So you have decided to take a natural approach to life. Congrats!! Welcome to the ride. You may be asking yourself “now what?” And wondering where to start.
The truth is, you just need to start where you are. You may feel the need to just throw everything out, but don’t try to change everything all at once. It can be very overwhelming. Make a list of things you want to do more naturally. Prioritize your list. Choose an area you want to improve on the most. Here are some ideas:
toxin-free cleaning products
make healthier meals and choose healthier foods
ditch OTC medications for natural remedies
switch to non toxic bake and cookware
toxin-free soaps and shampoo, etc.
toxin-free and pollinator friendly pest control
ditch artificial scents
use clean cosmetics
safer laundry products
get away from disposable products
make some of your own natural products
If you still are unsure where to start, ask yourself why you want to start this journey? Do you want to feel better? Improve your health? Or concern for the health of a family member? Leave a smaller footprint on the planet? Get outside more? That can help you narrow your focus.
Once you know what you want to improve first, research and read as much as you can so you can make the best choices for your family. I have found there is always room for growth here, so don’t stop learning and adjusting. Science is never settled.
Next, set some realistic goals for yourself. You can get as fancy or minimal about this. Some things I actually made spreadsheets for. When I started cloth diapering my husband was more concerned with if it would save us money, given a single diaper could be $20+. So I made a spreadsheet to show how much we would be saving over 2+ years of diapering, plus potentially how much we would get back from selling the diapers once we were done with them. Other areas I was not concerned about savings as it was a health decision. For something like natural remedies, I was more concerned with effectiveness than cost.
Once you have comfortably tackled one area, move to the next one on your list. Research that and make decisions. You are the boss, so go at a pace that is sustainable for you and your family.
Next week I will share how to eat organically on a budget.
School will be starting soon and lunches will need to be packed again. I’m so not ready! I do not like using the disposable plastic bags so I have a set of these Stasher silicone reusable bags. They close easily and tightly with their self loc feature; and comes in all different sizes for an endless number of uses. They are dishwasher safe and can be used again and again. We’ve never had an issue with them leaking.
You can also get larger 1/2 gallon sizes, including a stand up version, to store produce in the fridge or freeze items. And smaller sizes perfect for on the go snacks or keeping a pacifier clean in the diaper bag. And Stasher go that can clip to a bag and perfect to fit a phone, so perfect for the pool or beach to keep your phone clean and dry.
The zipper part can be a little hard to open so practice with your kids before sending their lunch in these. The sandwiches size is perfect for typical bread size but wider sizes, like some organic bread brands, may need the edges trimmed to fit the bag. They obviously are a little bulkier than disposable baggies, but we haven’t had an issue.
Stasher bags are made from food grade platinum silicone. Platinum food-grade silicone is safe for use in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher, boiling water, soups vide, and oven up to 400 degrees F. Stasher also participates in 1% for the Planet. They are BPA and phthalate free.
Are you an Amazon Prime member? If so, each year, Amazon has Prime Day with special deals for Prime Members. There is typically a limited quantity or limited time, so don’t delay in snagging a deal if you see one you like.
Here are some deals that are natural products or products for kids. Follow this post or keep coming back as I will continue to add items as I find them. Happy shopping!
Some people are not fans of the smell of vinegar but did you know it is actually really good for you?
I personally like to use it as a salad dressing or in my water with a little lemon juice.
Apple cider vinegar has various healthful properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. What’s more, evidence suggests it may offer health benefits, such as aiding weight loss, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels, and improving the symptoms of diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.
Vinegar can also help kill pathogens, including bacteria. People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.
Vinegar is also a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria like E. coli from growing in and spoiling food.
Grounding or earthing is a therapeutic activity involving certain activities to “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. Relying on earthing science & grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have great effects on your body, grounding can have many many benefits to ones body.
This can be done for inflammation, cardio diseases, muscle damage, chronic pain, & mood. According to one review study, the theory is that the practice affects living matrix, which is the central connector between living cells. Electrical activity exists in this matrix that functions as an immune system defense. This is very similar to antioxidants. It is believed that through grounding, the bodies natural defenses can be restored.
There are several types of grounding such as walking barefoot, lying on the ground, being immersed in water, & using grounding equipment. So get out there and run barefoot, lay under the stars, & jump into that lake.
A clean, decluttered home provides a much-needed sanctuary from the daily grind. It’s hard to fully decompress if your home is dirty or untidy, and the average American worker spends nearly one hour on housework daily in an attempt to keep a clean house.1 But there’s a misconception that in order to truly clean your home, you’ve got to don rubber gloves and spray harsh chemicals to do it.
In fact, one of the primary reasons for cleaning your home regularly is to clear out the many toxic chemicals that have accumulated in your household dust. Flame-retardant chemicals and phthalates are among them (along with thousands of species of bacteria and fungi).
However, if you clean your home with commercial sprays, wipes, scrubs and polishes, you’re putting toxins into your home environment instead of removing them. The same goes for most laundry detergents, dryer sheets and air fresheners. Even those strong-smelling lemon and pine scents — the ones many people believe are the epitome of a clean home — are created by toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
You needn’t expose yourself or your family to these toxins any longer, as it’s simple to clean your home with nontoxic cleaners. You can even recreate the same “clean” scents you love using essential oils, and your home will smell much better for it while offering you therapeutic benefits at the same time. As an added bonus, by creating your own nontoxic cleaners, you’ll probably save money too, compared to buying commercial cleaning products.
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.
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.
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!
National Healthy Schools Day What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
by Janelle Sorensen
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.
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
· Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Qualityas 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.
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 clothwhich 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.