Tag Archives | toxic chemicals

DIY Hand Sanitizer For Children

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

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

DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Related Articles:

DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc

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BPA – Are You Still Here?

Happy New Year! I wanted to start the New Year with going back to basics on forms of chemical exposure. I’m starting with BPA because after so many years it still receives so much media attention. Did you know that researching BPA was one of my reasons for starting Mommy Footprint 4 years ago? I had four children under the age of five and our world revolved around sippy cups, lunch containers and cooking utensils. The hype back at this time was water & baby bottles and discovering they contained BPA. Some countries like Canada banned the use of BPA in baby products, but have done little to ban it from other sources, aluminum cans for example.  If you want to think about BPA in the most simple of ways and then brain dump the info (my favorite thing to do) so that you can move your focus onto the next class of chemicals to reduce from your life, do two things:

Do not purchase or use plastic to drink or eat from. It’s very simple…there so many great options on the market now: stainless steel and glass are the best in my opinion because they are dishwasher safe and besides from small amounts of nickel that leach from stainless steel, they are stable materials to reuse. With kids think stainless steel because if dropped on the floor it bounces rather than glass that will of course break.  Everywhere I go, I still see toddlers drinking from plastic sippy cups.  The argument from parents would be that these cups were marketed as BPA-free. I don’t trust it because I’ve read reports that products have been tested that are sold as BPA-free and still contained BPA!  You are also never supposed to dishwash plastic because the high temperatures will break down the plastic composite and busy parents love the convenience of dishwashing.  At the bottom of this article, I will link to my articles about using melamine dishware, Tupperware products and why I don’t use them. I also don’t use food grade silicone in my kitchen – the research isn’t there for me yet that this material is stable enough to handle freezing and hot temperatures.  And yes, I’m making this longer than it needs to be….if you want to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from plastic. (Tips on doing this are listed at the bottom of the article)

The 2nd way to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from cans. Could it really be this simple?  Well it’s really not if you think about all the different purposes we use cans such as pop, tomato sauce, beans, convenience alphagettis, canned soup, aluminum water bottles, etc. Aluminum is toxic to humans so all cans need to be lined with a material to separate the liquid or food from touching the can – this is where BPA enters our food system. All cans are lined with an epoxy liner that contains BPA which is why levels of BPA are high in teenagers.  Think about all the coke, convenience food they eat. So before you cook or drink out of that can ask yourself two questions: ” can I make this from scratch rather than using a can?” (tomato sauce, soup, etc.) and “is there an alternative to how this food or drink is packaged?” (tomato sauce packaged in glass bottles, beer in glass, etc.) Science has recently suggested that BPA is linked to diabetes. What if our love for canned beer and coke have helped increase rates of diabetes?  So not just the sugary liquid is hurting our health by the way it’s packaged!!

Why do we need to avoid BPA? Even low dose exposure has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and because of the estrogen-like properties of BPA it’s also linked to breast & prostate cancer, early puberty, behavior problems, and reproduction issues.  Exposure to BPA doesn’t seem to just effect you while in the moment, unfortunately it’s a chemical that is found in our fetuses so the real cause for concern is how it effect babies with such small systems to process and flush a chemical such as BPA.  So for many people if you have older children this might need be the chemical at the top of the list to focus on for 2012 and how to reduce it. A chemical to be aware of for sure – but when stacked up to lead exposure, flame retardants, and PFC (non-stick)..there are definitely more toxic chemicals that exist with human health. With flame retardants being referred to as the asbestos of our generation…I feel like the education for the general public needs to advance away from BPA. Yes it’s a toxic chemical that effects human health but adults flush this chemical quite quickly from our systems. And this is why I write this article to start 2012. I see BPA mis-quoted all the time in social media when trying to avoid chemical exposure. In writing this article, if you are eliminating the two steps listed above with plastic contact to food/water and canned food you are eliminating much of your contamination from BPA. With the chemical being produced in the billions of tons each year, it’s already in our water system so exposure cannot be totally eliminated. But here at Mommy Footprint we like to control our own destiny, so this is my recommendation for those concerns with this chemical. Ditching water system jugs that are coded a 7, not reading newspapers and switching to receiving your news online (BPA is in newspaper print) and not taking printed receipts (receipt paper contains BPA) will also help you, but there are not as easy to eliminate as step 1 and 2 outlined above.

Here are more article and all of the articles I’ve written over the years on BPA can be found in this category: BPA Plastics

Below are some great reads to get your caught up on food and liquid preparation without BPA. Want to get caught up in the world of BPA exposure – these articles should do it!

BPA in Dental Sealant?
http://mommyfootprint.com/holistic-dentistry-mercury/

BPA Alternative with Ice Cube Trays:
http://mommyfootprint.com/mommy-footprint-chemical-free-ice-cubes/

Finding Food in Glass Jars: http://mommyfootprint.com/finding-food-in-glass-jars/

Plastic & Melamine: http://mommyfootprint.com/pssst-plastic-melamine-can-we-talk/

Tupperware & BPA: http://mommyfootprint.com/tupperware-bpa-2-years-later/

Alternatives To Freezing Food in Plastic: http://mommyfootprint.com/alternatives-to-freezing-food-in-plastic/

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What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts over the last few months at Mommy Footprint. The last time I experienced this, I was listening to a dietitian named Jen talk ~ things started clicking together and I made changes. My sudden insight of late comes after many hours reading what the experts at EWG have to say, watching the Disappearing Male documentary, and getting many opinions from moms I trust that are focused on non-toxic households. It’s a feeling that actually saddens me because anyone that knows me is aware I love toys. Not at a normal level ~ I enjoy buying them more than my kids enjoy receiving them. I really thought this made me a good mom.

When my Mommy Footprint journey began, many things changed in our household. I began to experience a new awakening of the environment and also an understanding that I need to check products for myself before trusting that big name companies were watching out for my children. Because of financial reasons and having a house that is filled with too much ‘stuff’ I’ve been scaling back for the better part of 11 months and feel quite ashamed of my access in the last 6 years of being a parent. I’ve also realized that many things in my house are indeed toxic; cleaning supplies, personal care products, and toys. My focus with this article is toys and the important lesson for consumers that purchase toys for small children.

There is so much confusion with the terms PVC, phthalates, plasticizers, types of plastic, etc., it still has me scratching my head at times. There are a few things I’ve learned and it would have altered the course of my parenting had I known that most soft plastic toys are toxic. If you knew that a child simply mouthing a PVC plastic toy could be compared to a child sucking chemicals from a sponge wouldn’t you call poison control and find out what the effects were? Well the European Union really had a grasp of this problem back in the 1990’s and banned a lot of products that continue to be sold in Canada and the US ~ why? In 1997 Austria, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden all banned phthalates (one of the most common chemicals used to make plastic soft) from being used in toys.  Why is North America so much slower to react?

PVC is one of the most widely used forms of plastic, but it’s known as a human carcinogen. What would possess a toy manufacturer to use it in toys? We know that during the processing of PVC, dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals known are created and released. Over the course of it’s lifetime, PVC plastic leaks harmful additives and because it’s not recyclable, PVC ends up being burned or sits in a landfill. Burning this plastic is very harmful because dioxins are further released (air pollution), so it most likely ends up sitting in the landfill where it further pollutes our soil.

So I’ve written about soft plastic toys previously because my children have all mouthed and bathed with soft plastic toys their entire lives. What do I know about these toys to date? The chemicals used to make these toys soft pose potential health problems with mainly reproduction and cancer. That’s not a good feeling. I’ve spoken with toy manufacturers and taking the first step would be researching toys that are ‘phthalate free’. But ~ I would go one step further and purchase PVC free toys. If you are purchasing a tubby toy or teething toy, there should not be PVC plastic anywhere near it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sites for non-toxic bath toys (because all my children love playing in the tub) and in all my research, I’ve managed to find only 2 brands/products I would feel 100% comfortable with: Green Toys and Boon.

Another product line I’ve talked about in the past that has been a savior with my kids is Green Toys. I can’t tell you the peace of mind I have when I watch my twins (every night) have a tea party with their Green Toys tea set. Made from recycled Becel containers, I’ve been able to rest assured that chemicals aren’t leeching from the cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pot they play with every night. My best purchase to date for my girls and they’ve just turned three!

I’ve struggled of late with plastic. You think you’ve got your mind wrapped around BPA, phthalates, PVC. etc., then something new comes along and it’s overwhelming. I wish I could zap myself back in time and change many things with my children. Understanding more about toxic products would have really helped me. I’m trying not to be really angry when I read articles published by Greenpeace about the danger of PVC and toys back in 1999. I join their fight against toxic, environmentally destructive, and dangerous toys 10 years later, where I feel like nothing has really changed. I’ve even learned that PVC hard plastic exists with many toys and wonder if Barbie is still made from PVC, like the Greenpeace website confirms. She turned 50 this year ~ I wonder if the manufactures know that there are now alternatives to traditional plastic, like corn or natural rubber.

** Side note to this article ** I did call the Vancouver Aquarium because I wanted to know how their soft PVC plastic toys were produced because of my concerns about phthalates and toxic tubby toys. The manager told me that as of Sept/08, they confirmed that their soft plastic toys were made phthalate free. This made me feel better until my friend posed the question ~ what chemical plasticizers did they use to get the PVC plastic soft? It’s just so true, they have to put some sort of checimal into hard plastic to make it soft, so my advice would be to by-pass all PVC products and stick to non-toxic alternatives.

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Phthalates & BPA Chemicals ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Have you heard about the CBC documentary called The Disappearing Male? A completely fascinating study with experts contributing to the idea that the thousands of man-made chemicals produced in the last 100 years are contributing to boys suffering from a decrease in sperm production, sperm abnormalities, cancer, and genital deformities.  As a mother of two boys, I was totally glued to this 45 minute documentary.  I took notes throughout the film and would like to share the many things I learned.  This topic is so interesting because the 2 chemicals the documentary focused on are BPA and Phthalates – two chemicals I too believe need more attention than only being banned from baby bottles.  There are some scary statistics and harsh realities with watching this video, that I really believe all parents should watch.  Your awareness of how much plastic affects your health will be heightened.  To watch the two minute trailer click here.  Canadians, to watch the 45 min film click here.  Canadians and Americans, to watch the film in 5 chopped up clips, here is the link on YouTube.  I learned so much information, I’m spreading this topic over two Mommy Footprint articles ~ I feel so strongly about this topic and don’t want to overload with too much information within one article.

Part 1: What Is Happening To Boy’s Reproduction and The Human Experiment At Aamjiwnaang

According to the documentary The Disappearing Male, there is a growing body of evidence that something is wrong with the sexual health of human males worldwide.  In the last 50 years, sperm counts have been cut in half ~ scientists believe that boys today, produce 1/2 the sperm their fathers did.  Accompanied with increased rates of male infertility and testicular cancer more than doubled in recent years and why?  Scientists believe that man-made synthetic chemicals are to blame.  In the last 60 years, thousands of man-made compounds have been produced and most have not been tested for how they affect humans.  Examples of these chemicals are BPA, produced to make plastic hard and phthalates to make plastic soft.  It’s not only human scientists noticing these scary trends, but environmental scientists studying animals are finding the same thing…vastly reduced amounts of all male species when living in polluted habitats.  Continue Reading →

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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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