Archive | March, 2010

Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

A friend recently mentioned she was cleaning her oven using the self cleaning option on her machine and the terrible smell. Anyone that has used this feature knows what I’m talking about. I’ve only used it once – maybe 5 years ago and I had the worst reaction physically; my eyes went dry and itchy, throat burned, and I had a wicked headache for days.  I realize I’m more sensitive that most with how my body reacts to strong scent, but it reminded me to research this topic and the news isn’t great for you that love the convenience of this feature on their oven.

It’s very interesting the limited amount of information available on the topic of self cleaning ovens and just how toxic they are for human health. But (and it explains the title of this article) there is loads on the effects of what happens when pets (birds especially) are near a room with the oven using the self clean feature. Even the company DuPont (the creator of Teflon) acknowledges that hundreds of pet birds die each year.  Remember DuPont?  They are the creators of Teflon and other non-stick chemicals that have been poisoning their community in West Virginia for years.  Although they pay their employees well – the environmental destruction is significant and several law-suits have ensued from members of their community when their water system was contaminated and people working at the DuPont plant were suffering from significant health problems (asthma, birth defects, cancers, etc.). With all of the controversy surrounding DuPont, it really freaks me out when even they admit chemicals (PFOA) they still use, should be phased out by 2015. So here is the quote from a website dedicated to bird health who has summarized the self cleaning oven debate quite nicely…the site is called  Avian Web site and I quote:

Do not run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around. Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air that kill birds rather quickly.

Huh?  Self cleaning ovens are lined with Teflon?  We know what happens when Teflon is subjected to high heat (especially 900 degrees Fahrenheit) and the off-gassing is very toxic for humans.   While shopping today I popped into a department store to ask a sales rep her opinion on self cleaning ovens, Teflon, non-stick coatings, etc. The look I got was that I was speaking from another Planet. So my idea on this is even if you are told a non-stick coating is Teflon or PFC free – like your oven – always be cautious. I would recommend simply not using the self clean option on your oven.  Especially if you have babies, children, or pregnant people that might be exposed to the fumes.  Yes, you can ventilate your home, but if it’s one thing I’ve learned about the PFOA crowd of chemicals – they are bad friends that don’t go away easily. They are carcinogens and unlike our friends phthalates or PBA, they do not flush out of our systems quickly. They have a very long existence making them one of the worst offenders within man made chemicals to stay away from.

And just in case you are wondering how to clean your ovens naturally – I tried this incredibly simple and easy oven cleaner recipe from the Cleaning Naked site and what do you know? It worked on my oven that hasn’t had a deep clean in years. I let the baking soda sit for maybe 5 hours – didn’t even require the overnight recommendation in the directions.

I promise to talk more about Teflon this month. Until then, if you are using Perfluorochemicals chemicals: non-stick pans/pots, microwavable popcorn bags, clothing or furniture that repels stains are the best places to start phasing out this chemical from your life. Also stay clear of products with the ingredient starting with perfluoro. I sorted out my scratched Teflon frying pans and pots that I received as wedding gifts a few months ago and although eggs will never be easy again – I’m getting the hang of using my stainless steel frying pans.  The extra time is worth not serving up a portion of Teflon in family meals each day.

 

This article was submitted to the Frugal Days Sustainable Ways Blog Hop on April 17th, hosted by Frugally Sustainable.

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A Plastic Rant

Pardon this rant – no deep research in this article, just my thoughts after 2 years of spending lots of time thinking and writing about plastic.  You may even wonder what the big deal about plastic is?  Is it simply a ‘fad’ that mothers are feeling so neurotic about plastic and if toys are safe, reducing plastic in the kitchen, and many other household items? Plastic has been making parents crazy for the last few years because of all the research learned about the chemicals that can leach from this cheap, durable, and easily accessible material.

After writing 250 articles over the last 2 years, one thing remains a constant worry, a constant nagging concern for my family, have I done enough to protect them from chemicals that I believe cause so many horrible illnesses? It’s a challenge that can become very discouraging when you look at the massive amounts of packaging and our pre-programmed thought process when it comes to our relationship with plastic.  One reason I’m drowning in clutter and a lack of closet space in my house is what to do with plastic items I’ve accumulated over my 10 years of marriage and parenthood. I try to explain to my husband and friends if I thought it was even remotely able to be recycled, it would have been gone by now. Why is it so hard for toy manufacturers to code their toys with what type of plastic they are made from? If a toy is made from a safe plastic, wouldn’t the company want to market that fact?  Of course they would, meaning that those millions of toys out there are unrecyclable and a complete burden on the environment and our health. It’s a sick relationship because I still feel torn at birthday celebrations and (upcoming Easter) from wanting to splurge and buy everyone fun products that would emit the scream of delight from my kids and family. But – since I’m pretty sure that most are made from unrecylable plastic, some with PVC and others with vinyl – softened with toxic plastisicers – I can’t bring myself to reach for my purse. It’s just crazy that I’m even torn about this issue!  Right?

Then the problem of food and packing rolls along. I’ve discovered that toys are really not my biggest problem in life when it comes to plastic. If you tune-in to the number of products in your fridge that you children consume that are wrapped in bendy, soft plastic. What makes this plastic soft?  Even if the cling wrap is made from PVC -free material – some sort of chemical needs to soften the plastic.  Think about yogurt tubes, think about cheese strings, think about the block of cheese that comes wrapped in plastic, then when you cut into it, needs to be sealed with plastic wrap to ensure it stays fresh.  We’ve replaced our yogurt tubes with YOP (hard plastic) and I try to put wax paper in between the cheese and the plastic wrap after I’ve opened a new block of cheese. I make a big effort to not let plastic wrap touch my food directly – wax paper is usually a great barrier.  I’ve been meaning to try these Obeego Flats from Abeego Designs sold here at Every Little Bit.  They have a natural waxy coating that allows the hemp/cotton blend to mold to your dish or food item – it would be perfect for a bowl or food item you usually wrap in traditional wrap.

A few things continue to shock me about convenient food. We all know that unless you are growing your food youself that there is probably environmental contamination. It’s just not realistic to think that everyone can do this….but with the amount of convenience, it’s understandable why so many cancers and disease are on the rise. Let’s take McDonalds for example.  Probably the worst culprit on so many levels, but my two pet peeves are the toy that is distributed with every child’s meal and when I found out every wrapper on a burger contains phthalates to keep the wrap slippery. I want to point out these two points because we are already aware the food is not healthy, but this company insists on adding to an environmental problem with their packaging and waste. Really – why hand out a plastic toy with each child’s meal?  At most McDonalds the cost isn’t even decreased if you ask for the meal without the toy.  These cheap toys cannot be recycled and every parent I know has a ton of them cluttering up their house.

Piece by piece, room by room, making changes and learning about where toxic materials exist is important. It’s just such a huge undertaking, I sometimes wonder how many of the large companies are listening and what needs to be done to get them to change. Until this happens, I’ll continue to chip away at my immediate surroundings and hope that it makes a difference in my children’s health and that I don’t wind up crazy in the process.

Our Mommy Footprint contest for the stainless steel popsicle mold has now closed and the contest winner (Anna) has been contacted.  Thank you for participating via Facebook and the referral form.  Stay tuned for our next contest in April.

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Mommy Eco-Tee

Next to the elusive bathing suit that could magically transform a post-mommy body back into something firm, I would say the next hardest-to-find garment for myself would be a comfortable and stylish t-shirt. I never would have thought a t-shirt with a great-fit could be so hard to source. I won’t despair because I’ve recently found an artist that has stolen the show with her handmade artwork, using vintage and upcycled materials, with t-shirt designs that look wonderful! The majority of Alison Tauber’s clothing is organic cotton, produced with water-based inks. This last point is really why I can’t go to the mall without having anxiety of some sort. You just can’t find stores that are selling products made with this sort of dedication to craft and environment. Trying to find comfort, affordable clothing, made with an eco-conscious is next to impossible unless you head on-line. I’m looking forward to trying out some of Alison’s designs.  The t-shirts are very affordable and her vision of nature will bring a smile to your face. Check out these incredible designs, pictures courtesy of her site:

And you don’t want to get me started on Alison’s pillows. The tree design was enough to make me shriek, but the snail put me over the edge.  I’ll be sending Alison, the designer, and email off-line because I’m secretly begging for a snail t-shirt. Between the butterfly, tree, and snail I’ll be the best dressed mom through the eyes of my children that adore nature.  Thanks Alison for these unique creations and for making them eco and affordable. Can’t wait to report on the verdict of whether they are fit the bill for being ‘curve’ friendly.

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Stainless Steel Popsicle Mold Contest

The owners of The Tickle Trunk have been working on perfecting an elusive and incredibly designed product since their store first opened – a stainless steel popsicle mold.  I’ve spoken with owner Carolyn regularly for almost a year and not a conversation has gone by without her mentioning with so much excitement about these popsicle molds. Well I have one of these amazing trays in my freezer, as they have just arrived and are in-stock at the Tickle Trunk and they live up to every one of my expectations. This might be one of the last places you’ve been trying to source a BPA-free or plastic-free solution in your freezer. Since the hormone disruptor BPA first gained media attention 2 years ago, most parents have been wary of plastic materials being used for freezing or heating food/liquid. I’ve never made my own popsicles because the plastic alternatives on the market always turned me off. The Tickle Trunk has not only designed a product that will last a life time because the design and quality are amazing, but is a pioneer in the process of bringing safe products to the fingertips of parents looking for stainless steel alternatives.

The popsicle mold arrives with several pieces and includes: 6 large stainless steel popsicle molds, 1 metal tray to hold the molds, disposable wooden popsicle sticks, silicone parts to hold the stick in place and stainless steel discs.  The steel is high quality 18/8 grade making it dishwasher friendly and easy to clean.  The molds are free-floating so that you can remove or re-fill one at a time.  The silicone rings were designed with this material so that the popsicle stick glides into the mold easily and stays where it’s supposed to be placed. The discs that hold the stick and measure the size of your popsicle have a beautiful sun burst design that is kid friendly and very attractive for adults.

The minute this popsicle mold arrived in my home, I was so excited to try making my own popsicles for the first time with my kids. I’ve since researched nutritious recipes that you can use to improve the popsicle, but I’m pleased with how easy the process was. You can tell this product has been tested, re-tested, designed, and perfected by a mom. Small details like using the removable silicone rings to adjust to the different sized sticks a consumer would use – to the tray design that keeps the molds perfectly still while freezing. When the popsicle is frozen and ready to be removed from the mold, you simply warm it in your hand and it releases very smoothly ~ ready for that excited child or adult to enjoy. Talk about the w-o-w factor and there’s nothing else like it on the market.

Mommy Footprint is so excited to offer our first contest of the year!  The process will go a little differently from previous ones – we will track contest entries via our Fan page on Facebook.  The lucky winner will receive a stainless steel popsicle mold from The Tickle Trunk. Enter to win by becoming a Mommy Footprint Fan here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mommy-Footprint/261832505845, then click over to The Tickle Trunk site and tell me what your favorite Tickle Trunk product is on their site by posting on the Mommy Footprint fan page wall. If you don’t have a Facebook account and would like to enter, you can use our traditional method of entering a contest by using the referral form http://mommyfootprint.com/mommyfootprint-referral-form/  I thought it would be fun to try something new with this awesome contest.  I’m loving my popsicle mold and wish you all luck with winning. Contest is open to all residents in North America and will close on March 19th.  If you are currently a member of the Mommy Footprint fan page, simply post your favorite Tickle Trunk product to the fan page wall to be entered into the contest.

Thanks again to The Tickle Trunk for sticking with the journey of creating this safe product that is such an incredible investment for any home. Popsicle molds are currently available through The Tickle Trunk and Green Planet Parties.

For recipes for making popsicles a healthier treat – check out these articles:

Hello, Summer: All-natural popsicles from scratch

All Natural Watermelon Popsicles

32 Unique Homemade Popsicle Recipes & Ideas

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Untangled Living Stainless Steel Dishware

I’m a huge fan of stainless steel dishware and it became a permanent staple when I learned all my Disney printed licensed plates were produced with polycarbonate plastic 2 years ago. I quickly decided that safety and quality needed to come first over designs with licensed friends that wanted to entertained thoughts of leaching chemicals into my children’s food.  When I saw the stainless steel dish set from Untangled Living I was so excited to review a product that was amazing quality and provided kids with a child-friendly design they would gravitate towards using. The butterfly and gecko designs beautifully etched into the cup, bowl, plate, and cutlery are awesome.  Check out both adorable designs – I always love it when a designer can take a practical item and give it a design that kids will also love without the heavy influence of commercialism.

I really recommend this for a unique baby shower or 1st birthday gift.  To really get your full value for the product – it should be started with little ones because the bowl and cup in the set are sized for very small hands and portions.  The plate and utensils are a great size for a toddler – 5 year old, but an older child will not get great use from it. The quality is wonderful because it’s 18/8 – 304 steel grade and is dishwasher friendly. I have since purchased this dishware for a gift since receiving mine to review and think the design, packaging, and set combination is good value and makes a special gift. These sets are available to purchase through the Untangled Living site or through various retail stores like our friends over at Nayla Natural Care.

With the beautiful spring weather on the West Coast slowing becoming a staple around here – my mind’s been drifting to upcoming baby showers with Spring being the magical season for celebrating new little bundles. I have a deep affection for great quality stainless steel solutions and will be featuring more products in upcoming articles and a contest will be announced shortly! Stay up to date with Mommy Footprint posts by joining our new fan page on Facebook or using the subscribe to updates option on the right sidebar of this article.

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