Posts Tagged ‘Clean Kids’

The Top 10 Toxic Products You Don’t Need

It seems to be the morning for lists of toxic things in your home as I saw lists on both Healthy Child Healthy World and WebMD. I read though the lists taking an evaluation of what I have in my home against the list and was relatively pleased with where I netted out (noted below so you can see). I’ve had really bad sinus issues since the weather turned cold in Boston so I’m feeling extra sensitive to lists like these right now as everything seems to set me off (sneezing attacks, etc) at the moment.

Here’s my breakdown from the list from Healthy Child Healthy World – how do you net out?

1. Air fresheners: Most air fresheners mask odors with a synthetic fragrance or numb your sense of smell with chemical anesthetics. But, they do nothing to eliminate the source of the odor. Also, aerosol air fresheners spew out tiny droplets of chemicals that are easily inhaled into the lungs. Instead, ventilate well and choose natural deodorizers, such as zeolite or baking soda, which contain minerals that absorb odors. How to Freshen Indoor Air Naturally includes recipes for other homemade remedies. Plants are also helpful for purifying your indoor air.
Gomeringer house – NONE, we don’t use air fresheners at all. Instead we use a Shaklee Airsource unit.
 

2. Drain, oven and toilet bowl cleaners: Yes, three products instead of one, but they all fit under the category of cleaners – and these are the three nastiest. Corrosive or caustic cleaners, such as the lye and acids found in drain cleaners, oven cleaners and acid-based toilet bowl cleaners, are the most dangerous cleaning products because they burn skin, eyes and internal tissue easily.
Gomeringer house – NONE, we use Shaklee Germ-Off Wipes and Basic-G to clean the toilets and the Shaklee Scour-Off paste to clean the oven.

3. Canned food: It’s probably shocking to find a food item on a toxic product list, but it’s no mistake. Food cans are lined with an epoxy resin that contains bisphenol-A (BPA). Most experts believe this is our main source of exposure to BPA, which has been linked to hormone disruption, obesity, heart disease, and much more. Eden Foods is currently the only company with BPA-free canned foods (other than the canned tomatoes, which they haven’t found an adequate substitute for given the acidity of the tomatoes). Opt for fresh, frozen, dried or jarred foods.
Gomeringer house – 1 can per week, we tend to eat at least one can of black beans a week. Every week I tell myself I’m going to cook a bach of black beans and every week I run of out time. We need to work on this one.
4. Pesticides: This is a huge category of products, but they deserve inclusion in their entirety because of how extremely toxic they are. They’re made to be. That’s how they kill things. But, solving your pest problem may leave you with another problem – residual poisons that linger on surfaces, contaminate air, and get tracked onto carpet from the bottom of shoes. There are so many non-toxic ways to eliminate pests and weeds – next time you need to get on the offense, check out the recommendations at Beyond Pesticides.
Gomeringer house – this one is hard to qualify as we wear our shoes outside the house – granted we try to leave them at the door but we’re not always successful.

 
5. Dry-cleaning: Okay, it’s a service and not a product per se, but the chemical used to do it, perchloroethylene, has been linked to cancer as well as nervous system, kidney, liver and reproductive disorders. Even bringing dry-cleaned clothes home is risky. EPA studies have found that people who reported visiting a dry-cleaning shop showed twice as much perc in their breath, on average, as other people. EPA also found that levels of perc remained elevated in a home for as long as one week after placing newly dry-cleaned clothes in a closet. A Consumers Union study found that people who wear freshly dry-cleaned clothes, like a jacket and shirt, every week over a 40-year period, could inhale enough perc “to measurably increase their risk of cancer” – by as much as 150 times what is considered “negligible risk.” Try wet-cleaning, CO2 technology, or even hand-washing.

Gomeringer house – NONE, we use Zoots so that we aren’t using harsh chemicals to dry clean our clothes.

 
6. Bottled water: Most people buy bottled water thinking they’re avoiding any contaminants that may be present in their tap water. For the most part, they’re wrong. Bottled water can be just as, or even more, contaminated than tap water. In fact, some bottled water IS tap water – just packaged (in plastic that can leach chemicals into the water) and over-priced. Also, from manufacture to disposal, bottled water creates an enormous amount of pollution – making our water even less drinkable. Do yourself and the world a favor and invest in a reusable stainless steel water bottle and a water filter.
Gomeringer house – NONE, we use SIGG bottles or glass bottles. This is especially challenging at work as they buy us bottled water but I now bring my own water from home to avoid the plastic.

 
7. Rubber duckies: How does such a cute toy end up on a toxic product list? When it’s made from PVC – the poison plastic. Banned in over 14 countries and the European Union, PVC, also known as vinyl, is still legally sold by U.S. retailers although it threatens environmental and consumer health at every stage of its product life cycle, according to the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ). When it’s in your home, PVC can leach phthalates (linked to hormone disruption) and lead (a potent neurotoxicant) – contaminating air, dust, and eventually you. Go PVC-free by reading packages and avoiding the #3 in the chasing arrows symbol (usually found on the bottom of a product). If a plastic is not labeled, call the manufacturer. Learn more.
Gomeringer house – NONE, but we don’t have kids yet 🙂 I’ll have to remember this one.

 
8. Couch cushions: No, you needn’t get rid of all your cushions and consign yourself to a future of discomfort. Just avoid cushions, pillows, and anything with foam labeled as meeting California TB 117, as it is likely to contain toxic fire retardants. These chemicals migrate from the foam to dust to people. In animal research, these chemicals are associated with cancer, birth defects, thyroid disruption, reproductive and neurological disorders such as hyperactivity and mental retardation. Don’t worry about increasing your fire risk, data does not show that this standard has resulted in increased fire safety. Look for foam and cushions made with polyester, down, wool, or cotton as they are unlikely to contain toxic fire retardants.

Gomeringer house – I have no idea. I need to go home and read what our couch is made of.


9. Perfume and cologne: Colognes and perfumes may make us more attractive. But mixed in with the colors and scents are a wide variety of unattractive chemicals. Perfumes and fragrances can consist of hundreds of chemicals. Testing of Calvin Klein’s Eternity by an independent lab, commissioned by Environmental Health Network (EHN), revealed that the perfume contained over 800 compounds. Among the chemicals of concern is diethyl phthalate (DEP) that is absorbed through the skin and can accumulate in human fat tissue. Phthalates are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors that are increasingly being linked to reproductive disorders.

Gomeringer house – NONE, since I’m allergic to most strong chemicals we don’t wear any of this.

10. Oil-based paints and finishes: There are 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens potentially present in oil-based paint, according to a John Hopkins University study. Still interested in coating your walls and furniture with this gunk? I hope not. Look for water-based options – ideally those that are low- or no-VOC. You could also explore natural finishes like milk paint and vegetable or wax based wood finishes.

Gomeringer house – We don’t use oil-based paints but did use an oil stain for our back deck this summer that was NASTY and not something I plan to ever use again.

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Nutritional Intelligence

I’m at the age in life where I have friends having babies and the conversation around what they feed them comes up a lot. Apparently when they started reading what’s in the baby food jars they can’t believe the ‘stuff’ included so they have been making food themselves.

I came across a new book called Feeding Baby Green, by one of the country’s pre-eminent pediatricians, Dr. Alan Greene. His book posits a unique, forward-thinking 34-month guide to train your baby’s palate to appreciate the more complex flavors of healthy, unprocessed foods and I thought it would be an interesting read for those interested. Excerpt from Healthy Child Healthy World below:

Every parent is keen to find a way to engender healthy eating habits in their child. “Parents today have an unprecedented awareness and eagerness about the necessity of providing safe, wholesome, nutritious foods for their children”, says Dr. Greene. And yet today’s parents are burdened by economic constraints and severely limited time. The book reports that 80% of parents are unable to feed their children healthy foods because they are inconvenient, unavailable in their communities, or their children don’t like the taste.

What is the connection between what a pregnant woman eats and what her baby experiences? Dr. Greene explains that babies actually have a food life in utero, and the habits they establish in the first years after birth can have a lasting influence on their attitudes to food.

He refutes the claim by some  that it is impossible to get kids to eat healthy foods because they simply don’t like the taste. Dr. Greene believes that babies’ taste-buds can become easily programmed for the extra-sugar, extra-salt, extra starch that is every present in processed and take-out food. But if they are exposed to the “rainbow of flavors”, as he calls it, they can establish a preference for fruits and vegetables early on. This is his core thesis – something he calls “nutritional intelligence”.

“Baby food”, Dr. Greene reminds us, is a myth. Commercial baby food was an invention of 20th century food corporations, enforcing the theory that babies need meals separate from the fruits, vegetables and seasonings the rest of the family consume. Pointed and pervasive advertising convinced mothers that good baby food was scientific, uniform, twice boiled, and sold in jars.

Dr. Greene lays out a clear yet flexible how-to program, incorporating many techniques and angles, all of which is tailored to the baby’s current development stage. The time frames are general enough to work for most families, and allow enough wiggle room for customization.

Many of Feeding Baby Green‘s suggestions are both revolutionary and fundamental – breaking new molds yet also revisiting older traditions. He writes about engaging all of the baby’s senses when learning about food and eating. Flavor, aroma, touch, sights, sounds and language, these are all tools that help you make food a joyous experience. He also counsels on proper amounts, the right variety, and varying repetition with novelty.

Throughout the book, Dr. Greene offers a host of tempting recipes to make for baby at home: Bombay Vegetable Stew, Chickpeas and Tomatoes Provence, Baba Ganoush! There’s very little puree of this or cream of that. These recipes are meant for the culinary delight of the whole family.

Dr. Greene infuses Feeding Baby Green with a connection to the earth, to our food source, and to the truism that we are what we eat. He believes firmly that what is good for the planet is good for your family. As a Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World, his outlook and practice are always consistent with the advice we offer parents. Much of his book is devoted to educating parents on the dangers of GMO crops, pesticides in agriculture, chemical additives in our food, and prevention of allergies and asthma. Dr. Greene is also a renowned advocate for organic foods, believing they not only keep us healthier but ensure our environment receives protection and nourishment as well.

And throughout, he draws on his wisdom as a practicing pediatrician, his first hand experience as a father of four children, and his family’s journey through his beloved wife’s battle with cancer. (She won!!!) Taking on this endeavor seems less daunting because Dr. Greene’s meticulous guide reassures the reader that they’ve got a friend in the kitchen with them.

Fed Up: School Lunch Project

I stumbled across a new blog yesterday called Fed Up: School Lunch Project. The premise is that a school teacher has decided to eat the school lunch where she works for a year to help raise awareness around the need for better nutrition and quality of food within our national school system.  My mother-in-law has worked as a elementary school lunch lady for the last year and a half (she just ‘retired’) so this blog really struck home to me as one of the main issues my mother-in-law noted was the nutritional value of what they were asked to serve the kids. I want to be clear here, I’m in no way putting down the food that is served as I know for some kids this is the only good meal they get a day and that it’s offered to them either for free or subsidized. It just makes me want to get more involved in our nation’s conversation around the importance of diet, health and how what we feed our kids today manifests later life.

Shaklee and Sustainability

A few days ago I posted on What Green Means to Each of Us and noted that I had a few questions that I needed some help answering. Well, Jil Zilligen, Chief Sustainability Officer at Shaklee, took time out of her very busy day to help me find the data. Talk about getting your info straight from the source!  Thanks so much Jil!

1) Answer to: how does Shaklee source their products?

Shaklee Quality Assurance Program 

2) Answer to: what is Shaklee’s supply chain model?

Shaklee Good Manufacturing Practices

I just have to note that this post really underscores one of the reasons I believe in these products. The folks who work at Shaklee really care about their products, the integrity of the company and hold a shared belief that we should all lead healthy lives.  As a consumer I just love it.