Please pass on the plastic

Just another weblog

#17–Bottled Water-just say no March 31, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 12:14 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve gone down this road before. I’m blown away by how many people have started to make the switch from plastic bottles to stainless steel. Still, there is more to be done, more converts to be had.

In case you needed anymore encouragement, take a look at this fantastic 60 second guide, produced in Hollywood by a brilliant friend who’s on a mission……


#16–Simple Ways to Travel Green March 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 2:45 am

Airports are filled with so much stuff………it’s like they’ve realized people get this sudden urge to buy everything as they are leaving land for a while. We probably take 2 or 3 family trips a year involving airports. We’ve attempted to minimize our purchases by doing some of the following things:

  • bring snacks from home
  • stainless steel water bottle(see post #2) (our kids wheel their own back packs around so this works out ok)
  • if we do buy a treat, a book, etc…we never take a shopping bag, its about to get packed anyway
  • use our own headsets
  • minimal ziplock bag usage when’s tempting but so unnecessary to ziplock everything. we save the ziplocks from trip to trip and try to use plastic i’ve saved from sheet or comforter packaging.
  • minimize souvenir purchases–all that plastic junk never lasts very long anyway.
  • re-use small shampoo/conditioner/soap containers

Its tempting when a trip is coming to go shopping for new clothing, toiletries,books etc……It’s amazing how much simpler the trip can be when we use what we already have. even though the kids have grown a bit most stuff from the summer still fits and they basically wear the same thing in the sun everyday anyway…….besides it’s kind fun to purchase a couple items (non-plastic, of course) when your away!

here’s to happy, simple, green travelling ! (St Patrick would be proud)


#15–Travelling green March 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 2:31 am

The next few months bring lots of travel–family time, skiing adventures, trips to escape the cold. Whether by car or by plane or by sea, there are ways to minimize the impact that your travel has on the environment.

When we travel, carbon is poured into the environment. Buying carbon offsets is becoming a popular means of reducing the damage. Here’ s a simple explanation of how it works. I fly on a trip to CA which is about 6,000 miles roundtrip. This produces 2,000 lbs of carbon dioxide. To off set this pollution I can purchase an equal amount of clean energy, which usually comes on the form of :

  1. solar or wind power,
  2. farm power (using manure gases to generate power–fascinating!!)
  3. landfill power (destroying, by fire, the methane gas produced from landfills).

The cost for this offset is around $10.00. Its very easy to do. Here are some sites I suggest:

Our family loves to travel, we find it’s invaluable family time. I hate to contribute to global warming but I’d hate even more to not take family vacations. Carbon off sets make it that much easier to enjoy the trip.


#14–Organic sheets and bedding March 1, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 2:39 pm

When I get to an issue like this one its tempting to avoid it. We all grew up and survived on ordinary cotton sheets. What could possibly be the big deal about using what we have always used? This is one of those decisions that is personal to you and your budget.

According to green resources, standard cotton sheets and bedding are coated with formaldehyde and the cotton is grown with so many pesticides that it still resides in the sheets. The off-gassing is at its worst with new sets of bedding, especially with plastic bed liners.

One piece of this I consider extremely important: the vinyl (PVC!!! –see post #8) mattress liners that we use to protect the kids’ mattresses from accidents during the night. These off-gas very hazardous chemicals and our children are breathing it all night long (and naps too.)Some alternatives:

  1. USE A COTTON (hopefully organic) MATTRESS PAD. I think many of the baby stores and catalogs carry these. They don’t cover the whole mattress but a good portion of it and I was usually able to position it according to the most vulnerable area. In case you don’t quite catch the accident, baking soda works wonders for eliminating the odors. Just pour on, leave for an hour and vacuum up. Mattress will be fine.(i give housekeeping advice too!!)
  2. FOR A CRIB—WOOL PUDDLE PAD — made out of wool, a natural material, no off-gassing, these can be washed and dried. These are great for cribs and I think they can be used for twin beds as well.

Some on-line retailers:

This is one of those categories that is hard for me to write about because organic sheets and bedding tend to cost so much more than the ones we’ve always used. Stores like Target and Bed,Bath and Beyond are starting to carry organic / bamboo options and are definitely worth pursuing.


#13- Keep the nursery smelling clean and green

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 2:39 pm

According to the “Queen of Green” Debra Lynn Dadd, it is very important to filter the air in your babies room. Writing for the greenhomeguide she gives us this explanation.

The air your baby breathes in the first months of life should be as free of pollutants as possible. Babies are more vulnerable than adults to the negative health effects of indoor air pollution. Because they need more oxygen, babies breathe in two to three times more air than adults, inhaling two to three times more pollutants in relation to their body weight. And because babies suffer more frequently from respiratory illness, they often breathe through the mouth, which doesn’t filter out particles in the same way breathing through the nose does.

In general, it is better to remove sources of pollutants (such as phthalates from plastics and formaldehyde from crib sheets) than to attempt to remove pollutants from the air. But if there are pollutants in your baby’s nursery that you can’t remove or sufficiently dilute by opening a window, it makes sense to use an air cleaner—if it’s the right device.

Follow these tips to choose an air cleaner that’s right for your baby’s nursery:

1. Look for a single-room cleaning unit.

While central filtration systems, also known as “in-duct” units, can be very effective throughout the house, they will not equal a single-room air cleaner dedicated to the nursery.

2. Determine which pollutants you need to remove.

Indoor air pollutants fall into three classes:

  • Gases or misty vapors of volatile chemicals such as formaldehyde, plastics, paints, pesticides and perfumes
  • Particles such as bits of pollen, dust, mold and animal dander
  • Microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses

If a member of your household smokes, you’ll need a filter that removes both particles and gases to protect your baby from secondhand smoke.

3. Choose an air cleaner designed to remove your chosen pollutants.

Different types of air cleaners remove different types of pollutants.

  • Activated carbon cleaners remove gases or misty vapors of volatile chemicals.
  • Mechanical filtration (High Efficiency Particulate Air, or HEPA) and electrostatic precipitation devices remove particles.
  • A unit with a negative ion generator and activated carbon removes smoke.
  • Ultraviolet light units kill bacteria and viruses.

4. Make sure the cleaner is the right size for the room.

Air cleaners remove pollutants by moving the air in the room through a chamber that holds the filter medium or device. Each unit is designed to effectively remove pollutants from the air contained in a certain amount of space. An air cleaner may be ineffective if the unit is too small for the room.

Measure your room in cubic feet (height by width by length) so that you can purchase an air cleaner with sufficient capacity. Choose a device that will process the air in the room at least once per hour.

5. Consider the frequency and ease of filter change or maintenance.

All air cleaners require some kind of maintenance. Make sure you understand what’s involved and how much it costs to replace needed elements. Maintenance could range from simply washing a reusable filter to replacing a bed of carbon that might cost $100 or more.

6. Find out how much noise the unit makes.

Quiet is supremely important in a nursery; if the air cleaner makes too much noise, you are not going to use it. Look for a unit that operates at less than 60 decibels—about the sound of normal conversation—at high speed. The best choice is a unit that operates in the range of 20 decibels, which is whisper quiet.

7. Check the fan speed.

The amount of noise an air cleaner makes is determined by the fan speed. At higher speeds, more air moves through the unit to be cleaned, but the unit also makes more noise. Fan speeds range from three speeds to six speeds to minute variable speed controls; choose a unit that will give you the degree of control you want.

8. Check the air flow rate.

The air flow rate tells you how long it takes to remove a given amount of pollutants. It is expressed in CFM (cubic feet per minute). Make sure that the CFM rating cited is with the filter installed. Some manufacturers try to make it sound like their cleaners are moving more air by quoting the CFM of air flowing freely through the fan.

9. Make note of the energy use.

A continuously operating air cleaner can use as much power as your refrigerator – 600 kWh of electricity per year! Save energy and expense by choosing an energy efficient Energy Star rated air cleaner.

10. Consider using houseplants to improve indoor air quality.

One drawback to air cleaners is that while they can remove pollutants, they don’t produce oxygen. Plants, on the other hand, both remove gaseous pollutants and produce oxygen, resulting in air that is more like natural outdoor air. A couple of plants can’t replace the cleaning capabilities of a good carbon filter, but they can do a lot to freshen relatively unpolluted air.

11. Avoid air cleaners that generate ozone.

Because of the documented negative health effects of inhaling ozone, the American Lung Association recommends against using ozone generators as air cleaners. Some other types of air cleaners also produce small amounts of ozone, especially electrostatic precipitators. Choose an air cleaner that does not produce ozone levels above 0.05 ppm, either intentionally or as a by-product of its design.

Once you have chosen the right filter for your nursery, make sure you use it properly. Place the air cleaner near a specific pollutant source, if known, and make sure the air intake and outlet are not against walls or furniture. Close all doors and windows in the room when the air cleaner is in use. And follow the manufacturer’s instructions for routine maintenance.

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On March 9, 2007, Hank Weiss wrote:Modern nano technology has created an even better way than the conventional air cleaners. You can have the wall sparayed with a material that actively kill the very organisms you speak of in your intro as well as odors and all without out-gassing anything harmful. It creates no change in appearance and negates the need for using electricity or having the noise of an air cleaner. When sprayed on carpet, it stops dust mites because it destroys what dust mites feed on.H. Weiss