Safe, effective, chemical-free sunscreen: 2011 UPDATE!

sunscrnWell, it isn’t often that I have to make an update so soon… I just sent everyone to Environmental Working Group’s list and rating of sunscreen products… and it’s JUST been updated again for 2011!

We know the concern with sunscreen is the presence of some nasty chemicals (that part certainly doesn’t change) but, like our ever changing lives, products get changed too and I would be remiss if I didn’t share the latest findings with you…

So here… without further ado is THE latest listing: EWG’s 2011 List of Suncreens!  Maybe you want to head right over to their Best Suncreens list… and hope that what you’ve been using didn’t make their Hall of Shame!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program… get your BEST suncreen and GO PLAY!

It’s the “grill battle”!… propane vs. charcoal

grll prpaneThis coming Memorial Day weekend always seems to be the kickoff of grilling season in my neighborhood.  It’s the aroma that indicates that summer is on its way.  While some of you may be lucky enough to grill all year long, we’re just getting started… and once we get started, it doesn’t end until the snow flies. (It’s also a time for me to share cooking duties with my husband… BONUS!)

We’ve always owned a propane grill and never, ever, go the route of charcoal or (perish the thought!) lighter fluid!  (EEK!)

To me, the propane choice seems like a no-brainer, but is it really?

Take a look at the facts:

  • Overall, propane grilling creates a smaller carbon footprint than charcoal grilling, by about a third.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal comes from renewable resources, but propane does not.  It comes from non-renewable fossil fuels. (win: charcoal)
  • Carbon monoxide levels from charcoal grilling can be as high as 105 times as much as propane grilling.  (BIG win: propane)
  • The “burn time” for propane is much less than charcoal.  It only needs to be “on” when you need it.  Charcoagrll chrcoall must burn until coals are hot and then you need to wait until it burns out before the cycle is done, and it creates gasses all the while.  (win: propane)
  • Charcoal often travels a far, far distance (and creates extra emissions) before it even reaches your grill, but “not so” with propane… it’s most likely local. Plus, producing charcoal creates even more emissions than actually burning it!  (win: propane)
  • Lighter fluid for charcoal is a petroleum distillate that emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when burned.  (win: propane)

So, I’d say we’ve been making the right decision, especially with that last VOC issue!  But just remember that what you toss on the grill matters too – preferably local organic meats and veggies!  And when it’s time for clean-up, baking soda and warm water does wonders too!

Now, fire up that grill and let’s get the cookout underway! (My family will be right over!…)

MORE unregulated terms you should know about!

pest freeSo, I’m at it again… looking at labels and learning… a lot!

I’ve talked about the non-toxic labeling, fragrance-free vs. unscented, PLU produce labels and certified-organic vs. organic ingredients.

Now I have two more that you do need to know about:  “Pesticide-Free” and “Chlorine-Free”.

Maybe you’ll be surprised and maybe you won’t, but the reality is… NEITHER of these labels or terms mean a thing either.  They are undefined and, once again, completely unregulated.chlor free2

Like some of the other terms I mentioned, any manufacturer can place these words on their label to give you peace of mind about what you’re purchasing.  And ONCE AGAIN they can do it, just because the terms aren’t regulated.  That doesn’t mean that ALL products that use these terms aren’t legitimate, but the problems is it’s sometimes difficult to really know.

I can add a good note though… it just so happens that the term “Dolphin Safe” IS strictly defined, so when you see this terdolph safem, you can rest assured about your purchase!  As a life-long dolphin lover, I’m happy that this actually means something positive.

We have quite a list going, don’t we??? Maybe it’s time to break out a notepad, just to keep it straight since, sadly, we can’t always believe what the labels are attempting to tell us.

Simple tip: The greenest way to wash your car

car wsh kdzLike many parts of the country, my “neck of the woods” has been serving up some pretty rainy weather.  Doing much outside has been an anomaly, unless you’re a duck or enjoy ankle-deep mud. (Me?  Not a duck.  Don’t like mud.)

Add to that the street construction around my neighbor and, as a result, my car is filthy… constantly.  My kids happen to love helping to wash the car but not when it’s 45 degrees and raining.  Despite it all, I still need to get the road gunk off the car!

Have you ever wondered about the greenest way to wash your car? Well, much to my kids’ dismay, a commercial car wash is actually the greenest choice.

Commercial car washes use about 60% less water than do-it-yourself methods.  (And for my family, when you car wshadd all of the additional time spraying each other with the hose… well, that percentage is probably higher!) They’re also required to treat and filter the water before they release it into the environment… another big bonus.  And, if you wash at home (and don’t use eco-friendly cleaners) it just ends up going directly into the environment.

Next time your car is in need of a good washin’, don’t sweat it.  Drive through a commercial car wash and recognize that you’re NOT being lazy… you’re getting your car squeaky clean and keeping it squeaky “green”!

How to choose safe, effective, chemical-free sunscreen!

sunshn(Okay, Mom Goes Green is BACK from my little Mother’s Day hiatus, so…) I’m now thinking summer! The kids have started the countdown to the final days of school and we’re ALL thinking summer fun, the pool, beach vacations and lots of outdoor time!

But every parent knows that fun-in-the-sun also means extra precautions to make sure our precious ones (ourselves included!) don’t get fried during “the fun part”, so sunscreen is sure to be a purchase in the very near future.

The concern with sunscreen is the presence of some nasty chemicals that we really don’t want to apply to our bodies daily, or even “frequently” for that matter (since they absorb into our skin and accumulate). Many are believed to cause hormone disruption, cell damage and allergies, amongst other things. They include vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), Oxybenzone, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Mexoryl, Avobenzone… augh!… just a bunch of things that we could really do without!

So instead of laboring over labels and trying (sometimes in vane) to decipher the ingredients… (drumroll, please….)  Environmental Working Group has a list and rating of over 500 sunscreen products.  Believe me, it is much easier to find one on the “best” list and just know you have a good product to keep you safe from the sun AND the nasty chemicals.sunscrn

You can also look-up the products you have been using to see how they rate.

Last year (via this list!) I discovered a great product:  Blue Lizard.  It was fantastic and we didn’t have a burn in the bunch (or exposure to nasty chemicals!).  Fortunately, EWG has done most of the work for us, so the answers are just a few clicks away.

(Boy, I sure have come a long way from those teen-days when my friends and I applied baby oil(!) in HOPE of sizzling and frying!… WHAT were we thinking?!?)

Now check it out, buy some, slather on the good stuff and GO PLAY… summer is almost here!