Posts Tagged ‘green products’

The Teeth are Coming!

After months of drooling and fussing and chewing and drooling and sleepless nights and fevers and DROOLING… Seth’s first two teeth are finally coming in!

I first felt something there earlier while giving him teething oil because he was obviously very uncomfortable, and then this afternoon his grandma Jackie and I could actually see the bits of pearly whiteness on the surface of his gums. I’m sure that in the next several days they will really pop up and be seen more easily, and I will definitely take pictures for you.

By the way, I have a sore spot on my gums where one of my wisdom teeth used to be, so I decided to try Seth’s teething oil, and I am amazed at how well it works. It numbed it really well for a while. It is called Gum-omile Oil from the company Herbs for Kids, and I got it at Whole Foods. It contains clove oil, willow bark extract, and chamomile extract, and you just rub a little bit on their gums when they seem to be bothered by teething pain. It is safer and more natural than regular OTC teething gels like Oragel. It, along with Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets, have been working really well for us.

A Better Nail Polish

When I was pregnant I stopped using regular nail polish because I’d read about chemicals in it that can be harmful for a growing baby. And just one whiff will tell anyone they probably shouldn’t be around it for very long either. But I love to have a bit of color on my toes, so I decided to seek out a more natural option. I found No Miss at Whole Foods, which comes in tons of great colors and is very similar in consistency and wear to traditional polishes, but doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl-pthalate or camphor- some of the most harmful ingredients found in common brands. I have also started using No Miss’s “Almost Natural” nail polish remover- it isn’t quite as effective as the old stuff, but it is much less stinky and with a little extra rubbing gets the job done just fine. Here’s to pretty (and non-toxic) summer feet!

The Only True Clean is Green

The dangers of chemical cleaning products:

  • First off, contrary to popular opinion, extremely dangerous products are allowed on the market. The government doesn’t regulate the ingredients companies are using in household products- these companies are not required to tell anyone exactly what is being used in their products. This goes for personal care products as well, but for today I’ll focus on home care.
  • The “secret formulas” of most conventional products, which as I mentioned before companies are not required to divulge, often contain respiratory irritants, carcinogens, hormone disruptors and neurotoxins associated with both short and long term effects. At best they are known to cause chronic wheezing and asthma in children. The rate of childhood asthma has gone up 200 percent since 1980.
  • When harmful chemicals are washed down the drain, rivers and lakes are polluted by them- harming fish and wildlife. The negative effects are not limited to the homes where these products are being used.
  • 10 percent of all calls to poison control involve toxic exposure to household cleaners, and two-thirds of those concern children. We lock the bottles away so hopefully our kids won’t get to them, and yet we wipe the same chemicals all over our homes our children live in.
  • Ammonia, commonly used in bathroom and kitchen cleaners, is a volatile organic compound (VOC), which becomes a vapor, enters our airways, and can cause respiratory problems or worse.
  • Chlorine (think bleach) is the number one household chemical involved in poisoning. On its own it is bad enough, but when mixed with many other substances the chemical reaction can form even more dangerous poisons.
  • Phosphates- in many states these water softeners have been banned from laundry detergents for their damaging effects on water systems and natural ecosystems, , but they are still found in some dishwasher and cleaning formulas.
  • Lye- used in drain and oven cleaners, detergent, pool cleaners, metal polishers and soap, irritates skin and eyes and the fumes corrodes respiratory passages.
  • Synthetic fragrances, used to mask chemical odors in cleaners, and also used in “air fresheners” and nearly anything scented that isn’t natural, can contain up to hundreds of chems, are very common triggers for allergic reaction and respiratory distress.
  • I mentioned VOCs in regards to ammonia, but the compounds are also found in plastic and polyurethane, paints, varnishes and cleaning products. If you smell something (whether it be a ‘pleasant’ “pine fresh” scent or a bad chemical smell, it is likely a VOC. These compounds have been linked to neurological and organ damage, cancer, and asthma.

While this information can be found in countless places and I have read extensively on the subject in the past, I organized this list while reading Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan, published by the national non-profit by the same name. http://www.healthychild.org

So obviously typical cleaning products are worse than awful, but we are then faced with the big question of what to use instead. Our culture is full of brand loyalty- some people will only clean with Lysol or bleach everything because they’re convinced that it’s the only way to kill germs. In fact, over-sanitizing can lead to more problems than ever, weakening our bodies’ defenses and creating “super-germs” that are even more harmful and more difficult to get rid of- this is the same effect of overuse of antibiotics and anti-bacterial products. Commercials are meant to sell you a product, not to give you real information about health ar science. We need to first let go of the idea that chemicals are needed to clean our home environments- in fact, let go of the mindset that putting chemicals on a surface actually cleans it at all. A little bit of grime is much less dangerous than most of the poisons.
I understand though, we want our homes to be clean. Luckily there is an abundance of readily-available alternatives these days, and more all the time as people become aware of the toxicity of common products for our families and the earth. Brands such as Seventh Generation, Ecover, Biokleen, Method and Shaklee are creating some wonderful toxin-free products that truly work. But we can really take a lesson from our grandmothers here- vinegar, baking soda, lemons, hydrogen peroxide and castile soap make wonderful (and wonderfully inexpensive!) cleaners for most areas in the home, and they are of course totally harmless to us, our kids, pets and the planet. I personally use a combination of branded natural products and home-made ones: Seventh Generation for the dishwasher and toilet, Shaklee dish liquid and all-purpose cleaner, Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile on the floors, baking soda and vinegar for tub and sinks, peroxide or lemon in place of bleach, vinegar to make metal fixtures shiny. Shaklee or Allen’s for laundry, and vinegar can be used as a natural softener (doesn’t make the clothes smell I promise!). Baking soda can remove odor from nearly anything (sprinkle on carpet before vacuuming, and I plan on using it in the diaper pail once our little one is here).
For those who love fragrance- I am definitely one of them, and used to love buying scented anything- essential oils are your best friend. I’m kind of a lavender addict lately. I have had the same tiny (0.5 oz) bottle of lavender essential oil for well over a year because it is so potent. You can add oils to home-made cleaners, burn them in a diffuser, add them to water in a spray bottle to mist onto linens and into the air… some, like tea tree and eucalyptus, even have powerful antibacterial properties and can aid in cleaning (add tea tree to floor cleaning water). What’s more, the same oils have healing and therapeutic properties. Lavender is calming and relaxing and good for burns and sunburn, tea tree is an antiseptic and great for first aid, acne, bug bites and many other things, sandalwood is good for sore throats, frankincense for infection. I am gradually building a collection of essential of oils to use in our home, for both cleaning and health.
I began using natural cleaning products before I even knew exactly how harmful the conventional kind are. Pregnancy has brought many things like this to my awareness because I want to much to create a safe and healthy home for my son (which starts with what he is exposed to before birth as well). I have now phased out every chemical cleaner from my home, and I am confident that it is a much healthier place now than it was before. Whether you have young ch
ildren or not, I encourage you to be aware of how each and every item you buy and use had direct impact on your health and that of the environment. Be a conscious consumer.

When bed bugs and nightmares aren't the biggest concerns

Reading this book recently, I was kind of surprised to find information about dangerous chemicals being used in mattresses- including crib mattresses. Some of these include polyvinyl chloride, phthalates, and chemical flame retardants. It is even suspected there is a link between these poisonous substances and SIDS. Considering how much time a baby is likely to spend in his or her crib, and how much more susceptible their tiny bodies are to toxins, I find myself once again really upset by the lack of regulation of dangerous chemicals in consumer products in the U.S.- especially those marketed for babies and children.
Thankfully, a few companies are offering organic mattresses- my favorite so far is Naturepedic. We’re planning to buy one for our little guy’s crib.
Here are a few articles about the dangers of chemicals in crib mattresses:

http://www.healthychild.com/toxic-chemicals-baby-mattress.htm

http://www.articlesbase.com/home-improvement-articles/an-organic-crib-mattress-a-key-part-of-a-healthy-nursery-environment-648212.html

https://www.amazines.com/article_detail.cfm?articleid=711682

Toward a Better Pregnancy

I will start this blog with some of the ways I have attempted to have a more natural and balanced pregnancy over the last several months.
One of the first books I purchased back in June when I found I was going to be a mother was The Complete Organic Pregnancy. I knew that I wanted to give my baby the best start possible in life, and that I could start by making sure my own lifestyle was safe and natural. While we couldn’t afford to replace everything toxic in our home right away, once I learned about the dangers of PVC and other common substances (especially plastics!), I started to phase them out as much as possible. I did replace my PVC yoga mat with this mat, since I was doing yoga several times a week, stopped using water bottles containing BPA, and avoided putting any type of plastic in the microwave.
For the last several years, I have been sort of an “on-and-off” vegetarian- sometimes not eating any meat for over a year, and never eating it on a very regular basis. I feel better when my diet is plant-based, but moreover, it can have a huge impact on the earth in general. I wanted to maintain a vegetarian diet throughout my pregnancy, but found that I was struggling to get even close to the recommended amount of protein, so I have begun eating small amounts of hormone-free chicken on occasion. As much as our budget will allow, I eat organic foods, and try to include a lot of fresh produce. Eating well is probably the most important step a woman can take to ensure a healthy baby.
Another big area I have gone earth-friendly in is personal care products. I have been using at least some natural products for years, but since I’ve been pregnant I have pretty much cut out all “drugstore” type items. There are countless harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in everything from skin care to shampoo, lotion to hand soap. Many of these ingredients have not been properly tested to ensure that they are safe for human use, and yet there they are on the shelves in the stores we shop in. Some excellent all-natural brands I’ve found are Avalon, Burt’s Bees, Weleda, Nature’s Gate, Tom’s of Maine and Desert Essence. If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods or other well-stocked natural foods store nearby, they carry many wonderful products that work beautifully. I love Burt’s Bee’s Mama Bee Belly Butter and Leg and Foot Cream. My skin care is currently from Weleda, and my toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine. I’m always looking for new products to try, so I’ll attempt to review what I use on this blog in the future.
I could keep going on and on, but for now I’ll end with a word on cleaning products. Many people do not realize how very important this issue is. Traditional cleaners may seem to make things clean, but what we don’t see are the dangerous toxins they leave behind in our homes. They are not safe for the person cleaning, or those who will come in cantact with the “cleaned” surfaces. Marketing from large companies has fostered the mindset that you need all these chemicals to kill germs and make everything sanitary, but these products are doing much more harn than good. Thanks to green being so popular, there are now tons of alternative options from brands such as Seventh Generation, and they really do work! I have used many different natural cleaners, but have recently started with Shaklee products sold by a friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. Shaklee has been around for a lot longer than I have, and their products are absultely wonderful and completely safe and eco-friendly. I use them for all my cleaning, including laundry and dishes, and I’m anything but disappointed. They are also extremely cost-effective.
Well, this became a post about green living, not just pregnancy, but I guess the point is that just about anything eco-friendly and natural is better when you’re pregnant. The less exposure you have to toxins, the less your baby is being exposed to them.
A few more quick natural pregnancy tips: yoga is amazing and I believe it has really made a difference in how I’ve felt physically and mentally; herbal pregnancy teas are nice alternatives to coffee and can have tremendous benefits; relaxation is so very important- take time for yourself no matter what because your mental state effects your baby, and it is so important to take the time to enjoy pregnancy.