Archive | Local and Organic

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?

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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.

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Glyphosate and 2,4-D What You Should Know

When I started reading reports connecting something called Glyphosate to Parkinson’s I knew this article would be written. I watched my dad struggle and pass away from this disease earlier in the year, so I felt strong enough recently to be open to information linking new theories to this disease. I have to say after researching both Glyphosate and 2,4-D, I’m shocked. And to be honest, I’m scared. But I think we have enough of a community here with knowledge on pesticides and food system concerns to get through this. Are you ready?

Should we start at the beginning? Let’s do a quick review of GMOs and how this scary word glyphosate relates to both genetically modified food and conventional food.

GMO is food grown from genetically modified seed. The company that created them is called Monstanto. They created seeds that can withstand being sprayed with chemicals called Roundup to save farmers time with pulling weeds by hand. Basically the weeds would die, but the plant would remain intact which was celebrated news to farmers because they spend a lot of time weeding.

Fast forward a few years and those weeds are becoming resistant to the Roundup. So now farmers have to use a lot more Roundup to try and kill the weeds. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate. Later in the article you’ll hear what diseases are linked to glyphosate and why it should be avoided, but when crops started to become resistant, Roundup switched to a stronger chemical called 2,4-D, which Health Canada approved in 2012. If the name 2,4-D sounds familiar, it’s because this was an ingredient in Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War.

I recently learned that Canada is 5th in the world as a top producer of GMO crops. The US is number one. 2,4-D is the second most used herbicide in the Canada Prairie agriculture after glyphosate. I had no idea Soy, Corn, and Canola were such large industries in Canada but all it takes is turning over a packaged food item to check out the ingredients to see that corn and soy fillers are used in most processed food that is not organic.

One large area of mis-information with GMOs is wheat. And I think I know why. Farmers use Roundup to grow wheat. This doesn’t mean that wheat is grown from GMO seeds, but it does mean that the wheat is treated with either glyphosate or 2,4-D before it’s harvested. If you are an advocate for clean food, this would mean the wheat is now chemical food and really makes you wonder if glyphosate is more of a problem than gluten. I’m sure that farmers growing food both locally and imported – widely use Roundup on crops even though that food is not grown from GMO seed (or called Roundup ready crop). And if the Roundup contains the chemical 2,4-D we are talking about a chemical that was used in a war that had devastating effects on agriculture, people and animals. This chemical is routinely used in pre-sowing and pre-harvest application of crops to control insects, weeds, and plant disease. And again, the crops don’t have to be GMO in order to be treated with Roundup pesticide.

And being really new to the topic of glyphosate, I needed a source to start at the beginning. And I found that with Tony Mitra and a recent podcast he taped with Stephanie Seneff who is a senior research scientist. She is controversial for her studies linking connections between glyphosate and a host of disorders but what I liked about this podcast was both Tony and Stephanie are easy to understand. The interview is scary, but not overly scientific and I recommend it for someone wanting the basics on pesticides if they are already uncomfortable with the idea of food containing chemicals. Here are some basic points from the podcast (you will quickly find how controversial Stephanie’s studies are, but the links between glyphosate and autism in particular are hard to ignore):

– glyphosate disrupts gut bateria. This active ingredient in Roundup starts a consequence of disruptions in our bodies that starts with gut bacteria.

– in 1970, 1 in 10,0000 kids were diagnosed with autism. By next year, she predicts that 1 in 30 boys will be diagnosed. She believes the direct connection are roundup ready soy and corn crops.

– the direct correlation between the amount of Roundup used on food and the rise in Autism can be connected.

– glyphosate creates an imbalance in the gut which leads to leaky gut.

– your body is dependent on enzymes and minerals that are important to the body as they are reactive.

– glyphosate is partially responsible for kids getting violent reactions from vaccines. She believes it isn’t the mercury and aluminium in vaccines alone causing reactions such as autism. She believes that it’s the glyphosate in a child’s body that triggers a much more toxic reaction from the aluminium in vaccines.

– gut bacteria is unique for every person and therefore how a body reacts to glyphosate is different.

– Roundup can be linked to global declines in starfish, monarch butterflies, ladybugs, bees and colony collapses, and bats.

– the next of the Monsanto chemicals to enter our food system will be 2,4-D which was an ingredient in Agent Orange.

– as the level of 2,4-D increases, so will the number and frequency of diseases. It’s a chemical treadmill.

– her end of interview advice for people concerned about Roundup? Eat organic food as if your life depends on it.

stephanie

So biggest learning point of this research for me personally? Learning that Roundup is connected with GMO crops but can also be spayed and used on crops that aren’t GMO (grown with genetically altered seed). So until now, I have not been worried about wheat or cane sugar because they are not GMOs, but that is wrong because huge amounts of Roundup is used to treat these crops before it’s harvested. Organic – it’s the only way to beat this. The Canadian and US Governments have and will continue to fail it’s citizens with how ruined our food system has become. The only way to save it is through consumer pressure to grow food with organic farming standards.

My thanks to Dr. Thierry Vrain, Dr. Shiv Chopra, and Tony Mitra who have toured and spoken out against the impact of GE foods. From the first time I’ve listed to Dr. Vrain speak until now, I feel like I’ve learned so much but I know I have a long way to go. It’s a scary journey and these men will be the first to tell you that. As a mom that is trying to protect herself and family from the diseases knocking on doors around us, I feel like this is my journey to learn so I can try to teach and protect the people I care about. This stuff has never sounded far fetched to me, rather the opposite. The connections to disease and the timelines surrounding the spikes when Monsanto was allowed to take over our food system fit. They can’t be ignored, we all just need to plug into it, like no generation has ever done before. Which is scary and seems like a lot of work at first. But what alternative do we have?

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Miou Kids – Fair Trade KnitWear

We have learned fast fashion comes at a price. It’s not displayed on the price tag, rather it’s the dark side of clothing consumers don’t see;  poor manufacturing practices resulting in chemical residue left on clothes. So it’s a pleasure to introduce you to Miou Kids’s line of clothing that has turned knitwear into beautiful, handmade fair trade collections made from baby alpaca wool and organic cotton. The Spring/Summer collection of organic cotton is their current hot seller and perfect for that special Easter outfit. article miou We have teamed up with Miou Kids for a contest and couldn’t decide between the adorable options owner Christine gave us for a contest prize (see above). Which one is your favourite? The lucky winner gets to pick. Here is more on Miou and what makes their collections different and earth friendly.

None can deny that making something from hand rather than machine is special. Both lines of alpaca and organic cotton Miou Collections are made by a certified fair trade company and knitters in Peru receive a fair wage and are able to knit from home while caring for their children. Organic cotton is used and any dyes are eco-friendly. So I guess Miou Kids would be the opposite of fast fashion. Designed by West Coast owner Christine, these collections are produced with nothing but safety, quality, and beautiful manufacturing practises. If I could get people thinking about the true cost of clothing, the question everyone needs to be asking is “why does Big Box clothing costs so little?” There is always a hidden cost to cheap clothing and it’s up to consumers to question what this cost is . . manufacturing practices, chemicals, environmental footprint, etc?

The photographer from Lark Rise Horse House that captured my twins Ecoparty, hosts Beatrix Potter and Easter portraits filled with tea parties, bunnies, chicks, and classic portraits. Any of the Miou line would be a stunning compliment for Easter or Beatrix photos.  Miou and Beatrix Potter are the perfect match – the knit bonnets are so beautiful they would make a special accessory for Easter this month. Before you enter our contest, here are a couple of interesting tips on ‘slow fashion’ from Miou that I through were very interesting. Did you know?

 1) Huge quantities of fossil fuel are needed to create machine knitted garment.
 2) Cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world.
 3) Natural fibres not only have a smaller carbon footprint then synthetic but also have the advantage of being biodegradable.
 4) Alpaca is one of the most eco-friendly wool available.
Our thanks to Miou Kids for working with us to showcase clothing that’s produced with love and environmental commitment.  Good luck to all of you with the contest – I definitely want to see pictures from the winner! This contest is open to all residents in North America and will close midnight April 12th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Contest entry note ** I’m excited that my friends from Groovy Green Livin, Bit Of Mom Sense, and I Don’t Blog are on board to help spread the word about Miou and this contest. They are the extra entries on the Rafflecopter post so please give them some love and follow their blogs.

Related Posts:

5 Tips To Reduce Chemicals In Clothing

5 Tips For Hosting An Eco Party

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5 Tips For Hosting An Eco Party

My baby girls turned 8 years old and to celebrate we headed to their happy place Aldor Acres Farm in Langley. Not only were we blessed to host this party at this amazing farm, Raeleigh from Lark Rise Horse House Photography joined us to capture pictures and memories. I highly recommend bringing a photographer to special parties, especially if they are hosted outside.  The natural lighting, nature backdrop and that ‘eye’ that talented photographers have makes all the difference from snapping your own pictures. And it allows you to truly enjoy the day and be in the moment, rather than concentrating on working a phone/camera. Follow both of these businesses here and here because what they share on Facebook, will bring you many smiles.

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There is no reason for parties to generate more waste than practices in your everyday life. If you have an environmental commitment, it’s easy to incorporate these values into hosting a really fun Eco party!

5 Tips For Hosting An Eco Party

1) Limit Waste. You are hosting a party, not contributing to mass consumerism so why is a party any different than the rest of your life? Try to limit garbage. Especially if hosting at a park or farm, you don’t want to leave the event with a trunk load of garbage. We requested party guests bring reusable water bottles and used compostable tableware; palm plates, recycled napkins and wooden cutlery. We also requested no gifts which really helped limit non-recyclable gift wrap and plastic toy packaging.  The twins have special reusable party banners so this also limits disposable waste from cheap decorations.

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2) Re-think Goodie Bags. It’s easy to hit a dollar store and fill up a little bag of trinkets, but there are so many ways to send guests home with a give-away that is fun and eco-friendly. At this party we brought hanging baskets and the kids potted strawberry plants. They also received a little treat in a handmade bunny bag, but hopefully this summer when they see the first signs of strawberries, they’ll remember our party and their introduction to planting.

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3) Eco Party Games. Classic party games are always a huge hit. We started with an egg toss and since we were at the farm, we had lots of space. I can’t believe it was my kids first time doing an egg toss and to increase the fun we didn’t boil them first. One of my sons ended up with egg on his face and hair..it was awesome! This was the most popular game and we had to buy more eggs from Aldor Acres because they wanted to keep playing. We continued with sack races (old coffee burlap bags) and three-legged race using ties my husband doesn’t use anymore. The burlap sacks and ties gave the games a cool vintage vibe. The classic party games are always amazing..kids yearn for simple things. Fun party memory was all the kids watching the dads have a sack race.

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4) Host a Donation Party. As parents we feel guilty about many things. Since my twins have older siblings that only have donation parties, I started the girls early in life with no gift parties. Then last year I felt guilty that they didn’t have the experience of opening gifts and switched it to a gift party. I was quickly reminded of that huge layer of waste when party guests bring gifts. From the gift wrap to plastic packaging  – it’s a lot. We switched back to a donation party this year and it was amazing. We will be donating the money collected to tinykittens – a foster home for rescue cats and kittens. My twins love holding and watching kittens, so they are very excited to visit and deliver their donations to this amazing place and sponsor a healthy kitten from birth to adoption.

5) Give an Experience. I love hosting parties where guests get to experience something new or get a close look at things my family loves. From our love of Harry Potter, indoor rockwall climbing, forest fairy walks and scavenger hunts, to now sharing the magic of Aldor Acres. I love to watch the excitement from my usually introverted twins build and become contagious with their friends about party themes. When you love where and what you doing, so will the people around you. How often do you get to participate in a goat parade and help herd them? This along with holding lots of baby bunnies, goats, lambs,  hay ride, and having space to run and play with your friends. . . kids love it. And don’t be fooled, even the teenagers that come to the farm with us love it. There is no age limit bonding with animals and spending time outside.

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I think you would be surprised how happy a farmer would be to share their little bit of heaven with a birthday party. With the Spring and Summer months now here, think about booking your next party outside. Thank you to Lark Rise Horse House for capturing so many moments in time that I’ll want to remember forever. Also, Farmer Melissa and Katie for being incredible role models for my daughters. My kids know that behind the smiling faces that greet them at Aldor Acres Farm are very hard working farmers and it’s important to support such a valuable resource. Thank you for being amazing stewards for farmers in BC’s Fraser Valley.

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Related Posts:

How To Play Muggle Quidditch

Hosting A Harry Potter Party

Scavenger Hunt In The Woods

Eco Kids Party – Fairies & Forest Walks

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

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5 Tips To Reduce Chemicals In Clothing

Since learning about fast fashion, I’m determined to limit chemicals that exist in new clothing for my kids. The concept of stylish clothing or seasonal trends in children’s clothing exists in all larger brands resulting in cheaply and quickly produced fashion. Similar to fast food, fast fashion is produced without attention to detail or concern for ingredients or materials. It’s no wonder this Greenpeace report has raised awareness when twenty-seven products were sent to independent accredited laboratories and investigated for the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), phthalates, per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). It’s freaky. We’ve been avoiding toys for our children that contain lead and other carcinogens, but we still think we’ve scored a bargin when buying that $2 t-shirt!

Here are 5 ways you can start minimizing the problem of toxic clothing in your home and it begins with shopping with a new set of rules.

1. Shift your mindset. Just like the clean, organic food we consume, there is a higher cost with buying new, quality made clothing. It’s not something to complain about because like food, you appreciate the quality and craftsmanship involved with a purchase. Once you adjust your mindset, it’s amazing how quickly you don’t mind the higher price tags. You gain a sense of peace and pride when bringing carefully selected clothing into your household to enjoy.

2. Buy less. We’ve taken off the blinders with so many aspects of healthier living. We understand that 1 box of organic cereal costs the same as 3 boxes of GMO, sugar filled cereals. We’ve accepted this with our food so why do we buy 5 t-shirts when they go on sale for $2 at a big box store? It’s scary to think that you can buy new cheaply made clothing for less than 2nd hand! We know that there is a cost to this low price. The people that have made the garments have been paid very little and the materials used to make a $2 t-shirt are cheap. So cheap that just maybe, that t-shirt contains harmful ink, pesticide treated fabric, and hormone disruptors or lead plastic decals and design. That cheap t-shirt suddenly isn’t so appealing and shouldn’t be seen as something exciting.

3. Shop local. It’s the question I get asked the most. Where can you find locally made clothes?  Well I’m happy to say it exists. More and more small and indie businesses are manufacturing locally made clothing and they are getting easier to find. If you are having trouble finding something, post a question on our Fan Page and we’ll find a designer for you. Rain gear, bathing suits and shoes are still pretty tough to find, but you can find certified Öko-Tex brands for rain protection.

4. Buy 2nd hand. I get it – I have four kids that go through stages of loving a t-shirt with Spiderman or a beloved character on the front. This doesn’t mean that you need to purchase new clothing.  Chemicals in clothing are lessoned with wear and washing, not to mention used clothing feels better for the same reasons. It would be impossible to afford all locally made or organic clothing so get in the habit of frequenting thrift stores, buy/sell sites, and clothing swap meets. Shopping used also removes the temptation to buy latest trends in fashion which has a shelf life. Rather, 2nd hand shopping promotes classic purchases that have longevity.

5. Read clothing labels. Checking a clothing label will tell you two things quickly – if the company is proud of where it’s manufactured (Made In Canada or USA is something clothing lines like to promote) and what the article of clothing is made from. Just like the habit of reading food labels, clothing labels deserve the same few minutes. Learn what it means to wear synthetic fabrics. The most cheaply made clothing I’ve seen contains polyester and this means flame retardants exists next to your child’s skin. This can easily be avoided by sticking with 2nd hand cotton clothing or new organic clothing lines.

I don’t think either of my daughters have ever worn a new pair of jeans – 2nd hand feels better. Pictured below is my 7 year old clothing label reading ninja. The first thing she wants to know when buying clothing is does it contain polyester. She has skin sensitivities so we’ve done our best to keep her in more natural fabrics since she was a baby. She also has sensory needs with clothing and prefers how 2nd hand clothing or locally made brands feel on her skin.

I hope the awareness expands for sustainable fashion in North America. The divide in price between big box and locally manufactured clothing is huge and the reason is demand. We have not yet wrapped our minds around the environmental toll fast fashion or big box fashion brands place on our planet. Maybe as parents, if we imagine that toll with our health, the shift will come. By reducing and shopping with a new set of rules for fashion, the planet and human health will benefit, while a new sector of locally made fashion will finally be able to flourish.

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