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Organic Companies Announcing New Products CHFA West recap

A few weeks ago I was apart of an amazing group of social media influencers that attended the CHFA West 2015 Trade Show. This was unlike any trade show I’ve been to and I strongly encourage any retailer or buyer to attend if given the opportunity. Because it’s not open to the public, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the 100s of vendors announcing the latest and greatest in the organics industries are apart of one huge, incredible collaborative under one roof.

I was blessed to guest write an article for Vancouver Is Awesome with my recap of the show. Please head over to this article HERE and read about my favourite organic picks. Below is a sneak peek but to learn the juicy tidbits about the products, VIAwesome is the place to visit.

My favourite roundups:

We started our morning with the co-founders and entire Nature’s Path family. I thank them for continuing to turn out clean food and for the hope I felt after listening to co-Founder Arran speak about how he views the future of organics. Read more here.  Below is the snapshot of my favourite new product (Qi’a) that is launching soon to your local grocery store!


Visiting the owner Alicia at AspenClean, we talked about their recent news of having all essential oils in their cleaning products 100% organic, while maintaining their already impressive Eco-cert certification. For anyone still using traditional cleaning products, make the switch to a healthier home, once you do, kids can even help clean!


Team CHFA West discovered that Wholesome Sweeteners has rebranded with a very playful and fun packaging with the shortened name Wholesome!. I’ve long used this brand (coconut sugar) and I can’t wait to try their syrup, especially organic cane sugar syrup – not tapped from a tree. In my experience with trying to avoid GMOs for my family, preparing my own baking using organic sugar (cane or coconut) has really helped with avoiding GMO sugar beets (one of the big GMO crops).


Visiting the Aura Cacia booth was super fun because I love learning about oils. When used properly, essential oils and plant oils can substitute so many traditional products with synthetic ingredients and perfumes. A great example is the Aura Cacia aromatherapy oil diffusers for vehicles. Have you see these?  No more little toxic trees! Aura Cacia is doing a great job educating consumers with over 100 DIY recipes, showing everyday people how to harness their own creativity and make their own personal care and cleaning products. Love it!


Last but not least, as CHFA West had hundreds of companies with amazing things, we went to get the scoop on Simply Organic. Again, I love learning more about a company I’ve already been supporting with my consumer dollars for years. The big news was their popular vanilla extract is now available in a non-alcoholic version due to consumer demand because of religious reasons or baking for very young children. Consumers spoke and they listened. Look for this version the next time you are picking up any of their extract, spices, or mixes.


The group assembled to spend the day talking to leaders in organics was a joy to spend time with and I was like a kid in an organic candy shop. Special thanks to sponsored brands Nature’s Path Organics, AspenClean, Wholesome!,  Aura Cacia, Simply Organic, and CHFA West for assembling them all under one amazing roof in Vancouver!



DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc Oxide

It’s taken since the beginning of the summer to source, make, and test this DIY sunscreen recipe. I’m super proud of the fact it’s an effective recipe, made along with my friend Michelle who is a local holistic health nutritionistWe are not doctors, experts in the field of cancer or product manufacturing, but we are two moms on a journey to remove products we see as possibly harmful for our 6 children combined. What changed my thoughts over the last year from buying organic sunscreen to making my own?


There have only been a few times in my life where I totally couldn’t wrap my mind around subjects that should have been easy. Sunscreen has always been one of them. Long time Mommy Footprint readers will know how many sunscreen articles I’ve written trying to get to the bottom of ingredients and why titanium dioxide vs zinc oxide are better choices. The topics of 1) preservatives that make products shelf-life stable and 2) nanoparticles and non-nanoparticles are confusing topics that haven’t been researched enough for my liking. And once you remove the zinc and titanium ingredients from organic sunscreen, you start actually looking at ingredients you are left with and think “Hey – I could make this!” It’s very empowering to find your own ingredients that you can pronounce and understand how each one works within a recipe like sunscreen. Most importantly with this recipe, once you learn the SPF levels of oils and products you have in the kitchen – you’ll really be surprised.

And although I still have mad respect for organic sunscreen companies that have paved the way to cleaner ingredient lists and done SO much to educate consumers (Badger and Green Beaver in particular), I know that sunscreen originated in labs and was created with chemicals that just might have spiked the skin cancer rates over the last 50 years. Cancer rates have increased every year, even with all our knowledge of how to better protect our skin. So rather than just go without sunscreen this summer, Michelle and I have done our research and are happy to follow this recipe from Health Impact News. What ingredients were important to source and use? Red Raspberry Seed Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. Check out the SPF ratings for these two products and you’ll see why. Site reference here:

Carrier Oil SPF
Red Raspberry Seed 28 – 50
Carrot Seed Oil 38 – 40
Wheatgerm 20
Soybean 10
Macadamia Nut 6
Jojoba 4
Sesame Seed Oil 2 – 4
Shea Butter 3 – 6
Coconut 2 – 8
Olive 2 – 8
Avocado (unrefined) 4 – 15
Castor Oil 6
Almond Oil 5

So the recipe we adapted and followed from Health Impact News is:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup shea butter
1/8 cup sesame or jojoba oil (next time we’ll swap out for avocado oil)
2 TBSP beeswax granules (use more if you want it more water resistant)
1 TSP Red Raspberry Seed Oil
1 TSP Carrot Seed Oil

Click here to get full instructions on how to make your batch of DIY coconut oil sunscreen. Scroll down to Instructions.

You can use essential oils to scent the sunscreen, but the woodsy smell of the carrot seed oil was enough for our batch. My kids did complain slightly about the woodsy scent, but nothing compared to the fuss they made when we first started using organic sunscreen scented with lavender. ;0

You can use whatever essential oils you would like for scent, but make sure to stay away from phototoxic essential oils, which includes the citrus family and a few others. When these essential oils are exposed to the sun, they can cause the skin to burn faster.  **This is really important information**

Another surprise while we made the sunscreen, Michelle’s hubby was hedging bets that the exercise to make our own sunscreen was going to be much higher than just buying a bottle of organic sunscreen from the store. And we agreed. But then he started doing the math (bless him) and surprised all of us to learn that it was cheaper to make our batch of sunscreen than buying store bought organic sunscreen. And we still have lots of ingredients left over to make more! Here is the breakdown in cost:

1/4 cup (60ml) Coconut oil – ~$ 1.25
1/4 cup (60ml Shea butter – ~ $6
1/8 cup (30ml) Jojoba – ~ $3.75
1 tsp (5ml) Red Raspberry Seed oil – ~ $5
1 tsp (5ml) Carrot Seed Oil – ~$9
Bees Wax ~$.80

We took the average cost of our ingredients to figure out how our homemade sunscreen compared to the average store bought ‘clean’ one.  All of our 6 ingredients are organic and/or Fair Trade. The approximate total cost to make this sunscreen is around $26.  When we put it into the jar we ended up with around 220 ml of sunscreen.  The average price of ‘clean’ sunscreen that we purchase is around $19 and the size of container is around 100ml-125ml.  Our homemade sunscreen works out to be cheaper.

Who did this recipe get tested on?  We finished it at the beginning of August, and although the excitement has been high to share, we completed testing first. My lovely teenaged friend who has worked so much this summer and seen very little sun came with us to the pool and used this sunscreen on a very hot day. No trace of burning or pink. My children have very good base tans but we just returned from a week in the desert and they wore the sunscreen and only deepened their tans. And finally, Michelle’s daughters are very fair skinned and she is loving the results of the sunscreen too!  We are still trying to avoid mid-day super hot sun when we are spending a long time outside, and Michelle uses sun shirts, so please continue to use common sense and respect for the sun and UV. If you don’t already have a base tan, you’ll need to reapply this sunscreen recipe every few hours or more often if swimming. The good news is you’ll love how your skin feels after. If you really dislike the white zinc results from store bought organic sunscreen, you’ll love how this recipe immediately soaks into skin, has little scent, and makes your skin very soft after a day outside.

This recipe for homemade coconut oil sunscreen uses a variety of oils and is safe for the whole family, though you want to make sure children don’t eat any of it. Also, when not in use, store the mixture in the fridge to help extend the shelf-life and prevent it from going rancid.

You will know when you are ready to make and trust using your own homemade sunscreen. When the idea of it no longer sounds crazy, but a really smart, practical, idea.



Should My Family Be Using Silicone?

When food and products are put on the market without real testing, it’s up to parents and consumers to complete their own. Yes, silicone was FDA approved in 1979 but we are unsure if there’s been follow-up since as it’s really evolved as a ‘go-to’ material in recent years. Silicone is widely used in bake-ware, dishware, and freezer molds and the fun colors and price point have helped increase it’s popularity in family kitchens all across North America. There are many stores that promote and market silicone as a wonderful sustainable option… so is it?

The problem with using silicone to manufacture products is that it doesn’t have an end of life (EOL). The strategy of how to properly dispose or recycle silicone wasn’t implemented with the wide roll-out of silicone products. I called the largest recycling depots in the greenest cities I could think of across North America, I could not find one that recycles silicone. So when you market a product as waste-free, but it ends up in the trash, then landfill, is it sustainable? So the environmental effects of the silicone revolution in my opinion are not the best.

What about health effects? My research of silicone started from the fear it could possibility be leaching when heated at high temps or put in the freezer. For parents of pre-teens and older, we remember the recalls, uproar, and frustration when we discovered all plastics weren’t created equal. It turns out there are different types of silicone, but unlike plastic, silicone isn’t labelled or coded with symbols because there is no point to it having recycling codes.  To keep it brief, the type of silicone you want to be using is called platinum rather than tin based which are usually cheaper (price and quality), not suitable for skin contact, and cured pieces have a shorter life as they loose their elasticity.  Here are the benefits of platinum silicone:

– platinum is added as a catalyst and there are no by-products

– little shrinkage, high chemical resistance (dimensional stability)

– high resistance to high temperatures and aging

– environmental odorless and non-toxic

Silicone itself is a rubber material composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. With the different ways to form silicone, the difference is if fillers have been added to change properties and reduce cost. Many experts say if you twist your coloured silicone and see white bending than the silicone you are using contains fillers and is the cheaper quality (tin) silicone.  But if you are using silicone in the kitchen, especially heating it at high temps (microwave, dishwasher) or freezing (making ice or popsicles) it’s important to talk to the manufacturer and ask what type of silicone they’ve used to make the product. If they have NO idea, ask how the silicone is cured in the manufacturing process. The options I found for this process are : platinum-catalyzed cure system (or called an addition system), a condensation cure system (also called tin based cure system), a peroxide cure system (medical products produced from this system), or an oxime cure system.

Experts have been concerned that the process of adding colour to silicone might disrupt inert properties of the polymers, but manufacturers I’ve talked with that have tested for any breakdown from adding colour say that is incorrect. If this concerns you, stick to plain silicone commonly used to keep stainless steel or glass containers air-tight.

I hope this helps you answer the question “should my family be using silicone?” To summarize, if you are concerned about what happens to that silicone ice cube tray after it starts to smell or breakdown, you can not recycle silicone in most recycling depots in North America. There isn’t research to support how long silicone takes to decompose in a landfill. It’s a natural element made from sand and rock, but if containing fillers and colorants – I would assume these are a problem for the earth to absorb.

It also appears that similar to plastic, there are different types of silicone. It’s unfortunate for consumers that our Governments don’t mandate these types be coded at the bottom of all products. If you love using your silicone bake-ware, etc., take the time to call the manufacturer and inquire about what type of silicone is used. You are looking for the word platinum for a higher quality. Also, ask what the manufacturer is doing to close the loop of the end-of-life for silicone with recycling efforts.





DIY Personal Care Recipe Round Up

Why do I want to make as many of my personal care products as possible? It saves me time shopping, money, and I know exactly what I’m putting on my hair and skin. DIY personal care recipes help with avoiding fragrance, phthalates, and chemicals that cosmetic companies sneak into ingredients lists by hiding behind the word fragrance so there is never full disclosure. And if we think back 60 years to how our grandparents washed their hair, face, skin, and kept themselves from being stinky without stores to shop at – well, there must be a way to do this effectively with ingredients already in your kitchen.

I have great DIY tips and so do these talented green bloggers and Facebook fans. Below is a great list of personal care DIY recipes that will replace many store bought products in your bathroom. And chances are if you already own a great big bottle of unrefined coconut oil, you can start making them right away! My thanks to everyone that shared their favourite DIY recipes!

DIY Deodorant:

Alicia from The Soft Landing shared her DIY Antibacterial + Cooling deodorant for Men and Women.

  • Mix together equal parts arrowroot powder or cornstarch and baking soda (I usually begin with 1/4 cup of each)
  • Stir in enough coconut oil to moisten the mixture, but not so much that it’s wet (I usually start with 6-8 Tbsp)
  • Add 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • Add 5-10 drops of patchouli
  • Add 5-10 drops of cedarwood essential oil

Click on the full article link to find out why each of these ingredients is beneficial to fight the bacteria that causes ordor. This article clearly educates how people can remove aluminum toxicity with cool, earthy pits ~ thanks Alicia!

Facial Scrub:

Beth from The EcoSpheric Blog shares her DIY Brown Sugar Facial Scrub Recipe. I can’t wait to try this recipe and will probably omit the essential oil because I love the smell of my raw brown sugar.

  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • few drops of the essential oil of your choice (I used Tulsi holy basil from Organic India because it supports the body’s healthy response to inflammation and promotes a healthy, clear complexion.)


Now that we’ve all drooled over how amazing this scrub looks, head on over to the full article link and get the directions and how to use the scrub.

Rachel, from Mommy Greenest shared her 4 ingredient DIY Organic Face Mask. With the added ingredients and instructions, I’m definitely bookmarking this face mask for a weekend treat for my skin. And the ingredient I love the most is raw honey! Here is a teaser from the face mask:

You’ll need

  • Six tablespoons raw organic sugar
  • One free range organic egg white
  • One tablespoon organic honey
  • One packet plain instant organic oatmeal (uncooked)

Sounds amazing right? Click on over to read the full link and instructions here.

Karen from ecokaren shared an Avocado Face Mask recipe which I’m super happy about because making beauty products from food that turn soft quickly (bananas, avocados) is awesome to prevent food waste. You again need a bit of time to create this face mask recipe, but I love Karen’s tip to freeze the extra you’ll have from using an entire avocado which becomes a time saver. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Guacamole Face Mask ingredients

  • 1 Ripe Avocado
  • 1 Egg White – room temperature
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice

Click over to the recipe’s full link for instructions and tips for freezing and testing. I would also recommend a test first on your arm with using lemon juice to ensure skin isn’t sensitive.

Other Facial Scrubs:

Donna, shared on the Mommy Footprint fan page that she mixes coconut oil with ground himalayan rock salt. She keeps a little pot in the shower, massage it, rinse in the shower, then wipe with a dry towel. Donna no longer needs face cream and her skin texture is improving. Thanks for sharing!

Personally, I’ve been mixing unrefined coconut oil with baking soda to exfoliate and love using this for my daily scrub. I also find my face is perfectly moisturized and I always have these two ingredients on hand so it’s an easy recipe to maintain. I put a glob of coconut oil into a cup then add enough baking soda that there is some grit but be careful to start if you have sensitive skin.

DIY Hair Care:

Sarah from Mindfully Frugal Mom sent us her article for creating a Coconut Oil Hair Mask. This is another DIY recipe that sounds amazing, especially because 2 of the 3 ingredients are coconut oil and a banana. We always have those on hand! Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (use even less if you have fine or short hair)
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana

It’s suggested this mask stays in for 30 minutes, so carve out some time when trying this recipe. Click on the full link to read the directions and advice on using Sarah’s coconut oil hair mask.

Other DIY Hair Care Tips:

Corry responded on our Fan Page about a routine she uses for removing hair build up. She puts cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on freshly shampoed hair and wait a few minutes. Then rinse it out. I have also heard of just putting the cider vinegar in a container with water and rinsing the hair with it but that gets quite pricey. This method works well and removes hair product build up.

For years I’ve used coconut oil to smooth or slick my hair at the ends or instead of using gel for smooth ponytails. You just need a dime size amount that you warm up in your palms. Apply to the ends of your dry hair and it can be used for easy styling.

DIY Perfume:

Rachel from Mommy Greenest saves the day with this 1 minute and 3 ingredient DIY perfume recipe. With so many people in the population suffering from scent sensitivities (me, me, me!) it’s a gift to those that surround you to know ditch synthetic perfumes. They can be overpowering to many people and for those that wear them, you might be causing your own body hormone disruption.

Oh, and you can make a gigantic bottle for less than $30! You’ll need:

  1. One clean spray bottle—preferably a dark-colored glass to block UV rays so your perfume stays stable longer.
  2. One big bottle of pure cooking vanilla—organic is best, but either way just make sure there’s no sugar in the mix.
  3. One or more small bottles of essential oil—I love rose geranium, rose and lavender mixed with the vanilla; experiment to find out what you like best.

If you want to make this DIY perfume, click over to the full recipe link and get Rachel’s advice on the best essential oils to use and directions. Awesome stuff Rachel!

DIY in 1 step Recipes:

These are my tips. After reading the amazing guests posts, I’m feeling that my personal care regime needs to step it up a notch. I seem to gravitate to 1 ingredient DIY recipes for personal care. Here are my favourites:

Shaving your legs: Use Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap. It’s organic, fair trade, and you’re probably already using it for 30 other things in your home. It can easily replace shaving cream that actually contains teflon. It’s an easy switch and use coconut oil to moisure body after shaving.

Deodorant: this one always gets a few blinks of dis-belief from people but I love it and it works! Cut a lemon or lime in half and rub under your arm pits. I’ve even used it freshly after shaving and experiences no burning sensation. The juice dries quickly, doesn’t stain my clothing, and is SUPER effective against body odor.

Tooth Whitening: oil pulling. If you haven’t tried swishing with coconut oil, you are missing out! Especially if you are buying toxic, tooth whitening kits that are also really expensive. All you need is unrefined coconut oil and you are set. Full instructions found here.

Eye Makeup Remover: coconut oil again to the rescue. Put coconut oil on a washcloth, paper, or q-tip and rub across your closed eye. The oil will remove all makeup so you can wash your face easily before bed time.

I’ll do a followup post with more DIY recipes for personal care. If you would like your recipe to be included in the next roundup, post it in the comments or on the Mommy Footprint fan page.



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