I’m a Diva Girl!

Guys – just a warning off the top – this is really, really a girl thing!  You may experience discomfort if you continue to read.

In researching about cotton, the awful discovery of tampons being made out of the left-over pesticide rich gin trash has changed my ideas about what I want to place in the most private area of my body.  Here is a list of what can be found in a simple tampon: synthetic rayon, pesticide-laden cotton, dioxins, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and artificial fragrances. Loux, in her book Easy Green Living offers an experiment for women.  Take a conventional tampon, place it in a glass of water and wait for the tampon to expand.  Then take it out of the water and check out what is left in the water.  That is what you deposit inside your body with every tampon.

There are of course alternatives organic cotton, chlorine-free bleached pads and tampons, reusable cloth pads or reusable menstrual cups.  In considering the alternatives, I was most drawn to the reusable cups and had read about a couple varieties – The Diva Cup and The Keeper .  These eliminate tampons but do not require me to wash organic cotton pads.  That is just a little too icky for me. 

Then I had a couple friends mention The Diva Cup, one had been using it for a number of years and the other was just switching over.  So when my time was up, I, too, made the switch to The Diva Cup.  I have not actually seen The Keeper in any of the natural/health food stores that I have been in.  The investment was around $40.00.  It took a few tries to get the placement right, but after that I loved it and it works great.  Every time I pour out the contents, I think this is amazing!!   I have eliminated the waste caused by using tampons and pads, as well as eliminated chemicals being absorbed in my body.  I think it is a great solution!! 

In chatting about The Diva Cup more, I did find out that one of my cousins had tried a few varieties. They didn’t work for her because her flow is so heavy, so it kept leaking.  So it may work better for women who have a regular, as opposed to, a heavy flow.

Also, when I bought one for myself I also bought one for my niece who is seventeen and is embarking on a traveling adventure around the world.  What an absolutely great thing to have on your travels, you never have to buy any feminine hygene  in other countries.  If you have a water bottle with you – you can wash the cup anywhere.

I am a happy Diva Girl!

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Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 9:05 pm  Comments (2)  

Organic Foods

On a week by week basis, I have been trying to incorporate more organic food into our household.  Yes, it is more expensive, but I think it is an important way to vote with my dollars for helping create a larger organic market.

Organic farming builds healthier, more fertile soil without the use of toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, as well as through incorporating crop rotation.  It prevents the erosion of topsoil.  It lowers greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy.  It keeps toxic substances out of nearby water sources.  (The excess nitrogen that makes its way to the ocean has created “dead zones“.  These are low oxygen areas of coastal waters where marine life is literally suffocated.  There are 150 of these zones in the world’s oceans.)  It ensures that no antibiotics, genetic engineering, cloning, sewage sludge or irridation (using x-rays to sterilize food) are used in the production of the food.  It avoids the use of intense feedlots or factory farms for raising animals.  It can protect us from the adverse health effects of pesticides, as well as farmers and farm workers.

Should we be concerned about the pesticides and fertilizers?  Here is a list of a few of the ingredients found in some of them: nitrates, arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and dioxin.  The dangers become the fact that most of these are persistent (don’t disappear), bioaccumulative (stored in the fatty tissues), and are toxic.  Not all produce absorbs the chemicals to the same degree.  To see what fruits and vegetables we should be wary of check out the dirty dozen list done by the Environmental Working Group.  I live in peach country, and that is NUMBER ONE on the list!!  What am I going to do this summer?

I think I need to find the local organic farmers and the Canadian Organic Growers has a website that can help locate farms, restaurants, and producers.   Another place to look for local farms is the Local Harvest website.  It looks like a site specific to the States, but you can find Canadian farms or producers on there as well.  Another place to find local food suppliers is on the Eat Well Guide website or you can locate local grass-fed food on the Eat Wild website.

Before I finish off with the organics, I just wanted to touch on seafood.  Remember my dilemma about what to eat at The Keg?  Well, I have found a website to help us navigate our seafood choices.  They even have a printable seafood guide that you can keep in your wallet.

Happy shopping and eating!  The beautiful thing about eating organic food is that they taste soooo good!

Published in: on March 4, 2009 at 3:31 am  Comments (3)  

Essential Oils

I have become a huge fan of essential oils; they are the essence that is extracted from various plants.  Here is a list of some of the essential oils and the properties they have:

  • Cinnamon – antiseptic, said to stimulate the body and mind
  • Clove – antiseptic, repels ants
  • Lavender – antiseptic, antifungal, traditionally used to heal skin and clean cuts
  • Lemon – antibacterial, antiseptic, deodorizing
  • Lemongrass – antiseptic, repels insects
  • Lime – antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic
  • Oregano – antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic
  • Rosemary – antiseptic
  • Sweet Orange – disinfectant
  • Tea Tree – antiseptic, disinfectant, antifungal
  • Thyme – antiseptic, disinfectant, antibacterial, antimicrobial

As you can see, the possibilities for how we can use essential oils to replace chemicals in our homes is quite vast.

 Through my readings I have realized that I want to eliminate my use of chlorine bleach (to see why refer to the end of the post), but I wondered what I would do at the cottage to sanitize after winter (aka mouse season).  This year I can use water with a few drops of the essential oil of sweet orange, tea tree or thyme (or a combination). 

I am a huge lavender fan.  I have a row of it growing beside my driveway, and in June the girls and I always pick a few sprigs to bring in the van with us.  So thus far, I have  only purchased lavender essential oil, and I have found a few ways to use it. 

We have a bagless vacuum cleaner, and sometimes when we vacuum it smells like dirty feet.  This does not add to the clean feeling.  So when I cleaned out the filters, I added a few drops of lavender essential oil on the filter.  It worked great!  When I vacuumed, it created this beautiful relaxing lavender scent while I cleaned. 

When I am cleaning my toilet, I put a couple drops of the oil in the toilet bowl with the baking soda.  I have also added lavender essential oil into a bath, and into cleaning water.  There are many homemade cleaning recipes out there that utilize essential oils, and I am collecting and planning to try out a number of them.

I really think essential oils are amazing because they are just the essence from a plant and nothing else, they have great cleaning properties, and they smell fabulous!

 

Why I want to eliminate my use of chlorine bleach:

Some of the direct hazards are it is extremely corrosive, it burns your skin, it is absorbed through your skin, it is a poison, it bioaccumulates (accumulates in fatty tissue and doesn’t leave), it is a respiratory irritant that viciously attacks mucous membranes, it is an indoor air pollutant, and it is dangerously reactive with organic matter (it can cause low-grade toxic reactions with dirt).

Some of the indirect hazards are it is reactive (causes dangerous reactions in the environment), it ends up in our food because it accumulates and travels up the food chain, and it causes serious health effects (linked with reproductive disorders, birth defects, developmental impairment, cancer, etc).

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 2:13 am  Comments (1)  

Cotton

Before, when I thought about cotton, I thought clean, comfy, and pure.  Well, I have to let go of that image now that I really know about cotton. 

Conventionally grown cotton is not a pretty crop.  Here are some of the dirty details:

  • Cotton requires a long growing season and huge amounts of water, causing desertification in some parts of the world.
  • Cotton consumes around 25% of the worldwide insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides, while occupying only 3% of the farmland.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies 7 of the top 15 cotton pesticides as human carcinogens.
  • It takes around a 1/4 lb of chemicals to produce  1 T-shirt.
  • After harvest cotton is typically bleached (chemicals), dyed (more chemicals), and then treated with a formaldehyde finish (yet more chemicals).
  • In California cotton gin trash (the left-over leaves, stems,  and short fibers) is so contaminated that it is illegal to feed it to cows.  So instead the gin trash is used to make mattresses, pillows, tampons, cotton balls, etc.

Supporting conventional cotton growing is not something that I want to be a part of, so what are the other options out there?  Organic products are, of course, the recommendation: cotton, hemp, bamboo, ramie (an asian grass used to cover mummys back in the day), linen, silk (the caterpiller friendly kind – in which they let the caterpillers live), wool, alpaca, cashmere, and lyocell (wood pulp).  Choosing hemp and bamboo, even if they are not organic, are still a better choice because they require little to no fertilizer.

Avoid nylon, polyester, and acrylic which are all fossil fuels. 

I did a little web surfing the other night, and I found a few Canadian companies that are offering some of these products online, including fabric.  A lot of the products in clothing tend toward yoga wear, t-shirts, items for women and infant/toddlers.  So, as far as I can tell at this point, the selections are somewhat limited.  There is more choice if you are looking for houshold linens and towels.

I think, for the moment, second hand stores are going to be the ticket for me.  That way I will not consume raw materials and I will help limit new uglies from being created in the environment (as well as not unknowingly supporting sweatshops).  Swapping clothes with friends is another great way to get a new wardrobe without being wasteful, and it would be so fun to organize a Swap-O-Rama-Rama. http://swaporamarama.org/  The website states at the outset of their philosophy:

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.”  –Gandhi

 

 
 
 

 
  

Toothpaste

I was not aware that I was using rat poison to clean my teeth. 

Some of you may have known, but I was not aware that sodium flouride was used as rat poison and as an insecticide for plants (until the plants started dying).  Now I know why the dental hygenist is always saying, make sure you don’t swallow, during the flouride treatment.  I know that I have swallowed a lot of toothpaste over the years.   (Maybe that is what killed the tapeworm.)   Chances are I still have the flouride inside me, because it is one of the chemicals that bioaccumulates (which means it collects in the tissues).

So, if I don’t swallow then I will be fine, right?!  Well, there is also a chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which is used in many products, including toothpaste, to help create bubbles, and lather.  What SLS’s do are increase the skin’s ability to absorb, so whatever chemicals are in a product can penetrate more easily  through the skin.

The other things that could penetrate through the skin besides the sodium flouride are coal tar products (like saccharin or synthetic food dyes).  Doesn’t that just make your teeth feel so clean!  I also did not know that I was using coal to clean my teeth.

I took my kids toothpaste, which was close to being empty, and looked at the ingredients.  Some of them were: 11% sodium flouride, SLS, and the dye Yellow 10 Lake, which is not recommended in Europe for kids because it is believed to make them hyper, distracted, and prone to throwing tantrums.  My kids have stopped using that toothpaste.  I replaced it with an eco-friendly product; there was even bubble gum flavour.  Although it took some time to find the right one, because some of the products in the eco-section still had flouride and SLS.

The reviews are Sarah doesn’t really like the new toothpaste, but Hannah has not complained.  I picked up one for me from Green Beaver, and I really love the way my teeth feel when I am finished.  It takes a little bit to get used to the fact that it does not lather up, but I know if it did lather there would be SLS in it.

Happy brushing!!

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 5:40 am  Comments (1)