Friday, August 29, 2008

BPA - not just in plastics

Many of us who have little ones have heard the dangers of BPA (Bisphenol-A). It is a chemical most often found in (recycling) #7 plastics and sometimes can be identified by the letters 'pc' (for 'polycarbonate') on the bottom of the container. BPA is an estrogen hormone-mimicking chemical that is released into the food/liquid inside the container. Leeching of this toxic chemical increases when heat is added to the mix.

This toxin is commonly used to produce plastic for hard, clear (sometimes tinted): bowls, storage containers, baby bottles, sippy cups, tableware, water/juice/sports bottles, etc. It is also found in other products that seem to be less publicized like the liners inside soda & food cans, liners of popular baby formulas, dental sealant (to prevent cavities), pet carriers, and sports safety equipment.

Why avoid this substance? It takes just a small dose of this chemical for its intake to result in various health issues including:
  • precancerous tumors
  • early onset of puberty in females
  • decline in semen quality in males
  • uro-genital abnormalities in males
There are a few things you can do to avoid this, and other, harmful chemicals:
  • Use glass and stainless steel containers whenever possible - even when storing food
  • NEVER heat in plastic
  • Reduce (or even eliminate) the use of canned foods/beverages
  • Be especially cautious if you are nursing or pregnant as this chemical passes through your bloodstream directly to your baby!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Going Back to School Enviro-Style

Many of our kids are going back to school (or going for the first time!) and there are a few easy ways to ensure you keep the world they will inherit as clean as we can. Here are a few tips as to how you can ensure you are doing your part - and showing your children that you care:
  • Pack a waste-free lunch: when preparing your kids lunch, take an extra 2 minutes to reduce the waste that fills our landfills. Buy in bulk! It's not only better for the earth, it's also less expensive. Examples include:
    • Instead of buying individually packaged yogurts, buy the big container and simply fill a small, reusable plastic container each day with their favourite kinds.
    • Buy reusable plastic containers for their sandwiches, drinks and sliced fruits & veggies instead of plastic baggies
    • Purchase a reusable lunch box and use reusable forks and spoons
Please note: Make sure the plastic container is a safe plastic: look for recycling #s 1,2 and 5. Some lunch boxes may even be a #4 (which is the next best thing).
  • Choose recycled and/or enviro-friendly school supplies whenever possible: Buy 100% recycled paper when purchasing notebooks, buy solar powered calculators and refillable pens. Opt for recycled dividers, binders and even some pens
  • Reuse anything you can from last years supplies. You don't need to purchase new pencil crayons, highlighters, pens and pencils every year. Buy some new but reuse what you can.
There are many products available this year at large retailers like Staples so it's easier than ever to 'go green'!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Going Green One Step at a Time

A suggestion - take baby steps. Find one minor thing you can change and stick to it. If you're not recycling already, start. Turn lights off when you leave a room and unplug items you aren't using.

If you're doing these things, the next thing I recommend is to start buying fragrance-free products whenever you can. Not 'unscented', but 'fragrance-free'. Insanely enough, unscented often means that fragrances have been used to cover up the scent. Fragrance can be derived from thousands of different toxins. Replace these fragrance sprays with essential oil blends. You can buy essential oils at a local health store (or even in the natural foods section of your grocery store) and dilute it with water for a safe alternative. Unfortunately, these products are sometimes tough to find - so just do what you can.

You can download the 'Safety Guide to Children’s Personal Care Products', on the EWG's website on the website. This is a great guide that tells you what ingredients to avoid when buying skin care products for your family. On top of these ingredients , I recommend that you always avoid anything containing 'parabens' (i.e. methylparabens). Check out a few different bottles when shopping for these products and you'll start to notice new brands made with more natural ingredients that actually say 'paraben-free'.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Making the Change

Welcome! I thought it would be a good idea to talk about something I try to do - living natural in a toxic world. As soon as I became pregnant I immediately had higher standards on life. I researched anything & everything to make sure the environment my child would be living in would be as toxic free as possible. It's funny how we place more importance on things that affect our children. I guess it's because these tiny, little people rely on us completely.

Now I know that there are other parents out there that feel the same way. They want to rid at least some of the toxins from their lives. The toughest part about this, is that many parents don't realize how many they're exposed to every day - which makes it an even more daunting task. However, knowledge is power. When you are buying food for your family (or even personal care products), you should always read the label. I always try to make sure I read the labels & familiarize myself with the ingredients. Even my 2 year old daughter picks things up in the store and pretends she's reading them. If I don't know what something is, I look it up when I get home. A good rule to follow is if the word is long and/or hard to pronounce, chances are it's bad. Try to avoid popular food ingredients like sorbitol (sugar replacement), MSG (monosodium glutamate), yeast extract and torula yeast (last 3 ingredients are additives included in food to enhance taste). You might even find these ingredients in items that claim they are all natural like veggies burgers!

So, where do you start? Well, you can learn from the knowledge I've acquired as I will be publishing my experiences, knowledge and challenges on this blog. For more extensive information, spend a little bit of time sourcing information on the web. I would stick with sources you trust because there is a lot of information out there. If you are concerned about something, don't find information from the company you are concerned about. Look for an unbiased opinion. Need a couple of sources I trust to start with? Try these links: ~ this site is run by Mike Adams who has made it his mission to teach personal and personal and planetary health to the public. His website is packed with information & you can even subscribe to his newsletters. ~ the Environmental Working Group is a fabulous, non-profit organization with an extensive website that covers virtually every topic you can think of. They also created the website which gives you detailed information on the toxic levels for the most popular skin care products out there. ~ a Canadian source of information with useful advice and guides to help you convert your home to a greener one.