Tag Archives | dryer sheets

Pesticide Free Lawn!

It’s been a long time since we’ve run a contest but an opportunity to network with David Suzuki’s, Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter and the Canadian Cancer Society has me waving my hands in the air! Do you garden pesticide-free and are proud of it?  Five contest winners will be mailed a lawn sign. Sounds simple, but the ripple effect of  informing people that your lawn and garden is treated without chemicals is super effective with these signs. And the best part is the artwork makes the connection that pesticides are connected to cancer.  There isn’t a more simple way to educate that pesticides are bad for human health …especially for children and pets.

We’ve learned that anything that makes your life easy with quick convenience is usually not healthy for the environment or human health. The examples are too numerous to mention: self cleaning ovens, air deodorizers, dryer sheets, plastic in the kitchen, non-stick pans, convenience foods, & more!  Fast acting weed killer, chemical bug deterrents, lawn fertilizers are simply a convenient option for lawn & garden care (and are not healthy). As we look towards Spring and lawn care, think of greening the outdoors and show off to your neighbors that you’re taking this step!

There are some great all natural lawn treatment tips listed below. Enter for a chance to win a sign by posting a comment on both (extra entry) Facebook fan pages: Mommy Footprint and Queen Of Green. Lindsay will be mailing out 5 signs to contest winners and the contest is open until February 18th for North American residents. Here’s how they look on my front grass:

Need some scary facts to ditch the pesticides this year?  Here are some information from the article by Cathy Vakil MD from the Suzuki Foundation site and her research with 104 studies looking at a number of different cancers & Pesticides:

~ Most of these found a link between pesticide exposure and cancer.

~ Increases in Non-Hodgkin lymphoma were found in farmers, pesticide production workers and golf course superintendents, and one study in children found elevated rates of the cancer when pesticides were used in the home and when parents had occupational exposure.

~ Other studies showed that exposure to pesticides in early childhood, prenatally and even pre-conception may increase risk of leukemia.

~ All the studies on brain and kidney cancer showed increased risk with pesticide exposure even in the children of exposed workers.

~ All eight papers on prostate cancer showed elevated incidence in workers who were exposed to pesticides, with one showing higher rates in exposed workers with a family history of prostate cancer.

How can you adopt some better strategies for maintaining your grass and garden without chemicals? Best tips include:

~ Bring on the vinegar!  We put white vinegar in a spray bottle and the kids have lots of fun squirting the weeds. Not as effective as chemical weed killer, but safe and fun because the kids can help. We also pull out our weeds manually!  Really helps with stress and I love it when the kids help me and we talk about all the bugs under the weeds we’ve pulled. There are ‘grips’ or ‘arms’ that can also be purchased to assist with pulling out stubborn weeds from lawn or garden.

~ Ladybugs are great for gardens!  You can purchase refrigerated ladybugs from garden stores so they are still. Put them in your kid’s hands and when they warm up, they fly into the garden. A really great activity for Earth Day month or preparing your pesticide free garden!

~ Find a suggested deterrent for the bug or pest assaulting your garden. I personally love slugs, but if they are impacting your garden, leave out 1/2 a citrus fruit.  Check out the Fine Gardening site for a natural deterrent for the bug giving you a hard time. . . . awesome information in this article!! Remember to first research bugs that are actually assisting your garden’s health (lady bugs, spiders, etc.) since you don’t want to get rid of them!

~ Slugs and snails can be deterred by using crushed egg shells or coffee grounds!  Great tip for those of you with overflowing compost buckets or bins. Up-cycle this waste into your garden instead!

~ Mix Dr. Bronners liquid with water and spray on diseased plants.  Another great reason for using Dr. Bronners!!  It’s our only cleaner here and now it can be used outdoors too – so awesome!

~ Do your research if purchasing all natural lawn care treatments advertised as ‘organic’ . There is a ton of ‘greenwashing’ out there on this topic and needs to be researched with a garden expert. Take the time to talk to your local garden shop and treat your lawn safely. Toxic exposure on a lawn or garden effects more than just your family – birds and backyard visitors can be also be harmed so help make your neighborhood a safer place to grow and play!

Related Articles:

Eco-Cleaning Made Easy

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Going Forward From Earth Day – 5 Tips

We know I’m not one for keeping it short, but I figure I’ve expanded on posts dear to my heart already within the article so I’ll include the link if you’d like more information. I honestly believe that at this point we are all making conscience decisions in our everyday lives and maybe that’s why Earth Day felt a little less hyped this year. If that is the case – that is awesome. If you are new to the process of ‘greening’ your life, here are 5 tips that will help you. Also remember, anything that is harmful to the environment is also toxic to human health. So if you’re not quite ready to change your lifestyle or consumerism for the planet, think about making these changes to help your family live a longer and healthier life.  Here we go!

1) Vow to never again use the self cleaning option on your oven. This convenience based option is known to kill household pets. Non-stick surfaces combined with very high heat produces a terrible toxic off-gassing that is not healthy for your household. Read more here.

2) Take an hour and review your personal care products on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is the best resource for identifying cosmetics, sunscreen, personal care products that might contain toxic ingredients. This is a valuable resource to check before you go shopping for that next bottle of shampoo or item for baby. With the number of options out there today, check out how your cosmetics score and switch over to non-toxic, organic products.

3) Think about your family’s fragrance. What does this mean? When you go out in public – is there any part of you that could cause a reaction to someone sensitive to synthetic scents? I get a reaction from people that use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Think about the synthetic scents you omit in public including perfumes, deodorants, household cleaners/air fresheners, and laundry routine. For more information click here.

4) Let the outdoors in! Did you know that the inside of your home is probably filled with more toxins that the outdoors? Ban all room deodorizers and simply open a window. Let the fresh air truly ‘freshen’ your home and eliminate odors. For more information click here.

5) Consumerism…this one’s important. It’s the biggest problem with the environment and the clutter taking over our homes. You need to think about every purchase you make. Where will it end up? Where was it manufactured? What is it made from? These are the questions we should ask every time we purchase that next Easter gift, birthday gift, clothing shop, etc. If nothing else, you asking these questions will promote change. I have personally witnessed this shift in consumerism mentality. I know parents love to ask “where is this product manufactured?” I know from asking hundreds of parents that they will pay more for having something made locally and supporting a local artist or toy maker. Let’s keep this shift in how we shop going and reach every industry and let them know it’s important. We want locally manufactured goods that are safe for our families. Period. It’s no longer acceptable to produce toxic toys overseas and have our children play and wear toxic chemicals. My hope is that by this day next year, Earth Day is only symbolic of what we incorporate into our lives everyday and that we ask ourselves these questions everyday.

I read an article by Lisa Frack from EWG that made me really think about Earth Day changes and wanted to share. For more information on changes you can make that will help your health and planet, read her article called If You’ve Done One Thing, You’ve Done Something. I for one will be looking into a water filter. I also have a few idea I’ll be implementing at my kid’s school that I’ll share. What about you?

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All-Natural Tips For Managing Childhood Eczema

The Mommy Footprint site began after I became frustrated with the medical advice being offered for my daughter’s eczema 2 years ago.  Only after I sent an email to 5 moms with kids that suffered with sensitive skin, did I get answers. My Isabella hasn’t had an outbreak in over a year and I have a ‘recipe’ of tips that have been very effective. I’m not a Doctor and don’t claim to have a cure for eczema, but because all of my suggestions are completely natural – there’s no harm in trying. After writing out the ‘eczema recipe’ for parents in stores, gymnastic facilities, and over email, it’s time to Mommy Footprint my routine in one article. I realized a few months ago when the routine changed, how effective it really was when Isabella’s skin started to react.  More on this later…

Step 1: Personal Care Products

Many traditional soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. contain phthalates and synthetic chemicals. For this reason, they are not healthy for any one’s skin, but especially not a child with sensitive skin. For children with eczema, organic skin care is a must. And try to really streamline how often you are applying even organic products to a child’s body. Do you use soap or shampoo on your baby/child everyday? If so, this is just not necessary.  I never use soap on my daughter or very occasionally if she has paint or really dirty feet and I wash her hair once every 3 months. Even if you’ve sourced all organic care products – you don’t need to use them often on a young child. A child or baby with eczema should only bath in clear water – no bubble bath, paint tablets that change the color of the water, etc.  Also, a big step that I missed at the start of Isabella’s journey is proper maintenance of cleaning my bathtub. There are two problems to eliminate before your baby or child with eczema takes a bath: residue from mommy or daddy’s personal care products and residue from cleaning products. The solution is to wash the bathtub before your child takes a bath and only use organic cleaning solution with a microfiber cloth. Right now I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps to clean my tub and a Norwex microfiber cloth. For the longest time I kept forgetting that my soap and shampoo/conditioner left residue in the bathtub and that would aggravate Isabella’s skin. This point was proven when I worked for 3 consecutive days and my husband was in charge of bath time. I was taking a bath each morning to get ready for work, then he was giving the kid’s their baths that evening without cleaning the tub first. For the first time in a year, Isabella started getting little red bumps and was on her way to having an eczema outbreak.

Step 2 Laundry Routine

The first question a Doctor will ask when you bring in a child with eczema is “do you use dryer sheets?” I’ve written before about how toxic dryer sheets are for the entire family and removing these from a home will immediately improve your home’s environment. But let’s take this a few steps further for children with eczema. Your laundry soap is important to change to no fragrance and no dyes. I love my Ecos liquid laundry detergent and yes, it’s okay for front loading washing machines. Ecos also has a built-in soy based fabric softener which eliminates the need to use dryer sheets or traditional fabric softener that is terrible for sensitive skin. If you can’t find Ecos (I buy mine at Costco or Planet Organic), find a detergent that is marketed for sensitive skin with no fragrance.

Step 3 Household Environmental

My girls like to help clean-up so I needed to ‘green’ those areas if Isabella was going to be helping. Hand soap for dishes was the first area because Isabella loves to play in the sink with bubbles and dirty dishes. I make sure I always have eco-friendly brands available and luckily, these are easy to source.  Isabella also loves helping wash windows. I would never let her spray Windex to ingest, but she uses the Norwex window cloth that only requires spraying water.

My organic cleaner and microfiber cloths have been an amazing solution to spraying toxic cleaners in my home. The Dr. Bronner’s solution is great for cleaning hard wood, counter tops with a microfiber cloth, is made with organic oils, and naturally deodorizes with a wonderful peppermint scent.

Step 4 Direct Skin Contact

If I could afford it, I would replace all my kids t-shirts and PJs with bamboo. But for now, I try to make sure only cotton is against Isabella’s skin.  This is especially important with PJs or nightgowns.

I always find skin irritation occurs when I use crappy sunscreen on Isabella’s skin. I try to only use non-toxic, organic sunscreen.  I never use lotion on her skin either. When she has an outbreak or rash I use Spectro cream because it’s so effective with dry skin.

We haven’t explored play makeup yet, but I invested in non-toxic face paints and they keep all of my kids totally entertained and rash free after we apply them.

This long road of trying to prevent eczema outbreaks and dry skin has been very successful by improving the condition of our home with replacing toxic products that contain chemicals. Isabella was my inspiration for starting Mommy Footprint, born from knowing there is real value in parents sharing experiences and lessons learned in their journey. The cortisone cream that I used on Isabella never worked and I wished I had tried the natural route first. I hope these tips help any parent that are currently watching their poor child or baby experience the discomfort that eczema causes.  If you have any tips to add, please post a comment to this article.

Related Articles:

Treatment for Childhood Eczema

Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softner – A Household Toxin

Are Cosmetics Killing Us?

Gaia Natural Baby Lends A Hand With Childhood Eczema

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Gaia Natural Baby Lends A Hand With Childhood Eczema

My daughter Isabella has seasonal childhood eczema.  I don’t know what causes it, but in the winter it flares up and causes rough patches all over her body, face, back, hips, and chest.  To watch her scratch last year and say “Mommy itchy, mommy owwie” was hard because she was only 1 year old and she was my first child to suffer with sensitive skin.  She doesn’t have food allergies and with last year being SO much worse, I’ll attribute her continual flare-up to the personal care products we used on her skin and chemicals we’ve since removed from our household.  Products like shampoo, soap, clothes detergent and dryer sheets, previously laced with fragrance and toxic chemicals, now replaced with fragrance free, eco-friendly, or all natural products.  And don’t get me started about toxic dryer sheets – I discovered they never belonged or served a purpose in my home.

I’d like to focus on a new line-up of products that were introduced to me by Gwen, the owner of Nayla Natural Care.  The product line is from Gaia Natural Baby and she thought of me instantly because I’m always on the look-out for safe, natural products to use on Isabella.  I first became a fan of hers when I noticed she carried very inexpensive BPA free, ice-cube trays for storing baby food.  Ever since writing about this product, Gwen and I have a wonderful rapport because her product knowledge on natural products is outstanding!  She is happy to consult, share, and even point you to a different company or product she doesn’t carry if it can help you.  I trust her product selection and am proud that she’s a fellow Canadian mompreneur making a difference with offering babies, children and moms a line-up of products you can trust.

Gaia Natural Baby is a certified organic brand, made in Australia, started by a family that couldn’t use any traditional products on their child suffering from eczema at 8 weeks old.  They were started in 2002 which makes them a grandpappy company in the world of organic personal care companies.   She too was told cortisone was the only way to treat her son’s sensitive skin (I was told the same thing), an answer she refused to listen to and Gaia Natural Baby was born.  Ingredients are listed on the bottle and rather than the words nobody can pronounce and alcohol being listed, you’ll see:

Certified Organic Calendula Extract ~ Certified Organic Chamomile Extract ~ Certified Organic Evening Primrose Oil ~ Certified Organic Avocado Oil ~ Certified Organic Shea Butter ~ Certified Organic What Germ Oil ~ Certified Organic Lavender Pure Essential Oil ~ Certified Organic Sweet Orange Pure Oil

All things you know are natural – I even got a little hungry while typing that out! <grin>  When Gwen mentioned the lavender scent with the Gaia brand I was hesitant because lavender smell gives me an instant headache…but I agreed because Isabella’s skin has been breaking out in recent weeks.  I’ve been very happy to discover that the scent is lovely and very light; from the shampoo, to the body wash/bubble bath, to the skin moisturizer, just a wonderful, natural and soft experience.  Oh my gosh and the delight that my girls experienced with having bubbles in their tub again after many months in bubble-free water was so fun to watch!  The just loved it and the bath water stayed very moisturizing and the shampoo is fantastic!  Isabella is able to have her hair washed and her skin moisturized in a comfortable, natural way.

So Gaia Natural Baby isn’t joining the fight against childhood eczema, it probably was one of the leaders.  I’m thankful to Gaia Natural Baby’s founder, a mother that decided to trust her instincts and create a company to help her child and many more as a result.  Thanks to Gwen for sourcing these items and telling me about Gaia. 

Nayla is starting to grow and branch out into the natural Eco-Me cleaning kits I keep hearing such good things about.  A truly wonderful store to check out for Valentines Day for that expectant mom or little person deserving these and many other natural gems!  Check out their new arrivals – perfect to kick start Valentines or baby shower planning.

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Are Cosmetics Killing Us?

It’s such a harsh title for an article, but the Environmental Working Group posted a similar title ‘Beauty Secret: Your Make-Up Can Kill You’ and not only did I sit up and read it, I agree.  I’ve long wondered why so many young people seem afflicted with disease and problems that used to happen later in life, and weren’t so common.  Why are 30 year old woman getting breast cancer, why are so many couples struggling with fertility problems, and why the high rate of immune problems?  The list goes on and even to a lesser degree…why have most children you know at one point been diagnosed with either eczema or asthma and why do girls in Grade 6 look so overdeveloped?  Most will agree it’s environmental.  Well what if it’s the chemicals that leech from our plastics, the body care and household products we use to ‘clean’ with, the air freshener we spray around children and pets, or the make-up we apply to make ourselves beautiful?  Even people’s pets these days seem to have higher rates of cancer. 

I’m not a scientist or at all educated on environmental issues, but I do believe much of what watchdog groups like EWG have to say.  After all, they’ve been bang on about bpa and phthalates.  We spend so much time checking labels and ingredients for our children, take a few minutes and review what scores your own body care products receive using the skin deep cosmetic safety database.  If the rating isn’t low, make it a New Year’s resolution to take a trip to Whole Foods, Planet Organic and surround yourself with some natural products.  My Noxzema scored a 4 on the cosmetic database and it’s really the only beauty product I use.  That score doesn’t impress me, so I’ll need to replace with one of the many solutions out there that scored 0-2 which is low level of concern for hidden chemicals, etc.

What are a few easy things you can do today that will remove many chemicals from your home/self immediately?

Use only natural personal care products on yourself and family.  Either that or use nothing at all (when I run out of natural soap and shampoo for my kids, I just use water).  Products purchased with the rest of your groceries (Johnson & Johnson, etc.) contain phthalates and this is not good news if you have boys.  Phthalates attack their reproductive systems and you can’t search for this in an ingredient list…it’s a chemical that manufacturers sneak into products masked with the word ‘fragrance’ on the bottle.  So steer clear of anything with fragrance for your entire family….yes even Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo contains phthalates! Read more here: Protect Your Family From Phthalates In Your Home

Get rid of fabric softener or dryer sheets.  One of the most toxic things in your home…they release chemicals two ways:  through the skin and in the air.  Just stop using them and find out natural ways to help with static cling. Read more: Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softener – A Household Toxin

Don’t spray febreeze, air freshener, or plug-in room deodorizers… they are only masking odor with chemicals released through fragrance for your family to ingest.

Replace your cleaning supplies.  Ever wondered why your head is pounding after cleaning the bathroom or glass windows?  If you are spraying traditional cleaning agents, your headache is from inhaling toxins. Your children, family, and pets are also inhaling and touching those products. Eco-friendly cleaning products are sold everywhere these days and not only are they much better for the environment, but it’s much easier to clean thanks to companies like Norwex! Read more: Norwex – Cleaning Without Chemicals

I still find my children bathing or mouthing soft plastic toys.  PVC plastic is dangerous to human health…it’s proven that it releases the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm immune and reproductive systems.  Remove any soft plastic toys that might contain PVC from your home.  Something that still makes me sick is the Vancouver Aquarium gift shop sells isles of soft plastic toys, dolphins, whales, snakes, etc.  Every time I would take my boys there as toddlers, I would buy one of these figures so they could play in the tub with them.  I even bought an octopus for my girl’s to teeth on because the tentacles on the toy felt good against their gums when they were cutting a new tooth.  Last time I was at the aquarium, I noticed a sign under each bucket of these toys that read “PVC”.  It upset me for two reasons.  I had purchased these toxic toys for my kids to mouth, bath, and play with.  I also wondered how many parents know exactly what PVC means and why would they continue to sell them?  If you want to warn people about a product, write the word TOXIC underneath, not an acronym that most people don’t understand.  Sorry to start a rant, but I really suffer from guilt about the world of plastics and how much exposure my family had before the chemicals came to light for parents.

I look forward to highlighting companies in 2009 that are offering natural alternatives to traditional products that we grew up with.  I think we can look around and see that the cleaning agents, cosmetics, fragrances, and world of cooking with plastic, just isn’t working for us anymore.  If you don’t know where to start, check out the wonderfully natural site Nayla Natural Care.  A great place to start to find replacement products for your home.

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