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#3 1–most important Organic Produce June 25, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home — michelleodonoghue @ 4:07 pm

The amount of fruits and vegetables we eat in summer probably triples from the winter months. There are so many great selections everywhere. If you haven’t gone completely organic with your produce, there are some fruits and veggies that are really important to make sure are pesticide-free. As a general rule, the thinner the skin, the more important it should be truly organic.

Here’s the list of foods that you really need to but ORGANIC in order to avoid intense pesticide intake:

  • strawberries, raspberies, blue berries (26 pesticides found on a non-organic strawberry–ridiculous)
  • bell peppers
  • cherries
  • peaches
  • grapes
  • celery
  • apples and pears
  • apricots
  • green beans
  • cucumbers

This is especially important if you are making your own baby food. As mentioned in previous posts, chemicals affect babies and children even more adversely due to their lower body wieghts, weaker immune systems, and developing brains. So,so, so, important to keep them as chemical-free as possible.

Local farmers markets and CSA’s (farm delivery services) usually offer the best choices or organic produce. Because the food is grown locally, less pesticides have to be used keep the food fresh. Also, many local farmers are fining it is more cost effective to grow without pesticides.

Organic produce tastes so much better and lasts longer. Make it a high priority on your list to convert this summer, when so many choices abound. Growing a small garden makes this even easier. Even just growing your own tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, makes a huge difference in organic food consumption as well.

 

#30-Composting = Thrilling June 24, 2008

Filed under: healthy home,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 1:35 pm
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We started composting a few years ago mostly because we were inspired to have a really healthy vegetable garden. We had a big bin out back and we would throw as many food scraps as possible into the bin, mix it with lawn cuttings and turn it every once in a while. It wasn’t nearly as gross as I had once imagined and it was kind of fun to be creating something out of waste. One thing that always confused me was why composting was considered so good for the environment. I thought the things I was throwing into the compost bin–veggie and fruit scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, tea bags, lawn clippings, leaves, fireplace ashes–would decompose anyway and why did the environmentalists care if it was in my backyard or in a landfill? I’ve wondered the same thing about newspaper and other papers? Unlike my most hated material in the world, papers break down, so again, who cares where that happens? To us it just mattered that we were getting a healthy compost to help our tomatoes grow.

In researching some other topics for this blog, I’ve found the answer. When materials are dumped in a landfill,they are compacted and buried–no air, no sunlight, no water. Without those necessary ingredients, even organic materials can not decompose. So instead of being used for something good, all of these possibly recyclable / compostable materials are instead taking up precious space in our earth and will sit there for hundreds of years to come.

With that knowledge we’ve amped up our composting efforts. I keep a huge stainless steel bowl (plastic is fine too) next to the kitchen sink and I love watching it fill up throughout the day. At the end of the day I dump it in a hidden pile out back, have the gardeners throw dry grass clippings in once a month, and turn it with a big shovel. It will take a long time to get compost, but in reality what’s my rush. I love that the kids are a part of this, distinguishing what can and can’t get re-used, and seeing that there are better ways to take care of our garbage than leaving it for the garbage men. When we are religiously composting it seriously reduces our garbage impact, therefor reducing plastic bag usage and landfill impact.

Here is an incredible list from Sophie Uliano’s book, Gorgeously Green, of items that can be composted:

  • pet hair, matches, lint, popcorn, hay, pine needles, leaves, unbleached paper towels and napkins, coffee grinds, ATM receipts, egg shells, old pasta, shredded newspaper, corncobs, stale bread, potato peels, peanut shells, old leather gardening gloves (seriously!), soy milk, tree bark, moldy cheese, watermelon rinds, banana peels, cooked rice, outdated yogurt, bird cage cleanings, wool socks, bread crusts, olive pits, all veggies and fruit, shredded cereal boxes, flower petals

That is an unbelievably extensive list (although not all inclusive, if you are into this there are even more things you can do)………..we don’t even come close to including all of this stuff and we still get a great compost bin. For the sake of being completely honest, composting is some work. It is a little messy. You do need a little space in the yard and a commitment to making it happen for this to work. It is so satisfying to see waste turned into something useful and it has such a significant impact on reducing our huge garbage problem. The more organic your waste, the more organic your compost (i.e if you use pesticides on your lawn–a huge disaster in the first place–you will have compost full of pesticide.)

Some helpful composting sites:

  • How to Compost–vegweb.com
  • RealGoods.com–for bins and compost accelerators (material to enhance the efficiency of composting)
  • thewormfarm.com–really interesting, less gross than you may think, way to use worms to enhance the composting (haven’t tried yet but will this sumer if anyone wants an update in the fall!)
  • dirtworks.net— a great site for all things related to organic lawn and garden care
 

#29- Gorgeously Green June 21, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home,healthy office,no more plastic — michelleodonoghue @ 5:13 pm

One of my favorite new books is Gorgeously Green, by Sophie Uliano. In a really saavy, amusing, light hearted way, the author provides so many great tips for going green in all areas of our life. She provides so many resources and substitutes for eliminating toxic chemicals from our lives. From beauty regimes to cleaning, from our kitchens to decorating the house, she is full of great ideas and resources. If you are looking for a fresh way to start the summer GREEN this a great book to do it with.

Some examples of her life-changing tips:

  • Fill your bed rooms with as many household plants as you can (they eliminate household toxins, especially formaldehyde–a cancer causing substance found in everything from personal care products to no-iron clothes and particle board.
  • Close the loop (my new favorite expression)–buy recycled products–website addresses for tons of choices
  • thestarfishproject–what to do with unused medicines, antibiotics–they should NEVER go in regular waste as they contaminate our water supply.
  • great, easy recipes so we can avoid take-out food and live healthier overall. this is a HUGE step in eliminating plastic, home cooked meals (especially using local, farm stand goods) reduce so much waste. in our house i keep a handful of frozen and pantry foods that are easy to concoct into anything so we rarely have to order take out. (pasta, frozen vegetables, frozen burrito’s (Amy’s kitchen–delicious), rice and beans, ravioli. )
  • incredible resource for homemade gifts, creative, plastic-free giving ex. borfreeusa.org, an adopt an animal site, in which the receiver gets an adoption certificate and a framed photograph of her animal. we’ve done this through World Wildlife Foundation as well (you get a stuffed animal as part of the adoption) and our friends have loved getting this gift.

There are so many inspiring way to go green. Everyone can be a part of this in their own unique way. It just seems like now is the time to start doing as mucha s poss

 

#28–Sunscreen without chemicals June 9, 2008

Filed under: healthy baby,healthy home — michelleodonoghue @ 3:26 pm
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I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while but worried about the controversial nature of this topic. There is widespread concern by many of us chemical-free people that regular sunscreens are causing more harm than good. Sunscreens are laden with chemicals that do protect us and our kids from the sun, but at the same time are toxic to our bloodstreams. Scary and startling statistics continue to show that cancer rates are rising in children–if we are all so religious about sun protection then why is this happening??

Parabens, fragrances, and dioxins are used as preservatives and softeners in the sunscreen but the negative side effects are not worth it, especially since there are now some great chemical free sunscreens. I’ve been a self designated “tester” for the last few years and have found a few I like. Recently a good friend sent a link to one that I absolutley LOVE! it goes on smooth and stays on in the water (and its adult friendly too):

  • Kiss My Face –this is the one I LOVE, it goes on as a spray( kids go crazy for this), it stays on, and it rubs in evenly (bottle made out of recycled plastic and can be recycled again), haven’t seen it in the stores yet, but I ordered three bottles online and they came within 3 days.
  • UV Baby — haven’t tried it, but all the right ingredients
  • California Baby— I really like their selection as well, and these can be found in whole foods and some other supermarkets
 

#27- Choosing the Glass (Best!) or Plastic (2nd best) Milk Bottle June 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelleodonoghue @ 2:11 am
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Before you get too excited about using plastic, the best option here is milk sold in glass containers, but for those of you (us) who don’t choose this option, plastic is the next best alternative………….better than the cardboard milk container. How is this possible? the cardboard containers are lined with a waxy, plastic residue that makes recycling them impossible…….

The bottom of the plastic jug should have the #1 or #2 on it—almost every recycling center in the country accepts these for recycling, these are the safest plastics out there as there are no leeching concerns (as of yet) with these plastics. Buy the largest size container as is practical for your family (bulk is always better when it comes to packaging as it reduces the amount of garbage going to the landfill).

Some Sites:

  • HudsonMilk –for those of you in westchester or upsate NY, this is an incredible option for getting the freshest, safest milk possible. this farm will delver hormone-free, organic milk, eggs, and other dairy products right to your door (you just need a cooler!) this is an amazing option.
  • Glass Bottle Milk —Delivery throughout the USA (great options for people in upstate NY, midwest, and west)
  • Manhattan Milk Company — if you are living in the 5 boroughs this is the site for you! “Glass bottles, certified organic milk, delivered straight to your door.”
  • Get Plastic out of your diet –this is not a fun article to read, but it is an impressive one. Author argues that as much plastic as possible should be eliminated from our diet as plastic is ruining our lives, one small molecule at a time. It especially argues that plastic should not touch our food or drink at any cost.
  • greenpeople.org –a comprehensive site for all types of organic delivery
  • Crestwood Farms-long island milk delivery, website will be up and running soon.
  • Whole Foods–carries milk in glass jars, bring jar back for 1.00 deposit.