Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trash that plastic vinyl shower curtain!

Why? Well first of all they are made of PVC plastic (#3 plastic). You know, the kind of plastic that is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash! And like all 'bad plastics', when heat is exposed to it even more dangerous chemicals - somewhere around 100 different types including Phthalates - are released into the air in which we breathe. So, when you have a hot shower you are filling your lungs with nasty chemicals!

A few years ago I hated cleaning the shower curtains. So, when it would get a build up on it, I would simply replace it with a new vinyl curtain. It was one of the 'bad' things I did. I knew it wasn't the best thing for our environment but noone is perfect (I have since switched to a new way of thinking and feel insanely guilty if I toss even one bottle in the garbage.). However, I had no idea how bad it was & that I would be hurting myself and my (asthmatic) lungs!

So, what do I do now? I simply use a fabric curtain. You can use a fabric curtain made of cotton and/or hemp. They work just as well and 'hang' to dry so there's no worries. When you feel they need to be cleaned, simply toss them in the wash and hang them back up to dry! There are no toxins to worry about so your air is clear, they keep landfills free of more plastic (and are biodegradable!) and last much longer which allows you to save money. I'll never buy a plastic curtain again. What about you?


Monday, September 22, 2008

What you don't know about Aspartame

Aspartame is a synthetic ingredient that my family steers clear from whenever possible. What is it composed of? Aspartic acid and phenylalanine, chemically bound with methanol. So let's start with breaking these 3 compoments down:

~ Aspartic Acid -
normally, aspartate acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. However, as with other excitotoxins, the presence of too much aspartate in the brain can cause the killing of certain brain cells by over-stimulating them. This slow damaging of neurons can lead to Parkinson's disease and memory loss as well as many other neurological problems. It actually reacts very closely to the effects of MSG.

Phenylalanine - is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Human testing has shown phenylalanine levels in the blood are increased significantly in those who chronically use aspartame. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of serotonin to decrease, which can lead to depression, schizophrenia and make one more susceptible to seizures.

~ Methanol (aka wood alcohol) -
is “considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidated to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic.” Formaldehyde? Wow. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogeon (cancer causing ingredient)

So now that we've broke the ingredients down, do you realize the dangers of Aspartame? Many of the big companies call this ingredient safe since some of it's elements already occur
naturally in our system. However, our bodies already create these chemicals and too much of a 'good thing' only creates heath issues. And when mixed with these other chemicals, it's even worse.

It's actually scary that our world deems this (and so many other things) 'safe' for human consumption. There is so much counter evidence out there that states there are dangerous risks to our health by consuming it. So why take the risk?

We are finding more and more products out there are having adverse effects on our health. This is why I am urging you to do your own research. Find sources you trust and learn about what you are consuming and trusting with the people that are most important to you.

My Sources are:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What's in your skin care products? You should know.

For too long we have trusted the big companies (and our government) with the fact that the products that are on the shelves are 'safe'. It's only once you starting researching and educating yourselves on the products your family consumes that you realize that many of these items are not safe.

For example, I spoke briefly before in one of my posts about parabens (may be called methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben or M&P paraben). What I didn't say was why you should avoid this ingredient. After researching it I found out some pretty bad stuff. It is actually a chemical preservative used mainly in skin care products including deodorant, shampoo, lotion , make-up & even whitening toothpaste. Parabens are known to mimic the hormone estrogen and many feel that exposure to this chemical can potentially lead to breast cancer. This toxin has even been found in breast cancer tumours!

After learning all this (from trusted sources) I officially banned this toxin from my home. So when I went to one of the big retailers to buy some shampoo & conditioner, my plan was to ensure that there was no sign of 'parabens' in the ingredient list. I spent almost an hour going through every brand I could find on the enormous space dedicated to these products to see if I could find both a shampoo and a conditioner that was paraben-free. The result? I found only a few products that did not contain this toxin. And being the avid researcher I am, I discovered that all of the products that didn't contain a paraben all contained another harmful ingredient called 'methylchloroisothiazolinone'. I have no idea how to pronounce it but it is another chemical preservative that has some nasty effects on our health.

Now normally I don't have this much trouble in a store. Most of the big retailers are acknowledging our demand for more natural alternatives to conventional products so they will offer at least 1 or 2 brands that take more of a natural approach. However buyer beware - just because the packaging beams 'natural' doesn't mean it is. Always check your ingredients. And start slow. Avoid parabens in any new products you buy. Don't overwhelm yourself with learning everything at once. A good rule to follow is any ingredient that contains so many letters you find it hard to pronounce, chances are it's not good. An even simpler approach? Go to a natural and/or health store and shop there. Supporting local, independent businesses in your community is always a good thing. You will also find that they are quite passionate about their products and can educate you on the knowledge they've gained.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Insect Problems, Natural solution

This year we had a flea problem with our animals and our home. I try to live as chemical free as I can so when it seemed like our only option for getting rid of them (and the eggs) was to use the chemical spray in our home, I decided to call a few Naturopaths and did my own research on the web. Through this I found a solution called 'DE' (Diatomaceous Earth, pronounced 'Dy-a-tom-A-shis'). It is in a powder form and you can rub it all over your pet, give it to them with their food and/or spread it throughout your home for a couple of days, then vacuum it up. It dehydrates eggs and insects and ultimately kills them. It is completely safe for people and animals. The only precaution you should take, is to try not to inhale too much of it as it is a fine texture (as nothing this fine should be inhaled in large amounts). I put it on my pets outside and mixed a small amount in with their food.

Finally I found a chemical free method of ridding fleas! Then, I tried to find it which was a really tough task in my community. I even went to a local health store to see if they could order it in but they weren't able to find it for me. Finally one of the Naturopaths called me back and recommended a health pet store that was about an hour away. So, I packed up my family, got in the car and made a day of it! It was well worth the trip. We found what we were looking for and learned so much.

There are some online, natural pet stores that offer this product for fleas. Just make sure it is the food grade (as it is the safest form). You can purchase it from the store I went to by contacting Mike at 'Healthy Paws' . The DE works for any insects so if you have any bug problems, you can take care of it naturally. Goodbye nasty pesticides!

Healthy Paws (Sarnia, ON)
795 Exmouth Street