Archive | Antibacterial

DIY Hand Sanitizer For Children

Picturing Fall I think of soup, cozy sweaters, and pumpkins but in reality it is a really busy time of year. With back-to-school routines, sports and activities starting, many kids are getting run-down and sick with not having the opportunity or time to wash hands properly. In no way is a hand sanitizer (DIY recipe or store bought) a replacement for washing your hands. We all know washing hands with soap and warm water is the most effective way to kill germs that cause cold and flu. But when kids are on the run from school to sports, having a back-up solution to hand washing is a great aid in your family wellness kit.

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Why make my own hand sanitizer? Yes, there are brands on store shelves that contain less of the nasty ingredients, but to be store shelf stable, they need preservatives which I like to avoid.  I also learned from making my own sunscreen, understanding every ingredient gives you better insight into personal care products. I have found making my own personal care products to be a great source of empowerment trying to understand how each ingredient aids in sun protection, hand sanitizing, or skin care, etc. I modified Nourishing Treasures recipe, adding more antibac and anti-virus essential oils with tea tree and lavender. All the ingredients to make this DIY hand sanitizer could easily make multiple batches and last all fall and winter seasons. For leftover oils you can easy find uses so invest in the ingredients and enjoy experimenting with very safe essential oils.  Everything used in this recipe was provided by Voyageur Soap & Candle Company Ltd. and if you want to learn more about essential oils or any ingredients for making your own products, this is the store. And they  are currently having a sale so stock up!

DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe:

1 cup of distilled water
1/2 cup aloe vera extract liquid (not the gel)
1/4 avocado oil
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender oil

Purchase aluminum spray bottles and kids can decorate the bottles. These bottles make DIY hand sanitizer look store bought so if you’ve got school aged kids that don’t appreciate your DIY efforts, just tell them you bought it.

I’ve been playing with different hand sanitizer recipes and unlike the witch hazel, this hand sanitizer left my hands feeling nourished and soft. Not often you can say that about hand sanitizer – the hospital grade sanitizers leave my skin raw.  I also like the choice of essential oils in this recipe so that parents can use this recipe on young children that might want to avoid mint oils. Thyme is also a popular oil used in natural store bought hand sanitizers, you could add 10 drops if you have it on hand to this recipe if you like the scent.

What ingredients do you want to avoid in hand sanitizers for kids?

1. If your hand sanitizer is marketed as ‘antibacterial’ it might contain triclosan. The concern is it may contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

2. Remember when I said I like to avoid preservatives? We know that parabens are now linked to cancer and cause endocrine disruption and should be avoided. Any ingredient in your personal care that ends in ‘paraben’ for example butylparaben, should be avoided in children.

3. For years my kids have complained about the scent that is unleashed from traditional hand sanitizer in a class room when kids bring in highly fragrant sanitizers. If your sanitizer has a strong scent, unless it’s an essential oil blend created by YOU, it’s probably loaded with toxic chemicals.

Strong microban sanitizers belong in hospitals not homes or schools. Make up a batch of this no-germ hand spray and you’ll love having it in-stock to ride out flu season. With media already issuing reports of Enterovirus D68, let’s stay calm and empowered with finding arsenals for family wellness kits. I’m going to stick with tea tree oil’s ability to fight all three types of infectious organisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) and encourage more regular hand washing with my family.

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DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc

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Coconut Fiber Cocoze Sandals Contest

I’ve been on a mission for a few years now. Find a pair of flip flops or something easy to slip on during the summer that isn’t cheap or plastic. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every person that suggested I just go to the Mall and buy a pair of plastic sandals. The one problem with that? They are made from PVC (cheap plastic that can’t be recycled) and this plastic doesn’t just cause huge damage to the earth but gives me a headache from the smell. But the company Cocoze has solved my dilemma and I love my coconut fiber sandals. I’m super excited to tell you why and lucky to be hosting a contest so you can try a pair!

I’ve waited 3 weeks before writing the review after receiving the shoes because I wanted to make sure the fabric piece at the toe of the sandal was secure enough to handle the punishment I put footwear through. I’ve had many a pair of sandals break at this part of the shoe (all plastic) and was worried the fabric wouldn’t be strong enough. I’ve had no issues. But I’ve kept the sandals out of the mud and water. They are not water shoes. If they get wet it’s not a problem for them to dry out, etc. but you don’t want to go wading into the ocean with them on. This hasn’t been a problem and I’ve gone on longs walks, run around my daily activities, sand, park, dirt and no issues.

I’ve also been asked frequently if they are itchy. They look like they would be scratchy from the picture but a benefit with the shoes made from coconut fiber is they exfoliate dead and dry skin from the bottom of your feet. Coconut fiber is naturally antibacterial, allows your feet to breathe, and regulates temperature. This sandal design is made to produce happy feet but if you are really sensitive, this might not be a great feature for you. I’ve had no issues and love the texture.

Back to my original issue of not purchasing plastic flip-flops. I really like purchasing non-plastic footwear when possible and because of the winning combination of materials used to produce these shoes (coconut fiber and the other is a question to be entered into the contest so you’ll have to check out the cocoze.com site) you can actually compost these sandals into your garden at the end of their life. This was probably the coolest part of getting a pair of these sandals . . . getting a great answer to the question “where will these go at the end of their life?”.

And now you all think Cocoze is amazing and want a pair to buy I have to tell you that they are only available when Cocoze is at sustainable markets or events so follow their Facebook Fan Page to find out where they’ll be selling them next!  An online component is currently in development so you won’t have long to wait.  But they are offering a pair to a lucky Mommy Footprint reader so enter the below contest and good luck! The give-away is open until August 3, 2013 to all residents in North America.

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Air Freshener Options

Regular readers of Mommy Footprint know a few things about me… I’m scent sensitive and normally can’t tolerate air born particles from air fresheners, plug-ins, perfume, cleaners, etc. You see, when a person is sensitive to chemical scent, you can smell things most people can’t, triggering headaches and other reactions. So when our friends from Urban Forest Soaps sent me air fresheners to review I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I do know lots of people that won’t give up the convenience of a spray to combat odor so I tried the air freshener/linen spray and tested on my mattress, pillows, and used as a room freshener, I was actually surprised that I didn’t get a headache. It was also nice to have a linen spray to use while my pillows were out in the sunlight getting dust mite maintenance. I won’t turn into a daily air freshener user but I’m happy to recommend this to people that need one. And if you’re thinking you don’t need to replace that big bottle of Febreeze or Plug-In – the rest of this article is for you; to remind everyone why traditional air sprays are so bad. Not just for us lot that are sensitive – but the toll they have on human health.

If you read this article and want a 100% organic solution for air freshness  – think back to how our grandparents did things: bake something with cinnamon or open a window. Want a longer term solution? I have a friend named Marisol that wasn’t going to give up her air fresheners and after listening to her reasons why, I know there’s more people that feel the same and want something easy and convenient. A good rule to follow is looking for options that release scent using essential oils. Here is a link to the sprays I was sent from Urban Forest Soap and I like they only contain two ingredients (witch hazel, organic floral water) and have a light scent that dissipates quickly. I tried the lavender and orange sprays and really liked them both. I sent them to my friend Marisol to test for me since she likes linen sprays and room deodorizers to see if I could convert her – she’s also very honest! She wasn’t a fan of the orange spray but is still happily using the lavender and has replaced using Febreeze type products to spray clothing, bedding, air, and her car. I’ll call that is a success story! It is important to note that just because a product contains essential oils – you might still find the scent or oils irritating.

Why am I so against traditional air fresheners? They are loaded with chemicals that cause cancer, effect fertility, and can effect brain/nervous systems. A bottle of Febreeze only lists 3 ingredients on their packaging – do you know how many actually exist in this air freshener? The EWG released an article finding 89 air contaminants within a bottle of Febreze Air Effects and the chemicals of concern according to this report are scary! Here are only three of the many chemicals but it gives you an idea of how serious these chemicals are. Read the full list here:

BHT: Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards

ACETALDEHYDE: Cancer, Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)

FRAGRANCE: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous

Do you want to know what is disclosed on the exterior label of the same bottle of Febreeze tested by EWG? “Odor eliminator, water, fragrance, non-flammable natural propellant, quality control ingredients.” There aren’t regulations on the use of harmful chemicals in air fresheners so as you can see, reading labels with traditional sprays won’t help us. Another place to check for air fresheners is your workplace or school bathrooms. I can’t think of anything I’d rather not have my children inhaling every time they enter a school bathroom than those chemicals found in air fresheners (you know those pink pucks found behind the toilets?  Yeah those!). Allergies and asthma are exasperated with spraying air-born chemicals so make sure you check what is flying around day cares, dance/gymnastic studios, schools, and locker rooms where your children spend large amounts of time. And for those that need something to spray  – Tricia from Urban Forest Soaps has you covered!

This article is being written just at the crest of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Don’t get forget there is a lot of marketing for synthetic scents to spread the smells of Christmas (cinnamon, candy canes, and trees) around your house. Make sure they are the real thing rather than off-gassing with chemicals. Try this great DIY recipe for the stove top with cinnamon sticks and orange – it will fill your house with scent, without the chemicals. While your reading this article – scroll down further and read a story about my first encounter with a women using Febreeze around my children. My kids were shocked by my reaction but we all laugh about it now.

Related Articles:

Natural Tips to Improve Bedroom Air Quality

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Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

I have never ordered a pre-assembled kit of back-to-school supplies. My oldest child used to feel left out when every other child in his class was given ‘the box’ on the first day of school but now he has no problem bringing his decorated shoe box with more carefully selected school supplies inside. At this stage of my parenting journey, I’m not even sure I would pay the money to have a green pre-assembled school supplies kit provided for my children because I think we often forget about reusing with back to school. For the last few years, at the end of the school year, I parked their books and supplies in a bag or box and forgot about them in a closet. This year I combed through previous years of supplies and to my delight I won’t need to purchase many new items! Check out the sets I made from mixed sets of crayons – I have four complete sets for each of my kids!

I wasn’t sure if teachers would mind if supplies weren’t new and I was reminded by a reader and teacher on the MF fanpage that a crayon color spectrum is really more important for your children than the teacher. Purchasing Crayola products goes against so much of what I believe in because they are a huge company that doesn’t have the manufacturing standards I usually support –  so it’s been a relief to realize it’s up to my kids if they only want 6 beeswax or soy crayons in art supplies that are made in North America and don’t contain petroleum. The Clementine brand I point to at the end of this article for crayons, markers, and glue are all manufactured in the US and that is important. I of course won’t be purchasing the soy or beeswax crayons this year because I’ve done a great job of rounding up crayons in my own home – reusing is always best! And I’ve made 4  complete sets! But when you need to purchase new, avoid the petroleum, plastic, and antibacterial crap on the market and become your child’s eco warrior with back-to-school shopping!

Where else can you easily up-cycle with back-to-school supplies?  You know the little interlined work books for elementary school?  I have found more than 10 of these from previous years that only have a few pages filled out . . the rest are blank! I’ve ripped out these pages and will be sending the rest of the blank books with my kids. I have blank printer labels and will be applying these to the front of the books to eliminate the name, grade, subject information my children wrote from previous years. There is a cost savings here and think of the amount of wasted paper each year?!

Other supplies that are still in great condition that we are reusing from previous years? Wooden ruler, O’bon coloured pencil crayons, pencils, duotangs (empty and reuse), scissors, and paint! Now here are some tips for purchasing new back-to-school supplies. This is a great time to talk about commercialism with back-to-school. If you want to keep rolling over school supplies each year, stay away from the licensed folders, pencil cases, backpacks, water bottles, etc. That cute little monkey design or Dora and SpongeBob print might be cute for Grade 1 but they are not babies anymore by Grade 2 and might feel embarrassed by bringing what they once loved at this age. Keep supplies classic and simple – there is a secret to longevity by doing this. I would also encourage not to bring small children back-to-school shopping with you. If it’s just going to be a tantrum or fight for the supplies they don’t understand are poor quality and toxic – let kids stay home. Bring older kids with you and explain why and how you are making decisions on what to buy. Have older children go through supplies from the previous year and save what they’ll reuse. Also have them participate with decorating the up-cycled shoe box to bring supplies in.

I noticed last year and again this year, companies are doing a lot of marketing for Microban and antibacterial products. Examples of this are pencils, scissor handles, water bottle lids (the worst of all in my opinion), and binders. Normally Microban in plastic contains Triclosan which is a chemical that does not belong in back-t0-school supplies. The original use for Triclosan, a strong chemical, was used in surgical rooms. Why would we turn a classroom into the equivalent of a hospital with antibacterial properties? Skip this chemical (look for antibacterial or Microban marketing) and if you are asked why by school administration you can reply “this is a pesticide linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, asthma, skin irritation, eczema, and thyroid problems”. I have found when you explain to teachers the reason behind limiting your children to chemical exposure – that you’re not trying to be difficult – they are very understanding. Probably the biggest product linked to antibacterial and might be on your school list is hand sanitizer. This is an important one to make eco-friendly and the easiest way is to not purchase anything and request that your child is given the opportunity to wash their hands more often. If you are more comfortable knowing he can disinfect quickly – send Cleanwell wipes or spray in your child’s back-to-school kit. Again, unleash your eco-warrior and don’t let the marketing of ‘germs’ pressure you into purchases that use endocrine disrupting chemicals that could lead to an allergy. Here is a personal story about hand sanitizer. The brands that have perfume or strong scent will trigger a reaction with a person (like me) with chemical sensitivities. A person in one of my children’s classes had just applied hand sanitizer (apricot scented) and the 2 minutes I was in the classroom delivering hot lunches, I felt dizzy and left with a headache. Please be aware of the effects of using strong chemicals – if not for yourself but other people.

I’ve also noticed some ‘non-stick’ marketing with back-to-school supplies. Does anyone need teflon on their scissors? I’m not sure what the inner coating of lunch bags that are marketed non-stick but I stay clear! Remember my article on teflon lined diaper bags? Since researching this article I’ve been wary of non-stick lined products that are marketed to clean or wipe up quickly from spills. I stick to 100% organic cotton lunch bags in place of this and love that they are machine washable. Sticking with cotton is just a great way to go with backpacks, gym bags, and sandwich bags because at the end of their life, you cut off the zipper and plastic velcro and compost. That is a great full cycle story for a product…reuse, reuse, reuse and then compost.  It’s my favourite kind of story.

The last tip is the most important for back-to-school supplies shopping. Avoid plastic. All plastic. I don’t care if it’s marked free of everything; BPA, phthalates, PVC, etc.  At the end of the day, at the end of it’s shelf life – it’s still plastic. We are experiencing the greatest problem in our history with ocean pollution and the leading cause is plastic. Our health has never been so clouded with problems: cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, skin sensitivities, endocrine disruption, and more. I don’t trust plastic. Studies have found that many products labeled BPA-free still released chemicals that mimic estrogen.  PVC plastic is a known poison to human health and the environment so if you are purchasing backpacks or supplies made from plastic, please ensure it’s marked PVC-free. Summon your eco-warrior and use your nose if buying plastic…don’t put anything in your cart with that strong plastic smell.  Did you know that coloured paper clips contain PVC coating? With all supplies, including litterless lunch systems, stick with plain stainless steel. Most supplies like rulers, folders, duo-tangs, and binders have non-plastic alternatives in stores. Pens and markers still appear to be the toughest plastics to avoid with back-to-school. Search out recycled plastic options to lesson your environmental impact. If you see a specific plastic request on your child’s school supplies list from the school, try substituting it with a material you are comfortable with. On my children’s list I see a plastic containers to put supplies. Every year I use a shoe box, my kids decorate it with a best memory from the summer and I’ve never received a complaint. Sometimes the supplies lists we are receiving haven’t been tweaked in many years so it’s more of a guideline. The below picture is of my oldest son’s supplies box from last year. It’s in such good shape we are using it again this year!

 

I reviewed soy crayons a few years back and loved them!  You can find Clementine Soy Crayons via Organically Hatched. These crayons are literally like using butter – they just glide. If your child is happy with streamlining their color selection to 6 – then you should be happy too! And minus the petroleum and colorants used by traditional companies! Actually, you could pickup non-toxic glue, crayons, markers, and paint all at the same time shopping here. There isn’t anything eco-friendly about the plastic surrounding the Clementine markers but they are additive free, without scent. Having discussions about what has influenced your purchases with back-to-school products is a wonderful time to educate children. I’m hoping by going through supplies from previous years and re-using what you can, the ability to afford the slightly higher prices for greener back-to-school supplies is manageable. Your children will become your voice and echo the education. My child was the one in Grade 2 last year telling his teacher that the cleaning supplies they were given to clean their desks were toxic and gave him a headache. We donated bottles of diluted Dr. Bronners for our children’s classrooms until the school switched over the Green Seal certified cleaners. A child’s voice is important and matters – give your children the wisdom and help create Eco-warrior children that inspire change!

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Soccer Saturday – Getting Ready For Rain!

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Natural Lice Prevention

I discovered recently that my kids’ school has been experiencing regular outbreaks of lice over the past few months. My family hasn’t experienced lice, even though it seems to be regular occurrence in all schools, so after I checked all four kid’s hair and sighed with relief that we didn’t have it, I started thinking about prevention. From talking to many parents, it seems like chemical treatments and natural lice treatments both take a long time to remove lice 100%, so if that’s the case …why use the extra chemicals on children? And let’s think of some tips for prevention. As most readers know, since I have a daughter that has dry skin outbreaks from eczema flare ups, I only shampoo all of my kid’s hair once a month. Funny, because barbers, parents, and family look surprised when I mention that. And my children (I think) have gorgeous hair – everyone always wants to touch my older son’s hair because it’s thick and beautiful (see below). So only occasional washing is working well for our family. And when I do wash their hair, I use a teaspoon of baking soda mixed into a cup or warm water instead of store bought shampoo. On my sons especially, their hair feels amazing after it’s washed this way. But technically their hair is on the dirty side most days rather than the squeaky clean and funny enough, Jennifer from The Smart Mama confirmed for me that lice prefer clean hair! So one more bonus of not over washing children’s hair is it’s a deterrent for lice. Hooray for the hippies!

The most popular methods of DIY lice prevention include tea tree oil. This oil is natural antiseptic and can be a preventative tool against lice. Add 12 drops to ¼ pint water and put in a spray bottle. Mist hair each morning with this solution. A Mommy Footprint Facebook fan reported success with daily use of tree tea oil to prevent lice by using this method: “I put a couple of drops of tea tree oil on my hand and they get a hair rub-down (especially at nape of neck and behind ears) before we go to school (I leave the tea tree oil in a cupboard at our front door). Other Mom’s at the school put the tea tree oil with some H2O in a spray bottle and spritz their kids’ heads (and I can report that their kids have not had lice either)”. Hang onto that tea tree oil because if you do experience lice, you can add multiple drops into your wash along with detergent for bedding, blankets and clothes. Also use tea tree oil to rub around the interior of hats & helmets – kill the lice on the hat and it will rub off onto your child’s head!

Tiffany from Nature Moms Blog recently went through lice treatment with a child and had some great tips. Her full article is here, and her all natural lice shampoo treatment recipe is:

1 Quart size ball jar
1 Tablespoon (1 squirt) Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
8-10 Drops tea tree oil (we use Trader Joe’s brand)
Fill jar to top with water, shake before each use.
Rinse with vinegar and let sit in hair for 5 minutes. Plastic wrap is optional
Comb hair with flea comb or lice comb

This recipe sounds much easier than the mayo or coconut oil treatments recommended to work. With these treatments you basically coat hair with a natural oil (coconut, olive, or mayonnaise) and try to smother the lice. Most treatments call for wrapping in plastic wrap and sleeping, then repeating 12-14 times. Wow – the more research I did on all natural lice treatments, the more determined I am to prevent it from happening. We’ve got the occasional hair washing already happening, next I will start daily tea tree oil squirts. With base ball season and ball caps, outbreaks at school, and Spring time being the season for lice, it was a timely discussion and I thank Tiffany and Jennifer for their advice!

And here’s the picture I snapped of my oldest son’s hair – I think it’s just gorgeous. He’s only 10 years old, but I hope he keeps the easy, no-poo hair care remedies and doesn’t start using gel or spray. When any of my kid’s ends feel dry we just use a bit of coconut oil to moisturize & for styling.

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