10 more reasons vinegar should be on your grocery list.

vinegarVinegar is always on my grocery list… and I buy it by the gallon.  Today, in fact, I will be using it to help clear our extremely slow-draining bathroom sink.  I’ve also talked about ways to put vinegar to work in household cleaning and laundry, but there are even more ways to substitute vinegar for other remedies and, in some cases, it helps you stay green and avoid chemicals.

Think about this list:

  1. Acne remedy and skin conditioner – dilute 50/50 with water to use as a toner or dab, full strength, on the problem areas.
  2. Clean lime deposits and calcium – we’ve all had build-up in our coffee makers and washing machines.  Fill the coffee maker with lunchboxvinegar and brew it, or add a cup to your washing machine and run a cycle without clothes to give it a good cleaning.
  3. Condition dry hair – shampoo your hair then rinse it with a mix of one cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of water. (Feel free to wash the vinegar out after that initial rinse!)
  4. Deodorize a smelly lunchbox – soak a cloth in vinegar and close it up in the lunchbox overnight to eliminate nasty odors.
  5. Get rid of unwanted weeds – pour in the cracks or crevices or spray directly on the culprits!
  6. Heal a bruise – apply white vinegar for an hour and it will reduce the discoloration and aid healing (time consuming, but it works!).
  7. Prevent cracked hard boiled eggs – add two tablespoons per quart of water before boiling the eggs.
  8. Remove skunk smells – (let’s hope this has happened to your pet and not YOU!) but apply, full strength to your pet’s fur,antz rinse with cold water, and it will reduce the smell dramatically.
  9. Repel pesky ants – mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray in the problem areas.
  10. Stop bug bite itching – dab on the area of the bite and it will relieve the itch.

Undoubtedly vinegar isn’t always the most aromatic and pleasant smell on the planet but given the choice of vinegar over harsh chemicals, I’ll pick the vinegar any time!

Do you have more uses?  Share them!

The dangers that hid in our children’s bath products.

Yes, will the worries ever cease… it seems not, because after researching new bath products for our kids I not only discovered some potential candidates, but also reasons to worry.

tub bubbIt seems there are some serious, and harmful, chemical “monsters” lurking in far too many children’s bath products.  This includes the most common products we all used on our babies (and often continue to use) – Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, Baby Magic and L’Oreal – all are major offenders.

And the two scariest ingredients, you ask? They are 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde (doesn’t THAT one conjure up some horrible images?).  Both are known carcinogens and unbelievably harsh on the skin, especially for young children.

1,4-dioxane is common in personal care products as a foaming agent.  Of course the ingredients won’t actually list it under this name, so avoid ingredients called sodium laureth sulfate, PEG-100 stearate, polyethylene, myreth, oleth and ceteareth-20.

Formaldehyde comes into play when common preservatives (like parabens) used in the bath products release formaldehyde but, of course, this won’t be on the ingredients list either!  Instead, look for and avoid names like quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

It’s absolutely mind boggling.  Sometimes I truly don’t know what to look for and what to avoid, because it seems we need a chemistry degree to have the ability to read between the lines (and I think manufacturers count on that)!
I have heard good things about both Gaia and Weleda, as well as the line of Burt’s Bees Baby (often much easier to find at a local retailer) but we’re currently giving Organix South TheraNeem a try!  The kid’s Shampoo & Bodywash and Conditioner are in use and (as far as my “non-chemistry-degreed-self” can decipher!) they don’t contain any of these scary ingredients!  I also find it fairly interesting that they seems to work wonderfully (and make our kids smell fabulously citrus-y) but they don’t foam-up as much as the common brands and aren’t nearly as thick… hmmm?  A likely side effect of what happens when you remove some of the bad stuff!

I know it will take extra effort, but there are plenty of products out there that are safer options.  If you have something you recommend, please share!

But whatever you do, don’t settle for the old stand-bys just because they’re easy to find and an ad campaign and some slick marketer appealed to your emotional side to sell a product.  Believe me, I used to be one of “them” and things aren’t always as they seem.

Giveaway choice: 4 Skoy cloths or 60 rolls of paper towels!

(This giveaway is now closed for entries.  See winner in comments.)

Huh?  Sounds crazy, but it’s true… one Skoy cloth can take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels! These powerful little cloths have so many amazing qualities; I think I’m in love!

sko yWe all know we use far too many paper towels. Wipe down this, clean up that!  Even if you use a recycled brand, it can get a little excessive (and expensive) and they get thrown away after only one use.  Sponges are another household supply that is essentially useless.  Everyone knows that, after even a short period of time, they get disgusting and flat-out “schtanky” (yes, that IS a word… when the stink goes BEYOND stinky!) And that smell just let’s you know that bacteria is growing in abundance!

So let me give you lowdown on Skoy Cloths (if you haven’t already heard of them!).  These fabulous little cloths are 100% biodegradable because they are made from a natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp.  They are chlorine-free, use water-based colors and dry quickly so they don’t breed bacteria and they can be used again and again and again.  They’re essentially packageless because they come bound only by biodegradable raffia.  (And they’re super cute too!)

When you need to give them a little refresher, just pop them in your dishwasher or microwave them while they’re wet for a minute or two.  And when you feel like they’ve reached the end of their life, they can be composted (they break down completely in five weeks!) or disposed of.  That’s a LOT more environmental than 15 rolls of paper towels, wouldn’t you say?skoy

Do you want to give them a try? Well, here’s your chance, because the fine folks at Skoy have a four-pack they’re willing to share… leave a comment here saying you’d like to win and tell me how you want to use your Skoy cloths, or send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog. The winner will be selected one week from today’s post. (US entries only… sorry!)

Good luck! (…and by the way… you can tell me if you prefer the Skoy or the 60 rolls of paper towels, but if you think we’d actually send you 60 rolls of paper towels instead, you’ve lost your marbles! Come on! Give Skoy a chance!)

“Be Out There!” The best things in life ARE free!

I know this for a fact, because this weekend, our kids reminded us!

Saturday morning was spent sleeping-in (far too late), but after we got moving, we really GOT MOVING!  After long discussions about how we should spend the day, we decided to make the best of an unseasonable warm Ohio day (68 degrees!) and simply get outdoors.

bulb shovelWe went to our daughter’s school and ran around looking at all of the amazing wonders in her school’s Land Lab. This area in front of her school has a pond, decks, walking paths and large planter boxes that the families can adopt.  We cultivated our box and planted some bulbs (and will eagerly await their Spring arrival) and added a little metal sign that said “GROW”! (…somewhat of a double entendre for growing some of nature’s gifts as well as growing little minds!)

We came home and planted more bulbs in our own yard, raked leaves, the kids ran around playing every sport imaginable and jumped in (and sometimes destroyed) our perfectly raked piles.  Fortunately, living on a ravine, our leaves are simply raked down the hill so they can decompose and be recycled by nature.

The kids spent a half hour cracking open acorns to “make hors d’oeuvres” for the squirrels!  We even made ourselves S’mores over an outdoor fire and continued to run around and play, and enjoy the day long after darkness fell.  Everyone was in a fabulous mood.  And I don’t doubt for a second that it had everything to do with simply being outside and enjoying breathing the fresh air.leaf pile

I sometimes forget that a great day with my family doesn’t need to include museums or amusement parks, trips or expensive events or vacations.  Everything we need is outside our own backdoor or a short, local drive away… all found in nature, most often for free.

Kids today spend twice as much time indoors as we did (a very sad fact), so if you need ideas, reasons or simply more encouragement, check out NWFs “Be Out There” program and you’re sure to find something that clicks!

At the end of the night our daughter could hardly relax as she settled into bed.  She talked about how excited she was to see our flowers grow and proclaimed the day as “the best day ever”!

Thanks for the reminder, my little sweet pea!

November 15 is America Recycles Day, America!

America Recycles DayThis year I’m posting early!  November 15 is America Recycles Day and what a great opportunity to make some dramatic, but not difficult, changes in our daily lives.  This is a day that “encourages more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment by recycling and buying recycled products” and “promotes the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling.”

Last year I used this opportunity to hold a project at our daughter’s school that centered around America Recycles Day and this year will be no different.  I’m encouraging all students to submit their best recycling tips or their favorite way to recycle and will then compile all of their great ideas and turn them into a recycling newsletter that will be sent home to each family.  I never doubt that the greatest way to learn is from each other.  I’ve even added a footnote on each flier reminding families that the paper is recyclable!

I’ve also added a little incentive and will randomly select a bunch of entries to win some really cool “eco-friendly” prizes, like recycled drink pouch pencil cases from Terracycle, BPA-free water bottles, recycled note pads and pencils made from recycled kids recyclnewspapers.

This is a great opportunity to remind kids (and all of us) why recycling is so important:

  • To reduce pollution
  • To save energy
  • To help the environment
  • To save natural resources
  • To keep trash out of landfills and prevent contamination

If you have kids in school, there is still time!  Talk to your principal and ask if you can do a project too.  All it takes is a little time… and really, isn’t a little bit of time worth the impact that you can make to help set kids and their families on the road to Recycle-ville?!?  (If you email me, I’ll even send you the flier!)

November 15 is America Recycles Day but the most important thing to remember is that we should make EVERY DAY a RECYCLE DAY!