Archive | September, 2011

Holistic Dentistry & Greener Toothbrushes

I ran across an interesting interview regarding fluoride.  Dr. Joseph Mercola is interviewing Dr. Osmunson who for the last 5 years has championed at the legislated level regarding fluoride. So many points in this interview really shocked me. If you have time, here is a link to the video interview. If not – here are the Cole’s notes (worth a look if you don’t know if your community adds fluoride to your drinking water and if you use toothpaste with fluoride):

Important to canvas your local community group to find out if fluoride is added to your drinking water. Did you know?

~we are encouraged to spit out 1/4 milligram of fluoride in toothpaste but in cities that add fluoride to their water – this amount of fluoride will be ingested by drinking one glass of water.

~ China doesn’t allow fluoride in their drinking water and so they export their industrial waste to the US where the fluoride from this is added to drinking water. Crazy so I’m going to say it again!  China is shipping their waste products to the US to add to their drinking water.

~ The US needs to import China’s industrial waste (fluoride) because they don’t manufacture enough in the US. They are using up their own supply, plus need more from other countries like China.

~ This ‘waste’ that is added to drinking water is contaminated with lead, arsenic, aluminum. ** All the things we try so hard to avoid with everyday products is added to drinking water **

Fluoride in Dental Care

~ if there is a benefit to fluoride to dental health, it no longer exists because we ingest too much of it.

~ read the warning labels on toothpaste for children ingesting fluoridated toothpaste- some include warnings that include poison control.

~ most people use more than a month’s suggested toothpaste portion on their brush for a single brush. This is also advertised by toothpaste/brush companies in their advertising campaigns when they show a brush covered with toothpaste.

~ ** I found this point SO interesting ** The National Research Council says that fluoride is not beneficial over the age of 8 because our teeth have finished forming.  So as the Doctor points out,  experts agree that fluoride should not be given under the age of 1 and is no longer needed after the age of 8. So communities that add fluoride to water, etc. so people of all ages ingest it, even it’s only supposed to target children ages 1-8?

This summary takes you to about the 8 min mark of the video. The remainder of the interview focuses on brain development and the effects on the brain that fluoride has.  They also cover naturally occurring fluoride in water compared to artificial fluoride that’s added to water – super interesting stuff!

So as I wrote about last week, I’ve purchased toothpaste without fluoride for myself and children to use. I was actually feeling quite good about the changes I’ve made with more holistic practices with our dental routines and then I noticed a brief note about possible BPA in children’s toothbrushes from Dr. Mercola’s website. BPA and toothbrushes? Something I haven’t thought about.  And once I started thinking about it I became a little angry because the toothbrushes my kids are using were handed out from my dentist. The brand is GUM so I called and emailed GUM customer service and after waiting 5 days for a response, I’m done holding my breath waiting for an answer if their toothbrushes contain BPA or the answer to what kind of plastics they use. I feel pretty confident that any of the hard plastic parts are food grade #5 plastic. But there are lots of ‘cutesy’ parts on a child’s toothbrush that is rubbery and soft so I am not confident that they pieces are phthalate or plasticizer free. That would really upset me since these parts go into my child’s mouth (!!).

Thank goodness for two of my wonderful sponsors My Little Green Shop and Nayla Natural Care for the safe options they offer in their stores. I love the bamboo toothbrush offered at My Little Green Shop – you can compost this brush at the end of it’s life. Nayla Natural Care has carried the Green Beaver toothpaste brand for a long time and went as far to take a picture of the ingredients list for me to confirm this toothpaste does contain xylitol!  I couldn’t confirm this in my last article about greener dental health so thank you Gwen! I would recommend Green Beaver as a trusted brand and will be picking up this brand next to try on kids who are still adjusting to the different tastes of all natural toothpaste.

 

More to come in the ‘greener dental care’ series!   So much to learn with holistic vs. traditional dental care for myself and children.

 

Related Articles:


Xylitol – Natural Dental Care

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Halloween….How Will You Green?

Halloween, pumpkins, leaves – this season represents the best time of year in my house. My children are excited and look forwards to the October visits to local farms, pumpkin patches, or nature walks, and my favorite parenting memories usually contain a swirl of Autumn colors in memory backdrops. Because my family loves the Halloween season so much I’ve had to be creative with greening this month so not to dampen the excitement and energy. We bought a lot of Halloween plastic crap (that would be beloved crap to my children) when the boys were small. It’s not something I would invest in today, being more green-minded, but along the way, I’ve managed to incorporate some concepts with reusing and being creative this time of year and wanted to share. Early. Greening Halloween takes a bit of time which is why this article is being published while we’re still in September. Greening your life takes a lot of impulse control and leaving decorating, costume shopping, etc. until the last minute will have you making rushed decisions without having the luxury of thinking about sustainability with this holiday.

Halloween decor:

Yes, the scariest decorations are not going to be made from felt or organics. If you need to add outdoor Holiday decor – purchase a decoration that will last and can be reused for many years. Many people are looking to downsize their Halloween collections – always check Craig’s List first to purchase decorations that are not made from Eco-friendly materials.

Have a wooden outdoor structure locally made! My favorite decoration sits on our front lawn and is a huge wooden pumpkin (approx. 7 feet high x 6 feet wide) that was made by a local carpenter for my family. Where did I find Randy? I visited our local pumpkin patch the first weekend it was open…they always have the best wooden Fall themed structures and I asked for the contact number of who made it. Voila – I got to work with Randy years ago and it produced a wonderful decoration!  It also doubled as a party game when my kids were younger because the pumpkin eyes, nose, and smile had holes big enough that we’d bring it inside for a bean bag toss game.  The best thing about this decoration is how I can simply compost it when it starts falling apart. See below picture for an example of wooden decorations found at a pumpkin patch – this would look great in front of a house!

Greening decorations is a big part of making Halloween more sustainable. It’s important to know that the wall decals sold at dollar stores for Halloween for indoor decorating are made from PVC. Yes, these will off-gas when first applied to the wall so we keep these out of kids rooms, etc. when we reuse them each year. I have noticed more options available for wall appliques in stores this year made from non-toxic materials – paper, etc. For decorating a nook in your home or classroom, these garlands from my company Green Planet Parties are sweet and the burlap banners have been very popular to string outside across windows or porches.

Costumes:

We have a fair number of costumes from years of hosting Halloween parties. This year, thanks to the great tips from Green Halloween, I started a Facebook Group and invited friends to join a costume swap. Creating a Facebook Group only took a few minutes and I asked people if they had costumes they want to sell, trade, or lend out to post on the wall. People are enthusiastic and it’s perfect for people like me that are too attached to let go costumes my kids have worn – I can feel good about lending them out so they get used and save a parent purchasing another single use item.

Party crafts:

Halloween crafting doesn’t have to be a wasteful activity. Reusing canning jars around the house makes fun specimen jars (you can get really creative with these). Another way to reduce waste is if you’re purchasing pumpkins early in the month, don’t carve them and keep them off the ground. Painting pumpkins is lots of fun for younger children and the pumpkins will last all month. We have a tradition of making ghost pumpkins from our first visit to the patch each year. My kids LOVE this activity and now that I’ve found earth friendly acrylic paint, I’ll be trying my first every black cat pumpkin this year. . . stay tuned.

Candy:

If you are looking to avoid traditional Halloween candy without artificial ingredients – check out Surf Sweet treats. They are delicious so your kids won’t roll their eyes with these organic goodies. Other great facts about this brand are:

~made with organic sweeteners, including organic fruit juice

~ excellent source of Vitamin C

~ candy made without corn syrup and GMOs

~ produced and packaged in a facility free of the 10 most common allergens

~ socially responsible and my favorite manufactures the candy in Canada and the US!  Yes!

 

Starting early is the key to greening any celebration. Plan your Halloween activities, costumes, decorating early and think about adding locally manufactured and sustainable products if you need new holiday gear this October. Or try making a costume or decoration new again from borrowing from a friend. Please post ideas you have for making this ‘tough to green’ holiday a little more earth friendly.

This post is part of the 2011 Greening your Halloween Blog Tour brought to us by Green Planet Parties, Green Halloween, Green Gift Guide, Surf Sweets and A Little Bit of Momsense.

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Xylitol – Natural Dental Care

My readers that follow the Mommy Footprint fan page are aware of my latest chapter of research and have been very helpful with suggesting questions & information on the topic of greener dental care. I’ve been working on research since last Spring and because I’m not a dentist or doctor, I’m having a tough time finding research or a subject matter expert I trust. But like any new journey, I’m going with my instincts but please know I’m writing this series as a parent – not a subject matter expert. With such a small percentage of dentists actually practicing holistic or ‘green’ dentistry it seems to be an uncharted area of parenting.  What started with questions about  sealant to use on cavities my kids have has become a huge topic of research. The first change I’m making in routine dental care for my family is switching toothpastes. I had seen sites talking about how bad fluoride is for health, but I assumed I didn’t need to worry since all my kids used Oral-B kids toothpaste (made and marketed for kids!). Because there is a Winnie The Pooh character on the front I guess sub-concisely didn’t think any bad ingredients would exist in the tube. I know…I’m slow to the dance.  After quickly checking the medicinal ingredients, fluoride is listed. And for those (my husband) who might think I’m paranoid, have you ever wondered why all toothpaste tubes warn you not to swallow & only use a pea size helping of paste?  If you read up on fluoride…you’ll actually find very little that it provides health benefits…it’s actually the opposite. I’m a pretty high strung parent and Googling fluoride did nothing to help my confidence in parenting. It is suggested it’s quite toxic in nature & linked to many diseases, bone cancer, brain development, muscle disorders, etc. I have a son that complained of body pains on a regular basis last year so this information really freaked me out. Finding reports on fluoride being one of the biggest medical frauds in medicine is not a good feeling when your children have always used it in their toothpaste.

If you look closely at your bottle of traditional toothpaste you’ll notice warnings not to swallow toothpaste & only use a pea sized amount. Yet commercials encourage these sorts of visuals for toothpaste measurements (image below)!

 

It’s all enough for me – I’ve pulled the traditional toothpaste from our house & made the following changes. I’ve been trying different brands of organic toothpaste with the kids & the hardest part is finding a brand that tastes good to them. I’ve also learned of an ingredient I want in my toothpaste called xylitol because it’s known to strengthen teeth in lieu of fluoride. My biggest concern of not using fluoriated toothpaste anymore is suddenly having a huge cavity problem on my hands because I’ve also cancelled fluoride treatments at our dental checkups & checked with my city to find out if our drinking water contains fluoride (it doesn’t). So without any fluoride will my children’s teeth be okay?

After talking with a super helpful person at Planet Organic, I learned about xylitol and the benefits of this natural sweetener that is naturally occurring in many of the foods we eat. Xylitol gum or mints you can chew after each meal stops acid attacks that would otherwise cause cavities. For more information on this process click here.  For people reading this that are very prone to cavities or have weak teeth it’s not a good idea to go crazy with xylitol – 6 to 10 g is enough. I’ve read that too much will give you diarrhea & this sweetener is not good for animals.

How else to strengthen kids teeth if you replace fluoride?  Brushing teeth, flossing teeth, extra calcium for teeth & bones, xylitol in toothpaste, xylitol brands of chewing gum/mints form for after meals, and overall diet.  These are the steps I’m taking to be proactively removing fluoride from my children’s bodies, hopefully without causing future problem with cavities…but after researching fluoride…I’m happy with having xylitol in my arsenal to help keep their teeth stronger.

What brands of natural toothpaste am I currently using?  I like Grants made in Australia for myself. The tea tree oil ingredient gives a refreshing taste & the mint oil is similar to the traditional toothpaste ‘taste’ I’m used to.  My kids are not huge fans. I think it’s important to support the Canadian made Green Beaver brand too. I would have purchased it, but I didn’t see xylitol listed as an ingredient on the packaging. The Green Beaver website and Gwen from Nayla Naturals confirms that Green Beaver toothpaste does contain xylitol so I will buy this brand next – hopefully they have a more ‘kid friendly’ tasting flavor. Another thing I like about the Green Beaver website is their category called “Ingredients to Avoid” and why. You will find many of the ingredients to avoid if you read the ingredients on the toothpaste you are using right now: sodium lauryl sulfate for one. Read why here and check out this handy section of their site. So with toothpaste well in hand, next up is to try the xylitol mints & gum I found (they are expensive) at Planet Organic for some extra help with cavity prevention after meals. I know my kids will happily oblige popping a goodie after meals.

The next article on greener dental care will be what I’ve learned about dental sealants. Children get cavities – what options are there for sealing a cavity?

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Mommy Footprint & Chemical Free Ice Cubes

Deep breath parents!  Summer has ended and a new chapter starts if you’re a parent…back-to-school is here. I discovered a ‘must have’ item this summer, even though I’ve used this stainless steel wonder for years, it really offered me convenience with taking my kids on many full day excursions over the last few months. For this reason – it translates into a great back-to-school convenience option and it took me not having ice-cubes one morning when I went to the farm to realize how important ice cubes are for packing up lunches for my kids. Yes!!  I’m talking about stainless steel ice cube trays and before you think I’ve gone crazy, read why they are so important to my day.

First a picture:

 

Does it look familiar?  It might remind you of the ice-cube tray your grandma used. Remember hearing the “CRaaaakkkkk” sound when she pulled the handle? The Onyx design is a ‘new take’ on this design, manufactured using high quality 18/8 stainless steel and well made to last many years in your home!

Why would I love a stainless steel ice cube tray this much when there are plenty of light-weight trays on the market made for BPA-free plastic or silicone? I’ve read enough about BPA-free plastic leaching BPA when tested & I don’t freeze anything in plastic because of leaching concerns.  When it comes to silicone it’s my personal preference; I had a bad experience years ago with a skull & cross-bone shaped ice-cube tray that was marketed as silicone. It literally smelled like I opened a new tire when I opened the packaging and I can still remember the bitter taste of the ice-cubes. I would assume this was straight PVC & plasticizers as the ice cube tray was bendy – not the silicon material it was marketed as….but it’s completely turned me off.  Although you’ll pay a bit more for the quality, stainless steel ice cube trays offer no scent, no chemicals to make it bendy, & is easy to clean & maintain.

Okay now back to my story of realizing how much I need ice-cubes on an outing to the farm. This summer we went on lots of excursions to local farms, mountains, and all-day outings. With the heat of the day my standard routine in the morning is packing up a stainless steel water bottle for each child, loading it half way with ice-cubes, the rest tap water. This would ensure the kids still had cold water to drink many hours later (great tip for back-to-school water bottles too).  Running late to get to the farm I realized I didn’t have any ice-cubes for the morning so decided to not bring water with me – no point because it was a blazing hot day. During the course of the day I spent over $12 on bottled water the farm sold ($2 a bottle), had to worry that they’d actually be recycled, and then arrived home to read a great article by TreeHugger on drinking water bottled in plastic. I can’t find that article but here is another great article to support drinking tap water from Treehugger. And after calling my local municipality and finding out we don’t put fluoride & other nasties in our drinking water – it’s worth a read: A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water.

So it was even to my surprise that something like an ice-cube tray could give me so much convenience of using plain old tap water, save me money by not buying disposable water in plastic bottles, and piece of mind that I wasn’t freezing my water with any nasties leaching from the tray. I guess when people say “it’s the simple things in life”…they really know what they’re talking about.

Related Articles:


Alternatives For Freezing Food In Plastic

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