Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Swiffer vs An Old-Fashioned Dust Mop

Below is a question from a reader about Swiffer.

Dear Betsy:

I just got the latest issue of Vermont Country Store catalog and inside is an old-fashioned wool dust mop, which up to 10 years ago I used and used to shake outside like my Mom used to do! 

This made me think about all the Swiffer products I use.  Hmmm – I’m wondering if anyone has compared cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs Swiffer – certainly one is more economical.  The Swiffer products are expensive!  Thanks –

Jennifer M.

Winchester, MA

Hi Jennifer:

Great question!  I don’t know of any actual studies about the cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs. Swiffer, but I know I prefer an old fashioned dust mop.  Swiffer disposable dry cloths are made of polyester and polypropylene and work well to pick up dust and grime from most surfaces, but so does an old-fashioned wool dust mop.  The natural lanolin in wool attracts and holds dust. Wool won’t scratch floors and gets better every time you wash it. I try to avoid single use products that go directly into the landfill, as well as petroleum-based products like polypropylene.

The Swiffer wet cloths are treated with propylene glycol and though categorized by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe”, that’s not assurance enough for me. According to Swiffer, the wet cloths may irritate skin and aggravate known skin conditions.” Considering that concentrations of toxic compounds are higher inside than outside, it’s best to avoid them when you can. Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies.  Additionally, the chemically treated, single use wet cloths end up in the landfill leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

There is no question that Swiffer is easier than an old-fashioned mop, but what happened to cleaning with natural and safe ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax?  All it takes is a little elbow grease and a good sponge mop.

If you insist on the convenience of a Swiffer, there are similar, more eco-friendly options.

  • Method Home floor cleaning mop with non-toxic compostable sweeping cloths.
  • Gaiam’s Spray Mop Kit where you add your own cleaner or nontoxic vinegar and water, spray the fine mist and mop up with a microfiber cleaning cloth (the eco-friendly cleaning rage today).  The set includes five washable MicroTech Cleaning Cloths.

    Gaiam’s Spray Mop

  • Amazon also sells a microfiber mop called E-cloth microfiber mop, as do Bed, Bath and Beyond and Whole Foods.

E-cloth Microfiber Mop

I hope this helps Jennifer– let me know what you decide.  Safe cleaning!

Betsy

Information compiled from www.treehugger.com, inhabitat.com, www.swiffer.com, vermontcountrystore.com, classic.akc.org

 

 

Have You Heard About the Health Benefits of This Ancient Spice?

Turmeric is finally getting the attention it deserves.

English: Turmeric root. Photo taken in Kent, O...

A member of the ginger family, this orange-colored spice is the main ingredient in curry and has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking.  It’s also a remedy in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines and, along with ginger, is now being recognized as one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available.

Turmeric powder 薑黃粉

Turmeric’s main healthful ingredient is curcumin and Western practitioners are acknowledging its possible healing properties with the following:

  • Relieves inflammatory conditions like arthritis and joint pain
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Supports overall brain health and memory function, helping to remove plaque and improve oxygen flow
  • Improves digestion and stomach aches
  • Powerful antioxidant properties which fight cancer-causing free radicals, reducing or preventing some of the damage
  • Kills parasites
  • Dissolves gallstones
  • Alleviates menstrual problems
  • Helps detoxify the liver
  • Helps promote healthy skin
  • Natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can clear infections

For non-medicinal uses, its potent orange color makes turmeric a great all natural dye.  Try it for tie-dyeing or dyeing Easter eggs! Ironically, it’s also used to whiten teeth.

Though it comes in supplement form, (consult your doctor before consuming supplements) it’s best to use it as a spice.  I try to add it daily to my diet, which is easy now that I discovered this delicious recipe for turmeric tea from 101 Cookbooks.  You’ll be surprised how good it is.

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric tends to stain anything it comes into contact with, so be careful.

1/3 cup / 80 ml good, raw honey
2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper (helps with absorption)

Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you’d like a cup. For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. Enjoy! Stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn’t settle to the bottom, or top off with more hot water as you drink it.

Sprinkling turmeric on vegetables or in dressings is another good way to add this versatile and healthy spice to your diet.  Make sure you buy organic turmeric free from pesticides, heavy metals, artificial colors and lead.  The USDA recently recalled the brand Pran due to high lead content

Get healthy and stay healthy with turmeric!

Information compiled from http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-turmeric, http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-health-benefits-of-turmeric.html, http://www.101cookbooks.com/,and The Okinawa Program by Bradley J. Willcox M.D.,D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D & Makoto Suzuki, M.D.

 

 

 

 

Green Entrepreneurs – Part 2

Last week I focused on Cape Cod entrepreneurs.  This week I am highlighting off Cape green companies.

Where Clothes – I have to put a plug in for my industrious daughter Amy Wild who runs this earth friendly clothing line.  Each one of a kind piece of clothing is designed, repurposed and constructed by Amy who uses vintage, antique and recycled materials. (Many of her designs feature antique lace.). She also has an adorable line of children’s clothes, accessories and takes custom orders as well.  Amy’s passion for protecting the environment and humanity along with her artistic flair and creativity is what drives her business.   All of these clever and unique upcycled items are available on-line.

photo 2

photo 1

Soluna Garden FarmFrom her one-acre farm in Winchester, MA, Amy Hirschberg sustainably grows herbs and flowers, specializing in unusual herbs like Mexican oregano, lemon verbena, and caraway scented thyme.  She offers CSAs for both the herbs and flowers, all grown without chemical fertilizers, preservatives and pesticides. Soluna Farms participates in several farmers’ markets in the area selling tea, herb and spice blends, nutritional and medicinal tea and power food blends, and interesting salts, all grown with certified organic ingredients from companies with fair business practices.  Now you can find Soluna Farm’s great selection of teas, tea flowers, accessories and other specialty items at their storefront location in Winchester.  You can also get tea by the cup, served of course in compostable cups.  If you are in the Boston area, visit this unique herb, spice and tea emporium or go on-line to purchase most products.

gohspa Beth Gaudette’s green, organic and holistic (hence the name gohspa) day spa and beauty salon is a treat for the skin, the body and the mind.  Beth has been a dedicated green cosmetologist for over two decades, well before it became fashionable.  She sees gohspa as a place to relax with a focus on wellness and healthful beauty.  Services in this warm and inviting green spa include organic manicures and pedicures, holistic facials, makeovers, hair removal, body care treatments and massages. gohspa also offers alternative services like Tui Na, a cross between acupressure and Shiatsu and tuning forks.  I highly recommend the gohAGE-with-grace Facial, a preventative procedure that uses gentle machine assisted rhythmic action to encourage improved lymph flow and the release of toxins, along with carefully chosen organic products.  Your skin will look younger and more radiant! gohspa’s caring and capable technicians assure your spa experience will be exceptional, ultra relaxing and healthy!

With their passion and conscientious approach to all things “green”, these hard-working green entrepreneurs are making a difference.  Email me about the unusual and creative green things entrepreneurs are doing in your area!

Green Entrepreneurs

I have recently met some impressive green entrepreneurs who are making a real difference by the earth and our health as they squeak out a living.  In this 2-part blog, I will share with you some of the eco-businesses these creative people are running.

FarmFare Market – A registered dietitian, Nicole Cormier is a green go-getter who has her hands in everything related to organic, food and local.  She runs her nutritional counseling office out of a cute little store in Sandwich, MA where you can buy seasonal fresh vegetables, farm fresh eggs, fresh cold-pressed juices, bulk items like nuts, berries, and beans, specialty food items such as locally made cheeses and organic vanilla, and environmentally friendly products.  She also started a farmer’s market in Mashpee, MA, offers a yearlong CSA, does organic catering, runs wellness workshops for businesses, schools or groups, and hosts a radio show with “nutritionally sustainable topics.”  Whew!

Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod –A talented musician and gardener, Dave Scandurra’s goal is to make the local food movement even more local by bringing it to you.  How?  He creates (installs and maintains) low-maintenance perennial edible landscapes on Cape Cod that will feed you and your friends or family for years to come. He specializes in herbs, perennial vegetables, fruits, nuts, beneficial flowers, trees and edible water gardens. Using raised beds, cold frames or interesting swirl designs, Dave’s gardens are fabulous.  He also consults and is a whiz at plant identification, finding obscure but beneficial plants like St. John’s wort among your “weeds”.

The Optimist Company – A young mother of two, Devin Donaldson’s strong interest in green living led her to make and sell pure cleaning and laundry products.  Her powerful, but gentle and of course non-toxic products are made from simple (and pronounceable) ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil soap, Epsom salts and other household ingredients.    I use her “Loads of Laughs” natural laundry suds and softener and love it.  The attractive packaging is basic and naturally recyclable, reusable, compostable, and biodegradable.  Along with the finished products, The Optimist Company provides DIY (do it yourself) kits.  You can order her products online.

Each of these young entrepreneurs has a similar mission and a passion for protecting the earth and our health. Each exhibits drive and ambition in a socially responsible way.  The green movement is here to stay!

Next blog I’ll highlight a few more conscientious green entrepreneurs.

Congratulations to the winner of the advanced power strip from MassSave, Nancy Yardley of Houston, Texas!

 

Single Use Products

If you think about it, single use products make no sense at all. That’s part of the problem. In our throwaway society, we don’t think about it. Continuing the theme of my recent post about eliminating aluminum foil and plastic wrap, I’ve listed below other products you can try cutting out (or at least cutting back on).

English: Reusable shopping bag

English: Reusable shopping bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Plastic bags – The movement to bring reusable bags food shopping is becoming well established. In fact, some cities and towns have eliminated them all together or charge for plastic bags. Start bringing reusable bags on your other errands as well. Make it a challenge to always bring them with you. Earmark some for food, some for clothes, etc. (Don’t forget to occasionally wash your reusable bags too.)

2. Plastic food baggies – They are hard to live without, but you can wash and reuse them a couple of times. Reusable cloth sandwich and biocompostable baggies are more available now as well.  Rule of thumb:  plastic and food don’t go together.

3. Paper Napkins – Cloth napkins are prettier, more durable, and certainly more eco-friendly than paper ones. Aim to use cloth napkins at most meals and keep recycled paper ones only as backup.

4. Paper Plates and Paper Cups – There is no doubt about their convenience, but they are totally wasteful, and plastic ones aren’t biodegradable.  For outdoor (or indoor) dining, consider dishwasher and oven safe enamelware. Lightweight and unbreakable, enamelware is perfect for camping or picnics too and comes in fun designs.

5. Plastic Water Bottles – There is no reason to buy plastic water bottles. They shouldn’t be reused and they don’t biodegrade. Use glasses at home and stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles for transporting.

6. Facial Tissues – This is one of those single use items you probably just want to cut back on rather than eliminate. I gave my husband some old-fashioned handkerchiefs and he loves them. Use them a few times, throw them in the wash and then reuse!

7. Dryer Sheets – There are lots of alternatives to conventional dryer sheets that aren’t made with chemical fabric softeners and soaked in toxic fragrances. Several natural brands use vegetable derived softening agents and essential oils instead. Reusable dryer balls made with PVC-free plastic or felt make the most sense to me – they soften clothes without chemicals, reduce drying time and save energy.

Cutting back on or eliminating single use products helps not only the earth, but your pocketbook as well. What single use products have you eliminated from your daily life? Email me – I’d love to know.

Green Holiday Shopping

I love the way life moves in the right direction – it’s getting so much easier to find eco-friendly, responsibly sourced, sustainably made products that don’t impact the earth. Below is a list of green websites to help you with your holiday shopping (and beyond).

WorldofGood.com

WorldofGood.com is an eBay company for online shoppers and sellers, who have pledged to buy, sell and think green.  It features eco-friendly, sustainably made and resource-saving products available on eBay.com. According to the website description, WorldofGood.com is positive for people, environment, animals and causes.

Ethicalocean.com

Ethical Ocean, based in Toronto, is an online marketplace for ethical products and services from around the world.  Their tagline says it all – “own what’s good”

EcoMall.com

EcoMall is an online directory of companies and products as well as a green living magazine. Easy to navigate, it lists hundreds of green products and services.

“ A place to help save the earth” …

GreenPages.org

National Green Pages is a “directory of products and services for people and the planet”.  It works like a phone book and lists major eco-responsible companies like Patagonia and Seventh Generation.  It also features local stores.

LinksOrganic.com

LinksOrganic.com is a comprehensive international guide to finding organic or environmentally friendly businesses. Some have online stores while others are physical storefronts in your local community.

Where-clothes.com

I have to put a plug in for my daughter’s company, Where…. Earth Friendly Fashion.  She restructures vintage and recycled clothing into today’s styles.  Each piece is hand sewn, one of a kind and most incorporate beautiful antique lace!  Check it out!

There are many more websites featuring eco-responsible products and services, but this should get you started.  Remember to request minimal and plastic-free  packaging when ordering online!

 

Milkshake

Forgive me while I brag a moment.  One of my favorite blogs, Milkshake.com, a “free daily email dedicated to finding the good in everything – companies, causes, people, places and products giving back and making a difference” featured my daughter’s vintage and upcycled fashion design company called Where!  She is a tireless worker and it’s starting to pay off!  I reblogged their write-up below – the lovely picture is of my younger daughter who models for her, making it a fun sisters collaboration.  I am an excited Mom!!!

Wherefore Art Thou?

Sep 21 2012

One-of-a-kind, Anthropologie-esque clothing made from vintage materials?  Yes, please!

Wherefore Art Thou?Let’s admit it: a lot of us love Anthropologie.  Sure, some of its catalogs feature things like women pretending to type on hundred-year-old typewriters that clearly don’t work, or having silent conversations with empty birdcages, but their stuff is just plain pretty.  There’s a poetic sensibility about their carefully-curated offerings, and that’s part of why we like them.

Those of us who just can’t get enough of our beloved Anthro’s goods need look no further thanWhere Designs for a more personal, partially vintage line of clothing sharing that same “what’s simple is true” aesthetic we adore so much.  Given the fact that the Richmond, Vermont-based brand run by Amy Wild calls itself “fashion for imaginative explorers of real and fantasy lands,” we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Wild’s wares found themselves on Anthro’s shelves someday.  An important component of Where is its insistence on remaining conscious of its environmental impact: instead of calling for the creation of new fabrics and notions to create the collection, Wild only uses vintage, antique and upcycled materials, steering clear of pollution and unfair labor practices.

A brand that has its head in the clouds but its feet on the ground it strives to protect?  Sign us up immediately.