash tested, but not the shampoo.

1,4 Dioxane Free Products
Alba Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel (Island Citrus) (EWG rates a 4, contains fragrance and parabens)
Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Bath Soap 
Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo 
Avalon Organics Nourishing Shampoo
Burt’s Bees Body Wash 
Circle of Friends Buenas Noches Bubble Bath (EWG ranks a 6, contains fragrance)
Desert Essence Body Wash  
Desert Essence Organics Hair Care Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo 
Dr. Bronner’s and Sundog’s Magic Orange Lavender Organic Lotion
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Trade Shikakai Soap 
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Hemp Almond Pure Castile Soap
Dr. Hauschka Apricot and Sea Buckthorn Shampoo  
Dr. Hauschka Body Wash Fresh
EO All Purpose Soap
EO Nourishing Shower Gel 
EO Volumizing Shampoo
Head Organics Clearly Head Shampoo 
Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic Whenever Shampoo 
Lamas Soy Hydrating Shampoo for Chemically Treated, Dry or Damaged Hair 
Nature’s Gate Organics Fruit Blend Shampoo 
Nourish Food for Your Healthy Skin Organic Chai Vanilla Body Wash from Sensibility Soaps 
Nourish Organic Vanilla Yogurt Body Butter 
Origins Ginger Up Aromatic Conditioner
Pure Basic Natural Bath & Body Wash Wild Banana Vanilla (contains fragrance) 
Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo 
Shikai Natural Shampoo 
TerrEssential Organic Baby Wash 
TerrEssential Organic Body Wash Organic Cool Mint 
TerrEssential Organic Fragrance-Free Facial Cleanser 
TerrEssential Organic Sultry Spice Pure Earth Hair Wash 
Zia Fresh Cleansing Gel with Sea Algae
Zia Skin Basics Daily Moisture Screen SPF 15 with Cucumber  
 
Hand soap
Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap 
Burt’s Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Hand Soap 
Method Hand Wash 
TerrEssential Organic Real Soap for Hands Jammin’ Spice with Organic Tea Tree Oil

Related Articles
Dangers of BPA, phthalates and a host of other substances 
Do your cosmetic and beauty products contain toxic ingredients? 
California Baby line product review 
Aubrey Organics Kids line product review

What is PES plastic and is it safe?

I have been trying to find some good research on PES (polyethersulfone) plastic and it’s safety, but have not had much success. It’s relatively new, but everything I have read thus far has been positive.

The Soft Landing interviewed Kevin Brodwick of ThinkBaby regarding PES plastic, which is what ThinkBaby uses for their baby bottles. Read the interview here.  

Related Articles
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BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

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