Archive | Just for Dad

Urban Forest Soap – Shaving Bar Review

This article has been writing itself since I read Alicia’s post over at The Soft Landing regarding traditional men’s shaving cream containing Teflon. Great information in this article, especially for those people that shave with a gel! With Father’s Day approaching I think it would be a great token of love to de-tox the products that surround the important men in your life. Before taking the easy route and buying dad new cologne or traditional after shave lotion, take the principals that apply to women’s and children’s personal care products. Men should be trying to live a more organic life-style but ofter we forget about them. Start to slowly replace personal care products as they run out with those that contain more natural ingredients…and last time I checked, Teflon was anything but natural!

So when a Mommy Footprint reader mentioned the company Urban Forest Soaps and that they sell Shave Bars… I was very interested. It turns out having my husband spend time reviewing a product is a slow endeavor – but he reported back with a thumbs up for using the shave bars on his very thick and stubborn stubble. It took him awhile to get used to the lack of lather from the bars, but a more seasoned ‘greenie’ wouldn’t be as surprised by the lower amount of sudsing.

It occurred to me a few weeks after receiving the shave bars that I could be testing them too since I the rare occasion I do shave my legs. <grin> The first thing I noticed was a difference in my skin’s texture, like a barrier on my legs after I applied and shaved with the shave bar soap. The owner of Urban Forest Soap explained it’s the Kaolin clay that provides the slip…it is a very important ingredient & reason the shave bars are bestsellers for men.  Also important to note is the cucumber extract provides a cooling & anti inflammatory affect on the skin which helps eliminate red bumps. The ingredient list is lovely to look at – all recognizable names and the EWG rates the Urban Forest Soap bath salts a perfect 0 for being a safe product!

This little Canadian company is growing and always posting new yummy products so keep in touch by checking out their fan page here.

 

Ingredient List for Urban Forest Avocado Shave Bar: Ingredients: olea europaea (olive) oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, aqua (water), persea gratissima (avocado) oil, prunis dulcis, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter)

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Clothing Mis-labelling Leads To Composting Problem!

I’m not a patient person so for me to write this article over a month after first contacting a major clothing manufacturer with a simple question is really amazing for me! But since it’s been a month with no response, other than the standard “customer service will contact you”, I think I’m free to discuss something that very few people have thought of. How are companies able to label clothing as 100% cotton when they have glitter, sparkles, and plastic in hard form and plasticized on clothing? It’s obviously not 100% cotton and has been mislabeled by every single large chain retail clothing store. The company I approached for an explanation was The Gap. They are one of two stores that got me thinking about this question. The other store was Walmart but since I’ve noticed The Gap has a higher price point with clothing I thought I’d start with them.

The question has been building in my mind for years because when I receive clothing from Walmart for my children I start to itch from looking at the clothing tag label. There is almost always polyester in the PJs and with my kids having skin sensitivities including eczema, I’ve just learned to avoid their clothing. But because I don’t shop often in malls, but when I do go in, my awareness of materials and textiles in really heightened. Me walking into a Mall by myself  is crazy..my senses are high, my awareness of everything going on around me and I always notice changes the Mall has made. The last time I walked in my jaw hit the floor with a large screen TV (I mean it was HUGE) and there are girls walking the cat walk in fashion (I’m guessing) that’s sold in the Mall stores. I couldn’t believe this was on when so many young girls are at the Mall with their parents. You can keep the magazines and TV away from kids with this subject matter but walking into a Mall they need to see super skinny girls wearing high fashion? It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this article..I’m getting off base. I was at the Mall shopping for a suit for my son who was celebrating his 1st communion. I headed into my usual stops which included The Gap. I’ll admit that the girls’ clothing in The Gap can be a weakness because they do an amazing job with colors and themes I love like feathers, peacocks, woodland animals, etc. But I started noticing that almost every single t-shirt had plastic attached to the front. And some shirts didn’t just have the plastic decals attached to the front…some actually had tiny repeating rows of plastic bits hanging off the front of the shirt. Out of a possible 25 styles I found two that were silk screened with a design…and they weren’t cute designs. I asked the sales girl how you would even care for a t-shirt in this style since it shouldn’t be heated with all the plastic on it..she politely looked at me like I’m from Mars and explained it could be line dried. <grin>

I left The Gap and started thinking of all the stores in that Mall that sell clothing tagged 100% cotton that clearly isn’t. In an age of transparency why doesn’t that include our clothing? Especially when it’s obviously incorrect? We all know that cotton items can be composted. This is when labeling really becomes important. How can I compost a shirt with a huge PVC decal ironed onto the front? Let’s put aside the fact it’s off-gassed in my dryer at high temperatures over it’s life span. If that shirt isn’t ripped by the time my kids are done with it – of course it will be donated or given to a family that will wear it. But, what happens at the end of that shirt’s life when I’m putting it into our city compost? That compost is being used to grow food and we need to start thinking of what is ending up there.

And this final point of composting is why I don’t rejoice in listening to other people talk about the clothing they purchased at huge discounts with cross border shopping. It is the reason I’m trying to save up to purchase a few t-shirts for myself this summer but I want silk screen designs made from veg ink. It’s not because I try to spend more money than needed…I just know that always shopping based on cost and not with a story is usually a bad thing for the environment. In a few years when I’ve worn my new shirts over and over again and it’s time to purge, I can put them into the compost and know they will truly break down and decompose. This may sound strange to people but it makes me feel good. Shopping at a Mall can’t be avoided – I need to go there a few times a year for special items, but I way prefer to shop with people that have thought about how things are made and labelled.

I encourage you all to ask this question next time you go into the Mall. Ask questions. It’s only going to be after thousands have asked that something might change.

I leave you with some inspiration I found on Vancouver Island in Ucluelet by Pina. Her little print shop has a story and it’s pretty awesome – so are the designs including feathers, eagles, and wolves all printed in her studio in earth friendly ink.

 

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Archived Eczema Category

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The Interpretation of Cell Phones

I want to share two sites/articles that really got my attention and I reference them almost every day of my parenting journey. Have you ever heard cell phones referred to as a ‘shut up toy’? It’s basically the idea the parents are quick to give children or toddlers their phones to keep them happy in moments of boredom. I read this article just before Christmas and I was actually contemplating buying my twins an ipad for Christmas because they were spending a lot of time at hockey rinks watching their older brothers and noticed a lot of younger kids had them. At this time my oldest son was also getting in the habit of asking to play on my iphone when he was bored. This article and just the reference of shut-up toy really made me think of the message I was sending by passing out electronics when my kids were bored. I really was telling them to shut up and stay quiet by doling out a phone. I explained this to my older son who then begged me to stop reading articles from the internet<grin>, but I looked him in the eye and told him “I don’t want to shut you up”. And I looked around the hockey rink and realized without the distraction of electronics, my kids would color, draw, play hide and seek, and engage in play with the other rink kids. The moment one of them cracked open an ipad, ipod, or phone, the kids just totally zone out. My thanks to the author Michele Whiteaker because she saved me from a bad purchase and brought a new term to my household that explains perfectly how I feel about handing kids electronics to shut them up. And it might take my 10 year old 20 years to admit it, but he stopped asking to play on my iphone almost immediately after I explained what the article stated and if he was to be given ‘honest juice’ I think he would tell you it made him feel good to have someone that would rather engage with him than shut him up.  But it will be a long time before he would admit such a thing!

The other article that really brought me to my knees while reading is linked through a great Fan Page called The Hands Free Revolution and if you’re active on Facebook, this is a page to follow! The words from this site are encouraging parents to spend less time on cell phones and more time engaged with their children. Before you do an eye-roll, have a read at this article called How To Miss A Childhood. I don’t think it’s written to increase the guilt that we as parents already carry, simply to make us aware of how electronics have surrounded us and are distracting us from events we don’t want to miss. I needed a few reminders about making sure my children know my love for them deserves to be uninterrupted. I’ve already made a few changes since reading the article I was so inspired.

There was another article on the Hands Free Mama site called Six Words You Should Say Today. I really enjoyed this article too and have started trying to translate what always turns into long drawn-out confessions of love every time my children accomplish anything, and cutting it down to 6 simple words.  “I love it when you sing.”  “I love watching you do gymnastics.”  “I love watching your beautiful smile.” I’m trying to build self esteem with my children and I think this is a great way to keep compliments simple and perhaps more meaningful to a child. I also took to heart not going into extensive detail with my children’s performance so that it’s misinterpreted – keeping it simple is a great way for me to ensure my message stays positive from start to finish.

These two writers are talking about unplugging from the norm and how we interact with children and electronics once we’re out of the house. Both caused me to take a moment and think – rather then just following what everyone else is doing and to look through my children’s eyes at how my actions might be interpreted.

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Movie Review: The Lorax

I have been so excited to see the release of our favorite Dr. Seuss book classic The Lorax on big screen. I was most excited to see the Trufulla trees because I’ve loved them for so long…to see them move, get a sense of their texture, colors and beauty was a big treat. We returned home from the theater a few hours ago and I’ve been buzzing to write down my thoughts. It would be easy to hate a remake of a book that has meant so much to me personally and my children, but this movie is a good thing. It’s coming at a great time in the world where greenwashing is high, our love of excess is also high, and the wise reminders from The Once-Ler need to be heard. A few of my kids commented they found the movie a bit depressing and I have to agree at the beginning. You are introduced to a world where everything is plastic. Then you see the outskirts of this town and everything is dark, bleak, and barren. I also thought my twins might get scared of the Once-Ler when he’s in the tower looking out through the blinds, but this wasn’t a problem. The movie weaves through the retelling of the book The Lorax told by The Once-Ler. You don’t get his side of the story in the book, so it’s amazing through the magic of the movie to understand how greed and power are an easy lure. But before all the Truffula Trees disappear you get to see them on the big screen and they are beautiful. The forest of Truffula trees is amazing…it’s how you’d imagine it from the book. My kids also really like how funny the Humming-Fish are in the movie…kind of understated humour and they got it and liked it!

I’m not going to go through the entire movie with this review. I want people to watch it and don’t want to spoil it. I do want to talk about my two favorite scenes in the movie and they are so understated (and brilliant) but I don’t think you’ll mind if I share them.

When the Once-ler cuts down the first Truffula tree to make a sneed, the Lorax pops out of the tree stump. We know this part from the book. But in the movie I love how the character The Lorax starts to place rocks around the tree stump and it’s a beautiful moment where he works with the animals to create a monument around something of great importance that has died.  The animals in the forest (Humming-Fish and Bar-ba-loots) all lend a hand and soon the stump is surrounded by rocks. They flash to this stump at the end of the movie when all the trees have been cut down. This was understated brilliance number one from the movie.

My other favorite part in the movie was when Betty White’s character (the very fun and wise grandmother in the movie) sees the Truffula seed her grandson is given and says to the seed “Oh!  I remember you!” and is so excited. You see, she is the only character in the movie that actually remembers what a real tree looks like. I haven’t seen the movie producers or other movie reviewers talk about the importance of giving a grandparent such a key role in the film, but I think it’s brilliant that she is one of the main characters and heroes in the movie. I wonder if they are making reference to how today’s society is moving towards harkening back to how our grandparents did things in our desires to become more ‘eco’. Actions and everyday life that is ‘green’ to us was just how it was more than 60 years ago. Plastic did not exist and the environment was treated with so much more respect, but it wasn’t out of a way to be ‘green’ or ‘cool’ . . . it simply just was.  If they meant to do this – I got the message loud and clear. Relying on the expertise and knowledge of the grandmother in the movie truly helps save the day in the film and she was my favorite character.  A good lesson to take away from the movie – learn from older generations. They have so much knowledge on how to do things better…that includes not indulging in over-consumption of  ‘things’ and ‘stuff’.

I was expecting to face palm or roll my eyes at the ‘romantic’ element in the movie. I mean, really, it’s Dr. Seuss. . . but unlike other parents I’ve heard make mention of the romantic story-line, it was very low-key and gave the older crowd in the audience a laugh.  The elephant in the room I do need to write about is the amount of commercialism associated with The Lorax.  I’m a rational enough person to separate commercialism via car sponsorship, toys, and many other items of Lorax merchandise we don’t need….but is everyone? I’ve read the uproar over Mazda using the ‘Lorax approved’ button to sell gas fueled cars but the sponsorship relationship that got me upset was the one signed with Target. For me, Target (which we don’t have in Canada) is an equivalent of Walmart (which we have plenty of in Canada) and why this company was given the rights to distribute and mass commercialize this movie still has me shaking my head. If the movie producers wanted to really make a statement, they would have not have made more ‘stuff’ that adds to the problem of over-consumption and greed that is so harmful to the environment. This is the goal of the movie – to educate against consumption. “Biggering and biggering” was the problem and the song routine that really drove home these words and also included messages of greed and power. In my opinion, this was a colossal error and I encourage parents to not buy that stuffie or plastic toy their child wants with the Lorax’s face attached and explain to the child why you’re not buying the toy. Take that opportunity to talk about the message and true goal from the book and movie.

I think all parents and children will learn a positive message from the movie The Lorax. Not all children (especially young ones) are able to truly understand what Dr. Seuss  was trying to tell us from the book The Lorax. Sometimes it’s easier to see it on the big screen where there is more detail and a longer timeline to get the message across. I asked my sons what message they took away from the movie and Angelo responded “unless people care a lot about nature, bad things will happen to it”.  It was my older son’s short response that really surprised and delighted me “only take what you really need from nature”.  I’m glad I have a reference point now with my younger daughters when we talk about plastic toys, nature, and our own consumption. It is much easier to point to messages from the movie with the younger crowd. Thumbs up and I’m excited to see change inspired by the retelling of this brilliant and beautiful story!!

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I loved looking back on the article I wrote about the book The Lorax from 4 years ago. I still love the book this much and take away a new message every time I read it to my children. Here is the post:

The Greenest Book You’ll Buy….and It’s Dr. Seuss!

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Holistic Dentistry & Mercury

It was very exciting to receive news this week that I’d be able to interview Dr. Ara Elmajian – an amazing resource for holistic dentistry practices. I had recorded the questions I’ve received from Mommy Footprint readers since July so I hope I’ve done justice to all of you wanting information on fluoride and mercury fillings. Let me start with my own thoughts on holistic dentistry. I’ve thought for awhile now that traditional dentistry would be the next area of major concern with chemical exposure. When I ask friends that are very green what they do to limit their chemical exposure with dentistry and they pause and answer “I’ve never thought of that before”, I get nervous. And my cause for concern is real because we as a society don’t think to ask what is being put into our mouth with dentistry. Or maybe they do think to ask, but it promoted by a health concern and the prevention stage for healthier dentistry is no longer relevant.  After talking to Dr. Elmajian, I’m 100% convinced that there are many cover-ups with mainstream dentistry and I thank him for being totally frank in this interview.  But since he’s had these beliefs for over 30 years, this new-age revelation of mine and so many other parents is old news. I thank him for his patience while I asked questions I’m sure he’s answered many times. Here are snippets of our conversation.

Dr. Elmajian started off by stating the US is considering banning mercury in dental work at the government’s level. Although he agreed with my thoughts that phasing out would be a slow process. Dr. Elmajian pointed out that dentists being trained today are still taught how to use mercury fillings in universities across North America. So the question of “is mercury/amalgam fillings still being used in dentistry today” is void. Yes. Dentists are using it, being taught how to use it, and it will be up to you to ask questions about what is going into your mouth. Many old fashioned dentists will continue, no matter what is legislated so it’s up to you. For me, I’ll start treating dentist visits like being a consumer, purchasing a product.  Ask questions and keep asking until you find out and understand what they are putting in your mouth.

 

“So what is the best alternative to fill a cavity or filling?” I asked. Dr. Elmajian answered that ideally it’s best to have compatibility testing done. Immune systems can be sensitive to many different materials. Lots of people have allergies to gold, white filling do contain a resin, etc., so compatibility testing can ensure your body is happy with the material being used with dentistry. Also, new ceramic materials are gaining in popularity. This testing is approx. $300 and you have blood drawn to decide what is the best material for your mouth. When I asked about people having major health problems, chronic infections, these can be caused when mercury and other metals combined leading to mercury vapors leaching into your mouth, that process is called oral galvanism. Dr. Elmajian mentioned the video called Smoking Tooth because it describes how with every time you chew, mercury vapors are escaping that could lead to cardiovascular, immune, arthritis problems and many health issues related to heavy metal toxicity.

 

One look at Dr. Elmajian’s website, www.draraelmajian.ca and you’ll be happy with the amount of information you’ll discover about detoxing the body of mercury, he is passionate about this subject. He advises that mercury fillings are always leaching. Always you might ask?  He will say always.  When you chew, drink water, and the 2nd video on his website you will see the vapors that escape from mercury when eating. He said that a filling can be in your mouth for 100 years and mercury vapors will still leach. So you can understand at this point why I stopped asking any questions related to “is mercury a dangerous material for dentistry?”  The answer every time will be yes. And the process to remove the mercury is also dangerous so it’s important to do your research and go to a facility that uses proper suction system and procedures. Dr. Elmajian’s website can give you more information on what is involved with a mercury filling removal – it is a treatment process, not just involving the removal. There is diagnostic work, the removal, and follow up detox processes. At this point in our conversation I asked “do you wait for an illness to occur before thinking about removing mercury?” Dr. Elmajian laughed because this is not a question he can answer. Neither can I. Only you can. Dr.Elmajian believes in individualized care because each person has their unique biochemical individuality including how much, for example heavy metals their bodies could tolerate. Also the rate of detoxification by our eliminating organs, such as the kidney, liver etc… differ in individuals. Therefor, you have to take all of that in consideration. He left me with the question of “why would you want your system burdened with putting a material such as mercury in the body?” The birth of neurological disease, Alzheimer’s surfaced 30-50 years ago – there is no doubt in Dr. Elmajian’s mind that the brain is loaded with heavy materials and dentistry and neurological disease have some relationship.

Prevention is the key. We have the information, now we need to prevent. I asked what parents can do when their children have been told they have cavities (as mine do). He said the composite can be used, but with caution. When I asked about using Gold in an adult’s mouth he said there are many people that react to gold because of allergies and that the new ceramics that are emerging are good alternatives and yes, then are adhered with a thin bonding material. Dr. Elmajian also shared that parents across North America that are looking for answers or resources to contact, can log onto the following sites: www.IABDM.com  or www.IAOMT.com (great site – you can find dentists in your province and state that don’t use mercury!).

The discussion of fluoride was also a very passionate topic with Dr. Elmajian. For over 25 years, fluoride has been an unnecessary addition into our bodies. Because it’s in the food chain, we are still getting access to it – even if it’s not in our drinking water, toothpaste, or dental routine. He agreed that xylitol is good with combating the ‘bugs’ that cause tooth decay. Simple to understand: acid = decay. Bugs eat the xylitol and therefor don’t produce the acid. In addition to using xylitol, genetic makeup says a lot about the condition of your teeth, proper hygiene is huge (proper plaque removal), and taking a good liquid form of minerals to absorb into the body. Liquid minerals, Dr. Elmajian explained are very important because we don’t get enough minerals in our food. Also proper brushing and flossing is important because plaque is composed of many colonies of millions of microbes of different genetic make up. Some are known to cause cardiovascular disease and auto immune disease. The decay causing microbe is called strep mutans. The microbes that create acid can destroy our tooth enamel. When plaque is removed, these steps won’t occur.  I called Planet Organic and they told me that liquid minerals are available (their brand is called Liquid Mineral Concentrace) and although minerals are available in tablet, the system will absorb the liquid form more quickly.

 

I’d like to thank Dr. Elmajian for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk with me. It must be very rewarding for Dr. Elmajian to be a pioneer in the world of holistic approaches with dentistry. Traditional dentistry seems to have some ‘old boys club’ type characteristics and it is up to you to question your dentist. It’s no longer the greenie hippies talking about the dangers of fluoride and mercury. Talk to your doctor, talk to a holistic doctor, and talk to your naturopath until you are comfortable with the answers given for dental care. We need to think about what is being put in a porous area of our body and what the effects are with heat, cold, grinding, and age. Wow – such an enlightening day and although this journey can be scary, I always like to embrace the knowledge that certain professions and traditional ‘experts’ don’t have the answers. Rather, many beliefs in dentistry seem out of date and downright dangerous if these people aren’t questioned. Thank you Dr. Elmajian – I hope to be back with more questions…thank you for the last 30 years of holistic dentistry & knowledge.

 

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