Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The smell of suncreen

We have been using natural sunscreen for several years. Today when we were at the pool, I got a whiff of what traditional sunscreen smells like and I have to say, I am glad we switched. (Not only because it smells "off", but because heavy smells indicate something fake.)

I have used a number of sunscreens since we switched and all of them worked, but since then I have done research to find out that some are a little more chemical laden then I thought.  Environmental Working Group is an organization that works tirelessly to rate all of the sunscreens that they can get their hands on.  They rate them according to chemicals, too high or too low SPF, the balance of UVB and UVA protection and other factors.  It is a good idea to go to this website to check out a sunscreen you have or one that you are going to buy.

This photo is property of www.flickr.com/sicilianitaliano

I just ordered sunscreen that ranks a #3 on the EWG list.  Usually I try to use products that are 4 or less.  I ordered Aubrey Organics Sunscreen for Active Lifestyles.   I was using Trader Joe's sunscreen, which ranks a #4, but it contains Vitamin A.  According to EWG:
The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.

Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens.


Due to the fact that people are so scared of skin cancer, we lather up on the sunscreen (makes sense, right).  Well, according to US News & World Report, you need about 10 min. of sun exposure WITHOUT sunscreen to get enough Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is said to help in the prevention of Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, Cancer, Depression, Insomnia and Immune System problems.  So, wait until after you get outside to spread it on.

Check the list and know that you are not polluting your family's bodies when enjoying the sun.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


People are always asking me either where I get the products that I use (bug spray, hand sanitizer, soap, lotion, essential oils) or what works for me.

When it comes to mosquitoes, I either use citronella essential oil or a rub on stick from Badger. Badger is a great company with good morals and a good reason for being in business.  The stick is a little pricey, but it works and I like the strong smell (probably because it doesn't smell fake).

When I pick the kids up from school, when they are leaving a store or after they help me play in the dirt, I use CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. They have spray in full and travel sizes, wipes and soaps. I love the smell and effectiveness and lack of chemicals in this product.

For buying hand soap, I am all over the place. I like Method, Trader Joe's brand, Simple Green and Burt's Bees. The only Method "flavor" that I like is "go naked", because it does not have artificial coloring and I don't really care for the pump (so I buy the refills and fill up other containers).  Trader Joe's smells good and is a great price. Simple Green is a nice mild smell and a huge container, Burt's Bees makes me smile because I love the smell, but it is a little more expensive.

I use a couple of sources for oils.  I get most of my essential oil from Swanson Vitamins and the rest of it from my local health food store. I use essential oil for everything, including: air freshener(grapefruit), bug spray(citronella), bath salts (lavender), headache relief (peppermint), freshen and clean bathroom(lemon & eucalyptus), rash relief and lice killer (tea tree), holiday scent (balsam) and there are many more

For most of the brands that I have mentioned, they have websites. Go to their site and sign up for their newsletter.  Many of them will offer you a discount, mail you a coupon or just let you know about sales and other good deals.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What to pack...

So, my daughter is going to camp and she eats lunch there.  This means packing a lunch that she will eat and not toss, that will not leave her hungry, that will not pollute her body and that will not contribute to landfills.

So, after buying her a washable lunchbox that is PVC-free from Lands End, I decided to tackle the sandwich first. I went to reusablebags.com and bought a Wrap-n-mat, which not only holds the sandwich, but it also doubles as a place mat (aka clean surface).  Then I tackled the fruit.  For some reason or another, I save containers (sour cream, yogurt, butter) and these came in handy for fruit, other than watermelon (which is a bit drippy). For crackers, or anything else dry, I use Tupperware-type containers.  The drink is a Sigg aluminum bottle with a sport-type pull up lid.  While I was shopping the reusable bag website, I also stumbled upon a non-toxic freezer gel pack, which helps to keep everything cold while the lunch box sits around waiting for the contents to be devoured (we hope).

I feel good about packing her lunch and the lack of waste it creates, hopefully she will eat what she is given. (even though she came home today and mentioned that everyone at camp shares food for lunch-ugh!)

Check out this article about lunches.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I am carbon neutral!

I am going carbon neutral, so my blog and it's viewers are not creating any CO2 emissions when they view it.  It will cost me nothing,  Make it Green! and the Arbor Day Foundation are planting a tree for me to counteract my emissions!

The trees will be planted in Plumas National Forest in CA that was devastated by forest fires in 2007.

Thank you to Make it Green! and The Arbor Day Foundation!!

(Click the link below to make your blog green too!)

carbon neutral coupons and shopping with kaufDA.de

Friday, June 11, 2010

What am I eating?

photo property of: www.flickr.com/wisely-chosen
Some of the food that we eat is garbage. Some of the things that I have eaten over the years are garbage, but things have changed at our house (for the most part).  Fortunately it is not difficult to educate yourself before it goes into your mouth.

Preservatives are in all kinds of foods.  They help to prolong the life (in the fridge or out) of the item for months or years or in the case of Twinkies, a lifetime. To name a few, BHT(keep oils from going bad), aspartame, nitrates(preserves flavor of meat), MSG(can cause headaches and nausea), High Fructose Corn Syrup[HFCS] and potassium bromate (increase volume in breads).  Some of these are even know to cause Cancer, steer clear!

Artificial Colors are relatively obvious (check out the bright colored fruit loops). They are in yogurt that is blue or soda that's not clear or M&Ms or jelly beans or frozen ice pops.  Mischievous companies put color in all kinds of things to entice our children to beg for them. Things like goldfish, cereal, crackers, jelly, hot dogs, snack food, and juice.  Artificial colors are usually the last thing listed on the ingredient label as FD&C Red 40 or Blue 2 or any variety of combinations, it's usually obvious.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are scary. They are seeds that are manufactured to resist pesticides and/or herbicides and they are mainly used to grow corn, soybeans, cotton and canola.  There are so many reasons why we don't want these engineered seeds in our bodies and on this planet.  First of all, they are hard to avoid, because 70% of processed foods contain them.  Second, scientists say that side effects of eating GMOs are allergic reactions and gene mutations.  Not to mention we are basically eating foods that have more pesticides than a non-GM crop and it is killing the soil. 

What to do? Eat certified organic (they are not allowed to use GMO for use with the organic label), look for foods that are GMO-free (Trader Joe's private label products are already GMO-free), and download this list of how to eat GMO-free from The Center for food Safety.

Making these changes or even a few is wonderful. It has taken our family years to get there and sometimes even we fall off of the bandwagon.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dirty, dirty air

They say the air in your home is 3-5 times dirtier that the air outside. Scary.  

Obvious things like smoke pollute the air, but hopefully most people go outside. 

Then there are chemicals, we use them to clean, we use them to kill bugs,we use them to paint our house, and there are chemicals in our carpets (no matter the age).  The first one is easy, use green cleaners. The second is a little harder, no one likes bugs in the house (except for an Entomologist), but we don't want the chemicals either. I have hired Greenhouse Pest Management to come and rid me of these creatures.  They use things like Borax and Pyrethrins (that are not harmful to any animals). The third is easy too, use VOC-free paint. Yes, it will cost almost twice as much, but there is NO smell.  The carpets, it is a love-hate relationship.  We love them for the softness and the warmth that they create, but they harbor germs and bacteria and allergens.  To counteract the VOCs from carpets, I put plants in all the room.  Of course, most of you are thinking that plants will surely die, but not if you get philodendrons or peace lilies. They can both tolerate low light and they will wilt when they need you (aka water).

Another indoor pollutant is gas like carbon monoxide, radon and leaking natural gas.  For carbon monoxide, a detector can save your life, so it is worth the cost.  Radon must be checked by a professional and gas may be leaking from your appliances without even realizing it, so that needs a pro too.

Other pollutants can include water leaks that cause mold, not taking shoes off (which brings in everything you stepped on during the day), or not using a hepa-filter on the vacuum cleaner

Change your air filters every three months. Period.  Even after almost 3 months, our filters are so disgusting, I am thinking of changing them more often. We use the 3M filters that are supposed to filter out more allergens, but we also have a cat and a dog.  That leads me to mention another source of allergens, animals.  Vacuuming regularly, brushing them outside, wiping their feet, making sure they have no fleas and washing their bedding helps.

Open your windows when the weather is nice (if  bugs come in, just call your green pest guy).  Air out your home and the chemicals.  Make sure to never bring drycleaning bags in the home (my hubbie asks for no bag on the clothes, so they are aired out by the time he gets home).

Nothing is ever easy, including the air.  Do what you can or change things gradually, it took me years.  The payoff will be a healthier house and healthier family (including pets).