Posts Tagged ‘water’

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 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 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.

Information compiled from:,, Organic Body Care Reipes, by Stephanie Tourles For more more body care recipes, visit

Boxed Water is Better!

photo-2This past weekend I attended a delicious local food truck festival and discovered boxed water!  Not luxury, specialty or flavored water, but plain, purified water in a boldly printed box that says, “Boxed Water is Better”.  What a great idea – in the fast-growing water bottle market, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been boxed before.

Boxed Water is Better, LLC, started in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the mission of creating a new water company with simple, sustainable packaging, one that gives back to foundations and one with a lower carbon footprint than traditional bottled water.

About 76% of the box is manufactured from trees grown in certified, well-managed forests where new ones are constantly grown to replace those harvested.  Using this renewable resource, trees, which also sequester carbon dioxide, makes it one of the most sustainable beverage packages available.

The water is carbon-filtered, purified drinking water from the municipal source in each of their major markets.  The boxes are shipped flat to the local filling company, a significantly more energy-efficient way to ship, where they are then filled.  The boxes are easily recycled and can be flattened to take up less space.

photo-1-2 I love the look of the boxed water.   The no-nonsense black and white printing on the box simply says what it is “Boxed Water is Better” with a water drop.  One panel on the box explains their environmentally friendly, sustainable, give back philosophy.  10% of their profits are donated to world water relief foundations and another 10% donated to reforestation foundations.

Boxed Water is Better is working on US and international distribution in both small and large retailers.  In the Boston area, Boxed Water is Better is carried at Bloomingdale’s.  You can also order a carton of 12 or 24 online.  One 500 ml box cost $1.00.  Cheap!!!

While I still think it is better to use a BPA-free, stainless steel water bottle, there are definitely times when you need to buy one.  This is the solution for me! I’d much rather drink out of a water box from a company with a socially responsible mission than a plastic water bottle.   Look for Boxed Water is Better in your area!

For more green living tips, visit

Is Carbonation Good or Bad?

carbonated water

carbonated water (Photo credit: LiuTao)


Seltzer water is a popular and healthy alternative to sodas offering the same fizzy satisfaction.  A reader contacted me recently concerned about carbonation in sodas and in water having heard that it’s bad for you.   There are some concerns about tooth enamel erosion and low bone mineral density associated with carbonation – carbonated water is thought to prevent calcium absorption, thereby, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.  The problem however, does not lie with the carbonation itself.


When carbon dioxide is dissolved in water, carbonic acid is formed making the water a little more acidic.   Most water, tap water included, contains small amounts of calcium, magnesium and other minerals that not only strengthen your bones and teeth, but also buffer the effects of the carbonic acid and protect tooth enamel.  According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence that carbonated water causes harm to bones or teeth.  Drinking carbonated water has the same benefits as drinking still water.  Research has found a connection however, with low bone mineral density and carbonated cola drinks.  The acid in soft drinks like coke and pepsi will erode tooth enamel over time.  The flavoring agents in flavored seltzer water increase the acidity and can possibly contribute to tooth erosion as well.  You are better off drinking plain seltzer and adding a lemon or lime slice.  You get extra Vitamin C that way too.  The high amounts of sugar in soft drinks of course contribute further to their negative effects; artificial sweeteners in diet drinks are risky too.


What to do?  As with everything in life, moderation is key.  If you drink carbonated cola and other carbonated beverages, cut back the amount you drink and give seltzer water a try.  I think you’ll find it just as refreshing.


In my effort to reduce, not just recycle and reuse, I’m considering getting a home soda maker.  A good one starts around $100.00 and it’s easy (and fun) to do.  Now that’s a good way to reduce carbon emissions and keep bottles out of the landfill.




Information compiled from and Monica Reinagel, M.S., L.D./N,





Conserve Water During Dry Conditions

According to a report from the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC and the Huffington Post,  “The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.”  As I write this post from my farm on Cape Cod, the thermometer says 88 degrees (though it feels even hotter), much of my lawn looks brown and my flowers, vegetables and normally hearty hydrangea look wilted.  And there have been many days this summer just like this.

We obviously need to water to keep our plants alive. However, we need to think about water conservation too in such dry conditions with little or no rain in the forecast. A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year.

What can you do?  Lots…

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

    Very green grass, despite the drought

    Very green grass, despite the drought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information compiled from and





Image from National Archief's Photostream

It took my husband and me a long time to work out the “greener” way to do the dishes (Old habits die hard.).  If you think about the number of dishes we do per day, week, month, year, you realize just how much water is consumed.  And most of us don’t do the dishes correctly.  Do you keep the water running as you rinse your dishes and load them into the dishwasher?  You’ll save a lot of money and conserve water simply by turning off the water as you load.   Do you rinse the dishes so thoroughly before putting them into the dishwasher that they are practically clean?  (That’s what my husband does.) The energy efficient dishwashers of today really don’t require much rinsing. They also use less water and energy.  You may want to consider upgrading if your dishwasher is over 10 years old.  Do you rinse dishes that really don’t need it?  Why rinse a water or juice glass – just put it in the dishwasher.  Do you reach for a new glass every time you get a drink?  Keep the same water glass or coffee mug throughout the day to cut back on the number of dishes you use.  The fewer dishes, the less there is to wash and the more water you save.  Do you run the dishwasher after every meal, even when it is not full? Master the art of loading the dishwasher efficiently and run it only when full.  Do you throw away the water you’ve cooked your vegetables in?  Why not recycle it and water your plants with it – they’ll thrive on the nutrition from the vegetables.

When hand washing your dishes, do it the old fashioned way.  If you have a double sink (if not, use a large pan), fill one with soapy water, one with clean.  Put the dirty dishes in the soapy side and then rinse in the other sink.  Many people hand wash each dish separately leaving the water running!

Lastly, always fix a leaky faucet.  Leaks waste more water than you think.

There are many common sense things you can do to conserve water and energy when washing the dishes.  Look at it as a game.  It will make you feel good, especially when you see your reduced water bill!

Some information compiled from




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