Please pass on the plastic

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BPA is everywhere October 20, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home — michelleodonoghue @ 5:31 pm

but you are not going to believe the latest place it is turning up…… in RECEIPTS!!! BPA is used as the compound to darken the text and make the paper readable when it is exposed to a heated print head. Where do these thermal heads exist:  retail shops, grocery stores, movie tickets, credit card print outs, airline tickets, and the list goes on. Basically it is everywhere.

BPA was a compound synthesized by scientists in the late 1800’s and a couple decades later, its estrogenic properties were discovered. At the same time, DES was developed and found to be more “effective” in its estrogenic role. (see note below about what the FDA deemed effective–it’s craziness!!)  BPA was shelved until scientists discovered other uses for it—mainly as polycarbonates—-plastic that can be molded, heated, softened, and thermoformed (a word I prefer not to be connected to plastic)

SO—–at this point BPA is embedded in nearly every element of society and receipts are just the latest discovery. So here’s what to do when it comes to receipts:

–ASK the retailer if they are using thermal-free paper (the more people who ask the sooner they will switch over. It’s so not fair that store clerks have to deal with this toxic paper all day. And thermal free paper is widely and readily available.)

— WHATEVER YOU DO,  DO NOT CRUMPLE THE RECEIPT (the amount of BPA in receipts is way higher than many other goods, when you crumple, it gets all over your skin)


–AVOID AS MUCH PLASTIC AS POSSIBLE IN YOUR LIFE (this is possible. just say no to plastic. you’ll be amazed how many alternatives there are)

–KEEP BPA RECEIPTS OUT OF RECYCLING BINS SO THAT IT DOES NOT WIND UP IN RECYCLED GOODS (how disturbing is that??  just when you thought you were doing something good for the environment)

BPA is turning up in the umbilical cords of newborns. It is a very difficult chemical to avoid, but that should not stop us from trying to avoid it and speaking up. As a consumer we have so many choices and how we spend our money is  very direct way to show what we support.

Some other places that BPA exists in significant amounts:

canned goods

hard plastics like the 5gallon poland spring water jugs

shower curtains

baby bottles

infant formula

resins and epoxys

teeth sealants (used in children and adults, ask your dentist for the bpa-free version:)

And the reason we don’t want to be ingesting BPA–an estrogen mimic and hormone disruptor–is that all studies that are scientifically sound show that it is carcinogenic, causes insulin resistance, liver disease, erectile dysfunction (ha–got your attention!), and once again the list goes on.

if there’s one chemical worth fighting against–and fighting hard–it is BPA. Keep me posted on any success you have keeping BPA out of your life.

***DES  has estrogenic properties (mimics estrogen)and became  “popular” b/c of its supposed effectiveness in preventing miscarriages and slowing down puberty and preventing certain hormonal cancers. It took many years to discover that DES was actually quite harmful and caused tumours for the in utero baby and hindered natural puberty and was NOT effective in fighting any type of cancer. still it took  many more years for the FDA to remove it from the shelves.


Get Rid of ALL Those Chemicals Now October 19, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,healthy school — michelleodonoghue @ 2:00 am

Today the Wall Street Journal reported that governments around the world are calling for consumer product companies to reveal the lists of  chemicals that exist in their product. That’s huge—but, and its a big but—this is not mandatory yet and since it’s taken years for the people at the top to ask for this type of information–it’s going to take years for it to become public info.

What to do?  I started eliminating chemicals from our family’s everyday living 10 years ago, one product at a time. It is not only possible, but relatively easy at this point to dramatically reduce everyday exposures at home, the office, and possibly even the kids’ school.

AT HOME:  (these are not in any particular order and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, are ALL extremely important in reducing chemical exposure)

use green cleaning supplies–it is not an option to do otherwise, its a must-do for the health of your family’s lungs and brain cells. the green products out there are so capable. list to follow soon on my favorites.

–use no-VOC paint. 10 years ago there was only low-VOC, today there is no-VOC. Again, this is a must

NO Pesticides on your lawn. They do make their way into your home and the water supply.

Organic / natural skincare, shampoo/lotions/ make-up. Again–a must. Your skin absorbs everything you put onto it. it has been proven several times over that a women who is getting ready for her day, puts on more than 100 chemicals before breakfast. Eliminate parabens and sulfates and you are eliminating a huge intake of chemicals.

use house plants throughout the house–the bigger the better! they absorb the chemicals that may exist. plese check for poisonous plants as I am not familiar with these.

ONLY BUY ORGANIC MATTRESSES. that way you are not breathing in flame retardents all night long. especially important for babies and children.

organic fruit and vegetables are a must. (and hormone free meat and dairy)

no microwave popcorn and no teflon. they are both coated with chemicals that are terrible for us.


–again, set up some plants

NO plastic water bottles, both the single use and the 5 gallon containers are laden with chemicals.

–choose organic meals whenever possible

–do NOT USE ANY STYROFOAM–ever!!!!!!

only use green dry cleaners–the perc that is used in conventional dry cleaners is toxic


no idling bus policy: many school districts are adopting a no-idle policy. If yours has not done so yet, encourage the supervisor to make this a priority. Diesel fumes get into the buses and the children ride to and from school surrounded by the cancerous fumes.

encourage school to use green products. it is NOT more expensive and makes a huge difference as children tend to have their hands in their mouth all day and easily absorb the residue from the cleaners.

a large entryway carpet encourages children to brush their shoes off when they enter the building, which eliminated a lot of dirt and pesticides and chemicals from entering the classroom, where young children lay on the floor and play with toys.

no pesticides on the fields. and NO TURF! standard turf is made from recycled tires, which are hazmat–every footstep sends up loads of toxic dust into children’s lungs. there are other green turf options. After children play gym/ sports they must, must, must wash hands before eating, so that most chemicals are off hands before ingesting food. also wash cuts well.

MY favorite organization in the world, paving the way for all of us in this chemical-free movement, is grassroots environmental education. They have kits you can order for minimal amt (i think $15) that coach parents and educators on how to go chemical free at school. Their site is filled with the most pressing, relevant, cutting edge research out there and makes this mission to go chemical-free very do-able.

During the last 3 years I have touched upon alternatives for all the things mentioned above, so peruse blog for more detail, or comment, or do a little research. the info is out there and its up to the consumer to make these changes happen NOW.

more to come……


Lounging–Highly Recommend It! May 8, 2010

Filed under: healthy home — michelleodonoghue @ 12:46 am

Although you need to use your imagination a little— that book, that lounge chair and I had half an hour of gorgeous sunshine together today .

I should have done this more often during the past 21 mos, as stealing half an hour of downtime translated to a very productive and happy afternoon for my whole team.

And as some of you may remember, the non-organic landscaper was fired last spring so when I sit out in my backyard I am truly hanging out in an oasis of health and happiness. If you or anyone you know still hasn’t gone organic on the lawn NOW is the time. The chemicals in pesticides are extremely damaging to our health and its really easy to switch over to organic care.

lounging = good health! (as long as you’ve got an organic lawn)


Kids’ After School Sports–Go Chemical Free As Many Ways As Possible May 7, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy school — michelleodonoghue @ 4:39 am
Tags: , ,

choose sports that are comfortable for the parents

Our 7 yr old skates at a local indoor rink where we have loved the weekly games and practices and the whole-family atmosphere.  It is sort of a joke—that the parents should be comfortable (i.e. note the beer)– but the more important thing we’ve  learned about our commitment to kids’ sports is making sure to be as chemical-free as possible…. Things like avoiding pesticides, thorough hand washing, drinking from stainless steel water bottles, healthy snacks….these ideas all play into our families commitment to our kids sports.

When our daughter joined soccer we were really concerned about the use of pesticides on the fields she was playing on. During some team meetings we discussed the ideas that could minimize pesticide ingestion.  The most effective actions were  hand washing (use water bottles right before the end- of- game snack and then thorough washing at home ) and removing cleats before getting into the car and the house. Also, if the players have open scrapes or cuts, make sure they are well covered before playing. There are teams who have successfully eliminated pesticides from their playing fields altogether,  and had Riley stayed on the team after that first season that would have been our priority to make sure that happened. Another thing to consider, turf fields may even be worse, as they are made out of old tires (Hazmat) and the dust and particles are constantly being released into the air as the kids play.

For some really thorough coverage of this topic check out the following websites:

Grassroots Environmental Education

Healthy Child Health World

It's been so much fun to have a family hangout every week!


Is it Me May 6, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 1:55 am

or are there pregnant ladies everywhere right now? at school, at the grocery store, at the field…..pregnant ladies abound! I love it (although thrilled its no longer me :). Must have something to do with springtime!

Whenever I see new life I think chemical avoidance…In utero  is a really vulnerable time for the growing baby, who so easily absorb all that mom’s breathe in.  The best way to eliminate chemicals  in our lives is by making sure they don’t exist in our own homes and schools. At one point I hesitated to push the organic mattress, being that it is so much more expensive than the normal (chemical-laden) ones. I don’t feel that hesitant anymore as I believe this may be one of the most important things you can do while your pregnant and for your baby afterwards. Even though moms-to-be don’t sleep very well during pregnancy, they still spend a lot of time in bed. Breathing toxic fumes from regular mattresses, 8 hrs/ night/ 365/ days a year is just not good for anyone.

In California, we have organic mattress stores to shop in directly. If that isn’t an option, please do an online search and get on the phone with a rep who can  explain the best match for you. When I purchased mattresses for our family I really liked the comfort and breathability and low maintenance of the rubber ones.  They are low maintenance and last a long time. They are so so comfortable. There are also wool / organic cotton options that are great as well.

Sweet dreams, happy breathing, healthy beginnings!


A Beginning, An End, and a Beginning May 4, 2010

Filed under: healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 5:25 pm

In 40 days we will move back to NY  (after 21 mos living in California). We are filled with so many emotions over this, but mostly we are happy to be moving back to our roots… put down roots. Mike knew this back in January when I was sure I wanted to stay for another year. I love when he knows something I don’t and I love even more that it is really easy to trust him on some of the “big” decisions in life. So, with misty eyes and a very emotional heart, I’ve decided to capture our last 40 days here so that they will be imprinted in our lives forever.

California has given us a fresh beginning in our lives and as our days here come to an end, we know and trust they will lead us to even brighter beginnings in NY! I’ve learned to take time to smell the roses……

Today, I woke up to these flowers in our back yard……

roses in my yard

and filled every room of my house with vases….(this is green, right? nothing store bought, plastic-free, the theme continues….)

California vases fill our house

I took the time to smell the roses! (and the camilla, and lillies, and mums, and hydrangea….) Such a happy end result!


Frozen Drinks (and it’s not even friday) March 10, 2010

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 8:49 pm

We have recently discovered a major way to reduce plastic usage in our house. Instead of buying those large plastic juice containers–orange, apple, cranberry, juicy juice, etc…–we have started buying the frozen cardboard containers. We used to use this as kids and it just dawned on me how much plastic it eliminates from our life. Plus, I can stock tons of containers in the freezer and then I don’t run out in the middle of a play date. And another bonus, I can water down the juice just as I like it (so much healthier for their teeth and bodies)

Check out the different varieties at Whole Foods, our favorites so far are made by Columbia River Organics and Cascadian Farm Organics.

Even though we haven’t used single use plastics for 6 mos, I’ve been worried about the large jug plastics, both for health and environmental reasons. These cardboard frozen drinks solve many issues,

Now I really don’t have to feel guilty about my vodka cranberry’s!


All Wrapped up in Cloth Diapers

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 8:40 pm
Tags: ,

I use cloth diapers with my 7 mos old and have since the day she was born. Despite the fact that we travel a lot and she is the youngest of 4 kids (on the road for after school sports often), we have managed to stick with our committment to use cloth diapers. In fact, we have used 3 packs only of 7th generation diapers since she was born. Not a perfect record but pretty darn close.

Here are some Questions that a very astute (7 mos pregnant) friend has asked regarding getting involved with cloth diapers, followed by my very honest answers about dealing with all that poop!
1) Do you mind the snaps on the Fuzzi Bunz diapers? I have been researching gDiapers and Bum Genuis and both of those have velcro. Is it tricky to snap the snaps on a moving child? Do they seem to hold better than velcro?

I enjoy the snaps (they hold up really well and make the sizing really flexible. I’ve used the same ones since marielle was born and they will easily fit until at least a year old or more)  it’s not too difficult to snap them ( now that she squirms i just give her a toy to hold while i change her). At night, i sometimes use 7th generation b/c they don’t leak during the 12hr night.

2) How many cloth diapers do you think are necessary to have? How often do you do laundry a week with the cloth diapers? Do the stains come out?

I do the laundry every other day. I bought 18 diapers (in the beginning i used 9/ day, now I use 6/ day).  They acquire a strong smell pretty quickly so it is helpful to be able to run a load that often.  i use a gentle detergent and a heaping tablespoon of baking soda and the stains mostly come out.  at first that bothered me that i could see slight staining but i’ve gotten over it. it is only the insert pad that stains for some reason, not the cute diaper cover.  and again, it is light staining

3) How do you get the poop oft the diapers? Do you use a sprayer? Do you find that the diaper washes clean? Do you have to bleach them?

during the first 6 mos, i just wash the diapers with the poop in it (watery and comes out so easily). now that marielle is eating food, i shake off what i can in the toilet bowl. a sprayer in a mudroom style sink would be really helpful but i don’t have that.  the washing machines really do a great job getting rid of the waste and getting the diapers clean. again, baking soda is really helpful, so are a few drops of tea tree oil.  i am not a bleach fan as i think the fumes are harmful and bad for the earth.  i’m almost sure fuzzi bunz recommends not using bleach.  i’ve heard good things about g diapers but haven’t used yet.

Cloth diapers aren’t perfect but I do enjoy the softness and cuteness and sustainability factors.


Mere au Foyer

Filed under: no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 8:27 pm

There are a lot of ways to sum up the world of a stay- at -home mom (expert sock pick-er-upper, grocery store aficiondo, scheduling lunatic, etc..) but no one says it better than the french: mere au foyer = mother of the hearth= stay at home mom. Deep down, in my expert, lunatic, aficiando determination to eliminate chemicals from my children’s world, I have needed this expression more than I need the glass (or two) of wine at the end of my day.  Mother of the hearth. For all of us mothers who are taking steps to eliminate chemicals, toxins, and poisons on a daily basis,it is an uphill battle. And this phrase makes it all make sense. It provides the meaning we need and deserve to continue firing away at the chemical-makers who don’t care for a second about our children’s lungs or cells. For of all of us deciding for ourselves that going chemical free is more important than almost anything else we do in the day, mere au foyer inspires the fire we need to win the chemical-free battle and acknowledges that when mothers everywhere clean up their “hearth” we will save the earth.

Les meres du monde UNITE!


We’re All In This Together February 7, 2010

A friend recently said to me, as I was rattling on and on about the importance of eliminating chemicals from our lives, that we are each entitled to our own opinion. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that so I took it as a subtle way of disagreeing with me…

In regards to politics, sushi, or a favorite form of exercise,  a different opinion than me would be ok. But, this topic—–eliminating chemicals from our lives—it’s not OK. We are all in this together. It does matter first and foremost to rid your own  home and school of toxins. But, unless all of us take / make great efforts to denounce  the 80,000 chemicals that contaminate our lives, we are all going to suffer the lousy consequences of toxins polluting our bodies.  If I stop using pesticides on my lawn but none of my neighbors do,  the water supply will stay contaminated. If I demand that diesel buses stop idling, but no other parents do, than all of our children will inhale the carcinogenic fumes. If I insist that only organic cleaning supplies enter my house but none of my relatives and neighbors join in, then toxic agents will still pervade. If I stop using plastic shower curtains but our friends don’t, then 38 poisonous chemical fumes will enter my bloodstream every time I hang out for a cup of coffee.

On that note—the one where we ALL do something– please take 3 minutes to watch this incredible video. There is a way to rid our homes/ schools/ workplaces of chemicals. It’s not complicated and the benefits are astounding for our health.  The ripple effect is truly amazing…..

Here’s to each of us having our own opinion, except for when it comes to chemicals 🙂