Simple tip: aluminum blinds are wise window treatments!

alum blindzSo lately I’ve been hitting some serious topics… toxic mattresses and destructive palm oil (yikes!).

Today, we’re going to keep it nice and simple… as simple as this…

Did you know that purchasing aluminum mini blinds for your home is a wise environmental choice? The fact of the matter is that many manufacturers like Levolor and Hunter Douglas are using recycled aluminum to make their mini blinds… about 90-95% recycled content actually!

And the beauty of it all is when you need to replace them… they can be recycled too! A few snips of the strings and you’ll be loading slat after slat into your recycling can instead of your trash can.

See… nice and simple.  Aluminum blinds ARE wise window treatments!

Palm oil: How (and why) to make responsible choices

palm oil burnAbout eight months ago I wrote a post about palm oil, the destruction of crucial rainforests to make way for these plantations and the devastating effect on wildlife (Palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid.) Before that post, I truly didn’t know a lot about palm oil, but now my eyes are wide open.

If you’d like to read the original post, click here, but in a nutshell, this is the concern:

  • Rainforests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product.
  • Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil.  Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses.orang mombaby
  • The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations.  The occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week.  At this rate, their existence is limited.
  • When this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.
  • All this considered, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years.

During a recent trip to our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo I noticed a sign on one of their food carts.  It read:  “We use only sustainable palm oil products.”  I respected the fact that they’re taking responsibility and using only palm oil from plantations established on land that was not recently deforested and has been well-managed with good environmental, social and economic standards.

plmI also found their online resource for understanding the use, and misuse, of palm oil.  And as we “label readers” find more and more products containing palm oil, they’ve also assembled a fabulous list of responsible companies (that have committed to using only sustainable palm oil in their products) to help us make wise choices.

Hopefully, if you haven’t noticed it before, you’ll notice it now and decide that unless you see “Made from Sustainable Palm Oil” on the label, you’ll set it back down and walk away.

Do you know what’s on your new mattress?

mttrssWhenever my husband is away on business my kids also “relocate”… into our bed, that is.  Each night I find myself planted in the middle of our king-sized bed snuggled between my “hot water bottle” kids.

During his recent trip, I could feel myself sleeping on what has become a hump in the middle of the bed and literally worried about rolling onto one of the kids.  It became quite obvious that our mattress has seen better days since we’ve both apparently made our “impression”.

The choice of a new mattress is a simple one for me, especially after researching the purchase of our son’s mattress not so long ago, but I realized it’s also an opportunity to again share some pretty serious information.

Here is the concern:  Beginning July 1, 2007, Federal Fire Retardant Regulations mandated mattress manufacturers to INCREASE the levels of toxic fire retardants, but DO NOT require them to list the ingredients in the contents!toxc

And what do these fire retardants contain?… boric acid, melamine, antimony and formaldehyde… all chemicals linked to cancer.  Antimony alone causes heart muscle damage and a single dermal application has killed rabbits in laboratory tests.  Additional tests on Memory Foam mattresses even detected 61 chemical emissions and off-gassing from a single mattress.  Think about how many hours you spend sleeping on your mattress… every … single … night.  All the while, you are inhaling these toxic off-gassing chemicals. I find it frightening, AND infuriating, especially where our children are concerned.

If you’d like to take a look at my original post and view a supporting news report, you can find it here.  Or maybe you’d just like to know to answer…

mattress fillFor us, the ONLY answer is an organic mattress.  They’re made of pure organic wool, 100% organic cotton covers and 100% natural latex cores, providing even better fire retardancy than the chemicals… naturally! For our son, we selected a Savvy Rest mattress from Healthy Home Sleep Gallery (and we DIDN’T need a prescription!… more on that here).  Was it more than the common mattress store brands?  Sure, it was… (the cheapest method to comply with the fire retardant regulations is to simply spray on the chemicals!), but was it worth it when we made a new mattress purchase for our son?… without a doubt.

Now that it’s nearing time to replace our own mattress, I can’t imagine choosing anything other than organic for our own health…  but also because it’s only a matter of time before my two precious “hot water bottles” plan another sleepover too, and I want ALL of us to rest and breath easy (and healthy)!

Join me in the White Cloud Moms Twitter Party!

WC Green EarthRegular Mom Goes Green readers know all about my on-going search for that “right” brand of recycled content toilet paper.  I’m happy to say I believe I’ve found the answer:  White Cloud’s very own “Green Earth” brand of 100% recycled fiber toilet paper! … Finally!

In the coming weeks I’ll share with you more detailed information about my discovery but, in the meanwhile, I invite you to “the party”… a Twitter party, that is!  Join me in chatting about all the ways you can “unroll your imagination” around the house, as well as their new “Imagination Unrolled” contest.  (In this contest you are encouraged to let your creativity flow and put together a craft project using toilet paper and paper towel tubes, the packaging and/or the product!  The grand prize winner will receive $1000(!) and two runners-up will receive $500 each… if you’re like me and my kids, you’re already making these types of “upcycled” crafts, so why not enter a photo and take a chance at winning!  Visit www.MyWhiteCloud.com for all the details.)twitter pty

The party takes place on Thursday, October 21, from 3:00-4:00 pm central standard time (please note your time zone: 1pm pacific, 2pm mountain, 3pm central, 4pm eastern).  A $50 gift card will be given away to a random participant every 10 minutes, so while you’re sharing and gaining some green information you can score some green to spend too!

Just follow the host @WhiteCloudMom and use hashtag #WhiteCloudMom when you Tweet to participate.  I expect to “unroll my imagination” and I hope you will too!

(Disclosure: I am a White Cloud blogger.  While I am compensated for my time, my opinions are entirely my own.  White Cloud neither directs nor edits my posts, comments, views or opinions.)

Keeping it green for Halloween!

j-o-lanternHalloween is just around the corner… and it’s the ideal time to let the creativity flow.  But it’s also an opportunity to make some fantastic green choices.

While that creativity is in action, remember to give these green tips a try!:

  • Crafts & games – this is a great chance to upcycle materials, from jars & cans, to toilet paper and paper towel tubes… crafts don’t require a trip to a craft store!  And choose games that don’t require major purchases, like “Rotten Pumpkin” with a miniature pumpkin (played like “Hot Potato”) or create a large jack-o-lantern from paper and play “Pin the Nose”.  All of the paper can be recycled afterward.
  • Costumesyour own closets and drawers are a great resource!  Visit your local thrift store.  Or organize a costume swap with your friends.  Avoid face paints, unless you make them yourself… they often contain some harsh chemicals that you truly don’t want on your children’s face!
  • Decorationsnature provides plenty of resources, from pumpkins and gourds, to mums and leaves, to cornstalks and Indian corn.  After the season, they’re all completely compostable.fall decrtions
  • Partiesavoid disposable anything.  Use real serveware, cups, silverware, fabric table coverings and napkins.  If you MUST purchase disposables, at the very least, choose paper over plastic.  Try to help carry these rules over to classroom parties too.
  • Treats & candy – organic candies would be fabulous, but not easily found, so just be conscious to avoid some treats that are over-wrapped and over-packaged and, truly, treats don’t need to be candy.  Consider recycled-content pencils or mini-notepads.  Avoid plastic trinkets.
  • Treat bags – cellophane bags are the easiest to find but, with a little extra effort, you can find Halloween-themed paper bags instead.  Reusable bags are also ideal for collecting the loot!
  • Over-abundance of treats? – Consider pilfering some of your kids’ haul and drop it off at a homeless shelter!

Happy planning, Happy Halloween and be sure to keep it green and “EEK”-o-friendly!