EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really love the Environmental Working Group and the reports they produce. Its findings go a long way to help consumers dig through all of the jargon and figure out what chemicals are in everyday products. The EWG’s 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning is my new favorite.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to decode a label in the middle of a store aisle and having no idea whether or not a product is going to bring unwanted chemicals into your home. But thanks to the EWG, now you don’t have to do that. The group tested more than 2,000 cleaning products for actual ingredients, disclosure of those ingredients and any harmful effects. They graded each of the products and categorized them on their website. It’s completely user-friendly.

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Organic Hair Color

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m not a big fan of coloring my hair, but when gray strands starting making an appearance right above my forehead, it was time to make a move. Thankfully, Richmond is home to Red Salon Organics which carries Organic Color Systems, a completely ammonia-free line of hair color. I was a little nervous to try out this organic line because gray can be tough to cover and organic products are typically not as powerful as their chemical-laden cousins. But my stylist said the gray wouldn’t be a problem so I went for it. The color turned out beautiful. It was like a lush shiny version of my own color. The best part is that you don’t leave the salon smelling like chemicals. The color has a slight licorice smell that I actually kind of like.

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Olive Oil as a Cleanser

Image courtesy of dusky/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This may sound a little counterintuitive, but I’ve been washing my face with oil. Not an oil wash from a cosmetics company, but olive oil from my kitchen cabinet. And I’ve been pretty pleased with the results.

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Flying Green

Our Little Jet Setter

We recently took Baby A on a cross-country flight to San Diego to visit her grandparents and other family and friends on my husband’s side of the family. I was a little nervous about flying with a 4 1/2 month old, but I have to say, it wasn’t that bad. I tried to stay as eco-friendly in the air and on vacation as I do at home. Here are a few of the little lifesavers I packed:

 

 

 

  1. Aden & Anais bamboo blanket- We literally don’t leave home without one of these. They are big, soft, breathable and beautiful.
  2. Lifefactory silicone teether – Made of food-grade silicone so you don’t have to worry about BPA. This ring bends and is skinny enough that it fits in tiny hands and mouths.
  3. MAM pacifier & holder – Sucking during take-off and landing helps baby’s ears so we brought A’s favorite paci from MAM. We love it because it’s BPA free and orthodontically designed. You can attach it to the holder and clip it on so it doesn’t fall on any dirty floors. We also removed the pacifier ring and used the holder with the teething ring.
  4. Dapple Pacifier wipes – Airports and airplanes are dirty so it was nice to have these individually wrapped wipes that are all-natural, food grade, fragrance-free and preservative-free.
  5. Earth’s Best Chlorine-free wipes – I make our own wipes at home, but the container is a little too clunky for my diaper bag. So these wipes from Earth’s Best are my go-to when traveling.

 

***Please note: I am not being compensated for posting about any of these items.

Getting Rid of Toxins One Step at a Time

During a recent talk about how to become a non-toxic New Yorker, I learned that we live among around 80,000 different chemicals and a good number mimic estrogen when they enter the body. This is potentially troublesome for women and their unborn daughters.

The talk was led by Penelope Jagessar Chaffer who directed the movie, “Toxic Baby.” The movie takes a look at toxicity and its affects on young children. Penny is lively and spirited and makes the somewhat dry topic of chemicals in our lives interesting.

Her advice for everyone is to start small and pick one area to detoxify. She said that indoor air tends to be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, so starting at home is the easiest approach. Here are a few of her tips:

  • Take your shoes off when you get home. You don’t know what you’re tracking in.
  • Avoid products with parabens, fragrance and BPA
  • Limit dry cleaning. Clothes are cleaned with chemicals then wrapped in plastic. If you have an organic cleaner, ask them what they use to clean the clothes.
  • Avoid heating plastic in the microwave. The plastic breaks down and seeps into your food.

I admit, I tend to get bogged down with the huge list of ingredients to avoid in products and cleaners, but I think by taking it one item at a time this can become a manageable and healthy undertaking.

Photo credit: Sujin Jetkasettakorn

Getting Your Manicure and Staying Non-Toxic Too

Photo credit: VampyVarnish.com

Going to the salon for a mani/pedi is one of the ways I like to relax and unwind. But worrying about toxins in the nail polish that is used can really be a buzzkill. A while back, chemicals in nail polish, specifically dibutyl phthalate (DBP), were linked to birth defects in future baby boys. Finally, the big nail polish companies have caught up and created a distinction called “3-Free.” That means that the polishes are free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. These chemicals have all been linked to ailments from headaches and dizziness to more serious conditions like cancer and reproductive issues.

Here’s a great article from All Lacquered Up that breaks it all down. Basically, DBP is a plasticizer that’s used to prevent chips and cracks, toluene is a solvent that makes nail polish easy to apply and formaldehyde makes the finish tough and resistant, but is usually not found in polishes so it’s less of a concern.

The author of the All Lacquered Up article says she’s not sure these chemicals are bad for you, but I say why take the chance?

Popular salon brands like CND, Essie and OPI have 3-free bottles. All the Essie polishes with a blue label are 3-free, as are green-labeled OPI bottles.

If you want to chose a polish made with even fewer chemicals, try brands like butter LONDON, Aquarella or Honeybee Gardens. There are even some brands for kids like Piggy Paint, so you and your little ones can look polished without the fumes, toxins or worry.