Archive for the ‘Everyday Tips’ Category

Have You Heard of the Precautionary Principle?

Are you familiar with the Precautionary Principle? Many people aren’t, but it’s an important principle to know. “Be careful”, “Better safe than sorry”, “Look before you leap”, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “First Do No Harm” are adages that sum up the meaning of the Precautionary Principle.  The official definition is “… the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown should be resisted. “ Regarding the Precautionary Principle, Wikipedia states, “When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.”

Smoking is a good example of the Precautionary Principle at work. It was strongly suspected that smoking caused lung cancer and emphysema, and as a result many people quit smoking before it was actually proven scientifically.

The Precautionary Principle is widely practiced in the European Union and in fact is a statutory requirement in some areas of law.   The European Union is forming a comprehensive policy, which would require all chemicals to be tested for their effects on health and the environment and puts the burden on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate their products are safe.  There are of course situations where precaution is applied here as well. The Food and Drug Administration requires testing of all drugs before they reach the market for example.   But there are also plenty of situations where precaution is not applied, as with many of the ingredients in personal care products or lawn chemicals.

Naturally there is opposition. Some see the Precautionary Principle as a barrier to technological development and economic growth. But as cancer, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, infertility, diabetes, allergies and other diseases, which might be attributed to chemicals in food and in the environment, become so prevalent in our society, we have no choice but to adopt the Precautionary Principle. Perhaps it’s time to follow the European Union’s lead.

For more information, visit the Science and Environmental Health Network.org.

 

Information compiled from: https://www.aei.org/publication/the-problems-with-precaution-a-principle-without-principle/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle, and http://www.sehn.org/ppfaqs.html

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

 

 

Safe Cosmetics

You might not realize that the make up we put on our faces or the hair and body products, sunscreens, and nail polish we use on a daily basis have a host of dangerous chemicals, endocrine disruptors and allergens like mercury, lead, parabans, pthalates, and others.   According to watchdog organization, Environmental Working Group, “On average, a woman puts 168 chemicals on her body each day.” In addition to the many known hazardous chemicals, there are many other synthetic compounds, like fragrances, without enough information to know whether they are safe or not because federal legislation regarding product safety hasn’t been updated in 75 years. The Environmental Working Group estimates that of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89 percent have not undergone safety testing.

Are these chemicals necessary?

Given the known and unknown dangers of all these chemical additives, I think not! Who needs cherry-scented rubbing alcohol? Some American cosmetic companies sell the same products in Europe without the chemical additives. That’s because the European Union strictly regulates the extremely hazardous chemicals found in everyday products in the United States and has banned about 1,100 chemicals, while the FDA has banned only ten!

Safe Alternatives? Of course!

The average woman “eats” more than 6 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime, just one of many cosmetics used.  Fortunately now there are many lines of organic personal care products. Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores carry several, like Dr. Hauschka, Mychelle, Badger, Burt’s Bees.  Local farmer’s markets often sell homemade and all natural insect repellant, body scrubs and soaps.  CVS also carries Burt’s Bees.

Be sure to read the labels however, some products are “cleaner” than others and be wary of names too long to pronounce.  A knowledgeable sales person will be able to help you find the safest products.

Organic cosmetics and personal care products are not only better for your health, but better for the earth too!  When discarding them, fewer chemicals will go down the drain or in the trash, seeping into our valuable water supply and landfills.

For more information or to rate the toxicity of your personal care products, visit www.safecosmetics.org, which does an online safety assessment of 75,223 products.

 

Information from ewg.org and ecosalon.com.  

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Personal Care Products Contain Microbeads?

Have you heard of microbeads?

Microbeads are tiny balls of plastic used as exfoliants and for texture in face washes, soaps, make-up and toothpastes. Most are petroleum-based plastics, like polyethylene and polypropylene and are not biodegradeable. I can’t imagine why companies manufacture personal care products with these toxic plastic beads, which then go down the bathroom drain straight into the sewer system. The problem is they are so small they cannot be filtered out of household wastewater by most water treatment facilities and as a result end up in our rivers, lakes, streams and oceans to be ingested by fish and other sea creatures. And when we eat fish, there is a good possibility we are ingesting them too! Due to their minute size, once they enter the marine environment, they are extremely difficult to remove and are likely to stay, contributing to the “plastic soup swirling around the world’s oceans”, as beatthemicrobead.org states.

The good news is that Illinois and a few other states have already banned microbeads, and federal legislation was introduced to ban them on the national level as well. Other countries already have.

Are there safer exfoliant alternatives?

Of course! Microbeads are an unnecessary additive to personal care products. Sugar, coffee grounds, sea salt, ground stone fruit pits, ground walnut shells or a natural body brush work even better as exfoliants. You can easily find natural and organic body care products using real ingredients at Whole Foods, other natural food stores and even CVS.

 Or exfoliants are easy to make yourself. Below are recipes for a body and foot exfoliant using simple kitchen ingredients.

Exfoliant Recipes

Coconut and Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Buff

1 ¼ cups brown or raw sugar, 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil, 15-20 drops vanilla essential oil

In a medium size bowl, combine sugar and coconut oil. If the coconut oil is solid, warm it over a low heat until it’s just melted, then blend with the sugar using a small whisk and making sure to break up any lumps of sugar. Add the vanilla drop-by-drop, blending after each addition. Spoon into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Massage ¼ to ½ cup of scrub onto premoistened skin using gentle circular motions. Rinse. Use 1 to 2 times per week. No refrigeration is required; for maximum freshness use within 6 months.

Recommended for all skin types except acneic. (Use with care on sensitive or environmentally damaged skin.)

Orange Ginger Warming Foot Scrub

This warming foot scrub is great for the winter, and leaves your feet feeling soft and relaxed.  1/4 cup sugar (white or brown), 1/4 cup sweet almond oil,  6 drops orange essential oil, 2 drops ginger essential oil, 1 level teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper In a plastic bowl, mix together the sugar and oil. Add the essential oils and stir. Add the cayenne pepper last and stir well to mix. To use, sit comfortably in the tub or over a pan of water and/or a large towel to catch the sugar scrub as it is applied. Scoop up a handful of the scrub for each foot and massage vigorously yet with care over heels, ankles, toes, arches and the balls of your feet. Be sure to scrub any rough areas especially well. Don’t forget to rinse the tub well when finished.

Check the Labels

Read the labels carefully on your personal care products. If they list microbeads or names you can’t pronounce, consider switching.

Visit safecosmetics.org for specific details about your products.  Ban the bead!  Who wants unsafe additives in their personal care products?  Check out the brief video below further explaining the problems with microbeads.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAiIGd_JqZc

Information compiled from: treehugger.com, beatthemicrobead.org, Organic Body Care Reipes, by Stephanie Tourles For more more body care recipes, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Pause and Think…..

 

Today is World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, and run by the United Nations “to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.”  World Environment Day is a day when the United Nations invites each of the seven billion people on the planet to make one change towards more responsible consumption of resources.  Whether you refuse a plastic bag, have a vegetarian dinner, take public transportation, or recycle your trash, each little step can make a big difference.

Make every day World Environment Day and take the time to read about climate change and its effects around the globe.  Think about your impact and what you can do help protect the earth.  Make it a goal to add new “green” habits to your lifestyle to lessen your carbon footprint.  Share your ideas with family and friends.

Appreciate the beauty of the earth and its many gifts………

 

For more ideas and green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Controlling Mosquitos Naturally

Along with the cookouts, volleyball games, hiking, camping and other glories of summer come mosquitoes and ticks.  But pesticides or products containing DEET, are associated with a variety of health problems ranging from dizziness to seizures with children being particularly susceptible. There are several safer and effective alternatives.

Natural Repellents

A garlic spray in your yard provides excellent control.  Garlic has natural sulfur which repels insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and even black flies, yet does not harm humans, pets, bees, butterflies or plants. Mosquitoes are soft-bodied insects and garlic juice is toxic to them in increased concentrations. Mosquitoes are also extremely odor sensitive and garlic can repel them for up to a month or more, as long as they can still detect an odor. Farmers have been using garlic for generations. Organic based landscaping or pest control companies often offer a garlic spray or you can buy a product called Garlic Barrier and do it yourself.

For small areas like patios or decks, certain aromatic plants keep mosquitoes away.  Marigolds planted with pungent herbs like catnip (nearly 10 times more effective than DEET) and rosemary are effective and attractive in containers.  I planted a “mosquito plant”, really a wild scented geranium, which grows fast and seems to work.  It was specifically grown to keep pests away. Citronella candles can be helpful, as well as all natural insect repellent incense sticks.

Cultural Practices

Two important and effective cultural practices are: 1) Don’t keep standing or stagnate water around where mosquitoes can breed and 2) consider putting up a bat house.  Mosquitoes are the primary food source for bats and some species eat up to 1000 of them an hour!

Personal Repellents

For personal repellents sprayed directly onto your skin, soybean-oil-based products have been shown to provide protection for a period of time similar to a product with a low concentration of DEET (4.75%).  Other ingredients usually include pure plant extracts like citronella, cedarwood, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass and peppermint, which are natural, effective and have a nice aroma.  Buzz Away and Bite Blocker are good brands that are potent and long-lasting.  You can find them at Whole Foods. In areas heavily infested with deer tick,  a DEET product may be needed.  Just spray directly onto your clothes, not your skin! For more information on deer ticks, click here.

Ticks and mosquitos don’t have to ruin your summer!

Green Your Bedroom!

If you want to seriously reduce chemical exposure in your home, then switching to an organic bedroom is the most effective place to start.  We spend approximately one-third of our life sleeping – that’s 33. 3 years spent sleeping if you live to be 100 (and leading an organic lifestyle you have a better shot at it), so it clearly makes sense to start there.

The Problem?

Conventional mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillowcases contain a lot of chemicals.  Cotton accounts for up to 25% of the insecticides used worldwide and many are classified as possible human carcinogens.  Cotton is also usually bleached and treated with chemical dyes and color fixers.  Synthetic fabrics such as polyurethane foam and polyester are made from petroleum and can cause allergic reactions and even initiate cancer.  Mattresses and pads must be treated with fire retardants, which emit formaldehyde and pose additional health risks.  Less expensive bed frames use plywood and particle board containing formaldehyde that is off gassed into our bedrooms, also contributing to allergies and potentially other illnesses.

The solution?

Buy untreated or natural bedding such as organic cotton, linen, hemp or bamboo.   Often more expensive, but definitely healthier, you can transition slowly.  First buy a chemical free pillow, ideal for allergy sufferers.  Next try organic cotton sheets and mattress pads.  Finally make the switch to an organic mattress made from natural rubber and covered in organic cotton and wool. Wool has superior insulating qualities and believe it or not is comfortable all year-long.  It is also naturally dust mite and fire resistant. Latex mattresses are:

  • resistant to moisture buildup
  • naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic
  • mold and dust free
  • with little or no toxic substances or ozone-depleting agents used in the manufacture of the mattress

 

You will find many choices in organic mattresses and bedding online, designed for all preferences and all budgets. Retail outlets are also beginning to carry organic bedding.  Target has an attractive line of organic sheets, and with the demand for organic everything increasing, many local mattress stores now carry natural latex mattresses.  Make the switch and have a safe night’s sleep!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Friday is Arbor Day!

This Friday is Arbor Day – always the last Friday in April – a tradition that began nationwide in 1872 and continues today with individuals and groups celebrating trees and nature.

Planting new trees and caring for existing ones is more important than ever as we battle exotic invasive insect pests, air pollution, soil compaction and contamination, limited water and nutrient availability and the overall effects of extreme weather conditions and climate change.  Trees are much more than just a beautiful big plant; their social, communal, and environmental benefits are numerous.

  • They manufacture oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
  • They provide shade in summer and windbreak in winter.
  • The beauty and serenity of trees have been shown to help hospital patients recover more quickly.
  • Trees reduce crime in low-income urban areas and increase home property values.
  • Trees save energy, improve air quality, conserve water and provide homes to wildlife.
  • Trees offset our carbon footprints.
  • Large and majestic trees are a major asset to any community.

This Arbor Day, plant a tree seedling, learn how to care for the trees in your yard or neighborhood, read a tree identification book, or simply take a walk and appreciate not only their beauty but what they do for our health and for the health of the planet.

For group activity ideas, go to arborday.org.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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